Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 2: A WHITE BIG APPLE - New York winter shooting with Fujifilm X-T2

New York, often nicknamed the Big Apple, is definitively in my Top 3 of  the "Best cities for Street Photography"; always fighting for the top with Tokyo!

My first visit 2018 to the Big Apple (as an airline pilot) was planned to be a short one; 30 hours or so. When heavy snowfall started coming down on the first morning I was there, winterstorm Grayson changed all of that. I ended up staying an additional 30 hrs; almost 3 full days with plenty of opportunity for photography.

Some photographers don't like harsh weather conditions for Street Photography, I personally love it, especially in cities like New York! After having documented Tokyo in a typhoon at the end of last year, it was now New York's turn. 

Obviously the most important is having proper clothing; a warm ski jacket, a hat covering ears, good gloves that allow one still to shoot and last but not least proper warm water proof shoes. 

Winterstorm Grayson brought temperates below -15C (5F); while the windchill factor easily approaching -25C (-13F)  due to the +40mph (+70kmph) Northerly winds. An ultimate test for my weather sealed Fujifilm X-T2 and XF23mm f2 lens which didn't miss a beat. 

While battery consumption in these conditions normally falls off quite rapidly, I was pleasantly surprised to see it still being very reasonable. The main reason was probably because I kept my camera between two layers of clothing in between shooting.

For me Street Photography always involves lots of walking and this time was not different... I still managed to do my +15km (+10miles) per day. I did however pretty much only walk "southbound", to avoid the freezing wind hitting my face and then took the metro to go Northbound again. 

Somewhere in Greenwich village, I bumped into the sign below saying "Freeze your fat"; very appropriate and a perfect place to wait for a scene to develop. It didn't take long when I saw two guys carrying a heavy panel. The ice-cream truck in the background, just gave the image the extra touch. 


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 23mm f2 lens
  • ISO 5000, 1/400s, f10
  • Lightroom CC Classic for RAW and Classic Chrome conversion
While most of my older New York Street Photography is Black and White, I decided to shoot this winter series in Color, Fujifilm Classic Chrome to be precise. 

All of my other New York Street Photography work can be found here. 


Remember: "A photograph is the pause button in life"  - Ty Holland   

BJORN



Monday, January 8, 2018

TOP 10 IMAGES OF 2017

Now that the end of the year celebrations are behind us, it is a perfect time to reflect on my work as a photographer during 2017.  

While some tend to think that the best years of photography seem to be behind us, I tend to disagree. Traveling to exciting places has become more affordable; technology and pricing on present day cameras has opened up photography to the masses; learning photography has become so much easier, be it through online tutorials or actual workshops. What is there not to like with all of the above? To me we are truly living in the golden age of photography! 

Looking at the mirrorless market, where the innovation seems to be the biggest, we are seeing breakthrough technology on a constant basis. Please take note Nikon and Canon! On the Fujifilm side, 2017 was the year where I reviewed the brand-new X-100F, X-T20 and X-E3 cameras; three great additions to the X-series line-up. Towards the end of the year, I also had a closer look at the Medium format GFX-50S. 

Over the years I've traditionally listed my best 3 Architectural, Aviation and Travel images. Last year however I added a third category, "Street Photography" as this has become much more important in my personal photography work. 

Lately I've been asking myself the question if I actually still need to put my images in different categories? Although I'm keeping my three Portfolio categories on my website (click here for more), for my 2017 selection, I decided to just list my TOP 10 images of the year. I more and more like to looked at as  a "Photographer", rather than being categorized as a specific type of photographer!

Let the countdown begin...

10/ VILLA CAVROIS, Roubaix France
Shot last summer, my visit to this beautifully restored Late Art Deco building, became my 2017 Pic(k) of the week 32



9/ BELGIAN AIR FORCE F-16 SUNSET DISPLAY
Shot at the Sanicole Sunset airshow in Belgium early September with the XF100-400 lens. The evening airshow proved to be one the most challenging of the 2017 season due to the low light and moderate rain. 


8/ 500FT OVER THE VINEYARDS OF BURGUNDY
Shot early morning from my 1954 Piper Cub, this is my favorite Aerial photography image of the year. The flight itself is one my most memorable ones in my +30 years of flying as a pilot. More info in my 2017 Pic(k) of the week 28



7/ SUNRISE OVER LES MENUIRES
As a yearly tradition, in February 2017 I went skiing for a week. A camera is always on me during these trips; this time it was the very small Fujifilm X-A3. More at the 2017 Pic(k) of the week 9. 


6/ PLAYING GAMES AT KHLONG TOEI MARKET
I photographed this kid playing games at a local Thai market, while his parents were working. The image became the cover of my Street Hunt book which was released in 2017, more info here. Please send me a personal message for special pricing.


5/ STEAMY WINDOWS, TOKYO
End of October I spend four days in Tokyo, Japan. A Street Hunt trip to test and review the Fujifilm X-E3. This image shot in the subway is my favorite image from Japan. More in my 2017 Pic(k) of the week 44.


4/ THE YELLOW STEPS
While being jet-lagged in Sydney Australia, I shot the image very early morning. It created a bit of a debate whether this is Street photography. In any case it makes for a great print! More at my 2017 Pic(k) of the week 43


3/ RARE AIRLINER FORMATION
During the Dubai Airshow, Emirates airline flew a Boeing B777 and Airbus A380 in formation with the Al Fursan military jet team. A one of that could not be missed! More at my Pic(k) of the week 47

Dubai Airshow 2017

2/ DOWNTOWN DUBAI DURING BLUE HOUR
End of the year, I was lucky enough to do some roof-topping from the Index Tower in Dubai. The camera used was the GFX 50S; Fujifilm's Medium Format camera which holds an amazing amount of detail. More at the 2017 Pic(k) of the week 51.


1/ SUPERMOON RISE OVER THE GHAF TREES
Finally my personal favorite one of the year... Shot in the Dubai Desert in the last month of 2017, there was hardly any editing work done to the image, which makes it even stand out more. More at my Pic(k) of the week 49.  



Looking back at the above Top 10, it is remarkable that all images except one, have been shot in the last 6 months of the year. Is that because the more recent work still resonates more with the photographer? Possibly. In any case, it is a good idea to allow some time for your images to mature before publishing them. Something I struggle with myself and obviously is against my own Pic(k) of the week project. For 2018, I intend to revisit some older images and potentially even re-edit them in order to see their full potential.  

A look into my Lightroom catalog shows a total of 12561 images for 2017, remarkably close to last years 12437! I obviously shot many more, but these images are the ones that I consider worth keeping. Of these 198 have received a 5 star rating; the highest score I give to my images which potentially can make it into a Portfolio image. 

Like the previous year, all images in 2017 were shot on Fujifilm cameras; mostly with the X-T2 and X-T20 but also some on other cameras such as the X-A3, X-100F, X-E3 and GFX 50S. 

Last month was my fifth year of shooting the X-series Fujifilm system. Time permitting, I will try to blog about this anniversary later in the month. 

2017 has also been the year where I've been growing my Instagram account more and more. If you don't follow me on Instagram yet, please click here

Happy shooting,
BJORN



Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 1: JUMPING INTO THE NEW YEAR - HAPPY 2018

Happy 2018 to all my blog readers! May the New Year bring you good health, joy and happiness! 

As I'm writing this, I'm starting the 9th consecutive year of my Pic(k) of the week series; 52 images per year which stand out that given week. When I started it in January 2010, it was a New Years resolution and personal photo challenge. To be honest I never thought I would be able to maintain it for that long but I've thoroughly enjoyed the process and it has definitively helped my photography forward. 

Just like every new year a lot of people have probably started a 365 project; one image per day. I personally believe one image per week makes for a more thoughtful photo-project but I do of course respect whoever is able to complete such a challenge! 

Beside the countless reviews, the Pic(k) of the week series has been the other main activity on the blog, which now has passed 1 million (yes that is right!) views.

Yesterday, on January 1st, we set off for desert drive in the Dubai desert with a group of friends. A leisurely off-road drive followed by a sunset BBQ and campfire is the perfect setting to relax after the busy Holiday period. 

In the image below of three sisters jumping on the top of a dune while the sun was setting behind them, I tried to symbolize the joy and happiness the New Year will hopefully bring to you!  


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF100-400 lens
  • ISO 200, f7.1, 1/4800s, 100mm (150mm full frame equivalent)
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC Classic using Velvia Camera Profile
The silhouette like the one above is a simple image to make; just be sure to have a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action, best done in manual exposure (under exposed compared to the normal meter reading).  

As a yearly tradition, I will blog about my best 3 Architectural, Aviation and Travel/Street images of the past year sometime in the coming weeks. 

Meanwhile to check out all 52 Pic(k) of the week images of 2017, click here

Remember: " January 1st is the first page of a new 365 page book, write a good one" - Brad Paisley



BJORN

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Pic(k) of the week 52: DUBAI FINANCIAL CENTER FROM THE 80TH FLOOR

Last week (click here for the post) I blogged about my roof-topping experience from the Index tower in Dubai. As I also brought my Fujifilm X-T2 beside the great Medium format GFX 50S, I promised to do two consecutive blogposts about the shoot.

So this Pic(k) off the week is all about the shot I took facing North towards DIFC. Although this side obviously doesn't have the Burj Khalifa (worlds tallest building) in the frame, it doesn't make it any less interesting!

Just like with my GFX 50S shot in Pic(k) of the week 51, I set up the camera using the built in "Interval Timer Shooting" function to shoot every 90 seconds. Combining it with a 3 shot exposure bracket (-1, 0, +1EV) set-up, the camera took basically three different exposures every minute and a half. 

Recognizing the perfect blue hour moment while shooting, is not always easy. Having 2 cameras that are 25m apart makes it even harder. Although the majority of the images shot will be deleted after the editing is complete, I find it much more reliable to shoot similar images with the above technique. 

Camera setting wise, I use Manual focus with a fixed ISO and aperture; basically only the shutter speed is allowed to fluctuate. As the night falls, exposures are of course getting longer with such a set-up; something to take into account when picking the time for the Interval meter; one minute for every interval might not be sufficient to take three shots once it gets darker.


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF10-24 f4 lens
  • Base image ISO 200, f 9, 14.5mm (22mm full frame equivalent)
  • Lightroom CC Classic for RAW development and perspective control
  • Photoshop CC for some limited digital blending; highlights only
As camera support, instead of using a tripod for my second camera, I used the Platypod Pro (now called PlatyPod Max) mini tripod base. The Platypod is a plate where one can mount a classic ball-head on. As long as the surface is relatively flat, I makes for a great stable camera platform! Slightly uneven surfaces can be tackled with the three provided spikes. The Platypod can easily support the weight as I even used it with the Fujifilm GFX 50S lately. 

More Architectural images from Dubai can be found here

Remember: "A good photograph is knowing where to stand" - Ansel Adams.


BJORN



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Pic(k) of the week 51: ROOF-TOPPING WITH THE FUJIFILM GFX 50S - DOWNTOWN DUBAI

Over the last few weeks, I've had the opportunity to shoot the amazing Fujifilm GFX 50S again; a digital Medium Format +51Mpx camera which captures amazing images! 

Although I shot a pre-production version of the camera earlier this year, I'm really impressed with the image quality and general handling after trying it out for the second time round. For me it is not the camera I would take on my travels when weight is an issue (airline travel), I have my smaller Fujifilm X-series cameras for that, but can certainly see doing more Architectural and Landscape work with it! After all, it is similar in size compared to full frame cameras like the Nikon D850 or Canon 5D series but offers a much larger sensor.  

What better place to take the GFX than to one of Dubai's most dramatic rooftops; the 80th floor of Index Tower in DIFC (Dubai International Financial Center) for a sunset shoot? Timing it with another rare environmental phenomenon in Dubai called "clouds", it made it even better!

First of all, access to the Index tower rooftop is not open to the public. Special permission is required; unfortunately I can't help you on this one. But although Index tower is not a hotel, rooms can be rented in the building through AirBnb (click here) and other short time rental providers; potentially offering a great alternative. Obviously try to obtain a high floor (suggest above the 50th floor) facing the Burj Khalifa. 

As the rooftop basically has two spectacular views, I took two cameras up on the roof in order to cover both opportunities; the Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujifilm GFX50S. Next weeks Pic(k) of the week will be about the view on the other side! 

The image below is facing South-West, towards the +160 floor Burj Khalifa. I find it mind boggling that being on the 80th floor, one is only half way compared to the worlds highest skyscraper.


Image details:
  • Fujifilm GFX 50S with the GF23mm f4 R LM WR lens
  • Base image ISO 100, f16, 15sec
  • Lightroom CC Classic for RAW development + perspective control
  • Photoshop CC for a small amount of Digital Blending (Highlights only) 
Needless to say, a Medium format camera like the GFX 50S, holds an amazing amount of detail; make sure to click on the image above, preferably on a large screen, to fully appreciate the quality!

Typical for a Medium Format is the slightly unusual 4 by 3 image aspect ratio. Since the start of Digital photography, most people are used to the 3 by 2 ratio or even prefer the 16:9 computer and television screens have since quite a few years now. Although I could have cropped it to one of the above keeping more than sufficient image data, I elected to go hardcore Medium format on this one! 

A 23mm lens might not seem to be very wide, but when converted into the standard "full frame" equivalent, it becomes 18mm; plenty wide enough for shots like these. It was the first time I shot the 23mm f4 lens and was really impressed with the quality of this piece of glass which was very sharp all the way across the frame. As expected some perspective correction was needed to make sure all buildings were straight; especially on the sides. I really would like to see Fujfilm come out with a wide-angle Tilt Shift lens for the GFX (and X-series for that matter). Are you listening Fujifilm Japan? ;-)

Although I shot bracketed exposures from just before sunset to the end of the blue hour, I only used a single second file (beside the base image) to do a very small amount of Digital blending of the highlights; mostly on the Dubai Mall signs in the left mid section of the image. 

If you want to check out more details of the GFX 50S, I invite you to check out the great review written by Jonas Rask here.  

Remember: "When people ask me what equipment I use, I tell them my eyes

BJORN