San Francisco in the Rain, Fuji X100 and Fuji XE-1

I have spent nights out walking in far more hospitable conditions in which to shoot street photography.  Even so, there’s something uniquely relaxing about walking through the city in the rain intentionally and looking for photographic opportunities among the throngs of people hurrying to get out of the weather.  This is what I brought back.

Checking the time

Checking the time

See Jack Run
See Jack Run

Not in timeNot in time

Golden StarGolden Star

Most Excellent People Watching (oh and Coffee, too!) at Philz Coffee, 24th and Folsom

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recommend the Mojito iced coffee for those warm days we’re all familiar with out here in the Mission.  

Philz is a crossroads for people shooting street photography in these parts.  I saw a Leica M9, a Fuji X100s and an X Pro 1 in the 30 minutes or so that we were here.

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Community table (where there is no community)

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Momentarily forgotten cell phone

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The tall pour

 

Architecture, San Francisco

Couple of images I made today and yesterday in the Financial District.  The first, ‘Gap,’ is a 15 second long exposure shot in daylight with a 10-stop ND filter looking straight up as the fog began creeping across the sky.

The second, entitled ‘Illusory Support,’ has the potential to be a bit of a mind bender.  Most of what you’re looking at is a reflection of the buildings behind the camera.   What caught my eye as I walked by is that these columns inside the window appear to support the building reflected ‘above’ them.

Both shot with Fujifilm X100, post in LR5 and Silver Efex Pro.

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Gap

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Illusory Support

Mono Lake Day Trip, Autumn Colors

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Anybody remember that span of a couple of weeks when the US Federal Government was shut down?  Headlines, talking heads accusing and blaming one another, politics as usual, venom, etc. etc.  Ring a bell?
The positive spin on things after planning out a day trip to shoot at Mono Lake?  That’s right, there was no $20.00 fee to drive through Yosemite National Park!  Slightly less important but no less awesome was the suspicion (that would soon prove correct) that there’d be very little tourist traffic on the highway since the Yosemite valley was closed to traffic.
I loaded up and checked all of my gear the night before.  Since I shoot with two little dinky Fuji cameras – the excellent X100 and the fantastic XE-1 – loading my gear took about 4 minutes.  ‘All’ of the gear with the exception of my tripod fit into a medium sized Timbuk2 messenger bag.  I made good use of the remaining hours of the night before the drive finalizing the route and creating conservative estimates of drive time from Oakland to the South Tufa Grove parking lot.
Rather than take Highway 120 both ways (the road that goes across the Sierra through Yosemite National Park and down Tioga Pass pretty much directly to Mono Lake), I chose to drive east on Highway 108 and then take US395 south through Bridgeport to the lake.  Glad I did, it made for a beautiful trip up through the foothills and into the mountains, then up and over Sonora Pass.   There was snow.  There were golden- and red-leafed Aspens.  I even spotted a few Bristlecone Pines on the peaks high above the highway.  I stopped frequently to gawk at all of the beauty around me and really enjoyed the flow of the day.  The journey was indeed the destination.  Almost.
aspen sonora pass valley
 
So, there I was, stopped on the side of Highway 395 between Bridgeport and the Bodie turnoff, looking west out over a panorama of beautiful Aspen shimmering in their multi-hued glory.  Snow was blowing off of the peaks in the distance behind them.  The photographs I took don’t do the scene justice.
fall colors 
A half-dozen white vans, each with a number on the back door, rolled up and stopped in the same area where I was parked.  6 or 7 tourists/photographers piled out of each van, most setting up their tripods to jockeying for position along the highway.  Bear in mind that the stretch where I was parked was on a straight line of road that was perhaps half a mile long.  Even so, there were many sidelong looks between these folks as they all snapped away at the same things as their neighbor.  At that point, I saw the handwriting on the wall – these folks were headed to shoot the sunset at Mono Lake.  And there were a LOT of them. At that moment I began to rethink my languid, stop-every-few minutes pace.
Maybe it’s the city boy in me.  Perhaps I’m slightly OCD (it’s this).  Maybe it’s the punctuality hammered into me by my Dad and by one of my first bosses.  Whatever it was, I suddenly felt that little pang of anxiety that told me I was going to be late unless I got my ass in gear.  I hate being late.  Late, in this instance, means arriving at the location I drove half a day to shoot after a great number of people.  I’m sure they were fine people, but I didn’t want to be last to the party and looking for a ‘this is good enough’ location.
I jumped in the car to get where I was going and choose a spot.
After about 6 hours in the car, I had seen almost enough of the Sierra and the high desert country and was ready for a glimpse of Mono Lake.  I was soon rewarded as, on a descent that rounds a hillside on a downhill, I got my first glance of the lake and the surrounding country.  The place looked like it belonged on another planet.  Upthrust rock formations in the near distance broke the drab green of the brush.  The deep blue of the lake stood out in stark contrast to the surrounding desert.  And even at this distance I could see Tufa formations along the north and west shores of the lake.  This was going to be fun.
 
first look 
So, with the posse of inbound photographers hot on my heels…okay, not really, but it makes for a good storytelling device…I found and parked in the South Tufa parking lot after only a couple more stops:
The first:
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The second:
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Afternoon was leaking into the golden hour that golden hue that we all love so well and that mob of photographers was no doubt closing in, so it was time to get down to the shore.  I packed up my gear (i.e. slung my little messenger bag over my shoulder and grabbed the tripod) and strode past the pay station where you’re supposed to pay the $3.00 parking fee.  That’s right, I did NOT pay my $3.00 parking fee.  The government was shut down, so I guess they were out of luck.  No $3.00 for you.
I’d never seen the Tufa in person before, but have wanted to make this trip for several years now.  These limestone formations stand out as such otherworldly features that it is difficult not to stare at them as you’re walking along.  At this point I noticed the effect of the altitude on my lungs.  I was a bit out of breath despite the fact that I was walking along at my usual clip on level ground.
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Along the shore of the South Tufa Grove I chatted with a Ranger who was there keeping an eye on the people passing through.  He said it was pretty quiet and lightly travelled, his eyes were busy flicking from one person to the next as they walked up and down the beach behind me.  Eventually he excused himself to retrieve a signpost someone had thoughtfully deposited on the rock:
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No idea why it was up there to begin with.  Perhaps it belonged to the Ranger and, being a man of duty, he would never dream of abandoning…his…post.
I found a nice spot and set up to shoot the sunset.  I spoke with a guy who was out there shooting infrared film on a Hasselblad, took a photo of some Spaniards and chatted with them in Spanish for a few minutes, then the posse showed up in force.
There were perhaps 35 or 40 of them.  Prior to their arrival there were perhaps 5 or 6 people spaced along the shore facing east and the vibe was very mellow and calm.  These guys descended in a scurrying wave and the area immediately became a weird human circus.  People climbed on the Tufa (there are signs everywhere that say ‘KEEP OFF’ in both pictograms and verbiage), they shouldered and barked at one another and one latecomer even started to set up right in front of my camera.  I politely informed him that that wasn’t going to work and he grunted and mumbled something that might have been an apology as he moved off.

The weird scene developing all around me felt like a red carpet press event where the photographers were all competing for that one shot of a starlet and would step on, kick or gouge their neighbor to get it.  This was serious business, apparently.
Of course, in this case the starlet was immobile rock with light bouncing off of it.  I sat still and tried to ignore them.  I got several snooty looks from the Canon and Nikon users in this crowd with my little bitty cameras.  Then again, I chuckled inwardly at a couple of the guys wearing their photographers’ vests, so I suppose it evened out.
So, with the press corps in place, the sun finally started doing its thing, bathing the rocks in golden light, then painting everything in a azure glow as moonlight supplanted the sun’s rays in illuminating the tufa and the surface of the lake.
 sunset into bluecloudscape     sunset
Within ten minutes of the sunset, the mob departed in a cacaphony of clanking carbon fiber tripods, ripping velcro and zipping zippers.  Once again it was just me and perhaps a half dozen photographers out to shoot the evening.
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stillness
skeleton
by moonlight
It was absolutely worth the drive there.  And the drive back through Yosemite via Tioga Pass in absolute pitch darkness and no other cars on the road.  I did see a coyote come bounding up out of the rocks west of the park entrance.  He regarded me with a disdainful look on his face as I drove past.  Not sure what I did to deserve that.  I wish I’d had the camera out, but it was full dark by this time and I was antsy to get home.
I still need to see Bodie.  And another sunset or two here would be fantastic.  And if I can catch those two dilapidated houses on 395 in just the right light, it might make for a great print.  And…

Swirly Bokeh and more with Helios 44-M4, Zhongyi Lens Turbo and XE-1

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I own the Zhongyi/Mitakon Lens Turbo and had been waiting for what I’d hoped was a beautiful copy of the Helios 44M-4 58/2.  Well, now it is here and it was definitely worth the extra money I paid to get a nice specimen.

I’ll gloss over chronicling the unboxing aside from saying two things:  That the lens arrived with what I assume is a ‘birth certificate’ from the factory.  Both the lens and the plastic case in which the lens arrived smelled (and indeed still smell) faintly of cosmoline.  To those of you who know what cosmoline is without Google, bravo.

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I have been really excited about receiving this lens and trying it out on my X-E1 with the Lens Turbo.  I envision using this combo for fun, when things like ultimate crispness, sterile sharpness and faithful, clinical rendering of every detail are not the key components.  I think it is suited ideally to that task.

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One of the things that drove me batty when shooting with the Lens Turbo and a Pentax SMC 50/2 was the ‘blue dot’ that would appear in shots.  It’s not a fun thing to have to account for and it turned me off from shooting with the LT and the Pentax lens because I couldn’t count on having perfect, soft light.  In conditions WITH perfect, soft light, the little Pentax performs great.

I wanted to investigate how the Helios would perform under similar, harshly-lit conditions.  The M44-4 I own is not one of the multicoated versions, so I wasn’t expecting much.

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This shot of the ’58 Nomad wagon was shot without the Lens Turbo to see how the Helios would do standing up to bright glare, a hot light source just out of the frame (along with bright highlights and sources of glare in the shot) and exposing the shot to the right.  Sun was a hand or two above the roof of this Nomad wagon.  Very film-era-esque ghosting and flares out of this lens due to my lens not having any sort of coatings to protect the glass from the effects of stray light striking the front group.

This is an ongoing project – I haven’t begun to use this lens to its potential – as I have loads to learn about the ‘right’ way to shoot with this great piece of glass to get the most out of it.  Stay tuned for more.

From the Eastern California Desert

From the Eastern California Desert

Nobody’s home.

Pardon the absence! I’ve been playing with my new toy:  redcentphotography.com.  The name of the website is derived from my last name (Lincoln) and the figure who appears on the US penny (some other guy named Lincoln).  Catchy, no?

Right!  FINALLY I’ve got a proper website.  I’ll be consolidating some of the content from this blog and incorporating this blog into a spot on the webpage over time.

Please feel free to visit and see some bigger chunks of my work.