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

Various Zeiss Prime Lenses Adapted Onto the Fuji GFX50s

..and one very old Canon prime.

How did this happen?  Well my Sony a7r’s second shutter blew apart during a sunrise timelapse and I found myself looking into another camera body. I was going back and forth considering another a7r2 or even the a7r3.  Looking around, I came across the Fuji.  I’ve always wondered about digital medium format for landscape photography.  I rented one for the weekend and set about adapting my various Canon-mount Zeiss lenses to it.  Adapting lenses onto the GFX50s leads one into the myriad of adapters available with their pluses and minuses.

As we know, renting can lead to buying, and within a week I found myself with an almost new GFX50s.  My initial challenges were figuring out the menu system and dialing in manual focus.  Most of the online tutorials seemed to leave out an implied step or two.  Eventually I got there.  I tried adapters from Fotodiox to Viltrox and eventually settled on the Kipon AF adapter.  I meant to try to the Fringer but ordered the wrong size and by then, I was happy with the Kipon.

I adapted on my Zeiss 85 and 28 Otus lenses, my 135mm f2 ZE lens and even my old Contax 50mm f1.4.  The 28 Otus had the most vignetting.  All lenses performed well. I was especially happy with the AF using my almost 30yo Canon 200mm f1.8 lens.  Much snappier and more accurate than the Sigma MC11 or Metabones IV adapters on my Sony a7r2.

A few photos from my first few days with the camera.  Very impressed with the details and tonality.

Smith Tower Blues Fuji GFX50s and Zeiss 85mm Otus lens

Smith Tower Blues Fuji GFX50s and Zeiss 85mm Otus lens

Seattle Sunset Fuji GFX50s and Contax 50mm lens Handheld Shot

Seattle Sunset Fuji GFX50s and Contax 50mm lens Handheld Shot

My Contemplative Cat Fuji GFX50s and Contax 50mm lens Handheld Shot

My Contemplative Cat Fuji GFX50s and Contax 50mm lens Handheld Shot

Second Beach Sunset Fuji GFX50s and Zeiss 28mm Otus lens Handheld Shot

Second Beach Sunset Fuji GFX50s and Zeiss 28mm Otus lens Handheld Shot

Smith Tower Dusk Fuji GFX50s and Canon 200mm f1.8 lens

Smith Tower Dusk Fuji GFX50s and Canon 200mm f1.8 lens

Lake O’Hara Fall Colors Camping

For the second year in a row, I decided to head to Lake O’Hara for some camping and fall colors photography.  I love this place.  Alongside awesome scenery including towering peaks and golden larches, access is restricted so its not too crowded.  Two ways to overnight at the lake:  Camping in the campground or staying at the Lodge.

Having no luck with the Lodge waiting list, I decided to camp for a few night and hope for good weather.  After an 11 hour drive from Seattle I was ready for an adventure.  I learned a lot from last year’s Lake O’Hara camping.  First was that it pays to bring real food and cook it at the campground.  Second, bring the warmest gear you have.

In the end, I overpacked a bit and got a lecture from the staff before boarding the schoolbus that takes you up the fire road to Lake O’Hara.

banff, lake ohara, camping, gear

Lots of gear and ready for cold overnight temps

I setup my tent on pad 26 and got situated for the days ahead.  There was a little less snow than last year so people were socializing around the campfire.  I relaxed for the rest of the evening since the skies were cloudy and the light wasn’t good.

My Mountain Hardwear Trango Assault tent at Lake O'Hara

My Mountain Hardwear Trango Assault tent at Lake O’Hara

I peeked out of my tent around 5am the next day and saw stars above so it was on.  I geared up and headed for the Opabin Plateau.  Having seen and photographed the view from the Plateau over the lakes, I decided to explore the larches and lakes farther in instead.

I found a winter wonderland of larches, frozen tarns and towering peaks.  A few of these are below.

Almost Frozen Opabin Lake and First Light on Peaks Beyond

Almost Frozen Opabin Lake and First Light on Peaks Beyond

Mount Huber Catching First Light

Mount Huber Catching First Light

Mount Schaffer Catching Morning Light Above Lake Opabin and Golden Fall Colors

Mount Schaffer Catching Morning Light Above Lake Opabin and Golden Fall Colors

Opabin Plateau Golden Larches and Towering Mount Schaffer

Opabin Plateau Golden Fall Colors  Larches

I wandered along the frozen trails for about an hour before the light lost its softness.  then I headed back down to the campground for breakfast and some rest. The lakeside cabins of the Lake O’Hara Lodge were basking in warm morning light.

Lake O'Hara Lodge Cabins Reflection Just After Dawn

Lake O’Hara Lodge Cabins Reflection Just After Dawn

Part 2 coming up…

 

Learning To Fly: DJI Inspire Pro and Mavic Pro Drones

My first drone a few years ago was pretty basic by today’s standards.  Low quality camera, a few minutes of battery life.  No object avoidance:  You were truly on your own.  I flew it a few times, then it went in the closet.

Something about the DJI Mavic Pro made me want to check it out.  I got one and took it to Iceland where it flew once.  My mind was elsewhere.  Back home, I flew it up around Mount Baker and down at Mount Rainier.  Drones had clearly come along a way.  Tons of features, compact and easy to fly.  A reasonable camera for the price.

Of course, coming from Sony a7r2 and Zeiss lenses, I wanted more from the camera.  I looked around and realized I needed a DJI Inspire.  What I really wanted was the included X5 camera which allows different lenses and a nice micro 4/3rds sensor.  It comes with a Leica-ish 30mm kit lens and I recently added an Olympus 90mm 1.8 lens as well.

So the journey begins in drone photography and videos.  Here’s a sampling of what I’ve come up with so far.  Honestly, it’s a bit daunting sending that much money up in the air.

Salt Marsh Aerial Photography DJI Mavic Pro

Salt Marsh Aerial Photography DJI Mavic Pro

Tideflats Colors Aerial Photography DJI Mavic Pro

Tideflats Colors Aerial Photography DJI Mavic Pro

Tideflats Colors and Patterns Aerial Photography DJI Mavic Pro

Tideflats Colors and Patterns Aerial Photography DJI Mavic Pro

Aerial Photography Drone Rainier White River

Aerial Photography Drone Rainier White River DJI Mavic Pro

Above the Forest and Road

Above the Forest and Road DJI Mavic Pro

drone photography, aerial photography

Above the Lake Tipsoo and Road at Defrost DJI Mavic Pro

drone photography, aerial photography

Drone Photography Road Through the Forest Dji Mavic Pro

drone photography, aerial photography

About to Land through Sunlit Trees DJI Inspire Pro

Drone Photography Rainier at Sunrise 90mm

Drone Photography Rainier at Sunrise DJI Inspire Pro 90mm

drone photography, aerial photography

Mount Rainier and Yakima Peak at Sunrise DJI Inspire Pro

aerial photography, drone photography, iceland photography

Aerial Photography Fresh Snow on Peaks in Iceland DJI Mavic Pro

drone photography, aerial photography

Nooksack River Heads to the Sunset DJI Mavic Pro

drone photography, aerial photography

Smaller Rivers Lead to Larger Ones DJI Mavic Pro

And finally a video from Rainier this morning

 

Back to Iceland: Round the Ring Road Part 4

I mentioned a weather apocalypse of sorts around Hofn and it hit hard one morning.  Crazy weather is worth venturing into at sunrise or sunset because the potential for great shots is there.  Safety first, of course.  Arcteryx thought enough of my suffering and brand placement that they asked to use this photo in their website promotions.

Iceland Stokksnes Morning Hailstorm Arcteryx

Iceland Stokksnes Morning Hailstorm

 

Iceland Stokksnes After the Hailstorm Zeiss 28mm Otus Sony

Iceland Stokksnes After the Hailstorm

That morning, a beautiful sunrise wasn’t to be.  But venturing east, I found the golden light behind the storm.

Iceland Ring Road Hailstorm Sunrays

Iceland Ring Road Hailstorm Sunrays

Which in turn lit up the surrounding peaks nicely.

Iceland Ring Road Morning Golden Light On Dusted Peaks Zeiss 28mm Otus and Sony A7R2

Iceland Ring Road Morning Golden Light On Dusted Peaks

Iceland Ring Road Snow Capped Peaks Reflection

Iceland Ring Road Snow Capped Peaks Reflection

At that point, the light was on the wane so I headed back to Hofn for a nap and breakfast.  Time to rest and rejuvenate for afternoon at Jokulsarlon.  On this visit, there wasn’t much ice on the beach as it was still cold and frozen at the glacier. But wandering the beaches along the lagoon is always a pleasure.  Its interesting to see how the ice arranges itself, changing each day.

Iceland Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon Sculptures Zeiss 85mm Otus

Iceland Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon Sculptures

Later on back at Hotel Hofn, I learned of their happy hour and 20% off meals for guests. this lead to more relaxing and planning for the morning.  Hopefully without the hailstorms

Three Weeks of Rain in Seattle: Time for a Zion and Bryce Canyon Roadtrip

It’s been raining in Seattle now for a few weeks and I really needed to get out of town.  The weather forecast for Zion and Bryce Canyon was the opposite:  Sun and clear skies for two weeks.  So I flew to Vegas, rented a car and set out into the desert.

I drove first to Bryce Canyon, where I stayed for a night.  Sunrise was brutally cold but beautiful and serene.  It was all I could do to leave that afternoon for my next destination, Zion National Park.

Bryce Canyon Cold Morning at the Lookout

Bryce Canyon Cold Morning at the Lookout

I got quite a few nice shots at Bryce Canyon and one morning hiked down into the Canyon for a different perspective.

Bryce Canyon Sunrise Light CloseupDSC05854

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Bryce Canyon Sunrise Light Closeup Canon 400mm

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Bryce Canyon Sunrise Light Closeup Zeiss 85 Otus

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I had been to Zion before and had a few ideas about compositions for sunrise and sunset.  This time of the year gave me access to Zion Canyon Drive as well, so more choices.  I found many nice compositions out the Drive.

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View of Zion National Park Out Canyon Drive

View of Zion National Park Out Canyon Drive

Each time I drove out of the Drive, the Watchman appeared as I slowed for the turn into Springdale.  I had taken the traditional shot from the bridge many times and was wary of falling back on it.  I noted a trail heading down the river and promised myself I would check it out the following day.

I headed down the trail the next day, realizing I was running out of sunset light but very curious about opportunities for other compositions beyond what everyone was getting back at the bridge.  Eventually I found this shot and came back the next night to set it up.  So glad I did.

The next day, I returned to Vegas and back to Seattle, parka at the ready.

Golden Larches Fall Colors Hiking and Photography: Enchantments 2017

Enchantments Prusik Peak Perfection Lake View

Enchantments Prusik Peak Perfection Lake View

Each year I contemplate the hike I will be making into the Enchantments for larches and fall colors.  I go over hiking gear lists, camera gear, food plans, compositions, etc.  I decided to go Snow Lakes route this year, having gone Asgaard Pass out of the Stuart Lake trailhead the previous two years.

My Zpacks pack ready to go at Snow Lakes Enchantments Hike Trailhead

My Zpacks pack ready to go at Snow Lakes Enchantments Hike Trailhead

We planned on staying 3 days near Leprechaun Lake.  The weather report indicated snow in the area we wanted to camp in and temps in the 20s so I packed accordingly.  My tent was the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1.  My sleeping bag was the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0 degree and Thermarest Xtherm pad.  My pack was the Zpacks Arc Blast cuben/carbon pack.  Arc’Teryx Bora2 boots, Cerium SV and Alpha FL jacket, Rampart pants and Atom LT insulated pants.  There’s a reason why I worked retail at the ArcTeryx store for two years  🙂

My camera gear was my Sony a7r2, Zeiss 55 and Zeiss 16-35 lenses along with my Voigtlander 10mm.  I brought my carbon tent pole tripod, which was pretty underwhelming so my shots were all handheld.  For hydration, I brought two small bottles of gatorade and made more with Endurox R4 and electrolyte tabs as I hiked.  Food-wise, I had oatmeal and high protein granola, a stack of peanut butter and honey sandwiches and a pile of snacks heavy on Snickers bars.  I left the trailhead at 32lbs, which I was pretty happy with. FWIW, I don’t do poles after an unfortunately pole to tooth incident a few years back, and I drink straight out of fast-moving streams.  This has always worked for me, but I don’t necessarily recommend it for others.

Once the dates were in place, I put out some invites for others to go along.  All this inviting resulted in two people going with me: Jenn and Erwin.  Erwin insisted on camping halfway up which is new to me but we found camping at Snow Lakes to be a nice break and got some great shots there.

Snow Lake Enchantments Sunrise Light

Snow Lake Enchantments Sunrise Light

Another nice part of staying at Snow Lake is that the next section is flat for a while.  Having rounded Snow Lake, however, the climbing begins.  We took it slow and got to Leprechaun Lake in a few hours.

Jenn and Erwin Climbing up Towards Lake Vivianne

Jenn and Erwin Climbing up Towards Lake Vivianne

We camped near Leprechaun Lake and set out getting photos.It was a great trip as always.  Oncoming snow showers sent us back down a bit earlier than expected but we decided caution was in order.  As I write this a few days later, I, of course, already want to go back  🙂  Here is a random sampling of shots from the hike:

Many more shots at Mike Reid Photography