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Wildwood New Jersey

Spent a week in North Wildwood New Jersey at the end of August. This was the first time I left the big expensive full frame Canon and “L” lenses at home and instead only brought the Lumix GX9. Granted, it is newer and therefore more fun to play with, but it really has impressed me. So much so, that I’m starting to take a more serious look at Micro Four Thirds in general.

I didn’t bring a tripod with me and with the exception of trying to take some shots of the bay bridge with stars in the background, I didn’t need one. Every shot taken (except for that bridge shot) which was rested on a wall, was handheld. Most people will not be impressed with this (or the shots, probably), but it’s a pretty big deal for the way I shoot. 

Wildwood Nights - ISO 200 | 1/6 |  F2.8

Boardwalk Delicacies - ISO 800 | 1/400 | f2.8

Golden Stair - ISO 800 | 1/125 | F2.8

Green & gold - ISO 200 | 1/15 | F8.0

The weather wasn’t the best, but we managed to spend some time at the beach near first avenue. Walking along the sea wall was quite difficult in the wind and we were constantly pelted with sand.

Ocean Texture - ISO 200 | 1/800 | F8.0

Ocean Texture Bright - ISO 200 | 1/800 | F8.0

Ocean Texture Dark - ISO 200 | 1/500 | F8.0

Payne’s Grey - ISO 200 | 1/640 | F8.0

No trip to the Jersey Shore is complete without a stop in Cape May. This isn’t the place you think of when you think of Street Photography, but I found myself waiting around after dinner while the others shopped and really started to fall in love with the “L monochrome D”, black and white setting, on the GX9. 

Art Buyers - ISO 800 | 1/320 | F1.7

Cash & Clive - ISO 800 | 1/250 | F1.7

Shopping - ISO 800 | 1/60 | F1.7

One of my favorite shots of the trip was a Wes Anderson inspired shot of condo units. There was just something about the back-lighting combined with the pastel colors of the units and the symmetry that I couldn’t resist. In posting of the this image to Flickr, I found a group for Wes Anderson Style Photos.

And of course, one the better shots to be had during the whole trip, would occur when I didn’t have my camera; while fishing. The expression, “the best camera is the one you have with you”, comes to mind. Fortunately, the Samsung S8 isn’t too bad at taking photos. 

Chicago Photo Walk

A walk in Chicago, in June, with the Panasonic GX9 and Lumix 12-35 / F2.8. 

When I bought the GX9, I did so with the intention of using it in situations when I wasn’t going somewhere specifically to take photos. This would be mainly work trips and family outings, where lugging the full frame Canon and Canon glass would be an expensive pain in the ass.  

The first work trip that I had a chance to bring the GX9 with me was to Chicago back in June. I didn’t have a lot of time to shoot, and the times of the day that I was able to get out, were not the ideal times of day you would want. 

Most of the time, I found myself walking around in the afternoon well before golden hour, but late enough where the big buildings cast a shadow on pretty much everything. Thankfully, Chicago is much more open than Philly or New York. Yes, there are a ton of skyscrapers, but the setbacks allow for a much more pedestrian friendly space on the ground which creates a harmony that you don’t experience in many other cities. You don’t have to look straight up in Chicago like you do in New York, not only is this easier on the neck, it makes it easier to see and appreciate how the building rises up from the ground, as well as how it touches the sky. There was a famous quote about skyscrapers similar to this that I remember reading in school. Louis Kahn may have said it, but I’m too lazy to look it up. I always liked the concept of the quote, but it didn’t really make sense until I experienced Chicago. 

Since I was shooting at a time of day where the light is not very good, I ended up making mostly black and white photos of the cityscapes. This a good way to save shots that otherwise would not be as striking. Bumping the contrast a little allows for the lights and darks to play off of each other and allows the textures to be more visible. 

The GX9 has a new shooting style called L Monochrome D. It’s a style that creates a more dynamic contrast between the highs and lows and is capable of adding a grain that can be adjusted by the user. The end result is quite nice and I haven’t seen black and white JPEGs this good, straight out of the camera, since the Ricoh GRD III from 2010.  I’ve been a RAW shooter since it was possible to shoot and develop raw files and I’ve set the GX9 to shoot RAW+JPEG. Lightroom has the profiles from the camera to apply the styles in post. This is how I edited all the black and white images here. They were RAW files edited for the basics and then I applied the L Monochrome D style. However, when compared to the JPEG with the style applied in camera, the end results were very similar.  

I’m so used to shooting RAW that I would never consider working with a JPEG SOOC, but the results (both in color and B&W) are so good with this camera, I’m starting to think we may not need to shoot RAW for much longer. Sure, there will always be those tricky shots with complex lighting that only a RAW file can recover, but for most other situations, the in-camera applications are quite impressive.

Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania

Back in May I went hiking at Pine Creek Gorge, otherwise known as ”The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania”. It’s located in Tioga State Forest in North-Central Pennsylvania and spans 3 counties starting near Wellsboro, PA. The town is very quaint and is very much like other small towns in the center of the state. It’s about 3 hours from where I grew up, but I had never heard of it until a few years ago. 

We were only there for the weekend and the weather was good for hiking, but not great for shooting. I tried to travel light and only brought the Canon 5DmkII, 24-70 2.8L, a tripod, and some filters. 

We checked out Leonard Harrison State Park the first day and had plans to hit up Colton Point State Park on the west side of the canyon the next day. However, the weather had other plans. 

We hiked to the bottom of the canyon on the “Turkey Trot Path” which was pretty cool and a little more technical than I expected. Oh, and it downpoured for the last third of the descent, which made it a bit more treacherous. Maybe not that bad, but it was pretty slippery, though there was no galleon at the end.

The rain ended once we reached the floor of the canyon (of course), but the sun came out and since everyone behind us had (smartly) turned around, we had the place to ourselves. The clouds were still breaking and the sun was only peeking through in spots, so it was just dark enough get some longish exposures, using a small shutter and no need to dig out the ND filter.

The next day was a bit of a washout, but we did manage to get in some fishing and check out Wellsboro. If you make it up this way be sure to check out Wild Asaph Outfitters. Super cool place and knowledgeable people.

On our way home we drove a good portion of the canyon along route 414. It’s longer, depending on which direction you’re headed, but if you have time drive it slow and check out the small town and outposts along the way. Totally worth an extra hour or two to get home.