Ultrawide Heaven: Laowa 17mm for GFX in Saint Peter’s Basilica Italy

On a recent 3 country tour of Africa and the Mid East, I had the chance to take the Laowa 17mm and capture some of the world’s most renowned architecture.  I knew I would be going to Saint Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican, and all my research said bring the widest lens you have.  I knew the GF 23mm (17mm at full frame) would probably leave me wishing for more, so I rented the 17 before leaving.

Saint Peter’s was the “focus” of this trip, so I spent several days there.  First to scout and take some sample images, and then back to polish certain compositions.  Hint:  Arrive early for the best viewing.

Wow is all you can say after touring the marvel of Renaissance art and architecture.  I was so glad I brought the 17mm and after a bit of a learning curve, MF and no tripods, I felt like I came away with many keepers.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Saint Peters Laowa 17mm GFX50s Columns and Main Dome

Saint Peters Laowa 17mm GFX50s Columns, Chancel and Main Dome

Saint Peters Laowa 17mm GFX50s Columns and Domes

Saint Peters Laowa 17mm GFX50s Columns and Domes

Saint Peters Laowa 17mm GFX50s Golden Nave

Saint Peters Laowa 17mm GFX50s Golden Nave

Saint Peters Laowa 17mm GFX50s Columns and Side Dome

Saint Peters Laowa 17mm GFX50s Columns and Side Dome

Saint Peters Laowa 17mm GFX50s Wings Leading to the Main Dome and Chancel

Saint Peters Laowa 17mm GFX50s Wings Leading to the Main Dome and Chancel

I felt like the lens was sharp in the center and corners.  Colors were good, but my other lens was the Zeiss 85mm Otus and it’s hard to compare of course.

Canadian Rockies Fall Colors Highlights Part 2 Lake Moraine and Lake Louise

I had arranged things so that when we came out of camping in the backcountry around Mount Assiniboine, we would have some hotel time to recoup.  To me, the Lodge at Lake Moraine is worth the splurge to be so close to the lake.  Not having to worry about parking and the nice rooms help too.

So we spent the next two days exploring Lake Louise and Moraine around sunset and sunrise.  Both were crazy busy but we expected that.  At Lake Moraine, the Rockpile is an obvious attraction but so is the nice trail half way around the lake.  I got some nice shots from both, including a wedding party getting their photos taken.

Bride and Groom at Lake Moraine Fuji GFX50s

Bride and Groom at Lake Moraine Fuji GFX50s

Lake Moraine from the Rockpile at Dusk gfx50s

Lake Moraine from the Rockpile at Dusk

Lake Moraine Angles Reflected

Lake Moraine Angles Reflected

Lake Moraine Along the Trail

Lake Moraine Along the Trail

We also took a side trip down to the Vermillion Lakes for sunset and hopefully a nice Mount Rundle reflection.  It was well worth the trip.

Vermillion Lakes Fall Colors Canon 200mm f/1.8 and GFX50s

Vermillion Lakes Fall Colors Canon 200mm f/1.8 and GFX50s

Mount Rundle Dusk Light in Vermillion Lakes

Mount Rundle Dusk Light in Vermillion Lakes

The next morning we ventured up to Lake Louise and got the first parking spot by showing up before 6am.  Several hundred of our closest friends soon followed.  It was a great experience watching the peaks around the lake light up with golden sunrise light, all reflected in the aqua waters of the lake itself.

Lake Louise Sunrise Fire gfx50s

Lake Louise Sunrise Fire

Golden Light on the Peaks Arou gfx50snd Lake Louise at Dawn

Golden Light on the Peaks Around Lake Louise at Dawn

The next day we were set to camp in the backcountry around Lake O’Hara.  We had put the tent out to dry at the hotel but it was time to get some solid meals to get ready and to finalize our shopping and gear selection.  On to Part 3…

 

Canadian Rockies Fall Colors Highlights Part 1 Mount Assiniboine

So I decided to take a friend of mine who had never been up to the Canadian Rockies around Banff for Fall colors.  And a chance to try out the Fuji GFX50s medium format camera in this beautiful environment.

I put together a simple plan starting with two nights in the Mount Assiniboine area and Magog Lake campground.  I arranged for us to fly in from the Mount Shark helipad near Canmore and then set up camp and explore.  We got some nice light, met quite a few great people and did a lot of hiking to check out the fall colors in the area.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on my first visit to the area and was ready to compare to my Lake O’Hara experiences.  What I learned:

Lake Magog tent pads have very sharp rocks.
The water available is unfiltered.
It’s about a half an hour walk to the campground from the helipad.
The common cooking area is un-enclosed and unlit.

These are observations in comparison to the Lake O’Hara facilities and things to keep in mind when packing.  Beyond the camping, the surrounding beauty is unrelenting, especially in the Fall.

To get to the area, you can either hike 13 miles in or take a 10 minute helicopter ride:

Helicopter Pad Heading to Mount Assiniboine

Helicopter Pad Heading to Mount Assiniboine

Our Fjallraven Tent Ready for Anything

Our Fjallraven Tent Ready for Anything in the Lake Magog Campground

An abundance of Fall Colors around the Mount Assiniboine area.  Larches were turning and many more were ready to turn.

Trail Through the Larches Past Sunburst Peak

Trail Through the Larches Past Sunburst Peak

Golden Fall Colors Leading to Mount Assiniboine

Golden Fall Colors Leading to Mount Assiniboine

The main hike in the area is the climb up to the Nub to look back down at Sunburst Lake, Sunburst Peak and Mount Assiniboine beyond.

Mount Assiniboine and Sunburst Peak from the Nub

Mount Assiniboine and Sunburst Peak from the Nub

Mount Assiniboine and Sunburst Peak Beneath Dramatic Skies

Mount Assiniboine and Sunburst Peak Beneath Dramatic Skies

One morning down next to Lake Magog revealed a mist-covered lake that later cleared up to show Mount Assiniboine.

Mount Assiniboine in the Mist

Mount Assiniboine in the Mist

Mount Assiniboine in the Mist Golden Light

Mount Assiniboine in the Mist Golden Light

We spent two amazing nights in the Mount Assiniboine area.  We had to leave too soon for the next leg of our trip but hope to  be back next year for more amazing landscapes.

Visiting the Icelandic Highlands Landmannalaugar Fuji GFX50s Part III

At this point, I was in the valley heading back to camp.  Flat and boggy which was ok by me. The last of the golden light was on the hills and sheep were grazing here and there.

Heading to the Vondugil valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

Heading to the Vondugil valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

A small waterfall below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

A small waterfall below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

In the valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

In the Vondugil valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

More bog and flowers about as the sun sets over the hills.  Tiny white flowers dotted the landscape.

In the valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

In the Vondugil valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

I made the decision to go around the Laugahringur lava fields which was a lot easier than picking your way through the lava forms and flows.  This took me past an area I had had my eye on all day, Brennisteinsalda, with vents letting out sulfurous steam clouds.

Brennisteinsalda the open and colorful small sulfur rocks and hot springs that are sometimes covered with smoke. This place therefore has a strong sulfur smell. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens.

Brennisteinsalda the open and colorful small sulfur rocks and hot springs that are sometimes covered with smoke. This place therefore has a strong sulfur smell. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens.

After a bit more careful hiking through the lava fields, you are back on a normal trail that takes you along a canyon past the Blue Mountain trailhead.  Soon I was back at camp and dipping into my bottle of Aleve.

This was an amazing hike.  You really have to explore the area a bit beyond the parking lot and camping area.  There are easier hikes but this one serves up amazing views for all your hard work.

Visiting the Icelandic Highlands Landmannalaugar Fuji GFX50s Part II

If you are here, you have to hike a bit to see the surroundings.  So I did some research and found a vigorous loop that would take me around the area and provide amazing views from above.  One source recommended Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil, one of the longer hikes, but with a huge payoff.  I set out early hoping to be in the views around dusk.

The first part takes you up and over several peaks with incredible vistas in every direction.  Each peak seemed to be better than the last.  I largely had a place to myself, only running into four other people.

Hiking the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands

View towards Bláhjúkur, Brennisteinsalda and Laugahraun along the hike.

Lone Hiker Along the Suðurnámur mountain ridge, Icelandic Highlands.

Lone Hiker Along the Suðurnámur mountain ridge, Icelandic Highlands.

Hiking the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands

View along the Jokulgilskvizl between the Barmur Ridge in the Icelandic Highlands.

About an hour into the hike, I got hit by a strong rain squall.  Fortunately I had my parka with me and slipped into it.  There was enough wind that I figured it would pass, and it eventually did.  I talked to two hikers who said the rest of the way was sunny and clear.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Two hikers I talked to about the weather…

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and Zeiss 100-300mm lens

Views over the ridge at Frostastaðavatn lake and beyond.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Massive geological features along the trail and the lava fields of Graenagil to the left

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Golden light on the green landscape of Landmannalaugar.

The trail and its views were captivating.  I lost sense of time, except for the sunset coming on brought me back.  The rain had indeed passed.  I started to descend to the valley below, taking care going down the slopes slick with loose gravel.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Trail to the valley below in Landmannalaugar

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Tiny sheep on the golden hillsides of Landmannalaugar.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lensIt felt good to be descending but I also missed the views from up on high.  More in Part III.

Visiting the Icelandic Highlands Landmannalaugar Fuji GFX50s

I have been enjoying my Fujifilm GFX50s camera since the moment I bought it last January.  I knew I had to get back to Iceland with it and see how it captured the fascinating landscapes there.  I also wanted to visit the Highlands around Landmannalaugar for the first time along with my many usual favorite locations there.  So I booked a sturdy 4×4, did a ton of research and off I went in early August.  I also packed two drones to capture the vast landscapes.

Drones and Luggage Heading to IcelandI got into Iceland and quickly heading along the Ring Road and then to the Highlands via F Road 208.  30 miles to Landmannalaugar it said.  How bad can that be?  Well its about 3 hours of rocky rutted road with 6-7 stream crossings deep enough you leave a wake.  Crazy but incredible.  The scenery began to change to wild hillsides of contrasting green and brown with occasional blue.  This was what I was after.  I put the drone up to see how it looked from above.

Driving to Landmannlaugar Iceland Drone Views

Driving to Landmannalaugar Iceland Drone Views

Driving to Landmannlaugar Iceland Drone Views

Driving to Landmannalaugar Iceland Drone Views

I reached the campsite area around Landmannalaugar and set about capturing some dusk light images of the area

Landmannlaugar Iceland Blue Mountain Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Blue Mountain Fuji GFX50s

Landmannlaugar Iceland Half Moon Rising Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Half Moon Rising Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Plains of Barmur Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Plains of Barmur Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Blue Mountain and Campground Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Blue Mountain and Campground Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Plains of Barmur Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Plains of Barmur Fuji GFX50s

There are many hikes in the area and I decided to take on the most rewarding but also roughest one. Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil is a 4-5 hour adventure with spectacular views in every direction.  I planned on doing it in the evening for the best dusk light.

More on that in my next piece.

Fuji GFX50s Camera Sunrises and Sunsets

I have to admit my Sony a7r2 has been abandoned in the gear closet.  Why would I do this in favor of the relatively massive Fuji GFX50s and lenses?  Image quality.  Details, tones and colors.  Mostly how all this adds up to spectacular sunrise and sunset captures.  The GFX50s has been thrilling me with how it captures one of my favorite subjects:  Landscape sunrises and sunsets.

These images really take me Back There and what the Fuji does with colors, details and tones in Velvia setting is simply beautiful to me.

Some recent samples:

California Coast With Fuji GFX50s

We needed some time out of town and Cannon Beach didn’t seem far enough away so we headed to Big Sur and Carmel, California.  I was really looking forward to getting some time with the Fuji GFX50s medium format camera and various lenses along the coast for some hopefully dramatic shots.  To quote Fstoppers:

The best camera isn’t the one with you, it’s your best camera, so make sure that’s the one with you.

So that’s why my A7R2 is in the closet at the moment and I can’t seem to be separated from my GFX50s…

Lens lineup for this trip was as  follows:
Fuji GF 23mm (18mm in 35mm terms)
Contax Zeiss 100-300mm
Contax Zeiss 50mm f1.4
Canon 16-35mm f4

Also brought a fistfull of ND and polarizer filters for the lenses and my Gitzo 0540 tripod.  And my Kipon AF adapter to make the non-native lenses play nice.

In retrospect, I used the 50mm and the 23mm the most.  I really like the rendering and colors of these lenses, and their compact size.  I could have done without the Canon 16-35/4 and might eventually replace it with the Fuji GF 32-64 lens.

Now to some photos from the trip:

Purple Echium Blooms Along the Beach in Carmel - Zeiss 50/1.4 on Fuji GFX50s

Purple Echium Blooms Along the Beach in Carmel – Zeiss 50/1.4 on Fuji GFX50s

The Lone Cyprus Along the 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach - GF 23mm lens on Fuji GFX50s

The Lone Cyprus Along the 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach – GF 23mm lens on Fuji GFX50s

Bixby Bridge and Highway 1 in Big Sur California - Zeiss 100-300mm on Fuji GFX50s

Bixby Bridge and Highway 1 in Big Sur California – Zeiss 100-300mm on Fuji GFX50s

Big Sur Wave Motion At Point Lobos - Zeiss 100-300mm on Fuji GFX50s

Big Sur Wave Motion At Point Lobos – Zeiss 100-300mm on Fuji GFX50s

Surf Drama and Wildflowers at Point Lobos - Fuji GF23mm on Fuji GFX50s

Surf Drama and Wildflowers at Point Lobos – Fuji GF23mm on Fuji GFX50s

Black and White Cyprus Grove at Point Lobos - Fuji GF23mm on Fuji GFX50s

Black and White Cyprus Grove at Point Lobos – Fuji GF23mm on Fuji GFX50s

Garrapata Coastal Dusk Scene - Fuji GF23mm on Fuji GFX50s

Garrapata Coastal Dusk Scene – Fuji GF23mm on Fuji GFX50s

Calla Lily Soft Light Bokeh - Zeiss 50mm 1.4 on Fuji GFX50s

Calla Lily Soft Light Bokeh – Zeiss 50mm 1.4 on Fuji GFX50s

Flowers Montage Soft Light Bokeh - Zeiss 50mm 1.4 on Fuji GFX50s

Flowers Montage Soft Light Bokeh – Zeiss 50mm 1.4 on Fuji GFX50s

Fuji GFX50s Medium Format Travels to Namibia: Images of Sossusvlei

Part 2  Off to Namibia from Cape Town.

After landing in Windhoek, I set off on a one week self-drive safari around the country.  I love capturing far off landscapes, but also expected to find exotic animals up close.  For this I brought two Canon lenses:  70-200mm 2.8 ii and an old school classic, the 200mm f.1.8 prime.  For more length, I also included a 2X ii converter.

My first stop was the Hoodia Lodge, near Sossusvlei and it’s world famous dunes.  I used the safari-included tour of the dune areas for scouting and returning the next morning early for the good light.  A few shots using mostly the 70-200 on the GFX50s:

Lone Tree Against a Massive Dune at Sossusvlei

Lone Tree Against a Massive Dune at Sossusvlei

People Climbing Big Daddy Dune in Sossusvlei Namibia

People Climbing Big Daddy Dune in Sossusvlei Namibia….and a tiny Oryx in the Foreground

Deadvlei Lost Forest in Namibia

Deadvlei Lost Forest in Namibia

The parched nature of the area and the vastness of the dunes were stunning.  105 degree midday temps added to the sense of a vast arid landscape.

Back at the lodge, I put up the drone for an aerial view outside the Sossusvlei park where drones aren’t allowed.  The sunset from above was a burner, and the aerial view added a new perspective of my surroundings.

Sossusvlei Burning Skies Sunset and Dry Riverbed DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone

Sossusvlei Burning Skies Sunset and Dry Riverbed DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone

Sossusvlei Sunset Ridge Across a Desert Landscape DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone

Sossusvlei Sunset Ridge Across a Desert Landscape DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone

Sossusvlei Sunset Peaks Last Light DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone

Sossusvlei Sunset Peaks Last Light DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone

I rested up for the next leg of my journey.   Tomorrow I would be heading to the coast for another part of the Namibian landscape:  Vast dunes against the beach and Atlantic Ocean.

Fuji GFX50s Medium Format Travels to Namibia

I had some work to do in South Africa, so I planned a week of self-driving around Namibia to explore the land and see what my new Fuji GFX50s medium format mirrorless camera could do out in the bush.  It’s hard for me to choose lenses for such a trip so I pretty much brought everything:

pelican case, lens case, travel photography, mavic pro 2 drone

Pelican 1510 case with numerous lenses and a Mavic Pro 2 drone

This was the lineup for this trip:

Fuji GFX50s
Sony a7r2
Canon 200mm f/1.8 and 2x converter
Canon 70-200 2.8 II
Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS
Zeiss 18mm f/3.5
Zeiss 50mm f/1.4
Zeiss 85mm F/1.4 Otus
Mavic Pro 2 drone
Gitzo 0531 tripod with BH25 head

I was able to get some nice shots hiking around Table Mountain and the Signal Hill areas of Cape Town.

Lions Head from Table Mountain Cape Town Fuji GFX50s

Lions Head from Table Mountain Cape Town Fuji GFX50s

Sunset Watchers from Signal Hill Cape Town South Africa GFX50s

Sunset Watchers from Signal Hill Cape Town South Africa GFX50s

Full Moon Over Cape Town Fuji GFX50s

Full Moon Over Cape Town Fuji GFX50s

The Twelve Apostles Table Mountain Cape Town Fuji GFX50s

The Twelve Apostles Table Mountain Cape Town Fuji GFX50s

Work wrapped up after at the end of the week and then I flew to Windhoek Namibia for another 7 days of exploring with the Fuji GFX50s…