For the past couple of weeks I've been going through my photo archives migrating everything onto a new hard drive: 2 TB of RAW madness. I've noticed a lot of photos that I have never shared or never retouched. As it always happens I just uploaded them to a library and forgot about them. Usually I upload everything to an external hard drive and then pull images to Lightroom, that I only use as a library for all my photographs, but rarely use it to retouch images. After all the images are there, I quickly go through and mark them: 1 star for those photos that "I want to delete", 3 starts for images "if I have time I would do something", 4 stars are "probably yes" and then 5 stars are "must to retouch"
One of the folders had over 300 photos from Hong Kong. I retouched and shared only 10 pictures form the trip 3 years ago, but somehow forgot about the rest images marked with stars.
I visited Hong Kong in 2010 for couple a of days and was extremely impressed with the city. It was unbelievable. But I think one of the main reasons for that was it was my first trip to Asia (except multiple visits to India prior to that). A true "concrete jungle". So here are some of the photos from that trip and most of them here I just retouched this weekend.
Click on the photos below to enlarge.
There's pretty much nothing on Cat Island, so nothing to write. Water is pretty. At least it was my first time in Caribbean.
I only had with me Canon 5D Mark III with Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 and Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 USM.
Click on photos to enlarge:
I learned about this trick from someone many years ago; and it allows you to get a nice blur effect on your photography. Take any filter (in my case I am just using clean UV 0) and apply light layer of regular vaseline on a glass. The light coming through this layer will distort and reflect on the photo with random artifacts and bluriness.
I've seen some people being very creative with this technicque. You can apply vaseline on the edges of the filter all around it or just on a certain part of it. For example you can use cotton bud to "draw" lines in the shape of a letter "X" (or add even more lines to have a star shape "✶") and while shooting at night the souces of ligh with have that "star effect". Anyways, easier to try and expore yourself.
Couple of weekends ago I was passing by Central Park in New York City and deicded to walk in and take some photos with described distortion. I was using my 50mm f/1.4 lense on Canon 5D Mark III.
Click on the photos to enlarge:
I was very honored to be invited for the second time to be par of the collaborative project Playing Arts, where 54 extremely talented illustrators and designers together create a deck of playing cards.
Here's the card from the last year's collaboration. I was invited to participate in the project and assigned to draw the 4 of Spaces card. I was thinking for a while how to layout 4 spades symbols in an interesting way without drawing a character and limiting myself to only one color and an accent color. So I came up with this surrealistic architectural drawing that illustrates a four level building. I was inspired by illustrations from the beginning of 1900's and how people imagined the future in 100 years.
You can see full card in my portfolio here.
This year I got to draw 9 of Spades. I actually spent a lot of time thinking about the layout and how to position nine spade symbols in an interesting way and not to keep 'em flat. Here are some of the original sketches from the notebook.
I didn't quite know which direction to go. I knew I wanted to have an isometric grid and play with 3 dimensions of it to position elements. First, I wanted to use shape on the number nine as a base and layout other elements around it. So I put together a grid in Photoshop and started to work around it. I also wanted to stick with just 2 colors this time too.
At some point I decided to stick with a building idea and illustrate an utopian high rise apartment building that had an abandoned billboard on the roof top. I somehow saw the spades symbols as pills, so the banner shows three of them on the tongue. And number nine was treated in the other dimension/angle as a neon sign on the building, a welcome to a hotel or some other nasty joint.
Here are some screenshots from Photoshop during the process.
Last week we were fortunate to give a talk at HPX Digital Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I barely made it on time there landing 3 hours before the talk thanks to the "greatest" United airline. Apparently it is normal in the US to sell more tickets the plane can actually carry. Purchasing tickets 3 months in advance and 3-hour-before-the-flight check-in at the airport does not guarantee you the seat on the plane. So I didn't make the flight before the day of the talk ending back at home in Brooklyn and taking a flight the day after; rushing into a conference straight from the airpot.
Halifax is a little cute town in Nova Scotia, Canada on the coast of Atlantic ocean. One cool thing you need to know about this place is a "Halifax Explosion". In 1917 a fully loaded with wartime explosives French cargo ship collided with Norwegian vessel in Halifax harbour. An entire town was leveled up. The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapon (approx. 2.9 kilotons of TNT).
So Halifax and Dartmouth across the bridge are fairly new towns. I didn't have much time there and took a walk on Sunday before the sunrise around the place. All photos were taken with Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Lots of people ask me about Fuji X100, my experience with it and mainly whether it is worth it. I've been using this camera for about 2 years now, I purchased it right after it came out and used it extensively during my travels. This post in not a review of Fuji X100 but rather an opinion on it.
One of the reasons I wanted to share my experience is because at some point Fuji X100 was my only digital camera for an entire year. I've been using large DLSR cameras for over 10 years now and at some point I managed to sink my Canon 1D Mark IV in the waters on Mediterranean sea. Right after that I bough Fuji X100 and was relying on it as my only camera for a year while waiting for Canon to release the new 5D Mark III.
If you don't own any camera.
When people ask me whether it is worth purchasing the X100; it all depends on what you're intending on shooting with it. If you don't own any camera at the moment and thinking of getting into photography and really start creating, this might not be the best choice for you. For the same price I would recommend getting Canon 70D (or Nikon equivalent of it). At the end of the day a proper DLSR camera would be much faster in shooting, processing and focusing in general. On top of that you're getting an incredible flexibility changing lenses. At the end of the day lens is one of the most important piece of the camera and can allow you to do pretty much everything in photography.
Yes, there are Fuji X series cameras with interchangeable lenses as well, but the mount they go with is not extremely popular. I have lots of friends doing photography and (luckily for me) most of them have Canon cameras with set of lenses. So the chances that you will have people around with Canon (or Nikon) mount lenses are just higher, so you can always borrow them and try new things.
Fuji X100 is a great camera for "overall" photography. Landscapes, taking photos with friends, walks, easy to carry with you and the quality is quite amazing for such a small device. But the moment you want to do something a little more specific, having burst shots, taking photos in motion where you need proper focusing, low light conditions, taking photos of products, working with multiple flashes etc, yes Fuji can somewhat handle that, but a proper DLSR will just be much better with it.
So, if you don't own any camera at the moment and your intentions about photography are quite serious, get yourself a proper DSLR camera. There are some on the market right now that might work for the same price — currently Fuji X100 street price is around $1200 and Canon 70D is $1200 (body only), get a Canon 50mm lens with it and you're all set for a start. There are cheaper versions of Canon cameras out there as well just check what's out there online. For example for my trip to Brazil I took Canon 60D, which street price is around $600 only, and 2 lenses. I would not be able to capture photos that I did there, if I would have Fuji X100. And if your budget is not tight, then get a full frame Canon 5D Mark III. (Sorry Nikon fans, I just don't know the current Nikon line up).
If you own a DSLR camera.
If you're like me and already own a proper DSLR camera and need a second one that is much lighter, easy to carry around and still have an amazing quality then Fuji X series cameras can be a great choice. Though I would probably recommend looking at other X series cameras besides X100 (or X100s), such as X-E1, X-M1 or X-Pro 1 that allow you to change lenses and overall are newer models. During that year that I was shooting with Fuji X100 only, not to have an ability to change lenses was the biggest hurdle for me. The 23mm f/2.0 that comes with it is a great compromise for everyday use, but there were moments when I didn't take a camera out of my bag, just knowing it's not gonna work.
The quality of Fuji X100 is really really good as most of the reviews say. Shooting RAW is great, colors come out nice too, images are super sharp. Though it has it's own disadvantages. It's much slower than general DLSR camera: crazy slow in focusing (especially in low light), slow in taking/processing photos and even sometimes booting up. Fuji X100 is a beautiful looking camera, but don't be misguided by it. Controls, UI and some core buttons are not at the best spot and sometimes it takes time to adjust your shot. Some of the nibs at the top are easily switched to random positions while in a bag as well. So basically if you're not in a hurry and really have time to stop and take a photo, it works.
The way I look at it, if I have a photo in mind I would like to take, whether it is traveling, or working with flashes, anything in particular that is in my head or on the other hand, to experiment and come up with unexpected results — I grab my Canon as it is easier to control and gives me needed flexibility. If I am going somewhere for a weekend and don't want to drag an entire bag full of equipment, or want to have a smaller camera in my bag just in case during the day, I have Fuji X100 with me.
I have lots of photos taken with Fuji X100 camera on my photo website and in this blog. Just click on the Fuji X100 tag to see posts that showcase them. Also, I tag photos on my Flickr account. Some of the better galleries where all the photos are taken with Fuji X100 are:
I really love Portugal. I've been there four times and each time enjoy it more and more. The last trip I had there was 3 years ago; I spent couple of weeks volunteering in the area around Pedrogao and Nazare coastline.
Lisbon is surprisingly calm, empty and somewhat melancholic city if you compare it to southern European capitals. This summer we made a short trip there for a presentation at EDIT conference. Some photos that were taken during the weekend.
Photos are taken with Fuji X100.