Friday, December 30, 2016

Project: Preserved - Double Exposure Photography Using Jars

Preserved Oil - North Salt Lake, Utah
I mentioned in my last post that I was beginning a new photography series called Project: Preserved. I'm using double-exposure photography to capture images inside of jars. This post contains my first photographs in this series. 

The process is simple, yet it's not. I paint the inside of jars black, then, using a small portable studio, photograph them with a white background. Next, (using an in-camera feature on my Fuji X-E1) I make a second exposure, which shows up in the dark part of the jars. I polish the double exposure images using Alien Skin Exposure X to get finished photographs.

The idea behind Project: Preserved is to capture images that show places, people or objects for future generations to view--a preserved time-capsule of sorts. Think of old photographs that show what it was like at someplace and at sometime in the past. But I want to do this in a creative, artistic way, and not snapshots. I want to create photographs that have artistic and (with time) historical value.

In a way this is urban/industrial/street photography in jars. The photographs in this post are my very first attempts. I've learned plenty with regards to what works and what doesn't, and I have a few ideas to try. This is just the beginning, and there will be lots more photographs to come. I hope you enjoy this series as much as I love creating it!
Preserving The Library Stairs - Salt Lake City, Utah
Preserving An Afternoon Downtown - Salt Lake City, Utah
Big Lots of Preserved Trash - Salt Lake City, Utah
A Homeless Pigeon Preserved - Salt Lake City, Utah
Preserved Steam Wheel - Ogden, Utah
Child Labor Preserved - Ogden, Utah
A Conversation Preserved On 25th Street - Ogden, Utah

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Project: Preserved

Nature Preserved - South Weber, Utah
I started a new photography project called Preserved. In fact, I officially began working on it yesterday with the photograph above.

Let me give a little back story. For years I have seen historical images that have very little artistic value but are interesting because they show a location from decades ago. And I have seen images with very little historical value but are abstract and so have lots of artistic value. I wanted to find a way to merge these two types of photographs into one. I wanted to create something that could have both historic and artistic values.

That's not easy to accomplish. I wasn't really sure how I wanted to go about doing this. Then I stumbled across Christoffer Relander's Jarred & Displaced project. He uses glass jars and double-exposure photography to capture what appears to be landscapes inside of jars, "collecting memories" in a sense. I knew this was a starting point for what I want to do. My project was going to have jars (with the insides painted black) and double-exposure photography (using my Fuji X-E1) as critical elements.
Dormant Trees In A Jar - South Weber, Utah
My very first image-in-a-jar (Dormant Trees In A Jar, above), which predates Nature Preserved, was a test shot to make sure that I could actually create the kind of images that I want to make. I knew that I could, but wasn't sure about a couple of the technical aspects. I learned a few things and so I green-lighted myself to move forward with the project.

One thing that I knew I would need is a small portable studio that I could take with me in the car for capturing the jars. At first I was going to construct one myself, but then I found one online that was both cheaper and better than anything that I could have made. That portable photography studio arrived in the mail two days ago, and Nature Preserved was my first attempt using it (again, a test shot).

While I have two double-exposure images with jars, I haven't yet made one that fits my idea of something with potential historical value plus something that's artistic. This is a project that will take time. But I have what I need and I know how to do it, so it's just a matter now of getting out and doing it. Which is exactly what I intend to do.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Finding The Extraordinary Among The Ordinary

Tabasco On The Table - Salt Lake City, Utah
Captured using an LG G4 cell phone.
I think one part of a photographer's job is to find the extraordinary among the ordinary. There are things that people see every day, maybe even 10 times each day, and they fail to recognize the beauty of it or see what's interesting about it. They completely overlook it.

Whatever it is, it's mundane. It's ordinary. There is nothing special to see. People wouldn't look twice at it.

It's the photographer's job to find what is beautiful or interesting about a scene and capture it. It's the photographer's job to see the things that other people don't. You have to show them what they missed. You have to train your eyes to find the things that other people would never see unless it was pointed out to them. You have to be the one to point it out, and you do that with your camera.

Take Tabasco On The Table for example. I found a half-used bottle of hot sauce sitting on a cheap, crooked table in an office break room. It's a sight that can be found across the country in thousands of places. There is nothing special about it. But a window with half-opened blinds provided some beautiful light and shadow play. And isolating the subject from the rest of the room--removing everything that would otherwise be a distraction--draws the viewer into what's interesting about the bottle.

There is beauty all around us if we only look, and most people will not look. Photography is the best way that I know how to show others the things that they should have seen at but didn't. Finding the extraordinary among the ordinary is what photographers do. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Should You Upgrade To Fuji X-Pro2 or X-T2?

I've been asked a few times now, "Should I upgrade to the X-Pro2 or X-T2?" I'm not sure how qualified I am to answer this because I've never used either. But I will try to give what I hope is a helpful response.

The big headline with the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X-T2 is the 24-megapixel APS-C X-Trans sensor. Prior to this, Fuji's X-series cameras had a 16-megapixel APS-C X-Trans sensors (there are a few non-X-Trans sensor models, too). The jump from 16-megapixels to 24-megapixels seems large, and is that extra resolution worth handing over large sums of cash to get?

The "old" X-Trans sensor has "only" a third less resolution than the new sensor, which isn't necessarily huge. And the gap might not be as big as you think because not all lenses can resolve that amount of detail anyway (although the Fujinon lineup is pretty fantastic and many of the lenses can). Basically, the extra resolution will allow you to enlarge a little more or crop a little deeper, but it's not going to be a night-and-day difference.

With the 16-megapixel X-Trans, if you have clean, sharp, uncropped exposures, you can make nice-looking 20" x 30" prints. If you used high-ISO or cropped a little, you'd max out at 16" x 24" prints. Not all that many people print larger than that, and so the 16-megapixel resolution is sufficient for most people.
Mirrored Mountain - Mirror Lake, Utah
Captured with a Fujifilm X-E1.
There are different software options (some are better than others) to upscale your images, which allows you to print larger than what the resolution would indicate. When I mentioned print sizes in the last paragraph, I wasn't taking into account the use of upscaling software. It's possible to make larger prints even with the 16-megapixel X-Trans.

I also didn't factor in viewing distance. When people view large prints, they instinctively move back to a normal viewing distance. The larger the print the further back people will naturally move to view it. "Pixel-peepers" will want to examine your images from an inch away, but normal people don't and won't. Just as long as there is space available for viewers to stand a normal distance away, they will.

This is important to understand because you can print as large as you want, just as long as you don't force viewers to see your images too closely. Billboards look great at a distance and terrible up close, but nobody is looking at them up close. Keep all of this in mind when you are considering print size and resolution.

With all of that out of the way, my recommendation is that if you routinely print at sizes of 20" x 30" or larger, you may find the additional resolution of the 24-megapixel X-Trans useful. Otherwise, you really aren't gaining anything.
Our Galaxy - Mirror Lake, Utah
Captured with a Fijifilm X-E1.
The negative side-effects of additional resolution are that it takes more memory space and it makes photo editing programs run a little slower. Not really huge deals, but worth noting that more resolution isn't always better. Street photographer Eric Kim put it this way: "More megapixels, more problems."

I haven't found very many high-ISO and dynamic range comparisons of the "old" and "new" X-Trans sensors. Sometimes squeezing more resolution onto a sensor has a negative impact on those two things. What I discovered (from the little that I found) is that the 24-megapixel sensor seems to be at least as good as the 16-megapixel sensor, and perhaps might offer a very small improvement in both high-ISO and dynamic range (key words being "very small").

The new Fujifilm cameras, the X-Pro2 and the X-T2, are very fine cameras. They won't disappoint. But if you are happy with the Fuji camera that you already own, I don't see the need to spend bunches of money for the trivial upgrade. Unless you routinely print very large, it makes more sense to stick with what you've got.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Inspiration & Photography & Blogs

Photography Is A Drug - Tehachapi, California
A triple exposure photograph.
You've probably noticed that I've published very little on the Roesch Photography Blog over the last month. I've been feeling uninspired lately, going through a bit of a funk.

I've been doing this blog for almost six years now. I've covered a ton of topics. I've said so much. I've repeated myself a number of times. It's not always easy to come up with original content.

Besides that, I'm compensated very, very little for the time and effort I put into this. Nobody pays me for what I write. You may have noticed a few small advertisements on this page--if you click on those and spend money I get a tiny cut. It doesn't even average a dollar an hour.
I Am Nature - Ogden Canyon, Utah
A double exposure photograph.
The purpose of this blog is not money, but sometimes I do wish that I was compensated more for what I do here. Because I could be doing other things. It was kind of nice doing other things instead of blogging during the last several weeks.

Still, I have my reasons for keeping this blog going, and much of that is you, the readers. Some of you have been following the Roesch Photography Blog for years. Thank you so much!

I've also felt uninspired in my photography. I think that a lot of my "typical" photographs aren't good enough. I want to capture better images, not ordinary pictures. I haven't picked up my camera much in the last month (yes, a little here and there, but not nearly as much as usual). I'm tired of making a bunch of mediocre photographs with the occasional good one. I want to create things that I'm more proud of.

It's easy to say that, but much harder to do. Especially when you are not feeling inspired. This is a make or break moment! I could easily quit altogether. But I choose instead to move forward. To try harder. To be more creative.
Dormant Trees In A Jar - South Weber, Utah
A double exposure photograph.
I'm starting a new photography project. I captured one "test" image (Dormant Trees In A Jar) to make sure that I could do it. Now I'm waiting for something to arrive in the mail so that I can actually begin. It has to do with double-exposure photography (which I love but have had trouble coming up with interesting ways to execute it without being cliche).

I'm actually stealing the idea from photographer Christoffer Relander. My intentions are not to copy his work, but to add my own twist to create something similar to what he's doing, yet different and unique to me.

So stay tuned! Once I get the things I need, I plan to concentrate on this project and spend the next several months making the images that I see in my mind.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Daylight Savings Ends - Don't Forget To Change The Clock On Your Cameras

Clock - South Weber, Utah
Daylight Savings Time ends tonight at 2 AM, which means that you "fall back" one hour. Most of your clocks are smart enough to automatically adjust themselves, but you still probably have a few that need to be manually changed.

Digital cameras have built-in clocks, and many of these will not automatically account for Daylight Savings. If you don't remember to change them now, three months from now you'll be looking at the EXIF data and realize that your images are time-stamped an hour off. That's really annoying, so just take a moment today or tomorrow to change the time on your camera's clock.

I've been saying twice a year for several years now that Daylight Savings Time is nothing short of insanity. It's not about the farmers (they really don't care), the environmentalists are convinced it's about them (but it's not)--we do this stupid song and dance for tourism, specifically because when the sun is out later tourists are more likely to part with their money. I've spelled all this out in the past several times and so I won't discuss it further today.
Butterfly Tourists - Pismo Beach, California
These people are why we change our clocks--specifically, so they'll spend more of their money.
But I will talk further about the craziness of pretending that the time is different than it actually is.

Every year we make-believe that the time jumps forward an hour in the spring and jumps backwards in the fall. Of course time doesn't actually do this. Time doesn't jump around. Time is constant. We all just follow along with the crowd pretending that reality is something other than what it is. This is literal insanity.

Why don't we all just pretend that the sun is cold for half of the year? Why don't we all just pretend that the sky is green for half of the year? Why don't we all just pretend that gravity doesn't exist for half of the year? Why don't we just pretend that politicians are honest? That taxes don't exist? That gas is a solid? That rocks are food? That asbestos is good for you? Pretending that the time is different than what it actually is isn't any different.

Some say that time only exists because we make it exist in our minds, but otherwise there is no such thing. However, the universe seems to run on a very predictable and precise rhythm, and the measurement of this is time. Time is a form of measurement.
Forgotten Road Markers - Mojave, California
Imagine if you were driving down a highway and you passed a sign that said "Now Entering Mileage Savings Zone" and the mileage marker jumped from 50 to 52, skipping right past 51. Then sometime many miles later you passed a similar sign that said "Now Leaving Mileage Savings Zone" and then you had to pass two different mileage markers with the number 200. You traveled the same number of miles, but the mileage markers were off by one mile from mileage marker 52 until you reached the second mileage marker 200.

Now imagine people praising this and proclaiming the necessity of it because it saves you a mile. But it didn't save anything because it was an illusion. It was a lie. Our fictitious Mileage Savings Zone and our (unfortunately) very real Daylight Savings Time are no different from each other, and they are both equally absurd.

The good news is that we will be on the correct time tomorrow, as Daylight Savings will end for 2016 in the dark of night. But come next spring the insanity begins all over again.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Best Camera

Phone Conversation - Salt Lake City, Utah
Renown photographer Chase Jarvis said, "The best camera is the one that's with you." He was speaking specifically of cell phone cameras. His point was that any camera is a capable photographic tool, and you shouldn't be afraid to use whatever camera you have available, even if it's the one built into your phone. This was several years ago, and the cameras on cell phones have evolved immensely since then.

The great thing about the camera built into your phone is that you have it with you all of the time. It's an ulta-compact digital camera that's also a phone and a computer. This is pretty amazing stuff when you think about it. And the image quality produced by these cameras are getting better and better and better.
The Closed Road - Fish Camp, California
Captured using a Nokia Lumia 1020 cell phone.
A few years ago Nokia released the Lumia 1020, which had a tack-sharp lens, medium-format-like resolution and could save in RAW format (it wasn't without serious faults, including a really limited dynamic range and poor ISO performance above the native ISO). I used this cell phone for a couple of years, and captured a number of good images with it. It was the first camera phone that I felt had sufficient image quality that you could "get away with" using it instead of a "real" camera if you needed to.

Earlier this year I "upgraded" to an LG G4, which has a slightly better camera built in. The dynamic range is noticeably larger and it can go a stop above base ISO before the image quality begins to significantly degrade. The lens isn't quite as sharp (but it's still reasonably sharp) and it doesn't have as much resolution (16 megapixels vs 41 megapixels). Overall the G4 has a better camera, but not by a huge amount. It's plenty good enough to capture good pictures.
Steam Locomotive Wheels - Ogden, Utah
Captured using an LG G4 cell phone.
There are several camera phones that have come out or are about to come out that seem interesting. One is the iPhone 7, which has two cameras on the back, allowing you to shoot at 28mm (equivalent) or 56mm (equivalent) focal lengths, giving a little more versatility (Apple also finally allows you to save in RAW format). Up until a couple of weeks ago, the HTC 10, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the Sony Xperia X Performance were tied at #1 for best cell phone camera (by DxOMark). Then the Google Pixel came out, which is a cell phone designed with the photographer in mind, and beat them all (just barely). Kodak's upcoming Ektra camera phone is supposed to be similar to Google's Pixel. And let's not forget Samsung's Galaxy K Zoom, which is a pocket zoom camera with a cell phone built into it.

The point of all of this is that the lowly camera phone is a good tool that photographers can use when they need a camera and don't have their more expensive gear near by. These cameras are better than you might think and, while they are not as good or versatile as a DSLR, they can produce reasonably good image quality. In fact, unless you said so, unsuspecting viewers will have no idea that a cell phone camera was used to capture your images. So don't be afraid to use your "best" camera, which is the one that's with you when you need a camera.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Stop Putting Me Down For Shooting JPEGs

Mirrored Mountain - Mirror Lake, Utah
I captured this using JPEG format.
All of the time I hear people say that "serious" photographers shoot RAW and "novice" photographers shoot JPEG. Nonsense!

I rarely see JPEG shooters put down RAW shooters (although there is the occasional "you're wasting your time" comment). Almost always it is RAW shooters putting down the in-camera JPEG photographers.

People have told me that I'm an amateur because I shoot JPEGs. I don't always use camera-made JPEGs, but anymore I prefer JPEGs over RAW for most exposures. I've done my fair share of RAW editing, and I just don't want to do it anymore if I don't have to. It's not fun for me.

That doesn't matter to some. The gauge of whether someone is a serious photographer or not is what format they have their camera save the exposures. RAW equals professional, semi-pro or advanced hobbyist, while JPEG equals newbie, amateur or novice. Never mind that there is a long list of professional photographers who shoot JPEGs and rarely (if ever) shoot RAW. It's a condescending attitude that's based on myths.
Earth & Galaxy - Mirror Lake, Utah
Another out-of-camera JPEG.
Myth #1: JPEGs aren't good.

JPEGs can be quite good. Some camera manufacturers do a better job than others at in-camera JPEG processing, but most cameras are capable of make nice-looking photos. The caveat here is that you have to take care to make sure everything is set as you want it. It means taking an extra moment in the field to get the camera set just right. You can't be a lazy JPEG shooter, but that's good because laziness is an enemy of art. I think that some photographers choose RAW so that they can be more careless in the field. That's not a good reason to shoot RAW.

Myth #2: JPEGs can't be edited much.

You'd be surprised at just how much you can manipulate a JPEG file. Even though the camera threw out some data when it created the JPEG, there's still a lot hiding in there that can be brought out in post production. It's not quite as much as RAW, but it's a lot more than most RAW shooters realize.
Straight-out-of-camera JPEG on the left, that same file after editing on the right.
Myth #3: You get better results with RAW.

If you have the settings right, and depending on the camera, you can get the same dynamic range, noise, color, contrast, etc., etc., with JPEG that you'd get with RAW. But sometimes RAW is better. Sometimes you need to squeeze every bit of data out of the file. Often you don't, and your edited RAW files won't look any different than your JPEGs (if you took the care to make sure the JPEG settings were correct). You have to know when RAW is necessary and when it's not (or shoot RAW+JPEG).

My point in all of this is not to talk negatively about RAW format or those who use it. I've made a whole lot of RAW exposures, and I still occasionally do. But I'm tired of being put down because I prefer camera-made JPEGs nowadays. Just because someone chooses JPEG doesn't make them any less of a photographer. Art is art, whether it's RAW or JPEG or something else.
Mirror Lake Fisherman - Mirror Lake, Utah
This is a camera-made JPEG.
The fact is that viewers don't know or care if a photograph was RAW or JPEG. They only care if the image speaks to them. If they are moved, it was a good photograph. If not, then it wasn't. The format doesn't matter whatsoever.

I've made tens of thousands of RAW exposures. I've made tens of thousands of JPEG exposures. What have I learned? Use what works best for you, and don't worry what others are doing.

So stop putting me down for shooting JPEGs. It's pointless. If something works for me, then that's what I'm going to do. It's my art, and I'll do it my way.

Friday, October 7, 2016

News: Sony RX100 V

Sony RX100 V
Sony just announced the fifth version of their RX100 camera, the Sony RX100 V. This version is seemingly the same as version IV, but a close look at the specks reveal an impressive advancement in auto-focus, speed and buffer.

In fact, the camera has 315 auto-focus points, which would make it the most of any camera ever. Sony claims that the camera can acquire focus in .05 seconds, which makes it the fastest auto-focus camera ever. The camera can capture 24 full-resolution JPEGs in 1 second, the fastest of any compact camera (and one of the fastest, period). The camera can capture 150 JPEG exposures at 24 FPS before needing to pause.

That's all highly impressive!

Of course most people don't need anywhere close to that kind of speed. In fact, there are some advantages to slowing down your process. However, sports and nature photographers, as well as spray-and-pray types, will appreciate the quickness.
Sun Rays Over Cummings Mountain - Tehachapi, California
Captured using a Sony RX100 II.
As far as image quality, there's no major improvements from the original version and this one. The lens changed at version III (some say to better, some say to worse). Version II (which I used to own) saw a small improvement in high-ISO capabilities over the original. Version four and five have improved video capabilities. There are some differences here and there, but as far as image quality is concerned, the five different cameras in the RX100 line are essentially the same.

I think that cameras like the RX100 (and RX10) line will eventually become the "standard" digital camera. Just enough versatility and capabilities that you could "get away with" using it as your main photographic tool, yet very compact. I think, for the most part, interchangeable-lens will fall by the wayside. If you buy a camera with an exceptional zoom built in, what else do you need?

The Sony RX100 V will be available later this month for $1,000. My recommendation is, unless you just really need the speed, get version III or, if you need 4K video, get version IV, for less money. If size and weight aren't all that important to you, for less money you could get a camera like the Nikon D3300 and a couple of good lenses. Then again, the reason to get an RX100 series camera is because you get a lot stuffed into a tiny package.

Size and weight do matter. Cameras that can fit into your pocket will get used more. I prefer my gear to be as small as practical. Even though I won't be buying the RX100 V, I do appreciate seeing its release.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Vintage Glass On A Fuji X Camera [K&F Concepts Adapter + Industar 61 Lens]

Industar 61 Lens & K&F Concepts Adapter
Every lens has characteristics, which could be good, bad or indifferent. Different lenses render different sharpness, bokeh, distortion, contrast, etc. Lens choice isn't just about focal-length, or even aperture. Sometimes a lens can give your images a unique look because of its particular attributes.

There are a lot of lenses available now that are well engineered, darn good overall with minimal faults. They are perfectly boring, lacking character. The images made by these lenses look the same, and in today's digital photography world, sameness is uninteresting. These lenses are a-dime-a-dozen metaphorically, but will run you hundreds of dollars. People will even spend big bucks on a lens because it is slightly more perfect than another nearly perfect lens.

There are tons of vintage lenses out there that have unique characteristics. They have personality. The look that these lenses create is anything but boring and uninteresting. They are different. They may not be perfect, but (to an extent) that's the point. These lenses can often be found for less than $100, and sometimes less than $20.

One lens that I really like is the Industar 61 55mm f/2.8 that came attached to a FED 5c 35mm Russian rangefinder (I paid $40 for both the body and lens). The lens is tack sharp but a little soft in the corners, has beautiful "soap bubble" bokeh, some noticeable barrel distortion, and a radioactive coating. It has four elements in three groups and six blades (Zeiss Tessar type). It's generally regarded as the best lens to come out of the Soviet Union, although it's far from perfect. I think it's the combination of "perfections" and "imperfections" that give this lens its character.

Ever since I picked up a gently used Fuji X-E1 a few months ago I've wanted to attach the Industar 61 lens to it. I purchased a K&F Concepts M39-FX adapter for $10. I made one exposure to make sure that it worked, but then stuck with the Fujinon lens because it's more convenient. 
Yashica Minister-D & Fujifilm X-E1 With Industar 61 Lens
There are a few settings on the Fuji camera that must be selected in order to use the lens. "Shoot Without Lens" must be on. "Mount Adaptor Setting" should be set to the closest appropriate focal length (50mm for the Industar 61). Although I think this may be optional, I also set the camera to manual focus since it is a manual focus lens.

This last Saturday I decided to dust off the lens and adapter and actually use them on the X-E1. I went to a "vintage market" in Logan, Utah, and then drove up to Preston, Idaho (where Napoleon Dynamite was filmed). Guess what? Using the Industar 61 lens on the Fuji camera was great! I was immediately reminded of how photography used to be (before I shot digital). I wished that I had done this sooner. The photographic process was pure joy!

But what about the images? Did they look any different? Did I find the character that I was after? A little perhaps. I can spot it, but just barely--it's very subtle. I think for the price of the lens (typically it can be found for under $30, sometimes less than $10) and the price of the adapter ($10), you get solid optics. If you don't mind manually focusing (which I don't), this is a fantastic budget-friendly option for those wanting to expand their glass. X-Trans owners should certainly consider giving this a try.

I didn't quite find that "look" I was hoping for. There are other lenses (Helios 44-2, for example) that have a more pronounced character, which at some point I hope to experiment with. Even so, I found using vintage glass on my X-E1 to be an enjoyable experience. I will definitely be doing it more often.

Below are the photographs from that trip. All of the images were captured using a Fujifilm X-E1 with the Industar 61 lens. Enjoy!
Rays Over The Wasatch - South Weber, Utah
This was captured on the way to the vintage market.
Power Line - Logan, Utah
Every Day I Love You - Logan, Utah
Electric Clock - Logan, Utah
Autumn In Logan - Logan, Utah
Autumn At The Cache County Fairgrounds - Logan, Utah
Kettle Corn - Logan, Utah
Making Mini Donuts - Logan, Utah
Donut - Logan, Utah
The Donut Trailer - Logan, Utah
Waiting Face - Logan, Utah
One's Junk Is Another's Treasure - Logan, Utah
Old License Plates - Logan, Utah
Cold Pop - Franklin, Idaho
Vote For Pedro - Preston, Idaho
Defaced Napoleon - Preston, Idaho
Rainbow Lockers - Preston, Idaho

Monday, October 3, 2016

Autumn In Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah - Or, Always Bring Your Camera With You - Or, Why Your Camera Does & Doesn't Matter

Utah Autumn - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
My family and I ran an errand yesterday afternoon. The plan was to go there and back. We weren't intending to do anything else.

Typically I like to bring a camera--right now a Fujifilm X-E1-- with me wherever I go. Even if I'm not planning to photograph, you just never know. It's better to bring it and not use it than to not bring it and then later find I want to photograph something. It's often that I find myself making an exposure when I didn't plan to, and I'm only able to do that if I have a camera with me.

This time, however, I didn't grab my camera. I left it at home, figuring that I wouldn't see anything worth photographing. And even if I did find something to photograph, I wasn't planning to stop since I had my family with me and we had things to do. I decided not to bother with a camera and just go run the errand.
Autumn In Big Cottonwood Canyon - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
As we were driving down the Interstate 15 freeway in Salt Lake City, we kept noticing the amazing fall colors on the Wasatch Mountains. Big Cottonwood Canyon, especially, looked brilliant! It seemed like it would be nothing short of breathtaking scenery up on the mountain. After our errand was complete we decided to go on an adventure to check it out.

Immediately I regretted not bringing a camera. I knew it was big mistake to leave my Fuji at home. The one time that I failed to grab it is the one time I could have used it the most. Unbelievable! And, really, as a photographer, it was unacceptable. Lesson learned.

We'd been halfway up Big Cottonwood Canyon once since moving to Utah early this year. It wasn't in the fall. And we'd never been beyond that halfway point. Feeling adventurous we decided to go up and over the pass and all the way to Park City.
Utah Autumn View - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
To say that the scenery is amazing would be an understatement! There is varied beauty found throughout the drive. It's one place that I need to spend a lot more time photographing. Big Cottonwood Canyon offers big scenic sights. This is particularly true in autumn with the trees changing to yellow, red and orange.

While I didn't bring my Fuji digital rangefinder, I did have one camera with me: my LG G4 cell phone. The camera on this phone is surprisingly capable, especially when shot in RAW and post-processed using Snapseed. Does the image quality match that of my larger-sensor camera? No, not at all. But the image quality from the G4 is good enough to not feel bad about using it. I can get good looking 8" x 12" prints no problem, and can even sometimes go larger than that.

The biggest problem with the G4's images is that they have a fairly small tolerance for post-processing. You can only push the files so much before they noticeably degrade. For these photographs I pushed them to the limit and even a tad beyond. The dynamic range limitations of the camera is especially obvious upon close inspection.
Wasatch Autumn Vista - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
It doesn't matter all that much what camera you have with you. It's more important to have a camera--any camera--within easy reach for when photographic opportunities unexpectedly arise. The camera on your cell phone will do the trick. Your camera isn't nearly as important as what you do with it. The photographer is much more important than the gear he or she uses.

Even so, I felt many times on this drive that I could have gotten this shot or that shot if only I had my (more versatile) Fuji with me. And the finished photographs that I ended up with weren't quite to the same level of quality (upon close inspection) as what my other camera would have produced. My more expensive camera would have served me better, no doubt about it.

But, all things considered, I'm pleased with the images I captured on this impromptu drive. My cell phone is my "emergency" camera. It's what I reach for when I don't have another one with me. And it proved its worth on this occasion. In a pinch it's no big deal to use my cell phone camera, because it will do an acceptable job. And it certainly did just that yesterday afternoon.
Autumn Wasatch - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
The Yellow Grove - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Waterfall At Brighton - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Brighton Rain - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Pathway To Change - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Autumn Trees In Big Cottonwood Canyon - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Autumn Grove - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Yellow Trees In The Wasatch Mountains - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Yellow Trees - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Changing Leaves In The Wasatch Mountains - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah