Welcome to Our Blog

Welcome to the blog of Doug and Roxanne, two photographers who are head-over-heels in love. In this blog you’ll find our musings about photography, camera equipment, image editing programs and more. Roxanne is a talented photographer who enjoys wildlife and landscape photography. Doug is a published author and photographer.  We’re both Canon shooters. Between us we have a bushel full of lenses, and lots of enthusiasm. Currently we’re exploring the area near our home with Lensbaby Composers. Stay tuned for news about our photo shoots and lots of photos. The following image is one of Doug’s Lensbaby captures. He tweaked the image in Photoshop using images of textures on layers with different blend modes.

Posted in Breaking News

Focusing the Lensbaby Velvet 56

The Lensbaby Velvet 56 is a versatile lens. When you shoot wide open(aperture of f/1.6) the images have a wonderful glow. However, your focus needs to be spot on when shooting wide open. Here are a couple of things you can do to ensure that the image is in focus when shooting wide open:

  1. Adjust your camera diopter to your vision. Some people recommend setting the diopter with a lens other than the Velvet 56, which is not always convenient. If you own a mirrorless camera with an EVF (Electronic Viewfinder), take a picture of a landscape with the focus set on infinity at an aperture with an f-stop value of f/5.6 or greater. Review the image in your EVF, and adjust the diopter until you see a sharp image.
  2. When want to take a picture using a large aperture, change the aperture to f/5.6 and focus the image. Then without taking your eye from the viewfinder, turn the aperture ring counterclockwise and count the number of detents. There are four detents from f/5.6 to f/1.6—f/4.0, f/2.8,f/2.0,f/1.6.

The second technique takes a bit of practice. After a bit of experience with the lens, you’ll be able to access the focus and aperture rings by feel. The focus ring has enough friction to hold focus when  you change the aperture. Just make sure you don’t accidentally bump the focus ring after your subject is in focus.

At the Beach

At the Beach

Posted in Tutorials Tagged , , , |

Lensbaby Velvet 56 for Fuji X-Mount—Product Review

The UPS man knocked on the door and left a package, a long awaited package with two Lensbaby Velvet 56 mm lenses for our Fuji X-mount cameras. Mine will be used on a Fuji XE-2 and Roxanne’s will be used on a Fuji XT-1. The lenses are long, which would typically mean that it would be unbalanced on a small camera body like the XE-2 and XT-1. However, due to the light weight of the lens, and the fact that the last inch and a half is the lens hood, they are perfectly balanced for these cameras. The following image shows the Velvet 56 minus lens hood mounted on a Fuji XE-2.

Velvet 56 mounted on a Fuji XE-2

Velvet 56 mounted on a Fuji XE-2

The focal length and maximum aperture of the lens makes it an ideal lens for portrait photography. It also has a minimum focus distance of 5 inches, which is ideal for macro photography. But as we quickly found out, the lens is multi-faceted and can be used for just about any type of photography.

Like all Lensbaby products, the lens is manual focus, which is a breeze with the Fuji Peaking focus assist feature. Just make sure your viewfinder diopter is adjusted for your vision, which will enable you to easily achieve focus. At maximum aperture, the images you create will have a soft glow. Stop down to f/4.0 and the glow disappears and you start getting sharper details. At even smaller apertures, the lens functions just like any other prime lens, giving you a sharp image.

The first place we used our Velvet 56s was at North Jetty in Nokomis. My first photographs were of the gigantic Australian Pines. The sun was too bright to shoot wide open, but I did manage to create several shots at f/2.8. The subject matter was readily identifiable, but there was a warm glow around the pines, and spectral highlights took on a wonderful ethereal glow.

We then walked to the jetty, which is always a busy place, especially close to sunset. Fishermen were casting shrimp in hopes of catching a big snook, and dolphins were swimming in the channel in search of dinner. Motorboats of all types and sizes were going too and fro and majestic sailboats were heading out to sea.

Just Fishin'

Just Fishin’

Sailing away...

Sailing away…

After we got our fill of the jetty, we strolled back to the pavilion and photographed flowers to test the macro capabilities of the camera. We successfully shot a wide variety of subject matter with our Velvet 56 lenses, which shows the versatility of the lens. The lens also has a built-in lens hood, which can be removed to attach filters with a 62mm thread. If you want to shoot wide open in bright sunlight, consider investing in a 62mm ND filter.

Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

Conclusion: The Velvet 56 is a stout performer. The lens is well balanced for Fuji mirrorless cameras. The build quality is excellent. The lens focus ring operates smoothly and offers just the right amount of friction. The aperture ring has built in detents to let you know when you’ve changed apertures, and falls readily to hand. The Velvet 56 for Fuji X-mount retails for $499, which is a reasonable price when you consider the versatility of the lens. In one package you have a lens that is ideally suited for shooting portraits, landscapes, flowers, insects and much more. The lens is black, which matches the black Fuji bodies perfectly. The lens compares very favorably to the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2, which sells for $999. With the Velvet 56 you get an incredibly fast lens that is suited for any subject matter, with a little bit of Lensbaby magic thrown in. The Velvet 56 just may become the most used lens in my camera bag. Well done, Lensbaby.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged , , , , |

May 24th, a very special day

On May 24, 2009, I went on my first photo shoot with Roxanne. A love of pets and photography brought us together. Even though we were two very different photographers—I chased clouds and sunsets, she chased birds—within thirty minutes I felt like I’d known her for half my life. We were married on October 16, 2012. Life was good. In April 2014 we hit a major roadblock; Roxanne was diagnosed with cancer. She endured six months of chemotherapy, and now she’s on a very promising clinical trial.

Even though we were married in October, we always considered May 24th our anniversary. I’m very grateful for many things in my life, meeting Roxanne ranks at the top of the list. I’m also very grateful that we’ve had six wonderful years together and that the clinical trial seems to be helping her.

So today was a day to be grateful and celebrate. After breakfast, we piled our gear into the Blue Bus and drove to the first place we shot together, Babcock Webb. On May 24, 2009, the weather was stormy. Today it was hot and humid. But we persevered, shot up a storm with our Fujifilm cameras. Today was indeed a very special day, a day I’m grateful for. Thank you, Roxanne.

Here are some images from our “Anniversary Shoot” at Babcock Webb.

Cheers,
Doug

Blue skies sunshine...

Blue skies sunshine…

Lovely landscapes to discover

Lovely landscapes to discover…

The long and winding road...

The long and winding road…

Infrared landscape

Infrared landscape…

Breathe in the air...

Breathe in the air…

Posted in Breaking News, Picture Postcards Tagged , , , , |

Learning to See

Photographers see their world through a viewfinder or LCD monitor. But do they really make an effort to create images that show the beauty in their world, or are they merely attracted to all the bells and whistles on their digital cameras? In the old days, just about everything was done manually. You adjusted your exposure manually, and manually focused the lens. Back in the old days, many photographers used prime lenses(lenses with a fixed focal length), and had to walk closer to or farther away from their subject to frame the image. This is known as foot zoom. In the old days, the photographer was in control of the image he was creating. He had to be. Unless he had a darkroom, he had to wait until his film was processed to see whether or not he got the shot he envisioned.

The advent of digital cameras with auto-exposure, auto-focus, and zoom lenses tended to make photographers a little lazy. They saw something that piqued their curiosity, zoomed in or out to pick the low hanging fruit, took a picture and moved on. Photography is so much more than that.

If you consciously make an effort to be in control, you slow down and make sure you’ve got all the settings right before taking a picture. When you slow down, you have the opportunity to determine if what you see in the viewfinder is what compelled you to stop and take a picture. If it isn’t, you can zoom in until you remove objects that will distract the viewer, or move to a different vantage point and then take a picture.

The first picture you take is what caused you to stop. But you’re not done yet. Milk the scene for all it’s worth. Is there a picture within the picture? Can you create a more interesting or different image from a snail’s eye view or bird’s eye view? When you slow down and take multiple pictures of a scene or subject, you learn how to see. You notice textures and patterns. You notice shapes and curves. Instead of taking a picture of an oak tree, take a picture of a pattern of leaves, a close-up shot of the veins in the leaves, the texture of the bark and so on. Think creatively outside the box and you learn to see and put a unique stamp on your photography.

Another thing to remember is that you don’t have to carry every lens you own. If you limit yourself to one or two lenses, you’ll use your creativity to make wonderful images, instead of rummaging through your camera bag and using technology as a crutch. Less is more.

The following images were photographed with vintage manual focus prime lenses mounted to Fujifilm XE-2 with an adapter. I started with a 50mm f/1.4 Pentax Takumar and then switched to a 135mm f/2.8 Pentacon lens.
Cheers,
Doug

Shapes and repeating patterns

Shapes and repeating patterns

Details of a vintage railroad car.

Details

Lines and Curves

Lines and Curves

Details

Details

Posted in Tutorials Tagged , , , |

Old Friends Who’ve Just Met

Facebook photography groups are wonderful venues to exchange information and learn by viewing the images uploaded by other photographers. Roxanne and I administer a Facebook group called Lensbaby Artistry. The group now has almost 2400 members, who create amazing images with their Lensbaby equipment. Thursday Roxanne and I got a chance to shoot with one of the first members of the group and her husband. They were vacationing from Connecticut and rented a campsite in Myakka State Park for two nights. We met at their campsite in the early afternoon, exchanged pleasantries and started shooting—with the exception of Barbara’s husband John, who works magic with a gas grille, but is not a photographer. Oddly enough, we were not shooting with our beloved Lensbaby gear. Barbara was traveling light, and we recently switched to Fujifilm cameras. The Fuji FX mount is not currently supported by Lensbaby, but we understand that will happen in the near future. We can’t wait.

At any rate, we showed Barbara and John our favorite spots in Myakka State Park and created lots of images. Our Facebook friend and her husband are now personal friends. Roxanne and I hope to shoot with them again. Here are some of my favorite shots from our time together.

Decay can be beautiful.

Decay can be beautiful.

Myakka River

Myakka River

Bird land.

Bird land.

A canopy of trees provides a respite from the sun.

A canopy of trees provides a respite from the sun.

Clay Gulley

Clay Gulley

Bobette's Place

Bobette’s Place

Upper Myakka Lake in late afternoon.

Upper Myakka Lake in late afternoon.

Posted in Picture Postcards Tagged , , , , , , |