Empires. The world has seen many empires come and go. No matter how powerful they were, they have all disappeared for various reasons and you can see the remains of them today if you willing to travel.
The tiny country of Cambodia in southeast Asia was home to one of humanity’s most powerful empires – the Khmers (802 to 1431 AD). They were ambitious people led by even more ambitious kings who wanted wanted to be worshiped by their subjects – so they declared themselves to be god kings. To demonstrate their status as such, they erected stone temples that were built on a massive scale – unlike anything one could imagine, even to this day. These temples dwarf most European cathedrals, even though the Khmers built them many centuries before. They were truly an advanced civilisation.
I recently had the privilege of visiting Siem Reap in northern Cambodia which is an experience I will never forget. The main reason for my visit was to see (and photograph) these magnificent structures – the other, to spend some time with the Cambodian people (still referred to as “Khmers”) who are some of the friendliest on the planet.
I spent a lot of time preparing for this trip as I was traveling a great distance and wanted to make sure I had everything I needed with me. The purpose of this article is to share my experience(s) so that photographers can prepare for their journey to this remarkable part of the world.
This article is in five sections: (more…)
Antarctica is the highest, coldest, driest, windiest and harshest place on the planet. If you get the chance to visit though, you will find it to be one of the most remarkable places you will ever experience. The landscape is surreal, glaciers are everywhere and the wildlife is abundant – it is simply a magical place.
This is a once in a lifetime trip for most people as it is both expensive and difficult to get to Antarctica. Having said that, I have been fortunate to visit twice. And – I plan to go again as soon as I fill up my piggy bank.
After my first trip to Antarctica, I wrote a 25 part series about our voyage. Given how much effort and money it takes to go there, you will need to make many preparations in advance as you will be traveling to one of the most remote places on the planet.
I was fortunate enough to find a lot of great information on the web and in print, however, it took some time to assemble all of it for use on my first trip. I have been receiving many emails over the past few weeks from people who plan to visit Antarctica later this year, so I decided to write about the preparations I made for both of my Antarctic journeys.
This is going to be long article and I hope the information contained will be of use to those of you who are about to embark on this amazing experience. BTW, if are traveling to the high Arctic, most of what I am about to write is also applicable.
I have learned the hard way during my career that camera equipment and humid environments do not mix. I spend a lot of time in humid conditions – whether it be overseas or at home during our Canadian summers.
One day many, many years ago, I was looking into one of my lenses and noticed something odd… it looked like a large white speck of dust, but over time, it kept getting larger. I was puzzled by this and took it to my camera dealer who informed me that I had fungus in my lens.
When moisture gets inside your lens, either because of direct moisture exposure or simply because of very high humidity in your local climate, fungus can begin to grow. Fungus is caused by a combination of this moisture and dust (containing fungus spores) inside the lens. And when this goes unchecked for a while, the fungus will grow and ultimately destroy the coatings on the lens elements, negatively impacting your images and rendering your lens useless (and worthless).
You can get your lens professionally cleaned (or the affected elements replaced), but this is costly and time consuming.
But there is a better solution: silica gel.
I have been using the Fujifilm “X” system for just over two years. My foray into it was with the X100 in May of 2011, then I had the opportunity to test drive a pre-production X-Pro1 a few months later. Overall, I have enjoyed using this camera system – especially when traveling as it is lightweight and relatively compact. Knowing I can get “DSLR like” image quality in a small package has been great, to say the least.
One thing I have really missed when using this system is the longer prime lens focal lengths – or more accurately, the lack of them. With Fujifilm’s native prime lenses, the longest length is 60mm (90mm equivalent) and since I love using compression, I am eager to use longer glass. I know I could purchase an adapter to use with my long Nikon lenses, however, I am not into manual focus and prefer to use the native auto focus (AF) optics. That, plus my DSLR lenses are quite large.
In early June 2013, Fujifilm released their second XF zoom lens for the “X” system, namely the XF 55-200mm f/3.5~4.8 R LM OIS (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo). I was able to secure an early copy of this lens but hesitated publishing a review when I first purchased it. Why? Many of Fujifilm’s “X” photographers had posted sample images from pre-production copies on their blogs so there was no additional information that I could add at the time. My preference was to see how this lens performed over time and then try and form an opinion after extended use.
So, this article will outline my impressions of the lens after using it for client work over the past eight weeks.
One of my greatest pleasures in life is traveling. There are so many amazing places on this planet and I want to see as many of them as possible in my lifetime.
I frequently get asked, “Where are you going next?” – and my answers often leave people scratching their head. But one recent response did catch me off guard:
“You’re going … where?”
That is what I got when I told someone I was going to Greenland.
“Why the h*ll would you want to go there?”, they asked.
Why would I? Read on to find out…
Those people who know me best have frequently heard me say, “I do not want to have any regrets in life.” To many of you, that might be a strange way to begin a post on a photography blog.
Please allow me to explain why I have done so.
In mid 2012, Fujifilm released a lens roadmap for their X-Pro1/X-E1 mirrorless cameras. By the end of 2013, they planned to release a total of ten (10) lenses – which is a very ambitious number as this is a fairly new mirrorless system. In November 2012, they released the fourth lens on this roadmap, the excellent 18-55mm f/2.8~4 zoom. Their fifth lens, the Fujifilm (Fujinon) XF 14mm f/2.8 R (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo), is to be released at the end of January 2013.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to test a pre-production copy of this new prime to provide some feedback to Fujifilm. This article will discuss my experience with it plus provide you with some of my initial images taken with this lens.
In October 2012 when I had the opportunity to use a pre-production Fujifilm X-E1, I was asked by many of our readers if I could provide some feedback on the newly announced Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS zoom lens (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo). It was going be sold as the “kit” lens for the X-E1 or on its own for $US 699.99
It is the first zoom lens for the Fujifilm X camera system and unfortunately, I did not have a chance to use it as it was not available when I received the X-E1 for testing. At a trade show in Toronto later that month, I did have a very brief opportunity to use the 18-55mm at the Fujifilm booth, but I could only view the images on the camera’s rear LCD screen (and not a calibrated computer monitor) so I did not feel that I had sufficient data to present an informed opinion.
I really wanted to see how this lens performed – especially since I have been spoiled by the superb optical quality of the Fujifilm X prime lenses. But I was just going to have to wait a bit longer before I could get my hands on this new zoom lens.
As I was heading off for a much needed vacation in the Bahamas in December 2012, Fujifilm sent a production copy which I took with me on this trip. This is not an in depth review as I tend not to be a pixel peeper but I wanted to pass on my thoughts – plus, show you a few sample images.
It has been about a year since the Fujifilm X-Pro1 was announced – plus its little brother, the X-E1 has been on the market for about two months. It is no secret that I have enjoyed using Fujifilm’s new cameras and for travel, it is my main camera system.
One thing I have been looking forward to is the release of new lenses for this system. Fujifilm published a lens roadmap back in 2012 – plus a couple other photography vendors also announced plans to make “X mount” lenses for this system. One company to do this is Rokinon – you can also find them marketed under the name Bower. I am quite familiar with Rokinon optics – they are inexpensive but well made manual focus lenses.
Their first X mount lens is the 8mm f/2.8 fisheye (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo) which retails for about $US 300.00. I had the opportunity to use one for an extended period of time so the purpose of this very brief article is to document my findings plus show you a few sample images.
For those who know me best, they will attest to the fact that I am always searching for the perfect bag. I know deep down that such a beast does not exist, however, I must admit that I have a lot of fun trying.
I have been using my mirrorless cameras a lot lately – namely the Fujifilm X-Pro1 – and recently, the new X-E1. I really appreciate that despite their compact size and light weight, I can get great image quality out of them. There are also other mirrorless systems on the market that produce really great results. Photographers now have a great selection of mirrorless equipment at decent prices.
I have found that over time, my mirrorless system has expanded quite a bit – I now have two camera bodies, several lenses and a couple of flash units. Plus, don’t forget the other accessories (such as spare batteries, filters, etc) I often have to carry with me.
Until I expanded my mirrorless system, I had been using a shoulder bag (the Retrospective 7) for my kit – but it has grown to be too large for this bag. I really don’t want to use a bigger shoulder bag as carrying it for long periods of time would cause my shoulder to complain – plus I don’t like having bulky camera bags at my side.
I had thought about using my main backpack (the Airport Essentials) for my mirrorless system – it is comfortable to wear and it can hold a lot of equipment. The main problem though is that it is too big – I didn’t buy a mirrorless system so I could haul around very large bags.
So my dilemma is as follows:
I thought that a bag that met all of those requirements did not exist, but during a recent photography trade show in Toronto, I saw the Think Tank Sling-O-Matic 10 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) and it might be what I was looking for. This article will document my experience with it over the past month.