On Taking Pictures DC Meetup

I spent most of today in DC, at a meetup with the hosts of the On Taking Pictures podcast, as well as a good-sized group of listeners. We started out at the Smithsonian American Art Museum to see the Irving Penn exhibit, and then broke out to walk around the area shooting for a while, and finished off the day with food, drink, and conversation at Hill Country BBQ. The Penn exhibit was phenomenal, if a little overwhelming, feature 146 intense images. The range of his work was much broader than I realized, and I was particularly interested in some of his street photography from the 1940s. Of course, they had all the iconic images on display. One thing that I found impressive was the quality consistency of then printing of the gelatin silver prints. There were several examples of prints made from images that were probably on the same roll of film, but the prints were made decades apart, yet the prints looked as if they could have been made the same day.

After taking in the exhibit for an hour or so, we headed out for an hour of shooting in DC. In all honesty, I'm not a DC person. I worked there for better than 15 years, and frankly, that was enough of the city for me. So, I took this as a "shoot more eggs" opportunity, and with a few other group members, looked around Chinatown and the nearby area for anything interesting to shoot. I carried the Fujifilm X-E1 with the 18-55mm lens, and the iPhone 6s.

After the walk, we gathered for food and drink and conversation, and a great time was had by all. I especially enjoyed meeting the guys who ride (virtually) to and from work with me once a week. And, of course, it was fun hanging out with like-minded people to talk about photography and pretty much whatever else came to mind. I'm already looking forward to the next one!

At The Zoo

They tell me it's all happening at the zoo,I do believe it, I do believe it's true...

On Sunday, we went to join an iPhone meetup group for a photo walk at the National Zoo in Washington. While  I did shoot with the iPhone, I also shot a lot with the Fujifilm X-E1.

Here are my iPhone shots:

There are a lot of times I find using the iPhone camera(s) to be really frustrating. It's great for shooting when you can get in tight, or when you're looking to get a landscape, or for quick grab shots of friends in a pub, or for quick documentation. And using it to take pictures and "mess them up" is a lot of fun. But, dang it, there's a reason for interchangeable lenses -- or cameras with decent in-built zooms.

Here are my shots with the Fujifilm X-E1:

All of the shots were with the XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS, although I did use the XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS for other shots where appropriate.

Shooting at a zoo can be a significant challenge, as often, the animals are far away. In a lot of zoos, especially for smaller animals, the old-style barred enclosures have given way to natural barriers and fences with a relatively tight "weave." This is especially true for birds. While we can tend to look through without noticing, our cameras cannot. The trick is to get the lens as close to the fence as possible, and hope for some good separation between the fence and the subject. Even so, the fence or screen often has the effect of reducing contrast in our pictures. Finally, in a lot of cases, the backgrounds for the enclosed animals is, necessarily, less than attractive.

I continue to be impressed with the quality of the 55-230. The sharpness and contrast, coupled with its superb image stabilization, make it a great go-to lens for me. The only gripe I think I have is that when moving in and out of aperture priority mode, I have to scroll through all the aperture to reach the "A" setting. It's a little more cumbersome than on the XF lenses with aperture rings, because the control is not as readily accessible. Maybe if Fujifilm could release a firmware update that allowed the scroll wheel "push" to be set up to jump between the manually selected aperture and "A", or maybe allow it to be set on another button...