Exploring The Gulf Coast With The Fujifilm X-T2

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A Day Of Landscape Photography…

While I was on holiday with my family near Rosemary Beach, Florida, my dad and I took a day to explore the coast in search of great seafood and photography. We found both!

The best tips I can give you for shooting in the mid-day sun is to look for high-contrast scenes where the natural shadows make interesting compositions, and you will also want to take a really powerful ND filter to add interest to water and clouds. You will notice in the VLOG and photos below that I used the high-contrast light AND a 9 stop ND filter for almost every photo I captured. Always take advantage of the creative tools in your camera bag, and if you don’t own filter already, feel free to watch my video where I tell you all about my favorite filters for landscape photography. Also, the filter company even gave me a discount code that allows my viewers to get 10% OFF of all of their products. All of the info is in the video.

Take Care Of Your Gear…

In closing, make sure you really think about which bag you’re using in the field when you’re around a ton of sand and salt water like I was. Sand and salt water can ruin gear so fast! I highly recommend two bags for these situations, and you can watch my video reviews of them HERE: MindShift Gear Rotation 180 Pro Backpack Review | LowePro Whistler 450 AW Backpack Review

Below, you can see the photos and VLOG from my day of landscape photography on the gulf coast...

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 | Polarizer And 9 Stop ND Filter

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 | Polarizer And 9 Stop ND Filter

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 | Polarizer And 9 Stop ND Filter

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 | Polarizer Only

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 | Exposure Blend


 

 

New Quadcopter Photo – Dead Wilderness

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Quadcopter Photography Is Too Much Fun…

Ever since I bought my DJI quadcopter a year ago, I have really been loving aerial photography! Sure, it’s not a 36 megapixel full frame sensor with amazing image quality, but resolution is the last thing on my mind when I’m flying! It keeps me super creative! Why does it make me more creative? Well, it’s probably because flying or driving remote control vehicles brings out the “inner kid” in all of us, and kids have creative imaginations with no boundaries! It’s my personal belief that we always have the opportunity to be more creative when we’re having fun!

It’s quite an awesome feeling to be operating a camera that can fly half a mile away from you and capture crazy new perspectives of locations that have been photographed a million times from the ground. I have been taking photos in this forest for years, so I knew I had to see what it looked like from the sky! It can be quite challenging to come up with an interesting photo when doing aerial photography, but you will always find something cool when you follow the photographer’s code: Always… Follow… The… Light…

This photo was captured with a DJI Phantom 3 Professional and bracketed exposures.


 

Disney Day 6(Last Day): Reflections In Magic Kingdom And A Creepy Ending At The Haunted Mansion

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The Best Day Of  The Week…

After walking around the Disney parks for a week and trying to manage the late nights with early mornings, it was so nice to have a relaxing day with no reservations or plans of any kind. Since today was our last day, we all decided that we wanted to spend the day in Magic Kingdom taking photos of the kids, watching the parades, and just walking around slowly to enjoy all of the architectural details that Disney has to offer. 

I’m glad that I ended up packing all of my Fuji lenses for this trip because I was able to see which lenses I used the most. My two most-used lenses all week were definitely the Fuji 18-55 f/2.8-4 kit lens and the Fuji 35 f/2 prime lens. I used the Fuji 55-200 telephoto lens a fair bit as well for the parades and wildlife, but the other two lenses lived on my X-T2 most of the week. The 18-55 with it’s incredible OIS, covered most of my architecture and low light photos, while the 35mm f/2 covered the family photos and Disney character portraits. Now I know for the future that those three lenses are my must-have camera kit for travel. If you’re interested in seeing the entire Fuji kit that I took to Disney, you can watch that video HERE.

Night Time And Rain In Magic Kingdom With A Haunted Ending…

If you have been to Disney before, you know how magical everything becomes at night. Almost every square inch of the park is lit up, the weather cools off, and most the crowds start to leave park. Lucky for us, we have been staying on Disney property all week so we took advantage of the Disney “Magic Hours” from 10pm t0 12am. The “Magic Hours” allowed us to stay in the park two hours later than regular guests, and that is typically when I capture all of the long exposure Disney photos that you see in my portfolio.

Not long after nightfall, it started raining pretty hard, but we were ok with that since we knew it would clear the park of even more people. Pro tip: When it rains in Disney, 90% of the people think they’re going to melt if they get wet, so that means you get the park to yourself. While it was raining, we walked around in all of the cool shops on Main Street in Magic Kingdom, and I got to capture a really cool photo of a professional glass blower who was working on a new piece for the store’s collection. I really like the way his photo turned out! I have always believed that everything happens for reason, and had it not rained that night, we would have never gone inside that little shop, and I would have never captured that photo. Pretty cool 🙂

After we shopped around in the stores and purchased some good ole Disney merchandise, we noticed that the hard rain had turned into a light sprinkle, and there were no humans to be seen in any direction! It can be a little weird walking down Main Street in the busiest theme park in the world with no people in sight, but that is exactly how I like it. Most people just don’t take the time to wait out the crowds…

It was a very enjoyable night being able to ride all of our favorite rides with no wait times or people… Well, until my friend Joseph and I asked the wives if we could ride The Haunted Mansion on our way out of the park…big mistake  😯 . We were making our way to the front of the park so we could head back to the hotel, and as we were walking by the rides and stores, the lights were blacking out one-by one. It was a little creepy since we were the only ones left in the park, but we just assumed that they were closing things up since it was a little after midnight at that point. We also figured that The Haunted Mansion would probably be closed since everything else was closing as we walked by.

Well, as we approached The Haunted Mansion, we saw one single cast member standing outside the line waiting for people to come in. Of course, Joseph and I walked up to ask her if it was still open, and the lady didn’t say one word. She just starred at us with a straight face and pointed towards the ride. We were already a little creeped out at that point, but we assumed that her pointing meant that we could go through the line. If you have never ridden The Haunted Mansion before, you won’t know what I am talking about, but before you actually get on the ride, they take you into a pretty big room where they act out a short little skit that is supposed to be playful and scary at the same time. It’s fun to watch people get a little freaked out before getting on the ride, but I have the entire skit memorized because I have been riding The Haunted Mansion since I was a little kid. I also know that every time I have ever ridden  The Haunted Mansion during magic hours, they skip the little skit and let you get right on the ride. Naturally, I assumed they would do the same in this situation since it was literally just me and Joseph. I was wrong… One of the cast members took us into the big room, a shorter version of the skit played throughout the speakers, all of the doors around us shut, and then BOOM…the lights went out. Before the light went out, we were the only two people in that big room. BOOM! The lights came back on, and there were two girls dressed as creepy maids that randomly appeared about 6 inches away from our faces. We literally felt their breath…

After that insanely creepy moment, those two girls opened the door that lead to the ride, and we finally got on. Even more creepy things happened while we were on the ride, but that is a story for a different day. It’s really late and I still have to pack up my stuff and get some sleep since we’re leaving to go home in about 7 hours(yikes). Thank you all for following the blog all week and going on this Disney adventure with me and my family! Just promise me you’ll think twice before rinding The Haunted Mansion after hours.

Enjoy viewing all of my best photos from our last day…

Fuji X-T2 | 35mm f/2 WR | This is one of Disney’s awesome cast members in the “circus” section of Magic Kingdom. This guy’s face had such a unique look, so I had to ask him for a photo. Luck for me, he said yes!

Fuji X-T2 | 35mm f/2 WR | This is my beautiful baby girl, Scarlett. My wife and I envisioned this photo before we ever went on this trip, and we made it come to life. This little green patch of AstroTurf is great for photos of the kids with the castle in the background! 

Fuji X-T2 | 35mm f/2 WR | This is the glass blower that I got to photograph when we ran into the shops to escape the rain after sunset. I just love this image!

Fuji X-T2 | 18-55 f/2.8-4 Kit Lens | This is a photo of Magic Kingdom’s classic steamboat. Looking at this scene made me think of the old steamboat Mickey cartoon.

Fuji X-T2 | 35mm f/2 WR | This was the very last photo I took. We were on the way out of the park, it had just started raining again, and I saw those refections just singing my name. Obviously, I had to stop and grab a set of photos even though I got soaked. It was so beautiful!


 

Disney Day 5: Epcot At Golden Hour And German Sausage

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Golden Light, Another Great Sunset, And Snacks…

We all went back to Epcot tonight because…well, Epcot is a whole different world of magic and culture when golden hour hits. The countries all start to turn on lanterns and beautiful lights, the weather gets cooler, and all of the golden light starts reflecting off of the huge man-made lake in the middle of the Epcot World Showcase.

Our wives were looking at all of the souvenirs while Joseph and I were taking photos and drooling over the light hitting the architecture all around us. After walking around a bit and enjoying some family time and photography, the wives wanted to get some snacks. They were talking about ice cream, some kind of French fruit parfait, etc etc. This is where Joseph and I offered to take the kids, part ways from the ladies for a little while, and find some “man snacks” in another country. 

After getting distracted by taking photos of the kids around the park, we finally arrived in Germany at Biergarten to get some homemade sausage and authentic German beer. Typically, I’m not a beer drinker, but when I travel, I love experiencing new things. 

After we all enjoyed our snacks, we met back up with the wives and continued to have a fantastic evening! Family, friends, food, and great photos. Couldn’t ask for a better night! Below, you can see a few of my photos from tonight. Time to get in bed and gear up for tomorrow!

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55 f/2.8-4 | This photo was captured about 45 min before sunset. Everyone else was watching the Chinese dancers preform under this beautiful structure, but I was focused on capturing the golden light and interesting clouds.

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55 f/2.8-4 | The sunset was so good that I had to take a photo even though there wasn’t a great foreground at the time. However, I thought it was a pretty interesting image since I captured two countries and a hotel in one single photograph. Across the lake, you’ll see Morocco on the left, The Swan & Dolphin Resort in the middle, and France on the right.


 

Disney Day 4: Magic Kingdom And Magic Sunset

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Golden Hour Got Funky Fresh…

We spent most of today in Magic Kingdom taking some family photos with the kids and visiting all of the iconic rides. It’s been a fantastic day, but I was a little bummed that the weather was supposed to be gross and cloudy this evening. I knew that it was probably going to ruin my photo opportunities that I had been planning since the beginning of this week.

Well, I am not quite sure how it happened, but the clouds opened up and revealed the most beautiful golden hour I’ve ever seen in Magic Kingdom. I was lucky enough to be facing the perfect direction of sunset when the sky decided to open up, but I had one dilemma…tonight was the one and only night that I didn’t bring my tripod because I thought the weather was going to suck all day and night. I’m an idiot…

Thank God For Fuji OIS Lenses…

My shutter speed at the widest aperture and a moderate ISO was giving me 1/25. That is pretty slow to hand-hold on a windy night with tons of people walking by and running into me. Nonetheless, I was confident enough in the X-T2 and 18-55mm lens to handle high ISO and camera shake for me. I cranked the ISO to 2500, dialed in my shutter speed at 1/60, held my breathe, and started firing off exposures. 

When I captured this a few hours ago, I had no clue that the colors and light were going to show up like this in the RAW file. I am extremely happy with these two photos, and they were both taken with the 18-55mm kit lens. Best kit lens I have ever used!

One single exposure processed with Photoshop and Nik Collection. Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55 f/2.8-4

One single exposure processed with Photoshop and Nik Collection. Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55 f/2.8-4

Who says I can't paint? I converted this photo to a digital oil painting in Photoshop. I am a huge fan of Thomas Kinkade's Disney work. Everyone called him

Who says I can’t paint? I converted this photo to a digital oil painting in Photoshop. I am a huge fan of Thomas Kinkade’s Disney work. Everyone called him “the painter of light.” I thought this photo needed an extra bit of creativity so I came up with this. There are no such thing as rules in the art world 🙂 Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55 f/2.8-4


 

Digital Blending Your HDR Photography

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Blending Your Brackets WITHOUT HDR Software…

HDR(High Dynamic Range)is one of those styles of photography that some people love, some people hate, and some people just don’t understand.

This fun style of photography is nothing more than capturing multiple photos of a scene at different light values in order to blend the best part of each photo into “one photo to rule them all.”

I made a very detailed digital blending tutorial that you can follow along with by downloading my PSD with the RAW files from this project below. I hope this helps everyone, and you can always find more free tutorials on my YouTube channel!