Stream of Consciousness in Late Fall.


Late Color (Fujifilm XT-10, XF 55-200mm f3.5)

For many people, late fall is a tough time of year.  For many it seems, a mild melancholia descends after the autumnal equinox, extending to the winter solstice.  Once the best of the fall foliage has passed, at least in my part of the world, landscape photography becomes a somewhat thankless task.

Until there is snow, much of the scenery is bleak and uninteresting. There will be some isolated color at lower altitudes and, amongst certain tree species, but this time of year, the search for interesting images can be challenging.

As a result of my knee surgery, I remained off from work through late October and early November.  This did give me an opportunity to get out  with camera gear.  Though my mobility is still limited , I am not so hobbled as to be unable to walk/hike short distances.  I can also shoot from a car.

Leaves on the Lawn (Samsung Galaxy S5)

Leaves on the Lawn (Samsung Galaxy S5)

In the part of Pennsylvania where I reside, it is worth prowling along the Susquehanna River, where the transformation of the foliage tends to happen rather late. Here and there an interesting scene tempts one to remove a lens cap and capture and exposure or two. Another option is to travel south down through the Lehigh Valley and into the Philadelphia area where the seasons progress more slowly. In the mountains and ridgetops however, the predominant oaks tend to hold onto their brown leaves until the first severe winter windstorm occurs.

Milkweed ( Fujifilm XE1, XF 18-55 f3.5)

Milkweed ( Fujifilm XE1, XF 18-55 f3.5)

I  traveled to the Adirondack region for several days around Halloween. In the north country, deciduous trees were pretty much completely bare, a useful adaptation in a region where the  accumulating snow can begin any time in November.

Tamaracks and Cattails ( Fujifilm XE 2, XF 56mm f1.2)

Tamaracks and Cattails ( Fujifilm XE 2, XF 56mm f1.2)

The only interesting color was found in the  tamaracks, that tend to grow in the wetter areas of the region.  Having not yet shed their needles, they are a bright yellow accent on an otherwise pallid background.  Happily, an early snowfall also provided some relief from the monotony.

South Meadow November(Fujifilm X 100t)

South Meadow November(Fujifilm X 100t)

Some thoughts on equipment:

It turns out that I am using than 90 mm lens much more than I thought I would. It is particularly useful, in sparse times to allow you to isolate the rare pockets of visual interest more easily and with less cropping. Boy howdy is it sharp.  It does remain somewhat difficult to handhold.  I would love it if it had stabilization.


I have now had a fair amount of time with the X Pro 2.  The most recent firmware update does seem to have subtly improved the autofocus.  I don’t use focus tracking, or any of the advance modes very much so I don’t have much sense as to their effectiveness.  Overall the camera is very pleasant to use, though much like the X100t, I rarely use the optical viewfinder.

The Old Wall (Fujifilm X100t)

The Old Wall (Fujifilm X100t)

I have been using the X Pro 2 in combination with the other bodies when I’m out and about in the car, allowing me to shoot the different lenses, I am forming the conclusion that the newer sensor is not a great advance over the previous 16 megapixel version, either in resolution or in low light capability. My initial testing suggested this, but other more scientific websites seem to feel otherwise.

I’ve always been able to make perfectly acceptable large prints with the 16-megapixel sensor of the earlier cameras. So the extra resolution of the newer sensor is not that important to me.  The bottom line is that I don’t feel compelled to automatically grab the X Pro 2 at least for its imager. I suspect this will mean that for the first time, the anticipated X100t upgrade may not be particularly interesting if the sensor alone is the main “improvement”.

Small Pond at Woodfrog Way, (Fujifilm X100t)

Small Pond at Woodfrog Way, (Fujifilm X100t)

Obviously the XT 2 is currently shipping.  I will not be acquiring one as I prefer the “rangefinder” body form of the X Pro 2.  Nonetheless it looks like a perfectly wonderful instrument for those that need or prefer the SLR-like body form (and the 4K video).


So in a couple of weeks, we hear are due to experience the beginning of the winter holidays.  This generally presents us with new photographic opportunities and is a welcome break from the monotony of November/early December.


Trail is Blocked (Fujifilm XT-10, XF 55-200mm f3.5)

Trail is Blocked (Fujifilm XT-10, XF 55-200mm f3.5)

As I now I conclude this article, I gaze out my patio, which is now covered with 4 inches snow.  Last Saturday, our temperatures went from the mid-60s in the afternoon, to the high 20s late in the evening.  There was a dramatic storm front that went through around 5 PM with ominous dark clouds and very high winds.  This was followed by a thin band of rain which at our altitudes quickly changed to heavy snow which continued all night.  Though the roads and lawns were too warm at the beginning for much accumulation, a total of around 5 inches fell on my patio furniture.  So I went out to do a little photography in the forest.

Things are indeed looking up.


For those of you who reside in the “States”… Happy Thanksgiving.


As always, clicking on an image lets you see it full size. Or, visit my Smugmug page for these and other images. 









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The Gear that I use: The DePuy Attune Knee Replacement System review



Structure in Jamison City (Fujifilm XT-10, XF 56mm f1.2)

I have a wooden ski rack in my basement. Nicely finished, it is meant to display an assortment of alpine and Nordic skis used by our family over the years. We were always a skiing (and snowboarding) family.

Sadly for me, for many years my displayed alpine and telemark equipment have largely served as mementos of my downhill skiing past, due to worsening arthritis of my left knee.

It started for me on a beautiful March day in 1986 at Bristol Mountain Ski resort, in the Finger Lakes region of New York. As I recall, it was warm, sunny afternoon, and I was about to complete what had been a blissful day of corn-snow skiing. My partner and I were about to repair to the bar for a little “apres’ ski” action.

Skiing casually, I veered off to dip into a mogul field to play. Bad decision. I hit a bump wrong and heard a “pop” from my left knee after which I unceremoniously collapsed to the ground.

Up-ended for Winter (Fujifilm XT-10, XF 56mm f1.2)

Up-ended for Winter (Fujifilm XT-10, XF 56mm f1.2)

Laying there in the snow, waiting for the ski patrol, I already aware of the bad news: that I had ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament.


I was working as an emergency room physician at the time. So I understood something about the injury. This is not a wonderful event in 2016; thirty years ago it was nasty. Arthroscopic surgery was in its infancy, and at that time, open repair of the ligament required 6 months of recovery in a leg cast; it was generally reserved for serious athletes. I resigned myself to rehab, and waiting.

This worked out for a few years. I was able to keep skiing and cycling until about 1992 when the joint became unstable. By that time I was able to have the repair arthroscopically and for many years did well.

Two Lambs and a Calf (Fujifilm X 100t, TCL X100)

Two Lambs and a Calf (Fujifilm X 100t, TCL X100)

About 7-8 years ago, I began to have knee pain again. Though the ACL repair restored my knee stability, the joint function did not completely normalize, and after 15 or so years, my cartilage was all but gone.

I stopped downhill skiing about 6-7 ago due to pain. this was a blow. Cross country skiing was still doable, but painful at times.

Behind Hickory Run Lake (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2.0)

Behind Hickory Run Lake (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2.0)












Though I was evaluated by my orthopedist several times over the last decade, I waited on surgery for two reasons:

#1 was that the older you are at the time of knee replacement, the less likely you are to need a “revision” procedure during your lifetime. On my last visit, for better or for worse, my knee surgeon, and old friend David Kolessar, who is very conservative about these things, no longer thought I was “too young” (sigh).

#2 much like what happened with my ACL, I wondered what prosthesis or procedure advances might be in the offing. In particular, “stem cell” therapy is being offered as nonsurgical treatment, though not so far in cases where the joint is “bone on bone” as was mine. According to David, there have been advances in the durability of the polyethylene surface of the lower prosthesis in the last decade, as well as improvements in pain control, but knee replacement is, as he put it, “very mature technology”.

Skeleton (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 9omm f2.0)

Skeleton (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 9omm f2.0)

Particularly over the last 6 months or so I been having  worsening problems with outdoor activities. So on October   5th I was wheeled into an operating room at Geisinger Hospital, and my left knee was “resurfaced” by Dr. Kolessar and his team. I took my first steps that same evening and was discharged in 48 hours.


DePuy Attune Kee Prosthesis (Image from Manufacturer)










In terms of the prosthesis, I didn’t choose the brand. I did ask if possible for a “ligament sparing” prosthesis (which was ultimately used), but the prosthesis you want is the one your surgeon is most comfortable using. I will say that at times when my pain has subsided (which is becoming more frequent), the knee action is smooth and already feels very similar to my native knee. The pain I am experiencing is in the surrounding tissues (which are forcibly displaced during the procedure) but no longer the “bone on bone” pain I enjoyed for so many years. In fact, at times I feel better standing and walking.

Old Lehigh Valley Bed (Fujifilm X100t, TCL X100)

Old Lehigh Valley Bed (Fujifilm X100t, TCL X100)

At a little over three weeks out, I am reasonably mobile and have been able to even take some short walks in the woods in pursuit of autumn photography. If I am uncomfortable, it is because I have overdone it, or gotten sloppy about taking my (non-narcotic) pain meds. I am undergoing rehab and am pretty excited about returning to outdoor pursuits.

I am eyeing up my ski rack with some interest once again.

I wonder if my boots still fit?


As always, clicking on an image lets you see it full size. Or, visit my Smugmug page for these and other images. 

BTW, all of the images in this article were shot postoperatively.


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Thoughts on Fujifilm’s new GFX Medium Format line.

Small Marsh Scene (Nikon D800E, Nikkor 85mmf1.8G)

Small Marsh Scene (Nikon D800E, Nikkor 85mmf1.8G)

It’s an exciting time to be a Fujifilm user. The recent release of Fujifilm’s new medium-format camera “GFX” system at the Photokina event in Cologne was arguably the most important event at the exposition. For those of us who use the company’s gear, this announcement offers a lot of reassurance.

Up to now Fujifilm has been an innovative, but “boutique” brand of camera and lenses. Those of us with investments in the system I think, have worried that they were not necessarily long-term players. Certainly the memories of the” S” line of cameras which was discontinued, has haunted the company somewhat (though owning them left me with a collection of good Nikon glass).

The announcement of a brand-new format, and quite a serious camera at that, I think is reassuring that the company as a manufacture of photographic equipment is “here to stay”. It reveals a serious commitment to the future, which is important for all of our investments.

Fujifilm GFX 50 (Fujifilm Marketing)

Fujifilm GFX 50 (Fujifilm Marketing)

This looks like a really great piece of equipment. The GFX body has a conventional Bayer 50mp Fuji-developed imager in a weatherproof body with features and controls that echo the smaller X series cameras. It has a movable LCD, as well as a detachable electronic view finder that swivels. It has a focal plane shutter. It is a “mirrorless” design with a small flange distance. This will allow adaptation to other medium format lenses, even those with leaf shutters. It will already be offered with a zoom (rare for medium format), and several prime lenses. The body is roughly the size of my D800 .

Side View(Fujifilm Marketing)

Side View(Fujifilm Marketing)

For me, as an enthusiastic, but decidedly part-time photographer, would I consider expanding my horizons into medium format now that Fuji has an offering? I think this is a question we often encounter, when a piece of significant new technology appears that may fall tantalizingly close to what we might be able to afford/justify. I think for instance of the D800 series when it was introduced. This was essentially industry’s best, non-stratospherically-priced imager. It had the highest resolution, and the best dynamic range of any digital SLR.

I described my dilemma with it here. As always, frugality won out, and I ultimately bought  the cheaper-but-still -good  D600.  A year or so later I found a very lightly used D800E on eBay, where afterwards I sold the D600.

Several years later I look over my camera situation. Truth is, I barely use my Nikon bodies. I have really been seduced by the control features, the modest size and weight, and the image quality of the Fuji cameras. I trot out the D800, for use on a tripod, and generally shooting from my car. Otherwise it’s the Fuji’s that I grab for more active situations.

At this point in technology, imager resolution is not really an issue. I have 24” x 36” images taken with my  S3Pro (with roughly 8mp of resolution) which are hanging in commercial buildings in our city, and still look great to me,. So 16 and 24 mega pixel imagers of the current X series are not at all limiting for what I do. In fact, camera shake is a far greater impediment to image resolution, than the actual number of pixels.

Small Flume on Harvey's Creek (Nikon D800E, Nikkor 85mm F1.8G)

Small Flume on Harvey’s Creek (Nikon D800E, Nikkor 85mm F1.8G)

So what about a 50mp medium format imager? Wouldn’t that be something?


Relative sensor sizes (The D800E has roughly the same size sensor as the Canon)

I’m sure it will be.

Clearly just based on the physics related to the imager/pixel size, one would expect better high ISO, and dynamic range capability than even current full frame imagers let alone the APC sized imagers of the X series. With such a chip you could certainly make extremely large prints, and/or crop with reckless abandon. And given the current quality of the modestly priced XF lenses, I would imagine that the glass Fuji has designed for this camera must be extraordinary.

Certainly the price, once it is announced, will influence people’s decisions. If it is relatively far “under $10,000” for a camera and lens as Fuji claims, this would be tempting. If I were a studio/commercial photographer, enamored of the “Fujifilm look” I would have one on preorder as we speak. But for me to consider a purchase, maybe I should first just use my D800 more often, as it would serve roughly the same purpose.

Small Marsh Scene @200%

Small Marsh Scene @200%

In fact the advantages of medium format in terms of depth of field, resolution, and dynamic range compared to the pretty damn good Nikon , are likely not significant enough to for me to justify the expense.

There, I’ve said it. I’m not interested. Definitely not interested.

Of course, if my pattern holds, in roughly two to three years, lightly used versions will start to appear on eBay. This will likely occur after the next version is announced.

I think we know what will happen next.


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The Gear that I use: The Fujifilm XF 90mm f2.0 review


Goldenrod (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2)

 Monotony:  a good word to describe the landscapes encountered in late  summer. The forest interiors are uniformly green, with the occasional crimson cardinal flowers erupting from the stream beds. Farm fields are either devoted to pasture, or to row upon row of mature corn. Untended fields this time of year are generally uniformly yellow from the blooming goldenrod. There are still weeks to go before the first hint of fall color emerges from the verdant surroundings.

A lens with a wider field of view, struggles to find interest in this season.

Perhaps then it is fortunate, that I recently acquired a the Fujifilm XF 90mm f2.0 prime. This lens has possibly the best online reviews of any Fujifilm XF lens. It is parked for now on my X Pro 2 and I have been shooting extensively with it. I’m not a natural 90 mm (135 mm field of view equivalent) shooter when it comes to landscape photography. Fairly long telephoto lenses as such as this force me to visualize the scenes I encounter in a way that for me is not entirely intuitive.

Non-intuitive, can sometimes be good.

In Our Garden (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2)

In Our Garden (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2)

When the background is monotonous, long focal lengths allow you to pick out the little unique vignettes that occur here and there in the landscape. They allow us to find interest where at first glance, there is none. I sometimes have to force myself to remember this.

The XF 90 mm f2, like the previous Fuji lenses, is a substantial piece, with good weight and a fine build quality, reminiscent of the XF 56 mm f1.2 with which it most closely compares. Befitting its relatively wide aperture, it has a large front and rear objective. Is a heavy lens, relative to the other primes that I use, and it feels best on the X Pro 2 versus the smaller,lighter cameras in my possession.

It comes with a long deep lens hood, and the same felt pouch as all of the earlier lenses.


The focus ring has a buttery feel, and the aperture ring like most of the earlier lenses has a smooth action with distinct detents. And although it looks similar to the XF 56 mm lens, unlike that lens it is said to be weatherproof, a nice bonus.

There have been a lot of reviews of this lens, done by more technically oriented bloggers than myself. They are available here, and here, and here. Most testers are finding the exact same results, namely that this lenses extremely sharp, pretty much from wide open to F 11, when diffraction sets in. In fact the folks at Imaging Resource claims that this is the sharpest lens they have ever tested.  Their customary “blur chart” even at f2.0 is a uniform light purple, denoting maximal sharpness from edge to edge. I have never seen that before.

 Bobwhite (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2)

Friendly Bobwhite (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2)












I find the lens’s characteristics similar to the 56 mm in terms of sharpness and bokeh. This is to say that the lens is bitingly sharp when in focus, even wide open. There is also wonderfully smooth rendering of out-of-focus elements.

I have several issues with this lens however. As mentioned above, the field of view of this lens is not intuitive to me, and sometimes limiting. 135 mm is long enough to close in on smaller  static subjects within 5-10 feet, but unhelpful for instance, for that goldfinch sitting on a milkweed pod 15-20 feet away.

September Maple (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2)

September Maple on the Lehigh (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2)


In landscape  photography where there is generally plenty of light, a sharp telephoto zoom lens, even with a tighter aperture, is far more versatile. Up to this purchase, I have tended to use the XF 55–200mm f3.5-4.8 in this role. This lens does not test as well as the 90mm nor does it have the quality of bokeh. But in my experience it to has very pleasing image quality (except perhaps at the longest focal length of 200 mm where it struggles slightly).

The zoom has one other advantage to the prime. I have noticed that I am going through memory cards at a rapid rate with this lens. I believe this is because of the lack of image stabilization (the 55-200 zoom has very fine image stabilization). Intuitively, when  shooting the 90 mm, I “let her rip”,  the shutter set on continuous-low, obtaining a  longer series of captures  while avoiding multiple finger stabs which might cause camera motion.

Pokeweed (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2)

Pokeweed (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2)

In fact,  this tends to be good practice; compared to shorter focal lengths, even using a monopod, I find on review that a substantial number of shots  have evidence of camera movement. In this situation the lenses acuity in some ways works against it, in that it allows you to appreciate motion blur that would not be as obvious on lesser optics.

I don’t know what it would mean in terms of lens size/weight/cost, but I think this lens would be far more versatile if image stabilization was incorporated. Or I suppose I could use a tripod. Rangefinder-type cameras to me however, feel like they should be shot handheld.

Goldenrod Ghosts (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2)

Goldenrod Ghosts (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 90mm f2)

Once again let me say that this is a brilliant lens, but I suspect one that will have only modest usage within my kit given my style of photography. This is in part because of the excellence of the 56 mm f1.2, which is faster, very nearly as sharp, and I think much easier to handhold. As good as this lens is, I need to watch out for it becoming a “cabinet queen” and if it does, consider selling this lovely tool to someone who can make better use of it.

Or , if I’m smart, I’ll let it teach me to be a more versatile photographer.


As always, clicking on an images lets you see it full size. Or, visit my Smugmug page for these and other images.

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Kielbasa Fest

Watching the Band (Fujifilm XE2, XF56mm f1.2)

As I mentioned in the previous article, Summer in our part of Pennsylvania is punctuated by a variety of local festivals or bazaars run by towns, churches, volunteer fire departments etc… Most continue to echo the now somewhat diluted ethnicity of the town where they’re held.

This is a good thing, because that ethnicity is expressed in food.  Generally really good food. Not necessarily good for you, but mighty tasty.

Street Games (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 23mm F1.4)

Plymouth Pennsylvania is a slip of a town along the Susquehanna river downstream from Wilkes Barre. Like many places around the region, it’s a former coal mining town, struggling to survive in the post-anthracite world. There’s a strong Polish heritage here, and a decidedly blue-collar feel. People are extremely friendly for most part, but it wouldn’t pay to mouth off late at night in one of the many local bars.

Uh, Hello Officer (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF23mmf1.4)

The  Kielbasa ( or sometimes Kielbasi) Festival, Plymouth’s signature event occurs each year in early August. For the uninitiated, kielbasa is a pork-based polish sausage. Though back in Poland, kielbasa refers to a number of sausage types, here the term refers generally to what Poles think of as their “farmhouse sausage”.

Boa Man (Fujifiln X Pro 2, XF 23mm f1.4)


In many parts of Pennsylvania, kielbasa is a passion. People around here have strong opinions on whose recipe is best. Interest peaks around Easter. Small grocers (where a lot of good kielbasa is made) compete with smaller sausage makers that seem to pop up right before the holidays.

Kielbasa and Kraut (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 23mmf1.4)

The Kielbasa Festival is an orgy of comfort food that health-conscious people avoid during the rest of the year. Halupki (stuffed cabbage)and potato pancakes  beckon from the booths and trucks. Then there are the pierogis (a sort Polish ravioli stuffed with potatoes and cheese).Of course there’s kielbasa: as hot sandwiches to eat now, and as smoked rings to eat at home later.

Pierogis (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 23mm f1.4)

Nowadays there’s the outlier fare such as chocolate-covered bacon, and obscenely decadent deep-fried stuff (we’re way past Twinkies). The odors  on the street are wonderful, even if they tend to be mixed occasionally with the faint smell of cigarettes.

Cooking Kielbasa (Fujifilm XE2, XF 56mmf1.2)

Towns like Plymouth have their issues. But the folks who keep these little town alive are solid, decent people who work extremely hard, whether for their small businesses, or for their churches and service organizations.

Tarnowski’s Kielbasa (Fujifilm X Pro 2, XF 23mm f1.4)


At any rate, I had the obligatory kielbasa and kraut sandwich, and an order of the jalapeno and cheese pierogis. Each was satisfying in a way that only our most familiar foods can be.

It’s a fun season. Next is the Tomato Festival up the river in Pittston,

And yes, it’s Italian.



As always, clicking on an images lets you see it full size. Or, visit my Smugmug page for these and other images.

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