Friday, December 26, 2014

Three days in Pennsylvania with fog, mist, rain, and the Fuji X-T1

I headed out to Pennsylvania, not far from the Delaware Water Gap, to spend the Christmas holiday. I  went out several days early intending to photograph the local forest areas for my art portfolio. Originally I had planned on bringing two camera systems with me, the Fuji and Leica M 240, but last minute space limitations made me pare down to just the Fuji. So in one bag I tucked away the X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom as my main lens to cover just about everything. In addition I carried the 55-200mm zoom (never used it), two fast lenses (the 35mm and 56mm f/1.4), the 14mm as my small super-wide, and the Zeiss Touit 50mm macro for close-ups. In addition I had a set of ND filters for time-lapse work, and a small tripod, the Sirui T-025X I reviewed previously on this blog as the perfect compact accompaniment to a Fuji-X system.

The days leading up to Christmas were filled with fog, mist, drizzle, and some light rain -- the kind of conditions I love for photographing in the woods. I took a hike through the forests, along streams, and even visited a waterfall. Some of the results for these hikes are shown below.

In the end I used only three lenses: The 18-135mm zoom was my main lens. Not only does it cover a full, useful range of focal lengths, it has excellent optics, 5-stop vibration reduction to fight off the low light when I was hand-holding the camera, and it, plus the X-T1, made a weather-resistant package to help fight off the dampness of the mist and rain. My exposed gear was constantly wet over the three days of photography.

I used a 9-stop ND filter to lengthen the exposure for water time lapse photos like this one where I used a 45 second exposure at f/5.6 and ISO 200.

Normally I shoot waterfalls at around 2 seconds, but here I decided to go longer for a milkier look to the water. I used a 45 second exposure at ISO 200 and f/8 with the 18-135mm lens. When shooting time lapse using a strong ND filter, around 9-stops or more, I choose to manually focus the lens before I mount the ND filter to the lens. The ND filter makes the scene so dark the camera sometimes has difficulty with auto-focus. As a rule, I never use the "C" (constant) AF mode under these circumstances. 

As a comparison, here is the same scene as the one above it, but photographed without the ND filter at 1/10th second. 

This close-up was done with the 18-135mm lens zoomed to a 104mm focal length and shot at f/5.6. At this close distance the bokeh is still quite nice. Streaks from the trails of falling rain drops are visible at 1/60 second. 


  1. Just beautiful Tom, thanks for the share!

  2. Lovely tonal quality in this beautiful series of images, Tom. Glad to have found your very interesting blog.