I decided some months ago I needed to find a thing I could go learn that would get me out and doing new things besides the one plus hour walks I do. I could have done a variety of things like going new places with my smartphone. Could have hit the road with no real way of recording the passage.
I decided to embark on learning a new technology which is part art, part science, and mostly creativity. I bought a FujiFilm X100F on ebay and decided to take it when I go to Vancouver and Victoria BC later this year.
On the way I learned a few things.
- the FujiFilm X100F is a good learner’s camera but probably not the best. Its way customizeable so you have to pick things you can “learn”. You cannot learn it all so I decided to pick a set of things first that would apply to most of my photography.
- the method to do photography is active and what you do can be outside your back door or down the street to a place you took for granted.
- there is no real commitment to posting the photographs or finding some way of promoting them. I don’t earn money from it nor do I do it for any other reason than enjoyment and learning.
If you are looking for something to start on, I can suggest that FujiFilm X100F but its an expensive thing if you decide its not your thing. Perhaps you don’t mind and I did not. I wanted something that would stretch me a bit and also provide the vivid colors and flexibility a small camera would allow when I finally hit the road early next year. I don’t need massive lens and fixtures. See if your use cases measure up to mine and be the judge.
- walking tourism traveling light. I want to hit the roads in cities without carrying a bulk of stuff. I can take the Fuji and have a spare battery and memory card in my pocket.
- I take photographs of cities and historical sites and some landscapes. I want something that’s fast and easy to set and only adjust one variable. More on that in a moment.
- I want something that can fit within a portable workflow with a chromebook and a card reader. Chromebooks I think are the best travel devices. Lose or break one, no big time loss. I can replace a chromebook in moments in Japan or Singapore. I like the Android app support but don’t need it.
- Finally, the photographs are for me. They are for me to remember and share with a small circle of people I choose. Perhaps I instagram them or place them on facebook or GooglePlus. My choice though.
So lets get down to Mike’s settings. Its simple really. I only use Aperture Priority mode and I use either Velvia or Classic Chrome simulation. Velvia when doing nature or landscape and Classic Chrome when doing street shots. Doing nature shots, I want a wide depth so I use something like F11 or F16 and it works well. Doing street shots I use something like F5.6 to F8 and that works well. Sometimes I mess with opening things up and getting closer shots but I am not a macro photographer or desire bokeh.
Now, with all these basic settings you still have to decide what is the correct aperture. Simple just get out and take photographs and you will learn the basics. Reading lots of material will give you a baseline but what you find may not mirror what someone happened to find. I did use a few resources in building my “comprehensive” settings. Here’s a few for you to read:
- Ian McDonald describes his settings for street photography. I stole those for the most part. I don’t do black and white too often but I would probably start with his and work my way around.
- Danny Ngan describes his settings for everything he shoots. What I like about Danny’s settings is that they are simple and you can go implement them without really having to spend hours.
One constant is that people tend to use Aperture Priority for a lot of things and its an easy one to start with. I think people must get off the Program or Auto modes if they want to learn what elements make a good photograph. To get there, experimentation, failure, success, failure, trying again is the recipe. Luckily, the Fuji is very forgiving and I just reformat the memory card and start it all again.
The final thing is the workflow to get the photographs off the camera. I documented what I do here. I choose a cheaper method using the Samsung Chromebook Plus with the android apps in tow. You can use what works. Perhaps its an iPad or a Surface Pro. Since I am a tool user by default I choose the one that fits inside the ecosystem I am most comfortable with. So for me, its Google Photos, Snapseed and then sharing to social media if I must or want to.
Don’t get dismayed or disappointed. Remember why you are taking up a new hobby. You don’t learn a thing by doing it once or twice and photography is a combination of things so don’t take yourself too seriously. Just get out there and travel with the camera. That was a difficult thing for me but you have to do that part. I mean, how can you take photographs without the camera? Using a smartphone is not an option here for me. I don’t want a smartphone when I travel. They are obnoxious and link you to a cell phone signal.
I have taken a few photographs that I like with the camera. I have taken dozens, perhaps hundreds, which I deleted but each one taught me a lesson or helped me find a new way of doing a thing.
By August, I will be that much better with it. I always will be some kind of newbie but I can see the questions I ask when doing various things are becoming things I target for the next outing.
But, that’s enough for now. Its time for me to get going :-). I’ll leave you with a butterfly I found yesterday…