Does your camera offer fun?

I imagine from the Nikon’s and Sony’s and the other cameras around Hanoi that photography is an important thing. People invest money in lens and bags and camera bodies. Then they invest more in time in learning how they all work. I watched a guy today overloaded with camera gear as his wife wanted another lens from a bag he was carrying. He hunts through the camera bag and meanwhile misses a hundred interesting street moments. He finds the lens and his wife snaps one off and the other on and puts the old one back in the poor guy’s bag. I kinda wonder how all this works. I don’t have a camera with a prime lens and a body and all the stuff. How does one do it all? Isn’t that bag kinda heavy and you always have lens envy? What happens when you want a shot that’s in a moment and the moment soon disappears? I am not chiding the significant number of people carrying big gun lens and cameras. No. And I am not deriding or lowering their abilities. I’m sure they shoot better than me with all that gear.

I travel light you see. My gear is a FujiFilm X100F camera which fits into a smaller bag and lets me get the street or urban shots I want. But here is the main thing. Its fun! Let me tell you how. Fuji included film simulations on the camera and different enhancement possibilities with color, shadow, etc. One can dial in a new film simulation but then also start changing default shadow, color, sharpness. A single shot can take on multiple personalities. One can go out in a day in Hanoi and practice a single thing. Like today I started shooting with the Astia simulation but then bumped color and shadows to +2 for the halibut. Suddenly the shots got sharper with deeper colors and it was…


Fun because you can change the elements of the camera and make it do things that are fun and strange and weird. It makes a day out with the camera an exploration of a film simulation and then more fun with the different effects you can dial in. So its not just the photography which may be serious or not; its the fun of trying new things. Here’s a few I did today of the Astia, Classic Chrome. and Provia simulations with different sharpness and color at +2. I shot a few at the Hanoi Historic Water tower with various settings.

Notice the subtle changes in color? I had moved up color to +2 and sharpness to plus +2 and I was shooting with the Astia film simulation. No matter what, its fun. The camera is fun folks.

Now I’ll share some others with the settings changed here and there around Hanoi.

As I looked at the JPEGs, its dawned on me. I don’t need Photoshop or Lightroom. I have these special film simulations that the good folks at Fuji gave me and I have the Q button to change different sharpness and contrast settings.

I don’t own a Nikon or Sony or something. I have this FujiFilmX100F. I’m curious if the other cameras with the bags of lens and filters and what not are fun. Do those cameras have these different custom settings which can effect how the JPEG rolls out?

For me, its a difference of night and day. I go out each day and experiment and have fun with this camera. I keep all the photographs and upload them to Google Photos. Some good. Some not so good. Its all in the learning.

In the learning and in the fun.

Trip to Come in Wonderful Vietnam

I just returned from the tour of Halong Bay and loved it but I’ve come to realize after a lot of reflection on the crowded bus ride home that I am not really meant for package tours and individual exploration is probably the best for me. I’m old and set in my ways I fear and traveling with 30 other people is not how I really desire to see places. Granted, Halong Bay would be difficult to do on my own so I booked a tour. My best way is setting out on foot, camera bag over my shoulder and exploring.

When I got home last night, I had started looking at my calendar of time left in Hanoi and other places I may want to go. One place came bubbling up. I really want to go to Huế . Why you may ask there?

Huế has a wonderful history of events in Vietnam and its easily reachable by air from Hanoi. So last night, in looking at my calendar, I decided to book the travel there. Its quite easy traveling around in Vietnam domestically. One finds a place to fly to and then looks for cheap airfare. Vietnam Airways offers pretty decent round trip tickets to most places and my destination is a little over an hour away.

Then I find a hotel room either on Booking or Agoda. I can search for the cheap rooms up front. In the case of  Huế found a room for a total of $40 for all the nights. Booking takes care of the logistics of booking and you don’t pay until you arrive.

I will need transport from the airport to the city so will hunt up a shuttle to take or something next or maybe the hotel can arrange something. Given the price of everything else here, I’m pretty sure that a shuttle to the city center should be cheap.

So for this new trip, I paid $150 for the round trip airfare and $40 for the room. I will for food and drinks and stuff while there but I doubt I will spend $300 for the whole thing.

Getting to the airport and back is easier now that I found a honest cab service that picks me up at the hotel and then holds a sign with my name when I get back. Very easy to arrange now that I met Lucy :-).

Just to recap…

I have a trip to Hoi An coming up in Mid May, a trip to Hué in early June, and then I leave for Hong Kong in mid June to do the Visa run thing. Getting back, I ride the train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Undoubtedly will find places to visit down south when I get there and doing these trips is so easy.

If you want a country to explore that has friendly people, has an interesting history and food and culture, I highly recommend Vietnam. I especially like the food culture here and the choices in Hanoi one has with eating. I would also pitch longer stays and then do the trips to various locations and use Hanoi as the base camp for your travels. My long stay hotel here is $360 a month and its in the old quarter so easy to get around to restaurants and also escape the old quarter when the need arises.

Another pitch for Vietnam is if you are on fixed retirement income. Money goes a lot further here. I stopped trying to record my daily budget for food and ended up just wanting to enjoy things. Its easy to find the services you need too. I have a barber shop within a mile that is top notch and getting laundry done is across the street for about $2.00 a week. Having cell service does require you to have an unlocked phone but getting a SIM card is as easy as finding a place that’s marked or just getting Viettel. Its the best in Vietnam and gave me service pretty much all over Halong Bay. I guess because its owned by the government that things just work better on the service. 4G LTE is all over by the way and rarely does my phone go down to 3G. To renew you buy a scratcher card and send in the code number and you get more service.

All of this stuff is built for the traveler in mind to me. Services that are easy to find and use. Connectivity and travel. Vietnam really has a nice and affordable baseline for the person wanting to live a reasonable life in fixed income.