Milano's reflections

This is retrospective post for my visit to Milano in May. As it was a short visit, I decided to travel light and take X-Pro2 (my favourite) with three compact "Fujicron" lenses - 23, 35 and 50mm - all f2, and XT-2 with 10-24mm f4 zoom and 8mm f2 Samyang fisheye for architectural shots. All nicely packed into the new 20l Peak-Design backpack. The latter was improved by taking out couple of lower intersections and putting in a Billingham Hadley Small insert, facing the side of the backpack, instead. The abundancy of photo opportunities in Milano is overwhelming (street, architecture, reflections) therefore shooting something that has not been photographed before is almost impossible. But then a rain fall comes and it changes everything... as the saying goes: "bad weather makes good pictures" - or least provides for some great photo opportunites. So here is my small selection of shots, indoors and outdoors, street and reflections of Milano as I saw it.
As for lens usage - 35mm f2 was my clear favourite, 8mm lens was used most for indoors as 10-24 is often not wide and not bright enough. I used it more often on a tripod (Gitzo 1542T) with RRS BH-30LR II ball head outdoors. My biggest surprise was to find out how good the 23mm f2 lens is. It is a gem and although it is not my favourite focal length I will use it more often from now.

Post-editing was done in Lightroom 6 using Fujifilm Classic Chrome profile with some further adjustments. BW conversion - with Nik's SilverEfex. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

Iceland with Fuji X-T1

This is the second part of my retrospective blog about a trip that took place in Greenland and Iceland two years ago. Equipped with X-T1 and X-E1 with 55-200, 14, 18-55 and 35mm lenses and little prior experience of landscape shooting I trekked some of the most beautiful landscapes on this planet. The trip was organised by Icelandic Mountain Guides. The Icelandic part of the trip was overwelming by its combination of increadible landscapes, light, weather, textures and colours. There is so much beauty packed on this island that once you have visited it - it will always stay in your heart. I was surprised to find out that X-T1 with vertical grip and 55-200 lens attached to it was used most of the time to reach as far and high/low as I could when in the mountains. 14 and 18-55mm lenses were used on a few ocassions when a grand view presenteditself. I guess it also reflects my personal vision of landscapes too. Also my apologies for those who expect large waterfalls - I have not selected any for this blog. The idea was to show Iceland the way it looks from a trek, on the go without a tripod, away from the main tourist path. Post-editing was done in Iridient Developer and Lightroom 6. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

Þórsmörk

Our first camp was at Þórsmörk, south of Iceland between the glaciers Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull, the latter home for the famost trouble maker Eyjafjallajökull vulcano. Þórsmörk is a beautiful mountain ridge that was named after the Norse god Thor with breathtaking views.

Þórsmörk

Eyjafjallajökull area

Eyjafjallajökull area

Þórsmörk

Þórsmörk troll

Eyjafjallajökull

Þórsmörk

Eyjafjallajökull area

Þórsmörk

One of the Þórsmörk glaciers under the clouds, the glacier ice folded and scrambled like a frozen image of crashing waves.

Layers of ice and rock….  Þórsmörk

Glacial ice contrasting with the rock of the mountains and the green moss and grass, Þórsmörk

Þórsmörk

Our second camp was at Skaftafell, south east of the Vatnajökull national park. The only heavy rain we had during the trip gave way to a beautiful sunset. The following days we trekked along some spectacular routes.

Sunset in Skaftafell

Skaftafell

Wall of tears, Skaftafell

Wall of tears, Skaftafell

 Ice and fire - sunset at Öræfajökull and Hvannadalshnjúkur as seen from Skaftafell.

Jökulsárlón area

Ice creature, Jökulsárlón

Ice creature, Jökulsárlón

The great skua is a pirate of the seas, deliberately harrassing birds as large as gannets to steal a free meal. Jökulsárlón area.

On the way to the third camp and Landmannalaugar.

Landmannalaugar highlands was our final destination and a base for the third camp.

Two hikers "lost" in the vastness of the Landmannalaugar Highlands.

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Trek with a view... Landmannalaugar Highlands

The colourful mountains of Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Nature's palette, amazing colours of Brennisteinsalda Mountain, Landmannalaugar Highlands. For scale reference - there is a tiny speck of a hiker on a trail just left of the hill's top.

Beautiful colours and patterns of Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Layers of colour and light, Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

A fellow hiker walks on the backdrop of Landmannalaugar Highlands, Iceland - one of the most beautiful places to travel to and have a hike among spectacular landscapes.

So, what is next? Definitely more trips to other parts of this beautiful island in the nearest future. I am also looking forward to using the new X-T2 cameras with new weather proof 50-140 f2.8 and 16-55 f2.8 lenses. Having two camera bodies with dedicated lenses works best when trekking, unless one is pressed for weight. In that case X-T2 with 50-140 f2.8 will do just perfectly for me. Changing lenses on the go, with winds carrying dust and volcanic ash is complicated. The new combo may not be as light as the kit that I had on my first trip, but it certainly gives a huge bonus of weather sealed lenses and superior optics combined with bigger sensors of XT-2 and dual cards - less card swapping on the go. Looking forward to writing a new blog next summer.

CitizenM hotel staircase with X-T1

A stonesthrow away from the Tate Modern there is a small hidden gem of London's spiral staircases. CitizenM hotel has a modern wooden staircase, which will blow your mind. Fortunately the helpful staff have placed a couple of swivel chairs at its foot so you can either zen meditate or comfortably take a few shots of this masterpiece. As usual for architectural shots I used three lenses - Fujinon 14mm f2.8, Samyang 8mm f2.8 and Fujinon 10-24mm f4, all with the Fujifilm X-T1. The latter has a tilting LCD screen which is perfect for shooting this kind of photography. The space of the staircase is rather tight so the best shots to my liking were made with 8mm and 14mm f2.8 lenses. The 10-24mm f4 zoom was used close to its its widest ~12mm but this lens does not impress me in a low light conditions. The X-T1 combo with 8mm or 14mm lens is light, even with the vertical grip attached, which I have most of the time, and great to shoot handheld. Post-editing was done with Iridient Developer, Photomatix and Lightroom 6. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

 

Wellcome Collection staircase with X-T1

The Wellcome Collection is full of wonders, but the new spiral staircase by Stirling Prize winning architects Wilkinson Eyre completed in spring 2015 is a masterpiece. The steel staircase spans three floors and is a visual feast. Unlike other stairs it feels like a living form with its irregular shapes and changes in width and direction. I used three lenses - Fujinon 14mm f2.8, Samyang 8mm f2.8 and Fujinon 10-24mm f4, all with the Fujifilm X-T1. The latter has a tilting LCD screen which is perfect for shooting this kind of photography. The best shots to my liking were made with 8mm f2.8 and 14mm f2.8 lenses. The 10-24mm f4 zoom was used pretty much at its widest - 10mm. This is an emerging pattern after a few months of shooting with all three and I feel that 10-24 zoom will get swapped for a 10mm or 12mm prime in the nearest future. The X-T1 combo with 8mm or 14mm lens is small and light, and great to shoot handheld, try to hold DSLR with similar focal length lens in outstreched hand and shoot 1/30. Post-editing was done with Iridient Developer, Photomatix and Lightroom 6. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

 

The Brewer staircase with X-T1

The Brewer staircase is the beautiful spiral staircase at Heals department store, Tottenham Court Road, London (map attached). Designed by Ambrose Heal’s cousin Cecil Brewer, the stairs were completed in 1916. Despite a large amount of people passing through the store not many are aware of its existence. All you need to do is to enter the store, walk about 20 steps and turn left, walk straight for another 30-40 steps and the entry to the staircase is in front of you. The store staff are very friendly and as long as you are not obstructing other people's activities you are welcome to take pictures. Some images were taken during the Christmas holidays, thus extra decorations along the stairs. Shooting this beauty is challenging and gives anyone a good run for their wide-angle glass collection. Getting the right exposure is tricky and sometimes shooting upwards into the light I used an ND4 filter. I used three lenses- Fujinon 14mm f2.8, Samyang 8mm f2.8 and Fujinon 10-24mm f4, all with the Fujifilm X-T1. The latter has a tilting LCD screen which is perfect for shooting this kind of photography. Post-editing in Iridient Developer, Photomatix and Lightroom. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

10mm f5 1/60 ISO 1600

10mm f7.1 1/15 ISO 1600

10mm f5 1/60 ISO 1600

8mm f5.6 1/125 ISO 1600

11.5mm f4.5 1/30 ISO 1250

10mm f7.1 1/15 ISO 1600

8mm f8 1/3 ISO 200

10mm f7.1 1/15 ISO 1600

8mm f8 1/60 ISO 800

10mm f5 1/30 ISO 640

8mm f5.6 1/30 ISO 3200

8mm f5.6 1/125 ISO 1600

8mm f5.6 1/60 ISO 1600

8mm f8 1/60 ISO 1600

8mm f5.6 1/60 ISO 1600

8mm f8 1/60 ISO 2500

8mm f5.6 1/125 ISO 3200

8mm f5.6 1/10 ISO 3200

14mm f5.6 1/25 ISO 1600

8mm f11 1/9 ISO 3200

8mm f8 1/60 ISO 1600

 

London's City Hall with Fuji X-T1

London City Hall is a wonderful place, it is easy to get lost there just wondering around and admiring its unique skewed bulb shape with helical 500-metre (1,640 ft) walkway that goes the full height of the 10 storey building. It was designed by Sir Norman Foster and opened in July 2002. Its space is filled with light, glass and refections - a paradise for photography. It is open to the public on Open House Day (typically one of the weekends in September). All shots were made with X-T1 Fujifilm cameras paired with either Fujinon 14mm f2.8 or Samyang 8mm f2.8 lenses. Post-editing in Iridient Developer, Photomatix and Lightroom. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

Night London with Fujifilm XF 56mm f1.2 lens

I have been shooting with wonderful Fuji X cameras for three years now, starting from the day I bought X-Pro1. My preferred style often includes lenses longer than 35mm and 50mm and living in London with all those night lights around me I was very happy to finally get the bright highly acclaimed 56mm F1.2 Fujinon lens. Here are a few shots from my first "night out".  All shots were made by using XT-1 body with vertical grip and 56mm f1.2 lens which feels just right in my hands. RAW (RAF) files were edited in Lightroom 6 using Classic Chrome film preset with slight alterations. 

f2 1/50 iso 1600

f1.2 1/110 iso 400

f1.4 1/250 iso 1250

f2.5 1/125 iso 800

f1.4 1/250 iso 800

Some of my images are blends of three high quality (set to Fine) jpg files obtained by ISO bracketing. I find this way perfect to provide an exellent latitude of image information and quick and easy to use when you have to move and take your pictures fast without a tripod (e.g. on a very busy Oxford Street).  Using the XT-1 camera makes it a breathe with a simple manual switch to bracket and emulating Classic Chrome film for jpgs allows for a wonderful colour palette. Images were fused in Photomatix software and the resulting tif files were finished off in Lightroom 6. 

f2.8 1/60 iso 640

f2.8 1/125 iso 1600

f1.2 1/125 iso 640

f1.4 1/60 iso 320

Overall, the Fujifilm X-T1 and 56mm f1.2 lens combination is perfect for night street shooting. The further reach allows you to get closer to reflections in the middle and/or on the other side of the street. This lens will definitely stay in my street photography bag now.