For as long as I've been doing photography, I've dreamed of a floating, invisible camera. One that could get a view outside my own, not rooted to my physical limitations of ~6 feet from the ground. The world is a lot bigger than that, and I've always wanted to play with that perspective. This is the closest I've gotten. I recently picked up a drone and took the break in the weather to take it for a spin this afternoon. It's certainly not without limitations. Wind conditions, flying restrictions, overly curious or annoyed bystanders, how risky I want to be, as well as my own self-consciousness being "that guy with a drone" all make it a far cry from the floating invisible camera I've dreamed of. But it certainly brings a different perspective. Filing this as successful flight No. 2, getting much more comfortable being up in the air with a flying camera.
Why I took a gamble on Fuji
I just picked up the Fujifilm X-T2 and the kit 18-55mm lens, as well as the recently released Luminar 2018 editing software. I’m coming from the Sony A7ii, which produced a lot of great results, but has some significant drawbacks. I wanted to try out Fuji again after getting dissatisfied with the shooting experience of Sony cameras. The poor video quality of the A7ii (not to be confused with the A7sii and A7rii which excel in this category), and the exorbitant prices of the Sony full-frame lenses were my main reasons for switching. The Fuji lineup seemed to check all the boxes for me. Great out-of-camera images, a lightweight system with a great lens lineup, and probably the best shooting experience offered by digital camera that isn't a Leica or a Hasselblad. However, one of my biggest hesitations coming over to the Fuji side of things is the “worms” that you get when shooting complex detail like foliage, grass, and other natural elements. This phenomenon is well documented, so I won’t go into it too much. Despite my frustrations with the Sony full-frame cameras, I nearly chose the A6500 over the X-T2 because of this issue alone. Landscapes aren’t my primary subject these days, but I do want a capable camera for landscapes and natural elements, and I had already grown wary of the issue when I owned an X-E1, which used the first iteration of the X-Trans sensor. I had seen promising results from early results coming out from the Luminar editing software, and had already wanted to look for alternatives to Lightroom due to the way Lightroom is going. So, would Luminar be RAW processor I was looking for? Would I go crawling back to Sony? Are the worms even that bad? These are the questions I pondered while I drove home with my newly purchased X-T2.
Fuji evangelists who are familiar with the way Lightroom interprets images from X-Trans cameras generally point to alternatives like Capture One or Iridient Developer. For me, those solutions are not ideal. First of all, one of the main reasons I want to use the Fuji system is to do less post-processing after a shoot. Much of my work is event photography, and having images that need as little post-processing as possible is a huge benefit for me, and one of my biggest dissatisfactions with the Sony full-frame sensor. You can get drop dead gorgeous results from that camera, but it takes a lot of post-processing work. I was tired of spending hours pulling out the great image buried underneath bad RAW interpretations, and don’t get me started on their JPGs. So importing in Lightroom, exporting to Iridient Developer, and reimporting did not sound appealing to me. Neither did learning a completely new program in Capture One, and Capture One is also an expensive program, twice as expensive monthly as Lightroom, or a big upfront cost that I’d rather spend on a new lens.
Is Luminar 2018 the solution?
Enter Luminar 2018. I bought Luminar without ever having used any previous versions or any Macphun software, the developer that creates Luminar. A bit of a gamble! But I had seen promising results coming from betas of the software. I pre-ordered the software, and started playing around with a few images I shot around my neighborhood during my first afternoon with my X-T2. Take a look at the video below for the results!
Overall I'm pretty happy with how it is handling things! I'll post an update when I've had a bit more time to experiment with more files.
10 Oversimplifications from my latest trip around the sun
I turned 28 this year. While that’s young to many, it’s old to me. I remember hearing cousins, aunts, and uncles talk about their late 20s and early 30s as a kid, and it always seemed like that day would never come for me. Well, here it is. I’m sure I’ll live to regret saying this, but I think that I’m finally getting the hang of this thing. Not that it makes the ups and downs any more or less profound, painful, or pleasurable when they happen, but it does mean that I’m a little less surprised when they come. It’s also the beginning of my Saturn return. That is, Saturn will make a complete revolution around the sun in about a year and a half from now, or 29.5 years from the date of my birth. Say what you want about astrology, I’m definitely dealing with a good chunk of my own bullshit. In a totally non-metaphysical sense, every decision we make has a series of compounding consequences that we aren’t able to see until we look back and see how it all played out. Just like a student loan, our decisions tend to stick around far longer than we initially think. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, with consequences large and small, but in the past few years, I think my track record is starting to improve.
Here are a few things I’ve collected after another solar revolution:
- Things take time. A new job takes six months to get settled into. A body of work, a lifetime.
- Invest in friendships and relationships. Life is nasty, brutish, and short, but friends make it bearable, even enjoyable, if you pick them well.
- Own up to your mistakes. Nothing is more off-putting than someone who can’t apologize. Just look at our current president.
- Don’t take things to seriously. Time will erase nearly any gaffe, mishap, or mistake. Relax.
- Take things more seriously. Time is also limited. You never know when the clock will strike midnight.
- Help other people. It’s the most selfish act you can do when you consider how much satisfaction it brings.
- Work less. People will keep working when you're long gone.
- Work harder. You want your time here to mean something, so make it count. Make sure you’re spending that time doing something you believe in.
- Find what you’re good at and do that thing. Then get better at it. Then get better at it again. I’m very much a dabbler and a generalist, but the things I’ve truly, deeply invested in have paid off tenfold compared to the things that I’ve dabbled in.
- Say it plainly. Don’t make people guess what you want or how you want it. Tell them. Ask them. Make it direct. People are terrible at mind reading, but almost always appreciate directness.
Okay, enough proselytizing. Here’s to another year, another trip around the sun, and in true 2017 fashion, putting the best spin on an ultimately doomed situation.