Wandering Dufferin County With the G5X by David Veldman

I have owned my little Canon G5X for approximately three months now. Unfortunately, I have not spent nearly as much time with it as I would like, thanks to work, and foul weather. This is particularly ironic given that I am currently studying photography with the military. Hopefully in a few months once I have enough experience with it, I can post a full 'experience review' here.

So far I have found the G5X to be an eminently usable camera. With three customizable dials, I am able to shoot in full manual, with the aperture controlled by the ring around the lens, the shutter assigned to the finger dial on the front, and the ISO to the wheel on the back. The touchscreen is impressively well implemented as well.

Last week I did manage to take the G5X out for a little spin. It was a warmer day, but sadly, spring has yet to show itself. The fields are still barren and dead, and there's still a lingering bite in the air.

Despite the barren fields, I found the rolling hills easy on the eyes. Near a tiny town called Terra Nova they slope upwards gradually to the massive Niagara Escarpment. I imagine the entire area will be stunning once some greenery finds purchase.

 

The rolling fields are particularly attractive to me because the area I live in is dominated by rugged, rocky Canadian Shield. Although beautiful, the shield is not the easiest to photograph, and I find myself entranced by the movement of the sun across the gentle slopes further South in Ontario.

Unfortunately, all too quickly the Golden Hour turned blue. With little light left, I headed back to the base, stumbling upon this swamped, abandoned home on the way. I also found a few silhouettes to shoot as well.

In many ways the G5X reminds me of my trusty LX100 that I sold last year. It is a joy to handle, and proves ideal for this sort of casual shooting.

Until next time.

Ice Racers by David Veldman

We all pass spare time in our own ways. Some of us enjoy watching or playing sports. Some enjoy musical theatre, or playing an instrument. A few, like myself, love to document the world around them with a camera. And a very select few love to drive beaten old cars around a homemade ice track on the frozen Ottawa River.

Carl Gauthier is one of those select few. In fact, he might be considered their ringleader. A professional racer, Carl has competed in the NASCAR truck category. And for the last ten winters, weather permitting, he has raced on his own track of ice that he prepares.

Whenever the ice is thick enough, Carl uses his own equipment to clear away excess snow, and marks the track with orange pylons. He also attempts to block the track entrance with sawhorses when he isn't there. This isn't out of spite, but for safety.

Standing outside of the camper that serves as their base, Carl watches a snowstorm blow in from the Quebec shore. He recalls how, years ago, a group of young locals made their way onto his track in the middle of the night. By morning, five of their vehicles were stranded in thick slush.

While brave, Carl and his associates are not foolish. They only race old cars that were bound for the wreckers, and they keep helmets on while driving. In addition, they properly prepare the track for racing by tearing up the ice with a car sporting hard stud tires.

 

While we loiter by the camper, the car tears around the track, spitting up little clouds of snow. Soon enough, the track is ready, and a few cars head out  to give a demonstration.

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The cars are slower than the preparation vehicle, as they only sport snow tires. Nonetheless, they tear about the track with surprising speed, trying their best not to run into each other in the corners.

But, accidents do happen. In one tight curve, a driver tries unsuccessfully to avoid hitting his competition.

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A few seconds later, number 8 blows a tire, and smashes up and over the ice embankment. I jump into one of the nearby cars and we race over to check on the accident.

Fortunately the driver, Betty, is unscathed.

Small collisions like this are common. Carl drives over with the truck to tow her away.

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Carl, Betty, and the others are special people. They brave blowing snow and bitter cold to practice a hobby few would dream of. Perhaps just as importantly, they are incredibly welcoming and friendly. Within moments of meeting my wife and I, they invited us inside of their tiny camper van where a wood stove fought off the river chill.

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Before we left, I asked Carl to pose for one more shot. As we stood in the blowing snow, I felt like I was with the quintessential Canadian, thanks to his weathered face, Yukon hat and reflective sunglasses.

When we parted ways, I couldn't help but feel vaguely satisfied. While I may not race cars around an ice track, it was a special moment to meet those that do.

The 2018 Ice Racing Team, Pembroke Ontario

Impromptu Concert by David Veldman

I returned to the Fiddle Park today, and once more was greeted very warmly by the many talented musicians making it their temporary home.

Below I have a few pictures from today that I really liked.

 

 

Musicians On Their Own Terms by David Veldman

Every year Pembroke plays host to the Fiddle Competition, an event on the Labour Day weekend that attracts musicians and their fans from all over the province. However many of the musicians show up on the monday before the event, filling the waterfront campground with their trailers. I headed down there today, hoping to catch a few impromptu tunes, and I was not disappointed. In fact, once I found a few musicians practicing their craft between two trailers, they welcomed me with a startling display of hospitality.

So I won't bore you with writing. Ahead you will see a few snaps that I took while enjoying their talents, all taken on my Xt10 and Meike 50mm F2.

 

Kontinuum - Light and Sound by David Veldman

This morning, I logged into facebook quickly before I began the ride down to Ottawa to visit my family. Out of the blue, I saw a sponsored page concerning tourism in Ottawa, which I decided to click on.

One of the highlighted events was a multimedia event called Kontinuum - taking place in an LRT station currently under construction. I was intrigued, and once I realized that it was totally free, I quickly ordered a ticket for this evening.

After a wonderful ride down to Ottawa on my speedy little Fazer, and a great visit with my family, I headed up through downtown Ottawa as quick as I could, just making it in time to check my bag and head into the venue.

The truth is, that you can't capture this event with photographs. A large part of the experience lies within the amazing music that pipes into every room. However, I did manage to shoot a few frames that I liked.

 

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The first step on the Kontinuum journey is to step into one of the scanning booths. The booth captures an image of you, tagged to your ticket which you scan in. The rationale behind this step becomes obvious at the end of the event.

 

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The winding path is, to say the least, a bit disorienting. You are confronted with blank corridors punctuated by flashing lights, see through curtains, and haunted by the inescapable music piping through every room. The music itself is wonderful, sliced electronic tunes that really enhance the experience.

 

 

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Shooting inside was very challenging. I pinned my X-t10 at it's maximum ISO - 6400. Even then, the shutter speed was very low, and I had to choose my subjects carefully. I love this shot for the brilliant light that creates its own frame.

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The cinema room appears right before you journey downwards into the actual subway station. Filled with lasers that reflect off of everything, it was a truly memorable experience.

 

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In the subterranean depths of the LRT station, you come face to face with the final multimedia performance - a stunning light show that simulates the arrival of a train. In a special touch, the screen also projects a few of the scans from earlier - giving some of the members a chance to see themselves projected on the screen.

As I exited the venue, I was quite pleased I had chosen to visit. Most importantly, I was elated by the realization that creativity still has its place in modern society. By most definitions, Kontinuum could be considered a work of art, a contemporary one at that. I typically disdain contemporary art, however this installation was both clever and well executed. A big round of applause to the creators, as well as the members of the Ottawa Community who had the vision to approve the project.

Kontinuum runs until the 14th of September. As I said before, it's free, so get your ticket and go see it!

The XF 35MM at the Fair by David Veldman

We all love summer fairs. Although it is already the middle of August, and the days have become noticeably shorter, the Cobden fair was still a celebration of summer, blessed with beautiful warm evening weather.

Tonight I brought my wife, her friend, and my trusty X-t10 with the 35mm F2 to the fair. I didn't expect to shoot anything wonderful - rather I was hoping that I could capture a bit of the atmosphere of a Canadian mid summer fair. As the sun faded quickly, I shot almost everything at ISO 6400, save for the first two pictures.

 

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For a fair atmosphere, 35mm was a tight focal length. But it made me think, forcing me to move about to frame my shots.

 

That said, the 35mm is decent for portraits, and is a very useful all round lens.

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Now that I am working in the photography field, I feel a lot more free in my personal work. Perhaps I feel like I have less to prove, although I still know that I have so much to learn. At any rate, I feel more comfortable with just shooting whatever I want - experimenting.

 

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Tonight I experimented by shooting the vendors interacting with their customers. A fair is not what I would consider a truly interesting event (too commercial for my tastes) but I enjoyed myself regardless.

 

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The X-t10 performs very well at ISO6400, the max native sensitivity of the camera. Combined with the 35mm F2, the focus was dead on, even in very low light. The only thing I missed was image stabilization.

 

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The picture above is probably my favourite from the night. I experimented with several angles, and had to wait for a moment when the proprietor was in the right position, as well as unobstructed by passing pedestrians. I particularly like the almost solitary feel it possesses.

All in all, I was very happy with my shots tonight - not because they were great, but because they were something outside of my comfort zone, and because I managed to capture maybe a tiny bit of the essence of a mid summer Canadian fair.

The Cobden Loop by David Veldman

Before I begin this little ramble, here is the earworm I am currently infected with.

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Today I decided to take my recently acquired FZ750 out for a spin. The FZ750 is a powerful, albeit old (1987) hybrid motorcycle. It was only made for two years, and as far as motorcycles go, it's quite difficult to define. Featuring a quick inline 4 engine that produces 94 horsepower, and a comfortable cruiser look, the Fazer is a byproduct of the 1980s, when manufacturers were experimenting with a variety of different ideas.

 

 

The bike is a monster - it rips away at any speed, in any gear when you twist the throttle. It's nothing like the smooth, civilized ride of the Nighthawk 750. Instead it feels like a drag racer, always threatening to unseat you.

Heading into Westmeath, I passed by the lookout, and then turned south to visit the Whitewater region, more specifically the Rocher Fendu. I have shot more than a few times in that area, but today I concentrated more on hiking than shooting.

 

It was a beautiful day. I captured these white water kayaks left behind by their owners. The mentality of the kayakers is very similar to British Columbian surfers - it's a laid back, friendly vibe.

 

The forest was beautiful, as always. There's almost a hint of autumn in the air. It's only August, but already the insects are less prevalent, which makes for a much more relaxing hike.

The riverside itself was gorgeous, although not exactly an ideal spot for photographs. This is the best I could do, a cumulonimbus cloud over a battleship island.

On the ride home, I FINALLY stopped on the side of the road to catch a picture of this stunning tree leaning over a rustic arch. I've passed this scene many times, but usually on the other side of the highway. I spent a few minutes trying to frame the scene, long enough for a concerned veteran motorcycle rider to pull up behind me and ask if I was ok!

I didn't photography anything great today, rather I enjoyed the cool air, the ride, and the effortless power of my new (to me) bike. Here's to many more safe rides.

Meike 50mm F2 Review by David Veldman

Wow a review! Everyone loves those right?

I generally don't review equipment, mainly because of my lack of qualifications to do so. However, occasionally I will find myself with a piece of kit that I feel so strongly about that I need to vent.

The Meike 50mm F2 is one of those.

I first saw the Meike by accident on Amazon, and was intrigued by the idea of a cheap, fast 50mm made in the XF format. I waffled on the purchase, but eventually pulled the trigger, a wise choice.

The lens is well made, solid and compact, with a clickless aperture ring and a well machined smooth focus ring. That matters a great deal, as the lens of course, is only manual focus.

Attached to the Fujifilm Xt10, the Meike creates a lovely look, and it a perfect size for the little APSC Camera.

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On the X series camera, manual focus lenses are a dream to use. Hitting the rear dial punches in to 100% magnification for easy detail adjustments, while focus peaking is a treat to use.

I haven't done enough serious shooting with the lens, but today I took it out for a quick walk with the missus, and came away very impressed with the quality of images it can render.

 

Most of the images in this post were actually JPEGS, shockingly. Although I tend to shoot Raw, I occasionally find myself using the film emulations. Because the light was rather nice today, I kept most of the JPEGs and tweaked them. Fuji JPEGs are wonderful for shadow retention, although naturally highlights that are blown, are a thing of the past.

 

Focusing seems incredibly easy - especially stopped down to f7.1 or 8 - it's impossible to know the exact number. For the shot above, I had my camera set to Black and White, with a Red Filter, and spot metering. With some exposure compensation dialed in, I got the shot effortlessly, despite almost running to keep up with an ever so slightly impatient wife.

 

I love the way the lens renders images. Combined with Fuji's x-trans sensor and film reproductions, there's a difficult to define luminance to them. Not the sharpest images of course, although the lens is quite sharp stopped down.

Most importantly, the lens is just fun to use. I really enjoy the process of shooting with it.

In short, for an Fuji XF user, I'd have to say I recommend this lens. It's fun, light and fast. You simply can't go wrong - not at 100 Canadian dollars.