Greenland with X-T2

Greenland has became a popular destination to visit. With its beautiful ancient granite mountains, amazing glaciers and icebergs and sense of remoteness it is a great country to visit and photograph. My second visit to Greenland was on an old beautiful two mast oak Danish built ship - Donna Wood. Sailing in the Arctic is something I wanted to try for a long time and when I had an opportunity to photograph Greenlandic unique lanscapes from a different angle, from the waters of the largest fjord in the world Scoresby Sund, I happily grabbed the chance to do so last August.

Throughout almost two weeks I used one X-T2 with the 50-140mm f2.8 lens (my main landscape lens) and a vertical grip. The second X-T2 body had the superb 16-55mm f2.8. After photographing extensively with a tripod and filters in Iceland, just before this trip, I decided to go free of those and only used a tripod when I played with long exposures and occasionally used a CPL when shooting icebergs. One amazing thing about Greenland is how much colour you get when the light is right. Given the right conditions all the kingdom of ice turns on fire and even in poor light icebergs come out in all shapes and shades of blue.

Here is the selection of my favourite shots from the sailing trip in Greenland that show once again how capable the Fujifilm X-T2 camera and lenses are. Handling two X-T2s with vertical grips in the confined space of a zodiac boat was easy. If I could change a few things I would have taken XF100-400mm f4.5-5.6 lens too, as some icebergs and wildlife in Greenland are at a distance. I had a 1.4x teleconverter with me, but it was not enough to bring some scenery closer. I would also like to have a descent drone with a good lens and sensor next time, as iceberg views from above are amazing - something you can see in this stunning clip made by Brynjar Ágústsson.  Post-editing was done in Iridient Developer and Lightroom with Nik's collection plugins. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

shadow of our boat at the bottom of the iceberg during sunset

waterfall lit up by sunrise light

shadow of our boat at the bottom of the iceberg during sunset

arctic reflection

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.

London from helicopter with Fuji X-T2 - Part2

Summer is coming and so it is the time for the last checks on my equipment before the travel season begins. A second doors-off helicopter flight (link at the end of this blog) over London was on my list to test two X-T2s with 50-140mm f2.8 and 16-55mm f2.8 lenses side by side. Both X-T2s were with battery vertical grips, as both lenses are rather large and heavy (by Fuji standards) and it is easier to handle the X-T2 body with one of the pro zooms when you have an additional grip. The flight was at about 5 pm, so we were expecting a lot of light and of course great scenery. The weather was (as usual) changing fast, but went into a very cooperative mood once we were in the air with some nice clouds lining up in the sky after a strong shower.
It was my second time in the doors-off flight and I wondered if I would get more used to it, doors are off to provide for the best quality shots and better freedom of view. For obvious reasons no lens changes can be made in the air and the same goes for hoods and loose filters being taken off, as no one wants anything to fly out of the cabin and hit the blades... Ideally one camera with one lens is the best option. It may give you less freedom of zooming, but whilst switching between cameras you may miss a good shot, as everything moves really fast and you do need both hands to support the camera when framing and shooting in strong wind and vibration. Both cameras were set at 1/1000s shutter speed, auto ISO from 200 to 800 and I only changed the aperture depending on the shot/light.  EVF on the X-T2 is a great help to see what you get whilst shooting, that is if you can hold camera to your face in that vibration, but the X-T2's EVF is large and bright making it easy.

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.

The big view - with 16-55mm f2.8 @20mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

Urban grid, Fulham -with 50-140mm f2.8 @50mm, f2.8, iso200, 1/1000s

I found myself using both 50-140mm f2.8 and 16-55 f2.8 lenses pretty much equally. The former has IS but I switched it off, as for the speed of shooting (1/1000s) it makes no difference. I did not note any difference in quality of shots, as both lenses did a superb job. In an ideal world I'd rather have one pro zoom, something like 23-70mm f2.8, that would cover most of my needs. Using joysticks for choosing focusing points was very easy, especially in a heavy vibration situation and both cameras were very comfortable to use. I used vertical grips on both bodies and that helped a lot as my hands are large and even with smaller primes I tend to use those grips, or a minimal leather half-case from Garitz when I want to travel light. Speaking of grips - I accept all the benefits the new X-T2 VG gives me, BUT I do miss the old X-T1 grip. In my opinion it was much better designed from an ergonomic point of view. There is not much difference between them (size and weight wise) but ideally (if Fuji is listening :) ) I would love to have the option of a lighter smaller vertical grip for the X-T2 (similar to the old X-T1 VG). Also, as much as I love the joystick on the X-T2 - dear Fuji - please put it higher, swapping it with the Q button, in the next version of the X-T body. It is so well positioned on the X-Pro2. I would rather have the Q button elsewhere too. The same goes for the movie mode on the left subdial where the brackets used to be on the X-T1. It would make much more sense to place it with the other trendy consumer extras on the right side of that dial together with panorama, filters etc.

Anyway, the test and flight were great. Second flight was much easier and both cameras and lenses performed well. The 16-55 f2.8 is a brilliant stellar lens - fantastic for aerial shooting and I would certanly fly again with it. Thanks for visiting and maybe see you on the next flight!

The Tower Bridge - with 16-55mm f2.8 @55mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

Home of Champions, Chelsea FC -  with 50-140mm f2.8 @115mm, f2.8, iso400, 1/1000s

Urban living - boat houses on Thames - with 50-140mm f2.8 @50mm, f2.8, iso250, 1/1000s

Science quarter - Natural History museum, Science museum, Imparial College and Royal Albert Hall, Hyde Park on the background - with 50-140mm f2.8 @140mm, f2.8, iso200, 1/1000s

Westminster - with 50-140mm f2.8 @98mm, f4.5, iso400, 1/1000s

House Guards Parade and Trafalgar Square - with 50-140mm f2.8 @115mm, f4.5, iso250, 1/1000s

St. Paul's Cathedral - with 50-140mm f2.8 @115mm, f2.8, iso400, 1/1000swith 50-140mm f2.8 @64mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

Buckingham Palace - with 50-140mm f2.8 @94mm, f4.5, iso250, 1/1000s

South Kensington - with 50-140mm f2.8 @60mm, f2.8, iso200, 1/1000s

Urban jungle - City of London - with 50-140mm f2.8 @50mm, f4.5, iso64with 50-140mm f2.8 @115mm, f2.8, iso400, 1/1000s0, 1/1000s

St Paul's Cathedral - with 50-140mm f2.8 @64mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

Walkie-Talkie - with 50-140mm f2.8 @50mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

The Tower of London - with 50-140mm f2.8 @50mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

St Katharine dock marina - with 16-55mm f2.8 @36mm, f2.8, iso200, 1/1000s

Welcome to London- Canary Wharf and beyond - with 50-140mm f7.1 @52mm, f2.8, iso320, 1/1250s

Canary Wharf - with 16-55mm f2.8 @20mm, f2.8, iso200, 1/1000s

KAyakers at Canary Wharf - - with 16-55mm f2.8 @16mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

Millennium Dome - with 16-55mm f2.8 @31mm, f5, iso200, 1/1000s

Royal Docks - - with 16-55mm f2.8 @47mm, f4.5 iso320, 1/1000s

Tide is coming... River Thames Barrier - with 16-55mm f2.8 @23mm, f4.5, iso500, 1/1000s

Shard and bridges - with 16-55mm f2.8 @28mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

Charlton Athletic ground, The Valley -  with 16-55mm f2.8 @55mm, f3.6, iso200, 1/1000s

Old Royal Naval College, Greenvich- with 16-55mm f2.8 @42mm, f5.6, iso320, 1/1000s

Isle of Dogs and Greenvich- with 16-55mm f2.8 @30mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

Old Royal Naval College and the Queen's House, Greenvich- with 16-55mm f2.8 @45mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

Over the prime meridian, Greenvich- with 16-55mm f2.8 @31mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

The big view from above the Canary Wharf - with 16-55mm f2.8 @20mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

Chameleon - The Shard - with 16-55mm f2.8 @23mm, f4, iso320, 1/1000s

Westminster - with 16-55mm f2.8 @32mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

Buckingham Palace - with 50-140mm f2.8 @140mm, f5.6, iso500, 1/1000s

The Waterloo Station- with 50-140mm f2.8 @58mm, f5, iso500, 1/1000s

Over the London eye - with 16-55mm f2.8 @42mm, f3.2, iso200, 1/1000s

Battersea Park - with 16-55mm f2.8 @16mm, f8, iso800, 1/1000s

Battersea Power station being redeveloped into luxury living complex - with 16-55mm f2.8 @28mm, f6.4, iso500, 1/1000s

Battersea Park - with 16-55mm f2.8 @38mm, f8, iso500, 1/1000s

The Tower Bridge - with 16-55mm f2.8 @55mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

Winter lights with X-Pro2

Winter is over and the spring light is back in force, so here is a mixture of London's winter low light or rather night shots which were done mostly (except for Kew Gardens' Christmas lights) on my way back home from work. Most of the shots were made with Fujifilm X-Pro2 combined with 35mm (f1.4 or f2) and 16-55mm f2.8 lenses, the latter using a Gitzo tripod. The X-Pro2 sensor has a great dynamic range and all lenses handle tricky light very well. Despite having X-T2s bodies, which come in handy for architecture shots and landscape shots, I find myself having the X-Pro2 in my bag every day with the 35mm f1.4 attached and the 35mm f2 lens as a spare for rain shots. The new 35mm f2 WR is a great versatile lens, but the old original f1.4 glass is still my favourite by far. As usual post-editing was done in Iridient Developer and Lightroom 6. Click or tap on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

Mykonos with Fuji X-Pro2

Mykonos (Μύκονος) was the second island i visited during my trip around Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. The island met me with heat, humidity, noise and the smell of a busy sea town and an abundance of colour. The mazed streets of the old town (Chora) gave me a chance to dive into street life. Most of the shots were made with my X-Pro2 combined with 35mm f2, 14mm f2.8, 18-55mm zoom and 50-140mm f2.8 lenses. My old and trusty X-T1 served as a backup. Here is a selection of shots that recall the atmosphere of this wonderful island. Post-editing was done in Iridient Developer and Lightroom 6. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

Petros (Peter) was a great white pelican, who is the official mascot of Mykonos. In 1958 a wounded pelican was found off the coast of Mykonos by a local fisherman. The pelican was nursed to health and remained on the island supported by locals. It soon adopted the name “Petros”, as a joke between the locals, as "petra" in Greek means rock, but metaphorically old and grumpy. Subsequently, three new pelicans reside around the main town of Mykonos. One, was given the name Petros, the second.

Petros (the second)

Windmills of Mykonos. Built by Venetians in 16th century to mill wheat; there are 16 windmills on Mykonos, seven of which are on the hill in Chora.

The Church of Panagia Paraportiani, (Εκκλησία της Παναγίας της Παραπορτιανής) - Our Lady of the Side Gate - a beautiful church, or rather five churches joined together, at the entrance to the old town, Kastro neighbourhood. The church construction was started in 1425 and was only completed in the 17th Century.

Sunset paints the Church of Panagia Paraportiani pink

The Church of Panagia Paraportiani

find the cat...

The Church of Panagia Paraportiani

The Church of Panagia Paraportiani

Petros stops by to check on his fish snack...

"Let's go home my love" she said (in Greek) and off they went...

Chora old town, Mykonos

Tall ships visiting harbour of Alefkandra, Mykonos

Small island of Delos (Δήλος) located very close to Mykonos and cannot be missed. Delos was a holy sanctuary even before it became the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. The island is now one of the most important historical and archeological sites in Greece.

Delos, the terrace of the Lions

Delos

Delos

Delos

Fragment of a mosaic, Delos

Delos

Church of St George, Mpaos (Μπάος) island

Church of St George, Mpaos (Μπάος) island

Mykonos, tall ship in the harbour of Alefkandra

Mykonos, tall ships visiting the harbour of Alefkandra

Santorini with Fuji X-Pro2

Last spring took me to the beautiful Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, to Santorini and Mykonos, which are probably the most travelled and photo-documented by armies of photographers with every kind of camera and glass. So not worring too much that I would I miss a classic shot from a sunset lit photo-hotspot (thousands are on internet anyway) I opted for some travel "photonotes" instead. Most of the shots were made with my new best friend - X-Pro2 combined with 18-55mm, 14mm f2.8, 35mm f2 and 50-140mm f2.8 lenses with the old and trusty X-T1 as a backup. Here is a selection of shots that recall the atmosphere of these beautiful islands in my mind. Post-editing was done in Iridient Developer and Lightroom 6. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

Oia

Oia

Nea Kameni from Fira

Fira

Fira

Fira

Sunset from Fira

Oia

Church in Oia and view towards Imerovigli and Fira

Monastery of Agios Nikolaos, between Firostefani and Imerovigli

Ammoudi beach - best sea food on island :)

Path to Oia from Ammoudi

Church of Anastasi, Imerovigli

Church of Anastasi, Imerovigli

Imerovigli

Imerovigli

Imerovigli

Bell Tower, Firostefani

Fira

Saint Gerasimos Church, Firostefani

Fira from Akrotiri

Agios Theodori Church, Firostefani

Fira

Saint Stylianos Church, between Fira and Firostefani

Fira

Abandoned village (after an earthquake)

Church of St. George, Oia

Santorini vineyard near Akrotiri

Oia

Oia

Oia

Donkey train from Oia to Ammoudi

View towards Oia from Akrotiri

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.

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

 

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.