The last sunrise of 2014!


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Good morning everyone!

I spent an hour this morning shooting the last sunrise of 2014.    I picked a spot in Pitt Meadows, a city near Maple Ridge (about 1 hour east of Vancouver) and waited for the sun to come out.  It was a glorious sunrise but very, very cold!  All images were shot with the Fuji X-T1 and the 10-24 or the 55-200 zoom lenses.

As the sun rose out from behind the mountains the sky turned a beautiful blue colour, and starting illuminating the frost on the ground:


I love using foreground elements for contrast when shooting directly into the sun as it rises:


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As the sun rose higher it diffused behind some light clouds.  Shooting directly into it created a hazy effect:


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Vancouver is a world class urban city, but it also has amazing rural country very close.   It is truly a beautiful place to live.

As the sun got even higher the quality of the light decreased, so I switched to shooting detail shots.  I love that you can still see the light reflecting off of the frost in this picture:


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Finally, as I drove away, the morning of New Year’s Eve 2014 looked like this:


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It has been an amazing year for me and I am very much looking forward to 2015.  I wish you and your family all the best for the New Year!

Vancouver street photography and the new Fuji Classic Chrome film simulation!

DSCF3088Fuji X-T1 with the 56mm f/1.2 lens, Classic Chrome film simulation

I’ve been out shooting street portraits and street photography lately, both here in Vancouver and also in Seattle, and I’m finally getting a chance to post some images.  I love street photography, meeting new people, observing the world.  These outings were also the first time I had the opportunity to shoot with something new called Classic Chrome, a new film simulation Fuji has added to their X camera series.

Fuji knows colour, having produced film for the last 80 years or so, and the X series of cameras have several different film simulations built into them that simulate the look of classic types of film.    The new addition to their palate is called “Classic Chrome”.  Classic Chrome is reminiscent of Kodachrome, a very popular film back in the day.  The colours are a little desaturated, a little subtle, a little muted….but not “flat”.

The first photo in this thread is of a beautiful young lady who was drawing on Granville Island.  It was shot using the Fuji X-T1 with the 56mm f/1.2 lens.  Look.  At.  That.  Background.  That lens provides amazing subject isolation and is a beautiful portrait lens. The new Fuji Classic Chrome simulation looks great too.   The colours are subdued, but very pleasing to my eye.

Here are a few more images using the Classic Chrome film simulation while out in Vancouver.  As usual, you can click each image to view larger.

DSCF3416Fuji X-T1 with the 10-24mm zoom, Classic Chrome film simulation
DSCF3453Fuji X-T1 with the 10-24mm zoom, Classic Chrome film simulation
DSCF3104Fuji X-T1 with the 56mm f/1.2, Classic Chrome film simulation
DSCF3103Fuji X-T1 with the 56mm f/1.2, Classic Chrome film simulation
DSCF3092Fuji X-T1 with the 56mm f/1.2, Classic Chrome film simulation

Beautiful colours.  I love this setting.

Moving to Seattle, things were in full Christmas mode last week, with a large carousel downtown and a clown making balloon animals:

DSCF3279Fuji X-T1 with the 18-55mm zoom, Classic Chrome film simulation
DSCF3272Fuji X-T1 with the 18-55mm zoom, Classic Chrome film simulation

This gentleman was on his way home to watch the game (jersey already on for good luck of course!):

DSCF3302Fuji X-T1 with the 18-55mm zoom, Classic Chrome film simulation

And, of course, sometimes you just need to make your own party happen (not Classic Chrome, but I love this image in B&W):

DSCF3378Fuji X-T1 with the 18-55mm zoom

Yesterday was my third day out shooting in the last few weeks, and back in Vancouver it was a brilliant day with clear skies and bright sun.  Shadows, sunbeams and patches of light seemed to be a theme, and the Classic Chrome film simulation worked very well with this light:

DSCF3483Fuji X-T1 with the 10-24mm zoom, Classic Chrome film simulation
DSCF3429Fuji X-T1 with the 10-24mm zoom, Classic Chrome film simulation
DSCF3477Fuji X-T1 with the 10-24mm zoom, Classic Chrome film simulation

Many people have images of Vancouver in the winter that involve snowsuits and igloos.   While we usually get a week or two of snow per year, those last three images were shot on December 29th and are more the norm.

And, finally, this lady visiting Vancouver from Taiwan wasn’t waiting around for someone to take her photograph…. she was well equipped with her camera, a tripod, and a timer:

DSCF3432Fuji X-T1 with the 10-24mm zoom, Classic Chrome film simulation


The Fuji cameras are well suited for street photography, and the new Classic Chrome film simulation offers a nostalgic take on the images captured.  It is inspiring me to get out and shoot as often as I can right now.  I suggest you do the same!

Shooting through the light at dusk for great cityscapes


The photo above is one I took in San Francisco when I travelled there from Vancouver for a few days of photography.  To me it is a quintessential San Francisco photograph, with the Golden Gate Bridge behind fog to the left, the Transamerica Pyramid front and centre, and Coit Tower and Alcatraz Island in the background.  I love cityscapes at dusk when the mixed light hits and the falling light in the sky mixes with the city lights as they come on.

I knew I wanted to get a photograph like this when I was planning this trip.  I had seen this view of San Francisco on a previous trip and knew it would be perfect.

In The Traveling Photographer, David Hobby talks about how one of the key differences between an amateur and a pro is whether or not they plan out their shot before they take it.   I had my location planned out, but what I did need to do was figure out what time I needed to be on deck to take this photograph.  Mixed light comes quickly and only lasts for a few minutes.  Shoot too early and you might get a great sky, but dark buildings that have no lights on.  Shoot too late and your buildings look great, but the sky is all black with no detail.

To help determine the best time for my shoot I used the following website:

Entering my location of choice showed me that in San Francisco, on the day this image was taken, sunset was at 6:45pm.

I now had my location, a correct time, and knew I would be shooting this image with my Fuji X100s and my Fuji Travel Kit:


When shooting images like this it is important to remember that the sensors in our cameras don’t see light like our eyes do (our eyes can actually process a far wider range of light).  This means that there is actually only a small window of time where the falling ambient light will be balanced with the city lights as they come on.

The important thing to do is get set up and shoot right through the changes.  It happens fast, and before you know it your light will be gone.  Let’s look at a series of images where I did just that.

Note:  I shot these images through large glass windows, hence the reflections.  In these situations it helps to get your lens right up to the glass, and bring some dark cloth to drape around your lens to kill the reflections.


6:37pm:     Handheld at     ISO 200     f/11     1/20th

So here we are about 8 minutes before sunset.  If you look at the Transamerica Pyramid you can see the last rays of sunlight reflecting off of the edge of the building.  This will give us a good starting point for our discussions.


6:45pm:     handheld at     ISO 200      f/11      1/8th

Here we are about 8 minutes later.  The sun has gone down and we are left with pretty much the last light of the day.  The changes are very subtle to the eye, but you can see from the shutter speed it is about a stop darker already, the colours in the clouds are changing, and you can start to see lights coming on here and there.


6:55pm:     Handheld at     ISO 200     f/8     1/8th

10 minutes post sunset and things are really starting to change.  I have opened up from f/11 to f/8 as it is already another stop darker.  The colour in the sky is much more prominent.  The buildings themselves are quite dark now, but the lights are coming up.  We are getting close!  Note that only 18 minutes have elapsed since the first photo was taken, and things are going to change very fast now.


7:01pm:     ISO 400     f/8     1/4th

6 minutes later, and two stops darker already.  The colours in the sky are beautiful, and the lights are coming up.  The sweet spot will be when the light balances between the sky and those lights.   I think this was my last shot before moving to a tripod.


7:06pm:     ISO 200     f/9     2.5 seconds

We are SO close now!  Darker still by two stops or so, but the sky and lights are balancing and the colours are great.  Almost there!


7:10pm:     ISO 400     f/11     5 seconds

To my eye this was the sweet spot, and occured 25 minutes after sunset.  There is great balance between the sky and the lights, and there is still detail in the shadow areas of the buildings.  Compare this picture to the one just 4 minutes earlier and you can see how many more lights have come on.


7:18pm:     Handheld     ISO 1600     f/8     1 second

Just 8 minutes later the light starts to get ugly again.  To my eye the sky looks fabulous, but the contrast between the sky and the dark buildings is very pronounced now.

I was actually getting ready to pack up at this point, and shot this one and the next one handheld just for the purposes of this post.


This one was taken at 7:33pm, less than one hour after we started.  This is when you put your camera down and just enjoy the view with your eyes.

Here is the final image again, with a little post production love.  It is the photo from 7:10pm (about 25 minutes post sunset), with the reflections and glare removed and the shadows on the buildings lifted a little bit.


You don’t need a lot of gear to make these images.  This was shot with a single focal length 35mm Fuji rangefinder and a small travel tripod.  As much as I LOVE camera gear, the camera is just the little box that records light.  The rest is up to the person pushing the shutter button; and, for photographs like this, it’s all about the right timing.

The same rules would apply to sunrise I’ve been told, but those who know me will attest to the fact that I am rarely awake for those.  🙂