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.
https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-h4CNcgs/0/ea58bc5b/X3/i-h4CNcgs-X3.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2017-06-10 18:33:442017-06-26 23:26:31Exploring The Gulf Coast With The Fujifilm X-T2
My family and I always spend about 8-10 days out of every year in Panama City Beach, Florida. The gulf coast has amazing seafood, white sand, clear water, and magical sunsets! Need I even say more? We just arrived a couple of hours ago, and I’m already craving fresh seafood!
We always like to stay in a large high-rise with a corner unit, so I can photograph the sunset from the balcony without any buildings standing in between me and sunset. Yes, my wife specifically looks for corner units so I can take better photos. I’m a lucky man :-). Speaking of that, if you guys or gals ever need to book a fun-filled Disney vacation, my wife will handle everything for you for free! She is a Disney travel agent, and I can promise you that there is no one in this world that knows more about booking Disney trips than her. She has been doing this for 9 years, and You can check out her page HERE.
Anyway, it’s going to be an extremely fun week, and I can’t wait to spend time with my family, eat tons of seafood, and take some awesome photos! Of course, I have already put the X-T2 to work on tonight’s sunset, and you can see that photo below. If any of you live here, shoot me an email and maybe we can do a photowalk one day.
Let’s just hope the “wave incident” from last year doesn’t happen again! I’ll put that video below so you can see me and my D810 dripping with water…
Fujifilm X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 XF WR
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This FREE video explores what's in Eric's Camera bags, accessories outside of the bags, and Eric's favorite lenses for landscape photography.
https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-XL2JbzS/0/090c839e/X3/i-XL2JbzS-X3.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2017-05-05 21:40:102017-05-04 18:42:10I'm In Panama City Beach For The Next Week!
I have been a Nikon DSLR shooter since day one, and as a landscape and nature photographer, I have always been pleased with the image quality and dynamic range of the Nikon system.
For the last three years, I have been testing almost every mirrorless camera on the market to see what all of the fuss was about. So many photographers talked about how mirrorless was completely replacing their DSLR systems, so I knew that I had to use them as my primary camera to see if I could truly live without my DSLR kit.
After tons of testing with different mirrorless camera brands, I came to the conclusion that these new cameras were nowhere near ready to replace my Nikon DSLR system, but they were definitely fun to use. The longest I was able to use a mirrorless camera without touching my DSLR was about two weeks.
Let’s fast forward to December of 2016… I bought my First Fujifilm mirrorless camera, and my world changed instantly…
Love At First Sight…
after months of research on the Fuji “X” line of cameras, I decided to purchase the Fujifilm X-T2 in December of 2016. You’re probably asking yourself why I never tried Fujifilm cameras in the past, since I stated above that I have tried tons of mirrorless cameras over the years. Well, I wish I had a great answer for you, but the 16 megapixel APS-C sensors that Fujifilm had just never caught my attention. HA, that was stupid of me…
All I can say is that from the moment I touched the X-T2, I instantly fell in love. It could have been a 10 megapixel camera, and I would not have cared one bit. This camera simply makes me want to take more photographs. Every single time I pick it up, I just want to get out, take photos, and make art. Isn’t that what all cameras are supposed to make me feel like?? If you own one of these magical Fujifilm X cameras, you know what I mean.
Here is the video where I unboxed this camera and held it for the first time…
Ok, so let’s get into the good stuff that will help you decide if this is the camera for you or not. I will be covering build quality, the firmware and menus, autofocus, dynamic range, ISO, EVF, ergonomics, and I will end with the main features that I liked and disliked about the camera.
The X-T2 has a very rigid build, and I found that after just a few days of using it in the field, I was almost as confident in it’s physical reliability as I am with my Nikon D810.
Flip out screens always worry me since most of them feel like they could snap off at any second. Somehow, even the flip out screen on the XT2 feels very strong and secure. I put my cameras through serious use in the elements, so the fact that this tiny mirrorless camera is still working like new should tell most people that it can take a serious beating.
Oddly enough, The only thing about the X-T2 that seemed a little “flimsy” was the exposure compensation dial. If you put even the slightest bit of pressure on the dial, it will physically move forwards and backwards like it’s about to snap off the camera body. That being said, I am sure that it’s built just as well as the rest of the camera, but that is the only physical part of the camera that just didn’t feel as rigid and strong as the rest.
Firmware And Menu System
One of the biggest reasons that Fujifilm has such a loyal fan base is because of the way they handle their firmware. Instead of releasing a new camera with simple upgrades every 6 months like other big brands, they release FREE firmware updates that fix and/or upgrade the features of their current cameras. For example, when the X-Pro2 first released, it had 273 AF points. The autofocus system in the X-Pro2 was fast enough for most situations, but when the X-T2 was released only 6 months later, it had 325 AF points that were all just a bit faster than the X-Pro2. What did Fujifilm do about this? They released a firmware update that literally upgraded the freaking AF system on the X-Pro2 so that it matched the same 325 point AF system from the X-T2! THAT, my friends, is how you run a business with a core competency of customer satisfaction…
As for the menu system, I think it’s laid out pretty well. It definitely takes some getting used to if you’re coming from a DSLR since there are so many more customization options in the mirrorless cameras. All in all, I found it pretty easy to navigate after the first few days of use, and I really enjoy that they give you a “MY” menu for storing all of your most-used menu settings in one place.
The feature that needs the biggest firmware improvement is the wireless communications setup between the X-T2 and smart devices. It’s extremely slow to connect, sometimes it’s very laggy once it does connect, and it often doesn’t want to connect at all. The biggest issue I have been having with it is that I can use my iPhone as a wireless feed and remote for the camera, but the second I want to import the photos to my phone, the app will crash or disconnect from the camera. This happens about 50% of the time. It seems that it makes you choose “remote” or “import” right from the launch of the app instead of being able to bounce back and forth between the two like it’s supposed to do.
Now that I have talked about how bad and unreliable the wireless communication features are, I will give you a big positive point to end this category with. The Fujifilm wireless remote app is really good… when it works. It’s one of the only wireless camera apps that allows you to change aperture, shutter speed, white balance, AND focus. If you do a lot of videos trying to record yourself, it’s hard to know when you’re in perfect focus. When using this app, all you have to do is tweak the focus for where you’re already standing instead of trying to pre-focus the camera to an area where you may or may not even be.
I am going to get right to the point. The autofocus system in the X-T2 is the fastest and most accurate AF system I have used in any mirrorless camera. The real test for AF systems is seeing how well they acquire focus in low light. I don’t mean going out at golden hour to see how well the AF performs. I’m talking about shooting a wedding reception where all you have are some candles and DJ lights. Fortunately, I was able to test this camera in some serious low light situations, and it performed wonderfully. The best low light focusing cameras I have used to date are the D4 and D500 from Nikon, and the X-T2 is just a hair faster than both of these cameras when the best Fujinon glass is mounted to the b0dy.
As for tracking fast moving subjects with the X-T2, it’s tough to give a definitive answer. I say that because the X-T2 tracks insanely well when the AF-C custom settings have been tweaked for the specific situation. If you just flip the AF mode selector from “S” to “C” and start firing off frames, it’s not as accurate as I would prefer it to be. It’s not slow or bad by any means, but I would say that it’s pretty inconsistent if you don’t tweak the AF-C custom settings and focus zones in the menu system.
EXAMPLE: This photo was captured in AF-C mode on custom setting #2 with the center zone selected. I chose custom setting #2 because this tweaks the focus to ignore obstacles like the bushes and weeds you can see creeping into the foreground. After tweaking, it produced tack sharp images every time! Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm
Lastly If you’re interested to see how fast the X-T2 obtains focus acquisition in low light, you can check out this video I made comparing the AF speeds between the Fuji X-T2 and Nikon D810.
X-T2 vs D810: Low Light Autofocus Test
Dynamic Range is a big deal for me being that I am a landscape photographer. To be honest, I was still worried about the dynamic range on the X-T2 even after I placed the order to purchase one. Dynamic Range is a topic that most camera reviewers don’t test, so I did’t really know what to expect.
Using the X-T2 exclusively for the past two months has allowed me to learn a lot about it’s dynamic range capabilities. It seems to recover highlights in a much better way than it recovers shadows. Now, this all depends on the lighting situation you’re in whether it’s Indoor tungsten, direct sun light, dusk, etc. The quality of the light directly impacts how much noise and degradation you get in the image. I have posted a couple of example photos below…
HIGHLIGHT RECOVERY: The version of this photo on the left is 2 stops over exposed straight out of the camera, and as you can see from the version on the right, the RAW file held together brilliantly during highlight recovery. It even brought back the nice colors that were deep within the file.
SHADOW RECOVERY IN BAD LIGHT: The version on the left is 2 stops under exposed and completely blacked out. The version on the right is after shadow recovery in Lightroom CC. As you can see, it’s quite impressive how much luminance was able to be recovered from the file, but if you take a closer look, you can see significant color noise and loss of image quality.
This is a 100& crop of the shadow recovered photo above. I wanted you to be able to see the loss of detail and the noise that creeps in when trying to recover the shadows from this kind of lighting condition.
SHADOW RECOVERY IN GOOD LIGHT: The version on the left is 2 stops under exposed. As you can see from the version on the right, the shadows recovered with no issue this time. This photo was taken during mid-day light instead sunset like the noisy result above.
Here is the 100% crop of the shadow recovered version above. You can see that good light makes all the difference in the world. The only negative aspect of shadow recovery from the Fujifilm RAW files is that some of the colors start to turn a bit grey. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix with the Nik Collection Color Effects Pro software suite.
Surprisingly, I have no complaints concerning high ISO performance. I am comfortable shooting at ISO 6400 since it retains about 80% of the detail you would normally see from this camera at lower ISO values. That’s assuming that the subject you’re shooting at has some kind of ambient light source around. What impresses me the most about the higher ISO values of the X-T2 is the camera’s ability to produce 99% perfect color rendition and white balance in every image.
I just wish that Fujifilm will allow us to natively shoot lower than ISO 200 in the near future. I haven’t experienced any big issues at ISO 200 for my landscape photography, but my favorite thing about my Nikon D810 is that I can shoot at a native ISO 64. The lower ISO values give me a cleaner image, more room in post production to push the dynamic range, and it really helps when trying to drag the shutter for long exposures without the use of an ND filter.
I could keep writing about ISO, but people like seeing results. Not long after I purchased the X-T2, I did a direct ISO comparison between the X-T2 and the D810 all the way up to 12,800 ISO. I think you will be surprised at the results, and I even provided a link for you to download the RAW files from both cameras. You can read that blog post HERE or check out the video below…
HIGH ISO EXAMPLE: This photo was taken at ISO 10,000. Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm
EVF And Rear LCD
To be 100% honest, I really love DSLR optical viewfinders. It’s all I have ever known. When the EVF’s first came out on these mirrorless cameras, I was sure that I could never use one for my professional work, and Unfortunately, I was correct. After using the Sony a6000, Sony A7r II, Panasonic G7, and a few others over the years, I never found an EVF that made me want to use it over an optical viewfinder. The EVF’s were just not detailed enough, a little laggy, and way too noisy in low light.
When I first put my eye up to the X-T2, it was like looking into my own personal HDTV. The colors were amazing, it was easy to see focus, I could see depth of field in real time, and there was room for a live histogram without taking up 60% of the screen. The EVF is so detailed that I use it almost exclusively over the live view to grab perfect manual focus for my landscape photos. I’m not sure what Fujifilm did when creating the EVF for the X-T2, but I can tell you that it’s the first EVF that I have been able to use without missing my optical viewfinder.
After all of my positive feedback on the EVF, I wish I could give you the same for the rear LCD. However, it’s just nothing special. It’s not bad by any means, but it’s hard to use it as a primary source for image review and focus check when the camera has a 2.36 million dot EVF right above the 1.04 million dot LCD. Now, you’re probably thinking how spoiled I sound for saying those things since they both have over 1 million dots of resolution, but you will completely understand once you go back forth between the EVF and LCD. Luckily, the LCD on the X-T2 was not a “make it or break it” feature for me. I shoot through the viewfinder 95% of the time, so I am lucky that the EVF is where Fujifilm decided to work their wizardry.
The last point I will mention regarding the LCD is the fact that it can now flip out into a vertical format. At first glance, you might think that you won’t use this feature, but It proved to be pretty useful when I had to get low to the ground in vertical format.
At the end of the day, I wish that the rear LCD was fully articulating like the Canon 80D and many others. I think that adding that one feature would make the X-T2 much more attractive to vloggers and videographers.
Handling And Ergonomics
This category is one of the most important for me because if a camera isn’t comfortable enough to use on a daily basis, it wouldn’t make sense to purchase it. I personally found the X-T2 a little small for my big hands when I first picked it up. It was mainly that my pinky finger had nowhere to go on the grip. I love the size of the camera, but once I started mounting heavier lenses like the Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8, it made the camera even harder to balance in with the tiny grip.
After the first 24 hours with the camera, I got online to see what other people with big hands were saying about the X-T2, and I saw the same advice on every forum… GET THE BATTERY GRIP! So, that is exactly what I did, and it’s the best accessory I have purchased for my X-T2 so far. It gave my pinky finger a place to grip, balanced the camera with larger lenses, gave me longer battery life, and it gave me the ability to shoot at 11fps in “boost” mode. It’s a no brainer! I highly recommend purchasing the booster grip with your X-T2.
As for overall ergonomics, the manual dials are the stars of the show in my opinion. They are simply perfect. I love having manual dials and rings at my fingertips to control shutter speed, ISO, aperture, and exposure compensation. It allows me to change my settings very quickly without having to take my eye out of the viewfinder. Other than the dials, all of the buttons on the camera have a very nice and tactile feel to them.
My two favorite features regarding ergonomics, are the new joystick and the locking/unlocking mechanism for the shutter speed and ISO dials. The joystick makes it super easy to navigate around the 325 AF points, and no matter what focus point you have selected at any given time, all you have to do is press the joystick inward to automatically get back to the center AF point. The new lock/unlock mechanism for the shutter and ISO dials are a very welcome upgrade. It simply insures that my settings won’t accidentally get changed when I’m taking the camera out of the bag, mounting it on a tripod, or slipping a rain cover over the top of the camera.
I want to preface this category by making all of you aware that I am not a professional videographer. I definitely have a great interest in video and find it very fun to film and edit all of my VLOGS for my YouTube channel, but my career is in photography.
I can tell you that the video is extremely sharp compared to other 4k mirrorless cameras I have shot with. The X-T2 records in a higher resolution than 4k and somehow down samples to 4k in real time for sharper footage and less moire. Fujifilm doesn’t fully explain how the technology works, but it works well.
What impressed me the most about shooting video with the X-T2 was it’s buttery smooth autofocus in continuous mode. With the influx of vloggers over the past few years, Having smooth autofocus transitions while shooting video seems to be one of the most important features that people look for. Until now, I have always recommended the Canon 70d or 80d for people who wanted smooth AF during video due to Canon’s dual pixel AF technology. In my opinion, the video AF on the X-T2 really holds it’s own against the 70d, and it’s just a little slower and less smooth than the 80d.
I wish I could keep going on about all of the video features for you, but it just wouldn’t be accurate or fair to give you strong opinions on the X-T2’s video capabilities without hardcore testing like I have done on all of the other categories. However, I promise that I will do more testing in the future and post the results on my YouTube channel. You can SUBSCRIBE to my channel HERE.
What I liked The Most
Snappy autofocus in good AND bad light
Autofocus tracking accuracy after tweaking the settings
Sharpness and image quality
Clean details and color accuracy at high ISO
What Needs The Most Improvement
Continuous autofocus tracking in default AF-C mode
dynamic range shadow recovery
Base ISO lower than 200
Fujifilm app and Wifi communication reliability
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This FREE video explores what's in Eric's Camera bags, accessories outside of the bags, and Eric's favorite lenses for landscape photography.
If you enjoyed this review and all my free video content, please consider supporting my channel by visiting this link to my support page: www.PayPal.Me/FindingMiddleEarth. Enjoy a few more photos that I have taken with the Fujifilm X-T2, and thank you all so much for reading!
Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55mm f/1.8
Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200 f/3.5-4.8
Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8
Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4
Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8
Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8
Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200 f/3.5-4.8
https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-3WXgMsZ/0/X3/i-3WXgMsZ-X3.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2017-03-03 19:04:142017-05-03 22:25:35Fujifilm X-T2 Full Review - One Camera To Rule Them All?
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!
https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-rjG9rX9/0/2b9bda8f/X3/i-rjG9rX9-X3.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2017-01-28 02:00:182017-07-17 22:29:12Disney Day 6(Last Day): Reflections In Magic Kingdom And A Creepy Ending At The Haunted Mansion
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.
https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-Z5CRJvh/0/e74a05a1/X3/i-Z5CRJvh-X3.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2017-01-26 22:27:292017-06-28 14:39:37Disney Day 5: Epcot At Golden Hour And German Sausage
If you follow my YouTube channel, you have heard me say millions times that the best time to take photos in Disney World is at night. Well, Animal Kingdom is an exception to that statement. Why? Most of Animal kingdom is covered with trees due to all of the animals, and that ends up providing lots of dappled light in the best way possible.
You have to really look for those “magic light” moments, or they will be gone just as fast as they came. If you’re new to photography, you may be asking yourself right now what the heck “magic light” is. It all has to do with the way the light interacts with shadow and creates an interesting contrast between the two.
Here’s a couple photos from today, and if you want to check out the rest of my Disney portfolio, CLICK HERE.
Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm | Swahili Sax Player jamming some soulful tunes. The second I pointed the camera at this guy, he started really animating stage presence. It was awesome!
Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm | Gorilla dreaming of freedom… FYI, this shot was taken at 10,000 ISO. It’s amazing how the detail held up.
https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-4bd3tLP/0/X3/i-4bd3tLP-X3.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2017-01-24 19:14:092017-02-19 23:43:15Disney Day #3: Animal Kingdom And Swahili Soul
Ohhh, so THAT Is What Fuji Fanboys Are Talking About…
I am going on three weeks of being a “Fuji Shooter” with my X-T2, and I can say with complete confidence that it has exceeded my expectations.
I am primarily a landscape/nature photographer and have always used my big Nikon DSLRs. I have been very pleased with my D810 for the past two years, but there are four distinct features that I think sets Fujifilm X cameras apart from the other camera brands I have used.
#1 Light Rendition:
I have no technical explanation for this one. I have used tons of cameras, but the way the Fuji X-trans sensors record light is just magical. There is such a defined and attractive separation between highlight and shadow. I’m Pretty sure that Fuji performs some kind of wizardry on these sensors after Sony sends them over.
This image was taken during golden hour, and I still can’t explain how the sensor magically portrays the separation between the cold blue shadows and the golden highlights kissing the rocks.
#2 High ISO Detail:
This is a big one for me because I do a lot of printing. There many times where I see “the shot” and just have to crank the ISO much higher than normal to capture the moment before it disappears. Usually when this happens while I am shooting with my D810, it’s kind of a general rule that loss of detail and color starts happening around 3200 ISO. For sharing online or any kind of web use, 3200 and up is easily useable on the D810, but printing is entirely different. To my complete surprise, the XT2 files are still useable at 6400 ISO and up for printing. I ordered a 16×24 print from an XT2 TIFF file that was shot at ISO 8000, and it looked freaking phenomenal due to the amount of detail that held together at the higher ISO values on the Fuji XT2. If you would like to see a Fuji vs Nikon ISO comparison I did, you can read that blog post HERE.
This image was taken handheld at 5000 ISO with no noticeable loss of detail at all.
#3 The Mechanical Dials:
The image quality isn’t the only reason that the XT2 has been an absolute pleasure to shoot with. The handling and ergonomics of this camera simply make it fun to use. My favorite feature about the ergonomics of course are the mechanical dials on top for controlling ISO, shutter speed, metering, and exposure compensation. Not only does it make for a super fast workflow when shooting, but it also adds that beautiful bit of nostalgia as if I’m shooting on an old film camera.
#4 Color Rendition:
Last but not least, the color rendition on that Fuji cranks out of their files are stunning. It really has a look of it’s own that I have not seen before when using any other camera or software plugin. If you make the jump and purchase one of these Fuji X cameras, you will know exactly what I am talking about. Ever since the first few Fujifilm mirrorless cameras started to hit the market a few years ago, I have heard nothing but good things about their natural rendition of “colory” buttery goodness. Now I know why people won’t shut up about it ;-).
This image only had some micro contrast and sharpening applied to it. The colors and exposure are straight out of the camera. It impressed the heck out of me!
Conclusion And Video Going Over These Four Topics…
If you can’t tell, I am really loving this camera so far, but I have obviously found some quirks and cons that I will mention in my full review(coming soon). I will go ahead and put your mind at ease by saying that I haven’t found anything yet that bothered me enough to sell it or return it. I am going on almost a month of not touching my Nikon D810. It might sound weird, but when I get creative and feel like going on a photo adventure, I just naturally pick up my Fuji kit without thinking. It just feels right…
As Always, please let me know in the comments if you have ANY questions at all.
https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-jfq5bcK/0/X2/i-jfq5bcK-X2.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2017-01-09 14:39:282017-01-13 22:44:06Why Are Fujifilm X Cameras So Special? Fuji XT2 Mini Review
I have been using my Nikon D810 now just about every day for 2 years. I have put it through hell with crazy weather conditions, quicksand, salt water, UNDER water, etc…but…I have never truly tested the high ISO noise performance of this camera. Now that I think of it, no one has ever asked me to test the ISO performance either. The second that I purchased the X-T2, it’s like everyone in the world wanted to see how the ISO of the full frame D810 would stack up against the new kid on the block.(Fuji X-T2)
After a ton of FB messages, emails, and YouTube comments all requesting me to do this comparison, here it is, FME fans! You can watch the video below where you will see me setup the ISO test, and you can also download the RAW files from both cameras completely FREE. That way you can all make your own opinions 🙂
Keep the requests coming! Obviously, I make this free content for you, so I want to know what all of YOU want to watch. Take care!
https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-pvKh7r9/0/O/i-pvKh7r9.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2017-01-05 03:27:112017-01-05 23:43:30Fuji X-T2 vs Nikon D810: Low Light ISO Showdown
This is just one of those photos that was really fun to capture and post process. I’m not 100% sure why this happens, but every once in a while I really show favoritism towards a specific photo.
I was on my way to a small town in Alabama to shoot Fall colors when I saw this beautiful overlook to my right. Obviously, I had to stop the car so I could determine whether or not the scene had potential for a great photo. Well, the second that I saw the little house with it’s own little section of the forest, I just fell in love with this scene.
Wait For The Light…
The clouds were moving very fast that day, so it was making it tough to capture the light at it’s best. For the longest time, that beautiful little house was in deep shade, but I waited as long as it took for that perfect beam of light to accentuate all of the magic that the landscape had to offer.
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-XRCqcJg/0/XL/SoShinesAGoodDeedInAWearyWorld-XL.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-11-10 16:17:362016-12-11 14:46:45So Shines A Good Deed In A Weary World
As an outdoor photographer, Autumn is one of the best times for adding great images to my portfolio for print sales and licensing. However, the past two years have been really dull and flat where I live in Georgia, so I typically have to drive out of state to find vibrant colors.
This year, I ended up driving to a small little town in Alabama that I have never been to before called, Mentone. It was a beautiful little town surrounded by even more beautiful state parks. Desoto State Park is where I took this photo, and I honestly didn’t think I would like the way it turned out since the mid-day-sun was beating contrasty light into the trees and water.
After reviewing everything on my computer, I thought that the lighting was actually pretty cool with the left side of the composition hidden in shadow. I just used some post processing tools to chisel the detail out of the huge wall of rock, and I ended up being really happy with the way this image turned out.
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-rB8SWZN/0/L/Desoto%20Park%20In%20Autumn-L.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-10-29 12:15:162016-10-30 14:40:43Desoto State Park In Autumn
This was just one of those Autumn nights that I’ll always remember. I was at the lake hiking most of that day just enjoying the outdoors, and I wasn’t planning on staying for sunset since I was pretty tired from the 6 mile hike around the mountain. However, I had this odd feeling, and I like to think that I have this kind of “sixth sense” about the weather.
I started smelling the smoky air, I felt the sweet Autumn breeze on my face, and I just knew that everything was right in the world for a great sunset on the lake. As you can see, I did end up staying for sunset, and mother nature rewarded me with this photo. Moral of the story: “Always let your conscience be your guide.”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-mD7N5qZ/6/L/Autumn-L.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-10-22 01:15:372016-10-23 01:33:26Autumn Night On The Lake
One of the coolest moments from my trip to Florida was when my dad and I hired a private charter to take us to a secret part of the infamous, Shell Island.
My dad’s favorite thing in the world is fishing, and If you told him that he had to fish for his food every day for the rest of his life, he would consider himself a lottery winner. Anyway, my dad is good friends with this fishing guide who told him about a “secret” part of Shell Island that no tourist charters know about. He claimed that the water and the sand on that part of the island were more beautiful than anything he had ever seen in the Caribbean. Well, he was right!
When we finally arrived to the “secret” part of the island, the scenery was just unbelievable! we saw sea turtles, tons of majestic dolphins swimming together, and the best part….no other humans around!
I had to hang off the front of the boat on this windy day with my Nikon D810 and 70-200mm lens for about 30 minutes to get this shot, but it was so worth it! That entire private tour was a privilege to be on since I got to spend time with my dad, hear funny drunken stories from our crazy captain, and witness a small part of the natural beauty that the ocean has to offer. It would be pretty hard to find someone who loves the ocean more than me 🙂
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-xtjj5Mj/0/L/Majestic%20Dolphins%20Of%20Shell%20Island-L.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-10-02 14:00:282016-10-07 19:52:50Majestic Dolphins Of Shell Island
Sunsets over large bodies of water can often be hard to photograph since it’s so cliché to have that “perfect” sunset photo that we have all seen a million times with the over saturated purple clouds, the orange sun reflecting on the sand, and the perfect silhouette of a seagull flying off into the sunset. While that sounds nice, I like to go against the grain and create art that stands out.
I always try to find interesting foreground elements to draw my viewer’s eyes right into the main subject matter of the photograph. If I can’t find a good foreground, I usually put on my telephoto lens and narrow my composition to focus in on one compelling portion of the scene.
This sunset was one of those times where I could not find anything interesting to place in the foreground as a complimentary element. However, I decided to hang around past sunset just to see if any lasting colors would appear, and I was hoping something special would happen being that I was out there in the middle of a thunderstorm where colors can really pop out of nowhere at any minute.
Wide Or Telephoto? That Is The Question…
About 15 minutes after the sun had completely disappeared behind the horizon, the sky was lit on fire by some of the vibrant colors I have ever seen on location. There was just one problem: I still hadn’t found a good enough composition to make a good photo, but I knew I was on very limited time. I tried the only other option I had and snapped on my 70-200 lens to get a very simple composition of the colors without any distractions blocking the magic that was happening in the clouds.
In the end, it worked out quite nicely, and I also learned that simple compositions can easily be as powerful as huge landscape vistas with amazing foregrounds. I hope you all take something away from this experience like I did. 🙂
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-qZ2KT4h/6/M/Firestorm-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-09-22 17:12:092016-09-22 17:14:26Firestorm
This location was simply a joy to explore and photograph. It’s actually a little frustrating to blog about because it’s so hard to explain the pure and zen atmosphere of this place. It was very much like being in Middle Earth, hence the name of this photo.
The cool history behind this magical little waterfall is that it was accidentally created due to years of mother nature beating the old stone that once contained the water. I guess some things just need to be set free, and I sure am glad I was able to capture it.
NEW PHOTO – “Mill Of Middle Earth”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-jcRKR58/5/S/The%20Mill%20Of%20Middle%20Earth-S.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-09-14 20:49:582016-09-17 16:40:31Mill Of Middle Earth
I think this was one of the first really good sunsets I photographed with my quadcopter. I am still blown away by the technology and the ability to capture photos from hundreds of feet in the air with full control over ISO, shutter speed, and even HDR brackets!
I was on the ground shooting the sunset with my Nikon D810, and I just wasn’t quite getting the results I Wanted. I kept seeing these beautiful beams of light popping out of the clouds that were sitting in front of the setting sun. Years ago, I would have had to give up on the shoot or rush to another location before the sun went away, but all I had to do to remedy my compositional dilemma was simply send my quadcopter up to the perfect spot.
NEW PHOTO – “Ascending To The Heavens”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-CrsZFXH/5/L/Ascending%20To%20The%20Heavens-L.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-09-13 23:47:132016-09-15 20:59:45Ascending To The Heavens
This photo is quite simple but makes me want to be on an adventure in the wizarding world, nonetheless. My wife and I are huge Harry Potter nerds, and we love simply hanging out in the theme park all day just soaking up the “mood” even if we don’t get to ride any rides. All we need is each other and some butter beer………and my camera of course 🙂
A quick photo tip for these extremely crowded places is to try the best you can to focus on the details. I say this because crowds can often prevent you from getting the great wide shots you want, so instead of adding 300 tourists to your portfolio photos, just look around for the details like this sign where you can zoom in and cut all of the people out. If you want even more FREE TIPS on theme park photography, check out the video I did with Matt from Art Of The Image where I give you all of my best tips for getting great photos in theme parks! CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO.
NEW PHOTO – “The Daily Prophet”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-32cbW3p/0/M/The%20Daily%20Prophet-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-03-28 17:50:262016-09-01 19:18:36The Daily Prophet
Those of you who have been shooting with me before know that I LOVE shooting in bad weather. Storms make some of the most interesting and dramatic photographs you could wish for. However, being at the top of a mountain which took 2.74 miles of vertical hiking to reach was probably not the safest situation in these conditions. Nonetheless, the real threat of the sky and weather allowed me to capture this lovely and dramatic photograph.
Even though I love shooting in bad weather, I do always prepare for these situations. I pack extra clothes, jackets, water, food, etc. Taking care of yourself is the most important aspect of photography adventures. You can’t be creative if you’re freezing and hungry. If you would like to see how I pack my camera bag for these longer hikes, CLICK HERE.
NEW PHOTO – “Desolation Comes Upon The Sky”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-zSkqm64/0/L/Desolation%20Comes%20Upon%20The%20Sky-L.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-03-24 16:08:162016-09-17 16:47:50Desolation Comes Upon The Sky
Purchase My Prints and have them shipped right to your door!
I have been working for quite a while on a very easy and innovative way for people to purchase my prints. I have partnered with one of the best print labs in the country, and they will now be handling all of the logistics for my prints. I also offer METAL PRINTS now which I am so excited about since it’s one of the most unique ways to display your art.
I am only selling a select set of my photos for print. You will notice on my new online gallery that I have a folder named “Limited Edition Prints” where I will periodically be switching out photos once I have sold a certain amount of one print. If you see a photo that is not for sale, just email me and I can tell you if/when it ever will be. Thanks so much and have fun looking over my new print gallery! SEE PRINT GALLERY HERE
http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Limited-Edition-Prints-Graphic.jpg8001000Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-03-19 23:02:452016-05-28 18:07:05Now Offering LIMITED EDITION PRINTS
Ok, who doesn’t love Harry Potter? Let’s be honest… My wife and I are big kids, and we visit Disney World and Universal studios typically two or three times a year. That should explain why so much of my portfolio is filled with theme park photography 🙂
I took this photo of the Hogwarts Express when they stopped the train and everyone was getting off to rome around Hogsmeade. I had to ride the train three times to get one of the employees to finally let me stay on for an extra few minutes to take the shot! When there is a good photo to be had, I never give up!
NEW PHOTO – “Inside Of The Hogwarts Express”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-j4PDZwr/1/M/Inside%20The%20Hogwarts%20Express-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-03-08 23:33:362016-09-03 02:20:36Inside The Hogwarts Express
I am all about getting up at the crack of dawn if it means I get to be in the silence of nature with my camera. My dad called me on a Friday evening and said, “Eric, I know you love shooting sunrises, and I know of this really cool farm that sits in between two mountains. Want to go tomorrow?” Well, how could I have turned him down after hearing about a pretty farm, mountains, and sunrise?
Here is where the story takes a bit of a turn… We got up at 4am, traveled to the road where the farm was, checked our weather apps and made sure there was still no rain in the forecast, and then waited for the sun. Well, I spent 25 minutes scouting for the best spot to shoot from, I set up my tripod, put on my polarizer so the warm side lighting from the sunrise would look perfect, and then…… No colors, tons of cloud coverage, and it was getting brighter by the minute. We both agreed that the farm location was a bust for sunrise that day due to the clouds and grey atmosphere. However, the Weather Channel still said 0% chance of anything with clear skies…
Last Minute Panorama
Right before we packed up and decided to climb the mountain for another perspective, I made the random decision to shoot a series of photos that I later stitched into the panorama you see below. I didn’t realize how much I would love this shot until I got home and started post processing it. This just goes to show that you should always try to make the best out of any location. Sure, I didn’t get my epic sunrise with beautiful colors, but I got one of the most impactful black and whites I’ve ever shot. Spend 80% of your time scouting the location for interesting compositions and the other 20% making the photographs.
NEW PHOTO – “The Comforts Of Home”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-PxgvTww/5/M/The%20Comforts%20Of%20Home-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-02-29 16:45:312016-09-03 02:13:05The Comforts Of Home
During my visit at Old Car City, I realized just how hard it was to choose what would make a good photograph amongst all the junk. Keep in mind that the point of a photograph is to pull the viewer into the composition in order to tell a story or convey a feeling. Doing that can be very hard if you try to fit everything around you into one single photograph.
You should analyze the scene and make sure that you’re focusing on all the details that caught your eye to begin with. As you can see from this being my third photo of Old Car City, it is perfectly fine to take multiple shots if it helps convey the story of your scene in a more captivating way for your viewers.
I hope that helps you next time you find yourself in a situation where you’re overwhelmed and can’t make up your mind on where to start shooting.
NEW PHOTO – “Grease Is The Word”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-FRKdZ3c/5/M/Grease%20Is%20The%20Word-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-02-13 12:02:422016-09-03 14:45:14Grease Is The Word - Old Car City Part #3
I am 100% serious when I say that there are endless photo opportunities at Car City! I was honestly like a kid seeing Disney World for the first time. My dad and I wondered around for a couple of hours and still didn’t see even half of the cars that are sitting there just waiting for someone to come along and make inspiring art out of the rusty ruins.
What caught my eye about this old truck was the crazy amount of broken glass, the green moss growing from the dashboard, and the odd shaped textures that were all over the truck. This truck just had so much “character” compared to all of the other ones sitting around it, and the way I decided to compose this shot even gives off a bit of a post-apocalyptic feel to this photo. This place is nothing short of an automotive cemetery…… and photography paradise 😉
NEW PHOTO – “Loyal To A Fault”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-PXTvsRD/5/M/Loyal%20To%20A%20Fault-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-02-09 20:28:192016-09-03 14:59:48Loyal To A Fault - Old Car City Part #2
My dad and I are the adventurous people in my family. We love spending days driving around and exploring places that most humans don’t visit. Well, we were exploring a couple of weeks ago and stumbled upon this cool little shack on the side of the road with a big “Old Car City” sign. As soon as we saw it, we knew that we had to go back the next weekend to dedicate a whole day to this crazy looking place.
When I got home from the day of exploring, I looked up Old Car City on Google, and I was immediately hooked based on all the photos I saw on their website. The place has 4400 classic cars that have been rotting and rusting since the 1930s. Anything that has been rotting away for that many years is a photographer’s cup of tea. Enjoy this photo I took of an old Ford truck that has so much rust and character, it should be considered art 🙂
NEW PHOTO – “Forgotten Over Time”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-zJngK5z/5/M/Forgotten%20Over%20Time-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-02-08 18:24:412016-09-03 15:07:51Forgotten Over Time - Old Car City Part #1
At any given time, I typically have a huge list of places and hikes that I want to go on for photo opportunities. However, sometimes it’s nice to leave the list behind, jump in the car with all my gear, and just explore random places. Well, that is exactly how I found this old bridge that was built in the late 1800s, and It was in the middle of nowhere in a small town called Euharlee, Georgia.
I want this photograph to encourage all of my readers to get outside and shoot as often as you all can! You never know what cool places are out there waiting to be photographed if you don’t go searching for them. If you want a cool place to take photos, go and find one :-).
It all goes back to the wise words of Indiana Jones when he said, “In order to be a great archaeologist, you have to get out of the library.”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-H7VWhqC/5/M/YouShallNotPass-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-01-28 14:23:092016-12-27 19:56:50You Shall Not Pass
Most of my followers know that I love photographing theme parks anytime I get the chance. This trip back in September of 2015 was the first time I was able to photograph the infamous, Wizarding World of Harry Potter inside of Universal Studios.
I grew up with the Harry Potter movies and have always been a huge fan. It’s only a dream come true to see what Universal has created for their guests, and I can’t even explain how excited and anxious I was to start making photos of that awesome place!
This photo was taken in Diagon Alley with the dragon blowing fire on top of Gringotts bank. I waited forever to time the photo perfectly with the big ball of fire coming out of the dragon’s mouth, and I finally nailed the shot! I hope you all enjoy!
NEW PHOTO – “Escape From GRINGOTTS”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-HxDDwRg/5/M/Escape%20From%20GRINGOTTS-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-01-27 18:35:412016-09-03 15:18:33Escape From GRINGOTTS
I love going to Sweetwater Creek right after a few days of constant rain! As you can see in this photo, the water is moving crazy fast for a creek that is normally calm enough to walk across in sandals. I was there hiking and shooting with my good friend Joseph, and we found a possible but not-so-safe way to set up our cameras on a rock that was inches from the rushing water. Yes, I may have almost fallen into the water a couple of times on the way down to the rocks, but I got a great photograph out of it.
I highly recommend visiting Sweewater Creek if you like to hike, take photos, or just enjoy being outdoors in a beautiful place. Also, a little “fun fact” about Sweetwater Creek that a lot of people don’t know is that quite a few scenes for the third Hunger Games movie were filmed all along the creek and the mill. Enjoy!
NEW PHOTO – “Symbol Of Hope”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-Q36FjkJ/6/M/Symbol%20Of%20Hope-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-01-25 16:48:202016-09-03 15:22:25Symbol Of Hope
Out of all the woodland creatures, owls have always been the most mysterious to me… It’s always fascinated me that owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270 degrees due to their fourteen neck vertebrae compared to the seven that humans have. They are so beautiful, and looking into their eyes can be quite mesmerizing! I have only seen one a handful of times in my life, and it never gets any less amazing to study and photograph them.
Depending on the reaction I get from all of you, I might make this a limited edition print. Hope you enjoy this one!
NEW PHOTO – “The Silent Observer”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-R3LJzKM/5/M/The%20Silent%20Observer-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-01-22 18:27:332016-09-03 15:32:30The Silent Observer
This photo was taken on a super fun adventure that me, my dad, and my brother went on while we were vacationing in Panama City Beach. My dad knows that I am obsessed with seafood and taking photos, so he wanted to take my brother and I on a day-trip to Apalachicola, Florida where they have the best oysters in the world. I had never been to Apalachicola before so I was really excited to embark on a day of adventure, seafood, and photography!
It was a beautiful drive from Panama City Beach to Apalachicola! We stopped probably ten times along the way for me to take photos and for us to try different seafood of course. I took a lot of photos that day for documentary purposes, but the one I ended up using for my portfolio was the photo you see below of the abandoned ship consumed by sand. I saw the boat as we were crossing the bridge to enter St. George Island, and I immediately asked my dad to find a place where we could pull off the road and hike to it. Without going into detail, it was quite a difficult process hiking down to the ship due to things like high tide, steep hills, slippery rocks, etc. However, it was all worth it once I saw the immediate result on the back of my camera. It was an awesome location for photos!
I made a quick video while I was photographing boat to show everyone how I helped mother nature out a little by adding an element from my surroundings into the shot for a stunning final composition. If you have any questions at all or simply want to talk about seafood, lets chat in the comments!
NEW VIDEO – Landscape Photography Tutorial – Abandoned Boat
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-QhJzPRg/5/M/Why%20is%20The%20Rum%20Gone-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-01-21 16:57:212016-09-03 15:40:26Why Is The Rum Gone
I typically don’t like to photograph “iconic” places that have been photographed a million times, but I decided to visit Anna Ruby Falls anyway since it was less than two miles from where I was camping with my grandfather. Well, I was so glad that I decided to visit because I found this random trail that was way to the right of the falls(where everyone else was)that was so narrow and looked like it was strictly a biking trail at one point. Basically, the trail looked like it hadn’t trekked for a long time.
After navigating the trail for a few miles and clearing it of overgrown foliage, I was starting to wonder if I should turn around….. until I stumbled upon this really etherial creek with big mossy rocks surrounded in beautiful greenery. It was much prettier than the actual Anna Ruby Falls that so many people travel to see. I love hiking off the beaten path to find my photos because it makes me feel like I really earned the shot! This was one of those rewarding moments… I hope you enjoy looking at this one as much as I enjoyed being there.
NEW PHOTO – “The Woodland Realm”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-c67C5m6/5/M/The%20Woodland%20Realm-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-01-11 21:55:162016-09-03 15:49:16The Woodland Realm
I was honored this week to be featured on the Art Of The Image youtube channel and website. I was asked to speak on my top tips for theme park photography. I have never spoken on this topic before, but how could I turn down the opportunity to be on this awesome photography show? I have posted the link to the video below, and I hope you all enjoy it!I was honored this week to be featured on the Art Of The Image youtube channel and website. I was asked to speak on my top tips for theme park photography. I have never spoken on this topic before, but how could I turn down the opportunity to be on this awesome photography show? I have posted the link to the video below, and I hope you all enjoy it!
NEW VIDEO – Theme Park Photography Tips
http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Theme-Park-Tips-YT-Graphic.jpg7201280Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2016-01-01 23:49:042016-09-03 15:52:44Happy New Year With A NEW VIDEO
My wife and I were in Disney World for an entire week around the holidays last year, so I thought I would share a cool photo I took on our trip. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Resort which was beautifully decorated for Christmas! As you can see in the photo below, the lobby had this unbelievable Christmas tree that was one of the largest and most extravagant I have ever seen! The problem was, it was so beautiful that hundreds of people were constantly waiting to take photos of their families in front of the tree. Well, even indoor photography involves knowing exactly when the best time to shoot is. Unfortunately, the only time I could get a photo with no people around was at 3am…
I waited in the hotel room trying my best to stay awake after a long day at the parks and finally got the perfect shot in the middle of the night with no one around. Even the guy that was waxing the flowers offered to move out of my way for a few photos as long as I promised to show him the results. Everything came together perfectly, and I even gained a new fan(floor wax guy).
ALWAYS be willing to take risks! As you can see, sometimes it’s worth it. Merry Christmas and thank you ALL for the continued support!
NEW PHOTO – “Harambe Christmas”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-GRkXN2B/3/L/Harambe%20Christmas-L.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-12-25 23:15:372016-09-03 15:55:35Merry Christmas To All
I waited a long time to get this shot with as few people in it as possible. After hanging around for an hour after closing time, I finally got an opportune moment to capture the epic “Walt and Mickey” shot. I took quite a few exposures here so that I could really capture the magical glow effect of Cinderella’s Castle. I wanted this photo to look very etherial since Walt was all about living in a world of dreams, so I hope you all enjoy looking at this one as much as I enjoyed taking it.
NEW PHOTO – “One Man’s Dream”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-Cx2jNbC/2/L/One%20Man%27s%20Dream-L.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-12-23 00:45:122016-09-03 15:56:36One Man's Dream
Just incase you all haven’t noticed yet, I absolutely love taking photos all over Disney World!
There is just something so special about taking photos in Disney. I feel so creative and free when I’m there. As adults, we often hold back certain emotions, feelings, and creativity that was so easy for us to express when we were children. The reason I love art so much is because it’s the perfect platform for me to express all of those feelings as often as I want! Art/photography is an outward expression of the creator and should never be taken too seriously. Every time I capture and post process photos, I do it ALL unapologetically. What I mean by that is that there are no “right” or “wrong” ways to create art. Every person will create it in a different way… Some will use art to find themselves, and some will turn out like Thomas Kinkade who always used art to enrich the lives of others…
Always follow your dreams
NEW DISNEY PHOTO – “When You Wish Upon A Star”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-pQ3pc94/2/M/When%20You%20Wish%20Upon%20A%20Star-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-12-08 17:15:162016-09-03 16:00:03When You Wish Upon A Star
Hello! I hope everyone is having a magical evening on this lovely “eve” of Thanksgiving! First, I want to tell everyone how truly thankful and blessed I am to have fans and supporters of my artistic life adventures here on The Finding Middle Earth Photography Blog! You are all very important to me, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families.
Instead of a quick “Happy Thanksgiving” video, I wanted to provide a cool tip that might help you all when trying to take family photos this Thanksgiving and Christmas. You might find the tip a little goofy, but I promise it works wonders on the quality of your photos. Enjoy The video below!
NEW VIDEO: How To Take Better Family Photos For The Holidays
http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Better-Fam-Photos_YT-Graphic.jpg7201280Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-11-25 19:33:012016-09-03 16:03:31How To Take Better Family Photos For The Holidays
I spent three straight weeks testing every new feature on the Sony A7r II in many different shooting conditions. I should start by saying that I personally shoot Nikon, but I did my absolute best to give Sony a fair chance in replacing my DSLR system. Unfortunately, the Sony system was not as good as Sony made it out to be. However, it is still a wonderful camera with a lot of killer features, and my decision to continue shooting Nikon was based on my type of shooting only. It could very well be the perfect camera for someone else. I will be making a video SOON explaining in detail why the new Sony A7r II did not impress me enough to switch.
As for the Autofocus, that feature really did impress me! It is worlds faster than the original Sony A7r but not quite as fast as cameras like the Canon 5D III and Nikon D810. Check out the quick video I made below which will show you how fast the A7r II can focus on objects from infinity to just a few inches away. . Hope this helps everyone!
VIDEO: Sony A7r II Autofocus Speed Test
http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Sony-A7rII-AF-Speed-Youtube-Graphic.jpg7201280Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-11-22 23:09:562016-09-03 16:04:34Sony A7r II Autofocus Speed Test Results
Here it is, folks! I am super excited to release the second photo in my Portraits Around The World photo series!
The subject’s name was Harry, and he was a really cool and nerdy guy…which I loved of course. We hit it off pretty quick once we discovered that we’re both die hard Star Wars fans. We spent about 10 minutes talking about nerdy stuff before I asked him for a photo, and you will see where the scenario goes from there when you watch the video below. Can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts!
NEW PHOTO – Portraits Around The World | Harry From England
http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Harry_PATW-England.jpg39982751Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-11-20 18:32:192016-09-03 17:18:53England - Portraits Around The World
Any outdoor photographer will tell you that making the perfect photograph is around 90% skill and 10% luck. The 10% aspect is all about what mother nature decides to unleash. The right clouds, the right color tones in the sky, and most important, the light…Well, this particular moment in time was almost all luck, and there is nothing wrong with that! It’s always good to have the perfect elements come together when you’re trying to capture a great photograph.
This beautiful scene was at the very top of Amicalola Falls overlooking The Smoky Mountains. I was actually there shooting a wedding with a friend and saw this after doing some sunset photos with the bride and groom. Lucky for me, the guy I was shooting the wedding with knows that I am a maniac for landscape photography, so he covered me for 10 minutes while I got this photo for my portfolio. I hope you all enjoy it!
NEW PHOTO – “Amicalola Falls Sunset”
http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.png00Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-11-16 21:39:062016-09-03 17:25:39Amicalola Falls Sunset
I am SO excited to finally kick off my “Portraits Around The World” photo series!
This really sweet Chinese girl in the photo is Rebecca Pik Kei Wong. While visiting each country in Epcot, I walked around for at least half an hour looking for the perfect person to ask about taking their photo. Lets go ahead and get your thoughts out of the way… yes, that last sentence makes me sound like a total creeper. However, there really is an art to choosing the perfect person to take a portrait of. I look for someone who will make eye contact with me, someone with a sweet smile, someone who looks approachable, etc.
When you approach random people and ask to take their photo, there is another form of art involved. You have to be great at building fast relationships based on trust. I say this because this day in time, random dudes with cameras asking people for a photo can be looked at as very sketchy or uncomfortable. I have made a video that goes along with each photo in this series where I explain exactly how I handled each situation. I go over how I approached each person, the words I chose to use while asking for a photo, and I will share some cool facts that I learned about each person I photographed.
I really hope you all enjoy these photos, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
NEW PHOTO – Portraits Around The World | Rebecca Pik Kei Wong
http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Pik-Kei-PATW-Watermarked_Web-Optimized.jpg53823309Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-11-02 18:50:482016-09-03 17:37:14China - Portraits Around The World
I live in a quaint little “lake town” called Acworth, Georgia. There is a great hidden park right on the lake that has these awesome looking trees like the one you see in the photo. I was actually there shooting the sunset and saw that the sun was rim lighting the tree in a very cool way. I immediately stopped shooting the sunset so I could capture a few photos of the tree while the light was so compelling.
Always Remember that a great photo is all about the light… and a few other things…
Photographers are creatures of the light. We get up before the sun rises and keep shooting after the sun sets.
NEW PHOTO – “The Secret Tree”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-rSnBBst/5/L/The%20Secret%20Tree-L.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-10-14 21:12:412016-09-03 17:42:09The Secret Tree
After talking with and observing many other photographers, I learned a few things: There are a lot of photography professionals and enthusiasts out there that do not geotag their photos, and a lot of them have never even opened the “Map Module” inside of Adobe Lightroom. Needless to say, I wanted to make a quick video to show everyone how and why I geotag my photos! It sounds really hard, but I promise I go slow enough in this video for you to see every single step in my geotagging workflow.
I hope you all enjoy the video!
NEW VIDEO – “GEOTAGGING YOUR PHOTOS WITH ADOBE LIGHTROOM”
http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Geotagging-Youtube-Graphic.jpg7201280Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-10-02 18:01:562016-09-03 17:44:28Learn How To GEOTAG Your Photos
It was the last day of our vacation in Panama City Beach, and I spotted this sailboat in the distance as we were all about to leave the condo. I immediately unpacked my camera bag so I could capture this cool scene!
I love how simple this photo is. It’s apparent that the main subject is the white boat, but the surrounding ocean with no land in sight ties everything together. As a viewer, I look at this photo and feel a sense of adventure, mystery, seclusion, peace, etc. I hope you all enjoy this one!
Let me know if you would like a limited edition print. Thanks!
NEW PHOTO – “A New Beginning”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-mBPd9QG/5/M/A%20New%20Beginning-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-09-28 21:50:452016-09-03 17:49:01A New Beginning
You’re probably wondering what my new project is all about! Well, my wife and I just recently got back from spending a week in Disney World. When I was driving us there, I had 7 hours to think of this interesting idea………
I always take photos while I’m in Disney, but 99% of my work is typically of iconic rides, fireworks, and cool architecture. While I believe that all of my photos have a signature look, there are still so many people that take photos of Disney architecture. I just wanted to do something different….something special. As I started throwing ideas around in my head, I knew that I wanted my special project to involve Epcot. Well, one thing lead to another, and I had this idea to do “Portraits Around The World” in Epcot’s World Showcase. For those who don’t know what that is, Epcot has a huge section of their park dedicated to replicating many different countries around the world.
Portraits Around The World
Now that you know how the idea came about, I will explain. Disney requires that each country in Epcot only hires employees that were born in the country they are working in. That is how Disney keeps everything super authentic. That being said, I put myself on a mission to take a compelling portrait of an employee or group of employees from each country in Epcot. I thought the mix of culture would be really cool to see! Now you see why I named the project the way I did. I knew it would be a cool idea the moment it came to me, and I hope you all like it as well! I think it will be a really unique series of images!
Conclusion And What’s To Come
I will release the first portrait of the series in a couple of weeks, and I will make a quick video that goes with each portrait. Each video will explain how I got the photo, how I chose which person to photograph, and I will share some cool info about each person. The key to getting a great portrait of someone you don’t know is to build a quick relationship and earn their trust. You will be amazed at how much better your portraits look when your subject opens up! Thank you all so much for the continued support, and I can’t wait for you to see the portraits!
http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Epcot-Portraits-Around-The-World.jpg10001500Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-09-22 23:55:042016-09-08 16:42:50NEW PROJECT - Portraits Around The World
Well, the heading pretty much sums up my life this past week. For those who don’t know me, I spend a lot of time and effort making sure I don’t get sick. I take a fair amount of vitamins on a daily basis, I try to eat fruit every day, and I almost always cover my mouth around anyone I see coughing/sneezing. I am obsessed with the outdoors and photographing the outdoors, so I hate anything that prevents me from doing that.
A Quick Summary Of The Week
When my wife and I got home from our trip to Disney World last Sunday, I started feeling tired and congested. The next morning, I woke up with a fever and a terribly soar throat. I basically spent the all of last week until yesterday coughing up things I never knew my body could produce and creating kleenex mountains all over my house. I am thankful to say that I am finally recovering, and I am VERY sorry that there was no content on the blog last week! I haven’t even taken the two thousand photos I took in Disney and synced them with my main mothership computer yet. Needless to say, it’s been a crazy week. Thank you all for understanding, and I promise there will be some great new photos and videos coming your way!!
http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Medical-Logo.png550550Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-09-20 17:23:522016-09-04 00:11:12Apology For My Lack Of Content - I'm Sick
My wife and I ate at this gorgeous restaurant tonight called, St. Angel. It’s Hidden inside of this cray cray Aztec Temple that you see in the photo. Inside of the temple also resides an entire Mexican village with little shops, wood carvers, ceremonial masks, authentic Mexican clothing, and much more! The restaurant overlooks this beautiful indoor river with a massive mural on the wall that gives the illusion that you are looking at a desert under the stars in the distance.
It’s very hard to convey the beauty of this magical place through words, but I did capture one photo of the outside that I hope you all enjoy!
NEW PHOTO – “Aztec Temple”
https://photos.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-h7qCJzj/2/M/Aztec%20Temple-M.jpg10801920Eric Marks (Author)http://findingmiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FME-X-THEME-LOGO-FINAL-1030x259.pngEric Marks (Author)2015-09-11 19:00:302016-09-04 00:12:49Aztec Temple