I took this photo in 2008. I like how many different ways it can be interpreted. I imagine MSNBC and Fox News would read entirely different meanings into this image. As time goes by, and especially in light of recent events, it seems to be taking on even more meaning.
At the time, the photo was shortlisted for possible publication in a Time Magazine feature about the election. (It didn’t make the cut).
On Flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianeden/3003062797/
Last night, the Internet promised New York an amazing once-in-a-lifetime glimpse at the Northern Lights. The lights haven’t been visible in NYC since the 1800s.
Given that I’m probably not going camping in northern Finland anytime soon, this was possibly my one shot at photographing the Aurora Borealis. So I drove an hour and a half up the Hudson River Valley to get away from the light pollution of Manhattan and hopefully get a clear view of the show.
I got to Cold Spring harbor just in time for dusk, and set up my camera on the Main Street pier. It was the perfect spot to catch the Aurora. The vivid green ribbons would dance across the tops of the mountains and reflect on the Hudson River. And you’d just get a hint of twinkling lights on the horizon from distant Newburgh.
I got my camera settings just so, fired off a few test shots and set up my folding chair. Voila. Just add magic.
9:00 came and went.
After obsessive compulsively checking Accuweather, NOAA, NASA and (desperately) Twitter for any signs that we might see the Northern Lights, I finally gave up and packed in the gear The only light show I got to see was the Manhattan skyline coming into view after a long, dark ride home on the Palisades Parkway. Not a bad consolation prize.
For what it’s worth, I’m not sure the actual Northern Lights would have lived up to the photograph that I captured in my imagination while I sat and waited on the pier for four hours.
I hope you enjoy it:
On Sunday night I shot the ChefX event in the Hudson Valley for the Heritage Radio Network. I had lots of fun hanging out in the kitchen at the gorgeous Crimson Sparrow restaurant with 5 of the top chefs from the Berkshires as they turned out an amazing 5 course dinner.
One reason it was so fun? I got to test out my new Fuji X100s side-by-side with my trusty Canon 7D and see how they performed under the same conditions.
The short version: The Fujifilm X100s flambeed the Canon. In every possible way. I was expecting the Fuji to do better, but I was pretty shocked at how huge the gap was.
A few technical details and then I’ll get into the pretty pictures:
I shot the Fuji X100s on jpg, AF-S, Auto ISO with a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 and max ISO of 6400.
I shot the Canon with the 24-70 f 2.8 lens on RAW, auto ISO and slightly adjusted them in Lightroom to be more jpg-like. (I meant to to switch the Canon to JPG beforehand to make it more apples to apples, but forgot. So this is more apples to asian pears.)
Chef Bjorn Somlo of Nudel Restaurant in Lenox:
Canon 7D: 70mm, ISO 1000, f4, 1/100 Detail
Fuji X100s: 23mm, ISO 6400, f4, 1/110 Detail (Straight out of camera)
Fuji X100s: 23mm, ISO 6400, f4, 1/110 (Straight out of camera)
Canon 7D: 24mm, ISO 3200, f3.5, 1/20 (Straight out of camera)
Canon 7D: 24mm, ISO 3200, f3.5, 1/20 Detail (Straight out of camera)
Fuji X100s: 23mm, ISO 6400, f4, 1/17 (Straight out of camera)
Fuji X100s: 23mm, ISO 6400, f4, 1/17 Detail (Straight out of camera)
Here are a few more favorites from the night. Edited in Lightroom, Nik Color Efex Pro and/or Nik Silver Efex Pro
Chef Bjorn Somlo of Nudel Restaurant in Lenox:
Fuji X100s: 23mm, ISO 2500, f 2.8, 1/125
Fuji X100s: 23mm, ISO 3200, f 4, 1/125
Fuji X100s: 23mm, ISO 6400, f 5.6, 1/120
Fuji X100s: 23mm, ISO 4000, f4, 1/125
Fuji X100s: 23mm, ISO 6400, f4, 1/45
Canon 7D: 52mm, ISO 3200, f3.5, 1/100
Chef Brian Alberg of The Red Lion Inn.
Fuji X100s, 23mm, ISO 1600, f5.6, 1/125
Fuji X100s, 23mm, ISO 400, f2.0, 1/30
Quick shot from the commute home last week. I was just screwing around and shooting from the hip with the new Fuji X100s to see what I’d get. Most of the shots were terrible, as tends to happen when you’re not actually looking through the viewfinder to see what you’re shooting. But this one is just gorgeous. I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten it this perfectly if I was trying to frame it. Sometimes its better to be a lucky photographer than a good photographer.
After a seeming eternity of waiting for the X100s to come out, and checking Zack Arias’ blog for reviews obsessively every 6 hours, my new toy finally came on Friday.
This weekend, I gave it the full New York test. I took it to the HighLine, Midtown, Prospect Park and the completely amazing New York Easter Bonnet Parade. Here are the photos. A brief (and very unscientific) review and comparison to the X100, X-E1 and Olympus OMD is below.
I shot all of the photos in JPG. I edited them in Lightroom and sometimes Nik/Google Color Efex and Silver Efex pro. Not necessarily because the images needed it – the straight out of camera JPGs were beautiful and many of them really didn’t need any work at all. Not even a levels adjustment. I just enjoy playing in the digital darkroom, and I tend to like my images to be a bit more saturated than what I get out of the camera.
Without further adieu, here are the pictures:
(Or High Line. I’m never sure what’s right)
Tourists. (Rolls eyes)
Party in the payphone!
Fact: if you put a yorkie in a tiny box, people totally lose their shit.
This couple was celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary.
Shhhh. Don’t wake him!
Prospect Park (Warning: this section is nothing but gratuitous photos of my dog)
A very brief and very unscientific mirrorless camera comparison:
Before settling on the X100s, I test-drove the Fujifilm X-E1, the Olympus OMD EM-5 EIEIO and the Fuji X100 from LensRentals.com. Here’s a quick rundown of my thoughts on the three.
Fujifilm X-E1 – I had a love/hate relationship with the X-E1. I dug the look and feel of the camera. But hated the electronic viewfinder. (That’s not to say the X-E1′s was particularly bad. I just can’t seem to get used to the electronic viewfinder look in any camera.) The image quality was great. The autofocus was sluggish. I actually thought I was going to buy this camera until I went to B&H photo, picked up the Olympus and saw how much faster the autofocus worked. So I rented the…
Olympus OMD EM5 – I had the opposite experience with the Olympus. The autofocus was so freaking fast, it practically locked in before I even thought about taking a picture. But I didn’t like the ergonomics of the camera. It felt clumsy in my hands. I didn’t like the weird thumb nipple thingy on the back. The playback button is tiny and couldn’t be more awkwardly placed. And unlike the AV and exposure compensation dials on the fuji, the ones on the OMD aren’t labeled, so you’ve got mystery settings until you look through the lens. I like to glance down at the camera and know exactly what I’m going to get at a glance so when I see the shot happening, I can know right away if I need to adjust for it. If I have to look through the viewfinder, read the settings, then change, I’ve already missed the moment. The image quality just wasn’t up to par with the Fuji either. Especially at ISOs at 800 or higher – the noise on the Olympus just looked kind of smeary. Like oil paint. Whereas the noise on the X-E1 (and the two X100s) looked more like film grain. At least to my eye.
Sony Whatever It’s Called – I picked it up at B&H Photo. I hated it. I put it back down and walked away.
Fujifilm X100 – I’m used to shooting with a zoom lens, so it took a good 2 weeks to get used to not being able to zoom in and shoot stuff across the street. Once I got used to the 23mm length, I fell in love with this camera. After trying to use the EVF on the Fuji X-E1 and Olympus OMD, the X100′s optical viewfinder was a revelation. Especially for street photography – I love that you can see people outside of the frame, anticipate, then wait for them to walk through. It’s nice to have the option to switch back and forth between EVF and OVF, but to be honest, I rarely use it. I’m in OVF about 90% of the time and only switch to EVF for close-up shots to make sure I’m not cutting off someone’s forehead. Yes, the AF was slower than I’d like, as seemed to be the interweb’s biggest gripe about the camera. But the real smack-myself-on-the-forehead-and-shout-out-obscenities frustration was the lack of accuracy. Especially when shooting people less than 5 feet away. The X100 just seemed to have a sense of humor about it. It thought it was HILARIOUS to pretend to lock focus right on some guy’s nose only to actually focus on the garbage cans 5 feet behind him. (To it’s credit, the garbage cans were tack-sharp and the dynamic range was a thing of beauty.)
Fujifilm X100s – I was giddy for the X100s to show up. Especially after reading all of the reviews claiming that all the “quirks” (namely, the friggin autofocus doesn’t work) were fixed. After 3 days of use, I can say for sure that the AF issues are definitely taken care of. I’m still not sure the AF is quite as fast as the Olympus, but we’re talking milliseconds difference. This camera (the X100s) just makes you want to go out and make pictures. I’m antsy to go out again tomorrow. It’s a joy to use.
As an aside, as soon as the X-Pro 2 or whatever it’s going to be called comes out with the X100s’ autofocus capabilities, I’m seriously considering putting my Canon 7D kit on ebay and going all-mirrorless.
I hope you enjoy the post. There will be lots more photos to come. For all the updates, follow me on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianeden/