Winter grip needed!

At the start of every winter in Montreal
 (Canada) the same story is repeating itself and, here and there some (mild season’s) bicycles have been surprised by the first snow fall. If lucky, their owner are able to recover them but there are always some others that are becoming orphans that ultimately be freed the next spring, usually in a very bad shape, by the municipal services. The most strange about this is that the unlucky ones  are staying « safely padlocked » all the winter season!

Santa Claus should be late this year up to next year 2021!

This year 2020 has been a very peculiar one in every senses. Not only for the pandemic world crisis, which was a strong event by itself, but also because of this many long-forecasted changes that have been occurred in short space of time. In the photo equipment planet, the consolidation of the mirrorless market was already obvious, and the D-SLR and the compact counterparts have finally been reduced significantly although these last two are still maintaining a niche presence.

You may have noticed my preference to choose and use more extendedly Fujifilm X-mount products over the last few years even if I kept a particular affection for the MFT (Micro Four Third) system. Another factor that has guided my choices is the decrease of my revenue resources as many others have experimented this year. Many of my past photo equipment had to be sold but I have no regret since we always have too much material that at the end will confuse us and affect our creativity search.

Actually, the Fujifilm X-T30 camera model alongside with my traditional zoom lens duet, XF 18-55mm and XF 55-200mm, are fulfilling nicely by everyday photographic needs (thanks by the fact that no long travel projects are planned within the next few months) even if the X-T30/lens combination appears to me less compact for long walking touristic journeys. You may already have noticed that my usual Fujifilm X-E3 model and my XF 27mm lens are missing (to my own concern!) Yes, it was a dolorous decision to take momentarily in the perspective to rebuy one later but this wonderful Fuji camera model is no longer available…

So, this year Christmas presents have been delayed for all these reasons or facts. But there is good news to come. First and the outcoming is expected for next January 2021, Fujifilm will present a brand-new X-E4 model alongside with a redesigned new XF 27mm lens, a great motivation to just sit and wait to know that the magic vaccine, a must pre-requirement for the future travels, will be available somewhere next summer/fall 2021 (in Canada). It gives me at least 3-6 month to find the financial resources (every donation would be deeply appreciated!) in order to fulfill my future order of them (X-E4 + XF 27mm).

Secondly and more important is the emergence of new photo opportunities in term of people, places, events, etc. So, how about the next year 2021? It seems that will be a very gradual social process that can highly differ between the nations and the administrations. What will be of the outmost interest is how the world has been altered by the sanitary crisis. The availability of things, of activities, of people gatherings, all these giving past possibilities will be surely revealing a new aspect. Let’s hope that photography will record all these changes of the human paradigm.

Photo (real) reporting could be a difficult task in this world of increase of institutional and corporate controls. Furthermore, photographing people is becoming more and more restrictive on the base of respecting personal privacy policies or rules. Facing that trend, spontaneous photography like street, casual even travel is presenting a new challenge for everybody.

Next year 2021 can also be a big transition period to something that is very touchy to predict but, the passion of photography is still convoyed by all the ones who love and care about this powerful artistic medium. Excellent, Happy, Healthy 2021 new Year for all!


Travel-Scape: Palacio Nationale da Pena, Sintra, Portugal

It is difficult to remember today how it was so simple
, so available and so easy to travel before the sanitary Covid-19 crisis. Last year (September 2019), we had the chance to visit Lisbon in Portugal and although the historic city was fascinating by itself and deserve to be explore for days and weeks, we decided to take a break excursion to the Palacio Nationale da Pena at Sintra located not far north from the capital. The place and surrounding were gorgeous to photograph (and the weather was accordingly splendid). Looking back to these pictures as a gift to close this tumultuous 2020 year.

Nothing Personal!

« People love to read personal life stories »

I hope it is true although I think everything we wrote is in some ways a very personal interpretation of our small world. Intimate is may be the other way to say it. So, writing about something that is closer to us can be easier to associate us because it is a more accessible life experience.

In retrospect of the recent years, I have found that time have a tendency to accelerate by itself or it may be that our time references are beginning to contain too much remembering that we can memorize. To this general observation, you can also add that the times are always changing with new situations which we have to adjust ourselves, let’s say, along with their positive-negative (and neutral) sides. People around us are aging, new people appears for the good of our future, material things surrounding us are muting to various and different aspects, human technologies are transforming to new interfaces, etc.

I don’t think that simply orienting our mind to the reassuring past should be the remedy to insecurity about the apparent uncertain future. Furthermore, this retro-thinking prevents us to better welcome changes that are obviously are not possible to avoid.

In this past year (almost!), the sanitary Covid-19 crisis has been the highlight of our day-today life by imposing us new ways of doing very basic things such as going to your store, eating at resto, receiving friends, be able to enjoy a movie or a show, and many more activities that have been stopped or modified or simply push away into our to do-calendar.

In my family, we were forced to increase our attention for a special care of our aging relatives which was and still is a very complicated matter that has not been fully addressed until this day. Other relatives and friends were difficult to reach at first but by using Web technologies most of the channels have been partly or completely restored.

What we (my wife and I) have discovered in this year 2020 is the importance of concentering ourselves to the essential of life. Simplicity has become our motto for many things. For example, we have sold our propriety to go renting a small apartment in next June 2021. It will give us a better freedom of decision and allow us an easier mobility. Aside that we have renewed our interest to spend more summertime on the countryside as we had begun to do it seven years ago.

In the photographic field, the year 2020 has signify to me the stop of the frenetic material itineration in term of photo equipment which was a very good thing for my shrinking wallet! Many performing digital devices have now enough mature to consider their use on a much longer time period. The photo equipment market is facing an obvious plateau (at least if not a decrease) and the manufacturers (and vendors) have rightly adjusted their production in that perspective. But I must add regarding this good resolution that it will not totally end my envy to try new products time to time (which I have always done since the beginning of my interest in photography).

Lately we have seen the disappearance of some major photo equipment (in situ) events such as the emblematic Photokina in Cologne, Germany. Even before the Covid-19 crisis, most of these events were jeopardized in their future potentiality. More locally I have experimented the same tendency. In some ways I was sad to lose those opportunity to encounter in person and share interest between the members of the photo community. Big and small gatherings should be reinvented instead of being simply virtually transformed. As I may already state, the screen projection should not be the final stage of photography in traditional and fundamental term. For future and longer preservation, photograph should be printed.

To conclude on a personal note, I can restate that my interest in photography has not been too much altered by the last few years changes but the vision of it may have reached a different definition. But the purpose stays the same: « A trace of light that survive a little further than the actual moment of flash! » 


Two hundred means nothing or everything!

Reaching any numeral level can exercise for some a kind of fascination. For others it proves some kind of persistence. And for other others it represents simply nothing. So, having published two hundred posts over the years on this blog is not in any ways comparable to the more serious personal web sites with thousands of posting and interactions between followers.

In fact, I am only a bit surprised that I have done all those posts *** while many had been less persistent and simply abandoned their channel to go somewhere else. I have found many Internet personal tragedy when I discovered nice now orphan blogs or Web site that had no longer recent activity. You are confronted with broken lines of interesting not only of information but furthermore of beautiful personal and emotive human engagement. However, I can easily understand the lassitude of the creators facing the difficulty of getting positive and interesting feedbacks from their blog visitors.

In my case, I never have really pro-active followers but a good number of visitors which is OK under the Web perspective that people just pick the moment and after that go to another web pick (We do all this!).

It happened a few times that I was discourage to a point that I had almost suicided this blog. It happened again this year during the month of August 2020 (No posts!). And finally, some changes in the way I am interacting with blog have revive the motivation to create new posts with a new approach (like the Flash-Post series). How long it will stand? We don’t know because we are facing radical changes regarding photographic interest and ways to produce them under the new human reality of sanitized interact between ourselves.

If you like or you want simply to react to theses blog posts, don’t prevent yourself to use the commentary section under the related post. That is always very appreciated!

*** Two hundred (posts) is a nice number but I must add that more than 200 of them have in fact been presented on this blog but some (especially in the early ones) have been regrouped or more drastically removed from their ephemeral prosperity!

Photo gear variations without fear!

It has been a kind of obsession of the last decades over the photographic planet: the photographic gear mania! Partly because as a human we are curios how the things have been done, by who and with which technique and with which tool. And photography cannot really exist without using a tool that we can define from the antique « sténopé » to the latest modern sophisticated digital camera incarnation.

So, we cannot escape the relentless discussion about photographic gear. Furthermore, gear is also a good cultural representation of our society, the photographic tool had become a symbol by itself like clothing, jewelry, etc. Even if we are strictly staying on the photographic technical level, there is a lot to argue about gear selected to do photography.

I love to try different camera systems and different camera models. It is not only a kind of technical curiosity but also it motivates me to « do » photography! Because the results is not the only mean to get involved in photography, it is also the activity by itself, the act of photographing. In that regard, it is not really surprising that I have over the years try a good amount of different photo equipment. That has been and still is part of my lifespan.

My great personal conclusion after all this diverse gear itineration is the fact that I prefer compact camera systems over bigger photo devices. I have the same taste about automobiles. I find them (compact photo equipment) easy to bring with you, discrete especially in doing public photography such in town or travelling, funny to manipulate with less physical fatigue, highly ingenious for their particular analog or digital interfaces and esthetically more appealing in my sense.

It is true to say that photo equipment gear is becoming more sophisticated over the years but every gear time period have its own charm and I haven’t hesitate sometimes to get a gear retro version to rediscover its particularities and to be able to enjoy its own way of doing pictures. Some can argue that I am losing time and opportunities (not speaking money!) by being forced to learn every time how to use a new camera model but frankly each of those ones have a different inspiring way of interpreting a pictorial situation. And the photographic technical basic has stayed almost the same despite many proclaimed hardware and software innovations.

My wife uses to tell me; « Oh! You will try a new camera! » with a bit of irony after all those years and she is absolutely right because I cannot prevent myself to do so. At the end I am an indefensible curious as many of (human) us!

About Photo Komposition

In doing photography and, most important, in sharing your picture result, you are essentially « looking » that the observer pay attention to your visual creations. For sure a good subject and a fine technical execution are paramount for getting initial impaction your audience. But we want more. We want to attract them by creating a durable impression that it will last longer than only the time they have seen your image. One way to obtain that result is to « force » the people to explore and discover the story behind the subject, to travel inside the picture not as a whole by itself but as a more complex context. And one way to reach that impact is certainly by selecting a specific photographic composition which represent the organization of all the elements of your final picture.

Simply looking with your naked eyes is a good training for analyzing the potential to realize an interesting photograph. Some subject categories may appear an easy task for the photographer as for portrait for example but even in this situation, the contextual visual rendering can be paramount of the sustainability of the image registered.

The different levels of a picture observation

On how many visual levels you can decode a photographic picture? Possibly a large array of them! Because people can look the iconographic message on so different aspects and not only on the technical side. When you are analyzing a picture, you are using a lot of implicit references of your past visual experiences that it is almost impossible to list all them comprehensively. That prove how complex and profound the picture significant are present into every photographs. And that proves also how photo composition cannot be simplify to basic formulas.

Importance of the light

Light is a very ephemeral thing. Photography has the magical possibility to register the flashes of different moments in our life and surrounding. It is a very small victory over evanescence. Not only that but light is the foundation of every visual subject arrangement. Its intensity, its quality, its position is very determinant of the interest you will provoke with your final picture sharing. And is not a fully objective factor because of its strong selectivity of the importance of the subject and its specific context.

To better apprehend the importance of the light in photography, it is a good manner to work in black and white digital film simulation especially if you compare a « color » picture transformed into a monochrome one. Many things will become obvious like the contrast between highlight and low light zones and the grey tonal distribution. The position of the light source is another key factor as for its directional distribution (strong, front, punctual or diffused). Its intensity will play a major role to get or not a detailed subject. Quantity and quality of light are the foundation of photography.

The graphic arrangement

It is usually assimilated to the understanding of the photo composition notion by analyzing the distribution of the subject and its material context over the surface of the picture. Many rules have been synthetized over the years (and decades) to explain and guide photographers to better « compose » their picture. Most of these rules propose a kind of pleasant picture equilibrium and a study of the eye travel into the image presented.

In my modest opinion, there is no obligatory rules to follow but only proposition of ways to do photography. The famous « rule of thirds » that has been proclaimed for more than a century as a must (or almost) has been transgressed by many outstanding pictures taken by exceptional photographs. What it is more important to know is in fact the graphic value of a final picture and to be able to observe, analyze and experiment different pattern of position, dimension and distribution of each elements present on a picture.

The deep of a 2D picture or the illusion of the 3D

This is may be the biggest irony regarding the practice of photography. We are trying to translate a tridimensional subject a two dimensions representation that, at the end, will suggest the feeling to see it in 3D. And this is possible because your mind has been fulfilled with so many visual references in our life that enable us to interpret a picture into its context and apprehend its live original aspect. So, the key word is « references » because without these is no way to guess the real dimensions of the subject. Moreover, photography proposes still images with no moving eye scan as for animated cinematography (video) that can confirm for example the in-deep position of an object compare to another one.

This is where the photographer has to submerge him/herself into others mind and be able to find the basic picture elements that will give to the observe the clue of the dimensions and position of the subject. Without those, it is often seen as a disturbing none-conclusive picture, a kind of unfinished story that can be annoying for many people looking at your image.

Questioning the observer to enhance her/his curiosity. (The picture is not only an explanation; it is also a mental trigger to reflexion)

Photography can be perceived either as an answer and as a question in the same. Emotion, study, depiction, approval or disapproval, etc. are all part of the thinking process triggered by looking at a picture which is a chosen subject-moment in time and space by the photographer.

Don’t simply replicate (Standardization have a tendency to kill the impact of a picture because of its comforting virtue and it is better to leave that to the commercial photographic purpose for example)

That is the greatest threat of the photography as an original and evolutive visual art. Repeating subjects, patterns, techniques are the fastest way to get instant recognition but at the price of trivialization and a vanishing state at the end. We are seeing an overwhelming number of pictures every day, but it is only a very, very few of them that we will retain in our mind because of their particular impact and treatment. Although there is a certain cultural background influence that we have to take count with, there is also a universal iconic language that photography transcends. But yes, if you want to win photo contests or to get a maximum likable popular retroaction, imitation is a simple way to get it!

Expand your research over time (A good subject is a never-ending story)

It is true to say that there are many different visual interests we can develop in our brief passage on this earth. We cannot prevent ourselves to explore the diversity of life in its always changing representations and humanity is one of those that we have the very justified tendency to privilege (which is not only perfectly normal but surely very captivating for humans like us!). I have written elsewhere that a single subject deserved to be treated again and again because you have never really finished to find and refine other ways to represent it. One single subject can be a lifetime project.

Stay open to new trends, artistic or not

Old and new trends are the bread (inspiration) of the artist. Keeping an open mind about our human, material and spiritual surrounding is the key to human evolution and progress. More than only a simple repetition (static) of the past, it is a variation of a dynamic world. Being aware about what is happening around us is part of a lifetime learning process that never be fully completed even after our own death because it can be further expand by followers that will be inspired by our work.

And Try, try and try again! (This quest is never finished)

Photo composition is, in a sense, the foundation of the visual artwork. Yes, there is technical ways to arrange and manage a photographic subject in its context, but it is also the original expression of the artist interpretation of a specific situation. It surpasses the graphic preoccupation of the picture to transcend it with the importance of the iconographic meaning of the artwork.

X-T10, X-T20 … and now the Fujifilm X-T30!

« Can’t stop this thing we started! » (dixit Bryan Adams)

I have been an owner and a user of the Fujifilm X-T/two digits models since the beginning of the series. And I remember my skepticism when the Fujifilm Canadian representatives of the time have presented me the first mock-up of the X-T10. But my mind gradually been transformed to a better opinion when I did buy and have really started to work with the Fujifilm X-T10 camera model. And simply because the X-T/2digits are compact, competent and reliable cameras that deliver excellent picture results.

The Fujifilm X-T30 offers essentially the same camera body configuration compare to the preceded ones X-T10, X-T20 although the replacement of the previous D-Pad by a joystick of the back side of the camera requires a certain user’s adaptation. For the rest, similarities with the X-T10 or X-T20 are including the use of the same battery packs, external flashes, optional hand grip and accessories and, accordingly, the same X-mount lens system. Fujifilm have not incorporated an internal camera body image stabilization system (reserved for the newest X-S10 model). This can be partially compensated by selecting Fuji X-mount lenses that have already an optical image stabilization (IOS) functionality.

Many changes done on the newest Fujifilm X-T30 are less apparent but can be decisive regarding the video use of the model but as usual, since I am not a videographer, this small review will voluntary not mentioning these X-T30 abilities. I have no doubt that others internet camera reviewers will give all that interesting inputs about the video capacities of the Fujifilm X-T30.

With its 26MP image sensor, the Fujifilm will equal the same picture quality standard as its big brothers, the X-T3 and X-T4 models. The complete film simulation selection is available on the X-T30 as for the advanced optional picture effects. You can choose to set a specific ISO sensor sensibility or let the camera do it (with the possibility to configure its ISO upper limit and its minimum shutter speed bias). The autofocus system has been also upgraded to be more reactive for action situations or spontaneous picture taking moments.

For the rest, you can easily refer to my longer review on the Fujifilm X-T20 camera model which was a classical on its own. The new joystick that is replacing the older D-Pad is operating almost in the same manner it already does on the Fujifilm X-E3 model. The viewfinder and the back-tilting viewing screen are performing with the same definition level, so no surprise there or major upgrading.

Angular body design
Oppose to others design tendency, the Fujifilm X-T30 camera body present a somewhat angular shape that may rebut some people looking for a more comfortable rounded one. The front grip of the X-T30 is minimalist although it can be increased by adding an optional (and costly!) supplemental hand grip. But despite its first look impression, the Fujifilm X-T30 is real compact camera with a good (one hand) handling except may be if you couple it with a larger size or a heavier lens. In that case the optional hand grip will surely help and secure the prehension of the camera/lens combination.

Control dials and push function buttons can be managed with confidence, but their location may ask you some kind of manual adaptation. The on/off switch is surrounding the shutter release button on which a traditional shutter release cable can be screwed in place. The signalization marking of the shutter speed and the drive setting on their respective dials are very explicit by themselves as for the AUTO activating switch.

There is no usual MODE dial on this Fujifilm X-T30 as the camera will automatically switch on aperture priority when you are selecting a specific aperture value on the lens and the same logic will occur when you are choosing a particular shutter speed (shutter speed priority). In the case you are manually setting both the aperture and the shutter speed, the Fujifilm X-T30 will configure itself into the fully manual exposure metering mode with indications of over or under exposure. The usual focus mode selector is available in front of the Fujifilm X-T30 camera body. So, all the possibilities are available concerning the degree of manually controlling the parameters of the X-T30 and that is including the exposure sensibility (through multifunction back or front control dials or via quick (Q) menu).

The back side of the X-T30 has less push buttons of the previous models (X-T10, X-T20) with the presence of a new joystick. The Fujifilm X-T30 is a very versatile camera and it is almost impossible not to find a way to configure it for every different picture taking situation. The possibilities of the X-T30 should exceed the needs for most photographers (including myself!).

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is clean, well definite and adjust its information presentation to horizontal and vertical framing, a nice Fujifilm feature. The tilting viewing back-screen can work perfectly into waist-level or tripod photo taking requirement as for « over the crowd » viewing contexts. The informative data are complete, and presentation can be customized.

The battery/memory card access is located into the bottom of the camera which is not a perfect solution for the SD card access. You may also have noticed the tripod screw socket is not centered with the lens mount which is not an optimal solution. A small retractable flash unit is incorporated into the Fujifilm X-T30 camera body and can be assimilated as a « fill-in » or as an emergency flash. There is a hot shot socket with dedicated contacts for an optional external (Fuji compatible) electronic flash unit.

The « Preset » advantage (a vintage way to photograph!)
Having the possibility to preset your basic parameters without looking to your viewfinder or your Live view back screen such as in selecting your shutter speed or your lens aperture can be very handy for photographers that want to keep their fully attention to not only their main subject but also to the context surrounding it. This is particularly true during a photo reportage. As an ex-photo-reporter, I can testify that presetting your camera can save your working day and … your butt! Today the technological automation advantage must not let you forget the importance to select specific parameters i.e. shutter speed or lens aperture for example) to get a decent picture.

The Fujifilm X-T30 has maintained the traditional control dials for shutter speed and exposure correction (but yes, the ISO analog selector is absent although you can use a multifunctional control dial in front or back of the camera to do so). So, the transition from older analog-film cameras is fairly easy and the reverse is also true especially in regard for the increase of interest for traditional film still photography.

Live Experiences with the X-T30
I have frequently travelled during my modest life and during all these years, I have developed a special attraction for more compact cameras of any kind because of their easiest in bringing them and their obvious discrete presence. As an interchangeable lens camera (ILC) the Fujifilm X-T30 is remarkable compact size photo device. Couple with smaller lenses it permits you to be less intrusive facing different subjects and allow you to realize more spontaneous pictures. In that sense the Fujifilm X-T30 model replicate the good experiences I have with the previous Fujifilm X-T20 and X-T10 models.

If you are looking for a good picture taking companion that is not proclaiming your presence among your surroundings, the Fujifilm X-T30 could be a logic choice. It is not a heavy and big sized photographic device and couple with a more compact lens it could be a very productive and creative photo option. Although nothing is really perfect and may need a certain learning curve, the results you can obtain with the X-T30 may fulfill and more your photographic goals.

As we are facing the new social challenges generated by the actual sanitary Mondial situation with the Covid-19 limitations, it is paramount to be able to continue documenting our surrounding work as a present testimony of our world. Future generations have to understand the present challenges. I can only emphasize the photographer responsibility to record and preserve these special times.

I can only hope that Fujifilm will preserve the X-T/2 digits series heritage with further similar models. Not that I want to depreciate the X-S series models, but it remains part of the very original Fujifilm heritage to be still offering models with more analog interface as it was with the X-T1 and X-T10 first models.