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.