Coming soon from Apple is the recently announced Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. Like before, it's a combined protective case and keyboard, but this one will have 2 dampened hinges and a secondary USB-C port for passthrough charging. The headline feature though is the inclusion of a trackpad and accompanying, underlying changes to iPadOS and the UI to accommodate the use of a pointing device for navigation. Basically, the iPad is becoming more laptop-like since the diversion from a unified iOS code base to separate iPadOS and iPhoneOS. Now the hardware will begin to reflect that change.
Today, despite watching others do this for years, I've finally started using it for its intended purpose: modifying photographs to create images that don't exist in real life. I guess you can infer by my tone that I'm not a huge fan of photo manipulation, and you'd be correct. There's a fine line between photography and art and I feel wholesale manipulation of the image to create something that cannot be captured in whole, within the camera, as dishonest. However, I draw that line at profitability. If you're profiting from a reputation as a photographer while creating digital art and misrepresenting it as a photograph, I take issue with that. If you're creating art for the sake of it and representing it as such, for profit or not, I have no problem. The gray area is of course the line between reality and art. What I did, while photorealistic, is what I would classify as art because you couldn't recreate my result in a single photograph.
Maybe you've heard of Fujifilm's mostly ignored software companion, X Raw Studio. It was released sometime after the X-T2 and advertised to leverage the power of their X-Processor Pro image processing engine, aka onboard CPU, to post process your photos on a desktop or laptop computer. It did this by connecting your X-Pro2, X-T2, X-H1, or X-T3 via USB 3 or USB-C's superspeed bus and would allow you to edit your RAW files on a computer but would leverage the high speed bus and X-Processor Pro's power to process the images. Since it's release, it's sat collecting dust with only minor bug fix updates since, while Fujifilm has established partnerships with brands like PhaseOne's CaptureOne and Skylum Luminar to natively support the X-Trans system. All of this seems to be the result of traditionally poor support from Adobe, the long-standing leader in the industry. But I have a vision.
Very simply: Does Wine Country Camera actually use the same glass and coatings between their filters? I wanted my filters to produce the same results between my filter sets to reduce post-processing time. Recently, I replaced my B+W and Haida ND filters with WCC because the results between the two would cause difficulties in post as I'd work to match the output if I used both during the same shoot.
High contrast scenes tend to work well when processed in monochrome format. I'm especially lucky since Fujifilm's film simulations are such great emulations of their popular film stocks. Their Acros simulation is especially good with high contrast, moody scenes and I've been processing more and more of my landscape shots with it. A few of the high contrast shots I took while in Forks took especially well with the Acros film simulation.
After a day's break from the trip to Forks, Craig and I took advantage of a break in the rain to hit Roozengaarde in Skagit to photograph the tulips before the festival began. About half of the tulips were in bloom and the daffodils were still out, though they looked ready to wilt. Fortunately the weather and time of day seemed to keep most people away. This also gave me a chance to use my Leofoto tripod on different terrain. Again, things just happened to work out for us as the rain held off and the clouds helped give the photos a dramatic, almost ominous look that contrasts with the burst of colors below. Too bad the stiff breeze prevented any chance of getting a longer exposure, but that's fine. For tulips, it's all about the colors.
Day 2 at Second Beach. Unfortunately, this time we hit high tide and quickly discovered the beach was a lot less interesting when the tide is in. We managed to make do, despite shooting over 200 shots, again, trying to chase waves that weren't hitting the shore as intensely as they had the day before. At least having my tripod allowed me to get some long exposures as the clouds were moving on shore fast and thick.
Funny how things tend to happen in spurts. I spent the past week in Forks and Mount Vernon to get some camera work in. Craig and I went to Second Beach on the Quilayute reservation to photograph the seastacks just off shore. After a day of recovery, we went to Roozengaarde to get some early shots of the tulips before the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Despite the weather forecast predicting rain for the week, we were fortunate to get some breaks in the rain that were long enough to get all of the shots we had planned for, and then some.
Went to Discovery Park's West point Lighthouse to observe a confluence of events: king tide, strong wind gusts and gradual clearing of skies. The hope was to get waves crashing near the West Point Lighthouse. Unfortunately, the tide began to recede quickly and by the time the light was good, the waves could no longer reach the point. The result was a bunch of mediocre photos that I decided to use for practice in Lightroom instead. Maybe I can sell a couple of these to a church for use as flyers or book covers or something.
Cold, wet... a lot more rain fell than originally expected when I left the house. It was an absolute mess but Fujifilm proved to me how well they sealed the X-T3. Combined with the 16-55mm ƒ/2.8, the combo remained water-tight in steady wind and rain with no attempt at protection. Because of the weather, I was obviously a bit low on inspiration, but figured I'd post what I got for the sake of others who took part.
Normally in Seattle, we'll get a couple of inches of snow per winter. This winter, the snow showed up both late and in force, dropping 5 inches of snow on downtown in a single morning. This is on top of a few inches earlier in the week plus a few more inches a day later. As the snow begins to melt from slightly warmer weather bringing rain in the 24 hours since, I've managed to get a few photos processed that reflect the views around downtown in the early hours, shortly after the snowfall stopped. I walked around downtown at 4am capturing the empty city streets and landmarks between Chinatown and Pier 66. While not very significant compared to other parts of the country, and even the region, the snow was one of the largest single accumulations in recent history for downtown.
The first three were taken before the penumbra even reached the moon. The weather had just begun to clear but a few clouds still managed to cross the sky before clearing moments before the Earth's penumbra began to cast itself upon the moon's surface. The full moon's glow and reflection on the passing clouds created an eerie look that was just too good to not photograph. All three were bracketed shots but the second is an HDR stacked in Lightroom. The first and third were fully recoverable from single images at the proper exposure.
It'd been a while so I decided to attend the Glazer's Photowalk on Sunday, Jan 13th in West Seattle. The weather cooperated despite being in the bowels of winter but it was a bit TOO sunny, creating harsh shadows and contrast for the outdoor exercise. I chose to shoot with my 85mm equivalent, the 56mm ƒ/1.2, allowing me to keep some distance between me and my subjects while permitting me to fill the frame with subjects should I choose to do so. The large aperture also allowed for shallow depth of field shots. To do so, I used a 6-stop ND filter, giving me the ability to shoot with a shutter speed that prevented motion blur despite the bright, cloudless skies. It also gave me enough leeway to add blur by drilling down the aperture only a bit.
So I had this vision in mind: I wanted to get a photo of the Space Needle superimposed on Mt. Rainier. Now that I have the 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 lens from Fujifilm, I'm able to get this shot... if it's even possible. I've seen others who've composited the Space Needle onto a photo of Mt. Rainier, or Mt. Baker, and even Mt. Hood (uh, wtf?) and the results always look less than stellar, mostly because I've lived here most of my life and I know those shots weren't possible using the angles they'd chosen of either object. I wanted to do this for real, all in camera, so I consulted a map and looked around Queen Anne hill and settled on Bhy Kracke Park.
I went out and bought the Fujifilm X-T3 on release day, which was September 20th. The spec sheet intrigued me because a lot of the bullet points revealed improvements that would improve my ability to shoot under less than optimal conditions, situations that can sometimes stump my X-T2. Mind you, this is not my review of the X-T3. That will come later when I've spent more time with it. As for the features relevant to me, they are as follows: