I actually bought the Fuji X100V to shoot studio still life photographs. Very cool and very counterintuitive.


The studio was warmer today. I was able to go out and shoot 
if I wore wool socks, insulated hiking boots, a thick sweatshirt
and a fleece hat. This is one of my "famous" still life images 
of a camera I recently purchased. For this blog post 
it's just a prop.

In the age of the cellphone even a faux rangefinder with a 35mm equivalent lens can lay claim to being a fine still life camera. I'm embarrassed because I avoided using a Fuji X100 series camera for a long time and then, once I got an X100V in my hands I just can't seem to let go. I'm using it in the streets, like everyone else, but I don't always grab for bigger, more expensive cameras when I want a nice still life. If it's not a "macro" shot I'm just as likely to grab one of the X100V's and blaze away. Handheld. Without even looking. 

I'm also embarrassed because I presumed that the X100 series cameras would be just as power hungry and battery savaging as the XH-1 and I didn't relish the thought of carrying around one or two dozen NP-W126S batteries. They are small enough but they add up and to carry enough for use with the XH-1 for a day of shooting would require big pockets. Huge pockets! And now I find out that the X100V is downright parsimonious with electricity. Two batteries is great. Yesterday I spent an hour out walking in 12° (f) and I reasoned that I should bring along an extra battery since cold weather is famous for the quick drain. 

I wore the camera on a strap, on my chest, like a tourist. It was outside my coat. No protection from the biting cold and the harsh wind. But an hour and 142 images later the camera display was still showing all of its battery level bars. Color me impressed. 

As you probably know, if you are a regular VSL reader, that I (brilliantly or with misguided, momentary enthusiasm) bought a Leica SL2 a week or so ago. Sadly, I haven't had much of a chance to take it out and really use it. The weather is breaking for the better on Friday and Saturday and I'm sure to be out with it then. And after our long week of brutal weather I have a hunch most Austinites will be out there with me trying to get warm and soak up some sunshine. But even though I've put fewer than a thousand actuations on the Leica I do have a bunch of observations I'd like to make and, usually, when I write an article about a camera I like to start out by taking a "glamour shot" of it.

The sun is out today and it's bright in the studio. It's all indirect light but it's bouncing off tons and tons of bright, white snow and it's more or less perfect to use for impromptu camera beauty shots. I put the Leica on a Smith Victor side arm and put the whole rig in a nice spot of light just inside my studio door. Then I grabbed a convenient X100V, set the aperture to 5.6 and let the camera choose the shutter speed and ISO. The camera and I both like 1/125th of a second so that's what I've got set as the bottom limit in the auto-ISO set-up menu.

I like a little bit of compression so I rotated the all purpose ring on the lens which set the focal length to 70mm. It's interpolated and it's a bit like gambling; sometimes the file is nice and sometimes it's got that over processed video look. Today the Fuji gods were with me and blessed me with a nice result.

I would have used a tripod but the cold has me moving as slow as a turtle and I'm sleepier than a bear stuffed with honey. I just frame up, got the green focus square where I wanted it and pushed the shutter button. Now I have a decent image with which to illustrate my ramblings and circular writing about the Germanic-Photographic-Heartthrob camera. That's coming as soon as I can stop taking naps and get more coffee into my blood stream.

The new(ish) Fuji camera has a very good lens on it and the 26 megapixel lens yield a wonderful amount of detail for web-illustrations. Even when cropped in to 70mm. I think it's my new, casual still life camera. At least for today.

On a lifestyle note: We seem to be dodging the rolling, eternal, electrical blackouts that hundreds of thousands of Austinites are living through. A neighbor down the street enlightened me as to why. It seems our houses sit on the same electrical grid as a huge, gigantic and vital water treatment plant. That sucker doesn't go down. Yes, we have blackouts limited to specific groups of houses but those are mostly caused by ice or trees on local power lines. Those are physical whacks that don't affect the entire grid. For instance, last year one of the close by transformers exploded. It was loud. The water plant was unaffected as were the houses on the other side of the street from us. I'm not sure if I totally believe my neighbor but it seems plausible. 

Belinda and I went out and walked in the sunshine today and were happy since the temperatures crested 20 for the first time since Saturday. We have three more cold (but not record-breaking) nights before everything evens out and a couple of ice storms coming in tonight and tomorrow but we can finally see both real and metaphoric light at the end of a short tunnel.

I'm focused on gently warming my exterior faucets in the hope that if I have the right "bedside manner" I'll be able to convince them to unfreeze but to do so without rupturing and ruining my weekend, and beyond. 
We've rehabilitated two so far so I only have two to go. I better not get over confident....

The side arm is useful when doing slide and negative copies with a camera. I'll write a brief, "The wrong way to copy slides, but the way I always do it" for a future blog.

Thanks for all the hints, tips and tricks about "enjoying the burdens of cold weather." I think I've used them all. Except for the hint that one anonymous commenter tried to leave about burning old truck tires on the living room floor to stay warm. We don't even have an old truck the tires of which we could burn. I'm thinking that is NOT a Canadian custom as he suggested.


Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Yes. I was wearing pants...

Tom said...

Gee but you sound a happy man....

Chuck Albertson said...

Best of luck with the freezing rain storms. They pull down a lot of power lines, and the streets are so slick with ice that the utility crews can't get to them until things start to thaw. Your SL2, though, is an excellent rotten-weather camera. When our weather switched from snow to rain-on-snow late Sunday, I was out shooting with the SL. I had a bar towel in one pocket to mop up the moisture on it now and then, but otherwise didn't give it a thought.

MikeR said...

I have a personal copying project in my near future, so, more info on the Smith Victor side arm, please, before you launch into describing something I can't afford.

Anonymous said...

Very glad you are managing near camping conditions, well except you do have constant supply of food, heat and no leaky roof. One burning question I do have, if and when you have some thoughts and reflections on new Leica is - why did you choose SL2 instead of recently launched SL2-S, with it's more robust video component and better low light & high ISO capabilities, even though less MP? Just curious. Thanks.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Hi anonymous, we are no longer able to access the electrical grid and are sitting in the cold and darkness. We do have food but are running perilously low on Champagne. Cell service has become horribly spotty. But you are right to wonder about my choice of Leica model. I’ll let you know that the near future roadmap includes the SL2S body as well as one or two authentic SL lenses. For now the Lumix S1 and S1h are both exemplary high ISO performers. I can’t find anything to fault on either. The BSI sensor in the SL2S might be a bit better but I think it hits the “gilding lilies” level when all are so good. I wanted the SL2 because I perceive it to be the ultimate square format portrait camera for me. More than enough information even after the crop...

Unknown said...

Yes the weather outside is frightful but the Champagne is flowing inside. Ha!
I would hope Texas gets its power grid problems corrected, I saw the gov of Texas is already predicting disaster if the "green new deal" ever gets going. He should look in the mirror.
To look on the bright side- sooner than later it will be 95 outside and 90 percent humidity.

MikeR said...

I just read this about Colorado City, Texas, where the mayor has opined in a gentle and helpful manner:

"But in Colorado City, Boyd rejected the notion that municipal governments or utility companies had any obligation to provide paying customers with necessities like heat and running water during a catastrophic winter storm.

“The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING!” he wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

"“Only the strong will survive and the weak will [perish],” he wrote."

How did this guy get elected?

Okay, back to cameras and lenses and tripods and stuff.

Chris DC said...

Hi Kirk:

I am so sorry to hear about your loss of electric power. Please do be careful. Open a window for ventilation if you resort to running your gas stove to add some heat. Your carbon monoxide alarm may not work without line power.

Better to burn wood in the fireplace and avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Maybe getting gas logs for the fireplace (which vent up the chimney would be a good Christmas gift for next year!

I have friends in College Station who are in a similar boat as you. Their power has been off and on for the last day or so. Stay Safe!


timgrayphotography said...

Thanks for the photo showing the horizontal arm, Kirk! I think this is just what I need to start copying my 35mm film archive!

Michael Matthews said...

Sorry to hear about the loss of power. Give thanks you’re not on Austin’s east side, cold and dark since Monday. That wood burning fireplace should see you through. Awaiting further dispatches.

Mark the tog said...

After all this snow, I am expecting news reports of flooding when it all melts.
This story is repeated every after every unusually heavy snowfall.

Michael Matthews said...

On the positive side, if I’m reading Austin Energy’s outage map correctly, it looks like 46 customers are without power in West Lake Hills.
Local problems can get fixed a lot faster than grid failures. Throw another log on the fire and open another bottle of wine. If you run out of logs, there’s always the fence.

adam said...

glad to hear you're still connected, just read about people in austin who are not so came by, wondered if you'd have electricity to blog if yours was out ;)

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