10 More Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm f/1.7 Photographs

Yesterday I published an article about the Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm that I distressed to make it appear old and worn, like a well-used 1960’s rangefinder. I included 10 photographs in that article captured with that camera and lens. I’ve been using the X-E1 a lot over the last two weeks because it’s been a lot of fun to shoot with, so I have a bunch of pictures that I wanted to share, but I didn’t want to make that article any longer than it already was.

Below you will find 10 more images that I captured with the X-E1 and Meike lens combination. Of the 20 photographs (ten in each post), 12 of them are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs, while eight of them are camera-made JPEGs that received some editing using the RNI Films app.

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Lost Baby Shoe – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Coffee Shop Light – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Table Vase – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Roses On A Table – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Last Light On A Picture Frame – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Evening Johanna – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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American Pyro Trailer – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Fake Potted Plants – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Coffee Shop Shakers – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Espresso Shot Glasses – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

 

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Distressing A Camera – Or, Making The Fujifilm X-E1 Sexy Again – Or, Am I Nuts?!

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Distressed Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

A couple of months ago I ran across a message board post about a guy who distressed his Fujifilm X70 to make it look old. When I first saw it I thought that it looked cool, but you’d have to have a few screws loose to do that to your new camera. As the days went on I couldn’t get what this guy did to his X70 out of my mind. I was fascinated by the idea of distressing a modern camera to make it look old and worn.

One day, about a month after I had initially seen the distressed X70, I was photographing my wife as she was distressing some old dining chairs. My wife takes unwanted furniture and gives them new life, making them look “shabby-chic” or whatever the current term is for making something look old and worn but still really cool and interesting (she calls it “reloving”). She’s very good at it, and she gets a lot of compliments. I told her about the distressed X70 and showed her the pictures. She thought that it looked neat but it takes some guts to do that to a nice, new camera.

I began to contemplate how to do something like this myself, even as I contemplated my own sanity. They say that it’s a fine line between genius and crazy. Is this something that I should even try? After much back-and-forth in my mind I decided that this was indeed something that I was going to do it. I don’t distress furniture like my wife does (although I have helped her on occasion), but I have done some scale modelling and “weathered” things to make them appear old and well used. So I started to research. Is this a unique concept? Have others done it? How did they do it? What are some reasons why someone might do this?

I discovered that two other photographers did something similar to their X-Pro1 cameras. They took it a few steps further and I thought that the end result wasn’t as good as the X70. I also found out that Fujifilm distressed an X-Pro2 to simulate how it would look after years of heavy use, and they displayed it in Japan. Interestingly enough, the distressing treatment that was given to the X-Pro2 was similar to that given to the X70, so, not surprising, the results were strikingly similar.

Something else that I came across was a limited edition Leica M-P that was designed with the assistance of Lenny Kravitz. It’s a film camera that Leica introduced in 2003. The Lenny Kravitz model is made to look worn as if it had been heavily used for decades. Similarly, Pentax made a version of the MX-1 that was also designed to look old and worn, but it never went into production.

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“Vintage” Fujifilm X-E1

There are collectors who will pay top dollar for certain models of vintage Leica cameras that are worn but functional. I discovered that sometimes these cameras are worth more beat up than in near-mint condition, and the more worn-looking the better.

Some interior decorators will dig through flea markets, estate sales and antique stores for old film cameras that appear well-used and worn. These cameras look interesting displayed on shelves and such. I found a couple of people who claim, if they can’t find a camera that looks worn enough, that they will add some distressing to make the cameras more visually interesting.

Something else that I discovered is that people will hide the fact that they have a nice camera when they travel, so that they might be less targeted by thieves. Typically this involves taping up the camera body with black tape to hide the make and model and make the camera seem less nice. They don’t want to appear to be carrying something worth thousands of dollars because it could draw the attention of crooks looking to make a quick dollar.

With all my research done, I knew what I wanted to do, why I wanted to do it and how to accomplish it. My intentions were to buy a used Fujifilm X-E1, which has the right “vintage rangefinder” look, and can be found for cheap yet is capable of excellent image quality, attach my Meike 35mm lens to it, and distress it to make look old and worn.

One reason why I would distress an X-E1 is that it looks neat. Displayed on a shelf, around my neck or as the subject of photographs, the camera looks very interesting. Someone told me, as I was doing some street photography, that they thought I had a 1960’s rangefinder. Another person said, “I bet that camera has some stories to tell!” The distressed X-E1 simply looks cool. It has much more character than any shiny new DSLR.

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Distressed Fujifilm 

Another reason is that the camera appears less valuable to potential thieves. I feel like I’m less of a target. There have been times when walking the streets with my X-Pro2 or X100F that I feel like I’m being watched and even followed. Maybe I’m paranoid, as I’m not going into rough neighborhoods. But I have had my gear stolen before, in a high-end district of Scottsdale, Arizona, so perhaps I’m a little more suspicious and cautious than the average Joe. With the distressed X-E1, I feel like my camera is less attractive to somebody looking for something valuable to steal. And even if someone does take it, I didn’t pay a whole lot for it, and so it’s not as big of a deal than if someone took off with something I paid over a grand for.

A final reason why I would distress an X-E1 is that it was fun to do. As I mentioned before, I’ve done some scale modelling in the past. I found the process of distressing the camera to be similarly enjoyable. It was easy enough to do. I used fine-grit sandpaper to rough it up, using a heavier hand on the corners, edges and anywhere that someone might handle the camera more, such as knobs and where fingers would sit when holding it. I purchased a vintage strap and used rust-colored paint with a dry-brush technique to make it appear rusty (more rusty, actually, as it already had some natural rust).

The results are pretty convincing, I believe. This X-E1 looks like an old camera that has seen heavy use, and not something that’s fairly new. I wouldn’t have done this to a camera in mint condition. The one that I purchased had some obvious wear already, I just added some extra “wear” to what was naturally there. The Meike 35mm lens, which also looks like it came out of the 1960’s, received some distressing, as well, so that it matches the camera. I really love the way the camera and lens look together, but, perhaps more importantly, I love the images that they create together.

Some people might not appreciate what I did to this camera. I truly understand that it’s not for everyone. Some people might even say that it is inherently dishonest, which it is, but so are most people’s photographs. I’d rather create honest pictures with a dishonest camera than create dishonest pictures with an honest camera. I’m sure that this whole article is a bit polarizing, but when it comes down to it, it’s my camera and I can do whatever I want to it, and it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks. Still, I hope that some of you think that it turned out alright. I still haven’t completely decided which side of the genius/insanity line it falls on.

Below are some photographs of my distressed Fujifilm X-E1:

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“Vintage” Modern Camera

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Distressed Camera

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Distressed Camera Knobs

Below are some photographs that I’ve captured with my X-E1 and Meike 35mm lens:

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Blue Bird – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Suburban Evening – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Urban Nature – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Open Door – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Elevated Walkway – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Chill – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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If It Fits – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Waiting At The Bus Stop – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Bus Stop – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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35mm Film – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

Click here to see more photographs.

Digital Is Disposable

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Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

Digital cameras are disposable.

Camera manufacturers introduce the replacement models, the next generation, about every two years on average. This isn’t always true–the X100T came out just one year after the X100S while the X-Pro2 came out four years after the X-Pro1–but, generally speaking, it’s true. Your new camera will be “last year’s model” soon enough.

It’s no surprise that photographers, on average, upgrade roughly every two years, as well. When that new model comes out, it’s very tempting to buy it. The new model is better in this way and that way–faster, more resolution, etc.–you know the song and dance. You might still keep your current camera as a “backup body” once the new one arrives in the mail, and it will mostly collect dust.

There are plenty of photographers who don’t buy new. They’ll wait awhile until they can get a good deal on a gently used camera. But it’s still the same story of “upgrading” every other year or so. They’re just a model behind what’s current.

There are some who keep their cameras for many years. There are plenty of photographers who happily use their five-year-old camera. A much smaller number happily use their ten-year-old camera. Almost nobody happily uses their fifteen-year-old camera, because the cheapest interchangeable-lens cameras today are more advanced and capable of better image quality than the best “pro” cameras of 2003. Digital technology changes quickly, and advancements have come at breakneck speed.

We’ve reached a point of diminishing returns. Digital technology is still advancing quickly and the cameras released in 2017 are better in every way to their counterparts released in 2012. But how much better do they need to be? If a camera already has more resolution than what most need, what does even more resolution do? If a camera is already quick enough for most photographers, how does a faster camera help? If a camera already has amazing high-ISO performance, do you really need a stop more? Yes, there are people who need more, but that’s a small percentage. Most photographers already had everything that they needed in cameras from years past, and all the advancements since then have just been overkill. Cameras are becoming better all the time, but they were already more than good enough before.

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Barn By The Tetons – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

I’m not suggesting that camera manufacturers should stop pushing forward. What I am suggesting is that this habit of upgrading to the latest camera model every couple of years is unnecessary. If you want to buy a new camera, go ahead and do it, I’m not trying to stop you. But I do want to make aware to the photographic community that many very good and highly capable cameras are being disposed simply because they’re several years old. I’m telling myself this just as much as I’m telling others, because I’ve been caught up in this routine just as much as the next guy.

My first “real” camera, a Canon AE-1, was over 20-years-old when I bought it. I used it for several years, and even at 25 it was still going strong. I sold it, and that’s one of my photographic regrets, because, even though it is around 40-years-old now, I’m sure someone out there is still capturing wonderful pictures with it. I have several film cameras on my shelf that I occasionally dust off, a couple of which are over 50-years-old, that still function properly and are still capable of capturing excellent pictures.

The idea of someone using a 50-year-old digital camera for anything remotely serious is laughable, and not just because a 50-year-old digital camera doesn’t exist, but because of the poor image quality and usability of the early models. Someday, though, the cameras manufactured today will be 50-years-old, and I can see some of them, if they’re still working, being used by photographers who want that “retro digital” feel. I don’t think too many cameras made before 2010 will ever be used at age 50 or even when they’re 20-year-old. A few of the higher-end models, perhaps, but by-and-large the technology just wasn’t there yet. However, the ones being made today, and even five to eight years ago, have advanced enough that they could still be used to capture quality photographs well into the future.

The Fujifilm X-E1 is not as good as the X-E3, but it is more than good enough for creating wonderful photographs. It is five-years-old, almost six, but it is still an excellent camera. You can find them for under $300 pretty easily because people have moved on. The X-E2 replaced it, and then the X-E2S came out a couple years later, and now the X-E3 is approaching the one year mark and there’s already talk about an X-E4. In the realm of digital cameras it might as well be 50-years-old because it is three and soon-to-be four models old. It’s archaic. It’s a has-been. It’s disposable.

I recently picked up an old X-E1 because they’re so cheap. I liked the one that I used to own, and I wish that I had kept it. I sold it to help fund the purchase of my X100F, which is another camera that I love. The X-E1, or “Sexy One” as it was nicknamed back in 2012, is still an excellent little camera, and for the price that it currently goes for, why wouldn’t you want one? It’s great for travel because of its size and weight, and if it gets stolen or damaged it’s not a huge deal because it didn’t cost much. It’s not as good as the cameras made in 2018, but it’s more than good enough to capture great pictures for years to come.

Digital cameras are disposable, or, perhaps they used to be. We’re at the point now, and have been for several years, where we can hold onto our cameras longer because they’re more than capable photographic tools. The latest and greatest cameras are wonderful, but, really, the advancements are mostly overkill stacked on top of overkill. Maybe it’s time to be content with what we have, myself included. Maybe it’s time to rediscover these wonderful “vintage” digital cameras, such as the original X100, the X-Pro1 and the X-E1. There was a time not very long ago when people raved over these models and stores had a hard time keeping them in stock. Now they go for a few hundred bucks on eBay.

My Fujifilm X-Pro2 Vintage Agfacolor Film Simulation Recipe

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Always Moving Ahead – Rawlins, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

I stumbled across a new film simulation recipe while travelling through Wyoming last month. I saw this peculiar classic car parked in front of a gas station with an old radio station in the background, and an analog-film-esque photograph seemed most appropriate for the scene. Normally I’d go with my Vintage Kodachrome recipe, but I decided to play around with the setting and came up with something new.

At first these settings, which I’m calling Vintage Agfacolor, reminded me of Autochrome, an early color film from France. But after using the recipe for a few images, I decided that it more resembles 1950’s Agfachrome. It’s not exactly Agfachrome, but it definitely produces a vintage Agfacolor look.

While never as popular as Kodak, Agfa produced many great films (and other photography products) for still pictures and cinematography back in the good ol’ days. I used a few of their products, including paper for my black-and-white pictures. I liked Agfa, and it’s too bad that they don’t make film anymore.

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Purple Weed Bloom – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Fujinon 60mm

While the title says “X-Pro2,” this film simulation recipe can be used by all X-Trans III cameras. I have it saved on my X-Pro2, and I’ll likely plug it into my X100F at some point in the near future. All of my film simulations are interchangeable between the latest generation of Fujifilm cameras.

Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: DR-Auto
Highlight: +2
Shadow: +1
Color: -4
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: 0
Grain Effect: Strong
White Balance: Auto, -3 Red & -4 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: -1/3 to -2/3 (typically)

Example photos, all camera-made JPEGs using my Fujifilm X-Pro2 Vintage Agfacolor Film Simulation recipe:

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Johanna In A Swing – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Fujinon 60mm

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Scout – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 7artisans 25mm

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Handbag Abstract – South Weber, Utah – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Fujinon 60mm

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Clouds Over Mountain Green – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Fujinon 60mm

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Winnie The Pooh – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Fujinon 60mm

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Red Handles – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Fujinon 60mm

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Left Behind Lunch – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Fujinon 16mm

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City Sun – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Fujinon 16mm

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Airport Walkway – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Fujinon 16mm

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Window Waiting – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Fujinon 16mm

See also: My Fujifilm X-Pro2 Dramatic Classic Chrome Film Simulation Recipe

Road Trip: Black Hills, South Dakota – Day 4, Part 1 – Early Morning In Custer State Park

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Black Hills Sunrise – Custer SP, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Days 1 & 2  Day 3 – Part 1  Day 3 – Part 2  

Late to bed and early to rise is the life of a photographer, especially when travelling. Even though I had stayed up the night before capturing star pictures, on Day 4 I woke up when it was still dark to catch the sunrise along the Needles Highway, which is within Custer State Park. This area features unusual granite rock formations, many of which are pillars. There’s also an arch called Needles Eye that is unusual in that it is tall and not wide. The highway is narrow and curvy with several small one-lane tunnels. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful drive, and I wanted to capture it in the early morning hours.

I arrived at the Needles Eye area about 10 minutes before sunrise. I didn’t have a chance to scout the location ahead of time, so I was hoping to quickly find some good spots for photography. I think I did alright in that regard, but if I had a chance to visit before hand I would have come away with some better photographs. As far as sunrises go, the one that morning was mediocre since there were no clouds. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to try again another time.

The Golden Hour was spent in the general vicinity of Needles Eye, trying to find different angles and views of the rocks. On the way back to the campsite I stopped at Sylvan Lake. You might recognize this lake if you’ve seen the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets. It’s a very scenic spot, and I enjoyed a peaceful morning hike around it, capturing photographs as I walked.

All of the photographs in this article are camera-made JPEGs using my X-Pro2 and either a Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens or a Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 lens. Both are great options for landscape photography, depending on if you want wide-angle or a “standard” focal length. One costs about 10x as much as the other. I used Acros, Velvia, Astia, PRO Neg. Std, and Classic Chrome film simulations.

There is one photograph that I did not include, called Father Nature (if you want to see it, click the link). It seems inappropriate, but I assure you that it is a natural granite rock formation found along the Needles Highway in Custer State Park. Since I want this to be a family-friendly website, I decided to simply link to the photograph instead of posting it directly on this page. Take a look if you want, or don’t click the link if you don’t want to.

Enjoy the photographs!

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Meager Pine – Custer SP, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Monochrome Needles – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Black Hills Above The Great Plains – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Dawn At Cathedral Spires – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Morning In The Hills – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Needles Eye Tunnel – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Improbable – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Needles Eye – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Needles Eye Arch – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Reaching Up – Custer SP, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Rugged Rocks – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Jagged Landscape – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Tunnel At Needles Eye – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Overlook At Needles Eye – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Needles In The Black Hills – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Towering Rocks & Trees – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Sylvan Lake Monochrome – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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The Dam Bridge – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Black Hills Pine Forest – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Morning Sun Through The Trees – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Looking Down The Dam – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Risky Tunnel – Custer SP, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Sylvan Blue – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Chairs On A Dock – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Sylvan Lake & Blue Sky – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Boats Ashore – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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River Canoe – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Spill – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Grazing – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

Day 4 – Part 2  Days 5 & 6

My Fujifilm X100F Kodak Ektar 100 Film Simulation Recipe

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Peach City Drive-In – Brigham City, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektar 100”

When Fuji X Weekly reader Jackie asked if I could make a film simulation recipe that mimics the look of Kodak Ektar 100 film, I thought that it would be a simple task. Classic Chrome is halfway there already, providing a Kodak-esque look right out of the bag. But, as it turns out, creating an Ektar look wasn’t easy for one reason: Classic Chrome isn’t vibrant enough, even with color set to +4. Velvia was my next choice, but I couldn’t make it work. It turns out Astia is the key.

Before I get ahead of myself too much, let’s roll things back a little. Ektar is a color negative film made by Kodak. It’s known for vibrant colors, high contrast and fine grain, and, even though it is a negative film, it is more like reversal (slide) film. I would say that, while the results aren’t 100% identical, there are a lot of similarities between Ektar 100 and Ektachrome 100VS. In fact, when Kodak discontinued Ektachrome 100VS, they recommended Ektar 100 as the closest film.

Ektar is ideal for vibrant landscapes or any situation where you want lots of contrast and saturated colors. It’s not usually one’s first choice for portrait photography because skin tones can be off. Some people use it extensively for portraits, but the general advice is to use Ektar for everything other than people pictures. I’ve shot a few rolls of it in the past, but it’s been probably seven or eight years.

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Summer Boy – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektar 100”

I’m actually a little hesitant to call this film simulation recipe Kodak Ektar 100 because it’s not quite right. It’s close, but a little off. The color palette is slightly askew. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it any closer to being right. I do feel that, if you like Ektar 100 film, you’ll like this film simulation recipe, even though it’s not an exact match.

One thing about this recipe that I’d like to mention is, while I have Dynamic Range set to Auto, almost always the camera selected DR100. If you don’t want to use DR-Auto, set it to DR100 instead and you’ll get the same results. Also, I did not use the faux grain effect for this recipe. I think you could use weak grain if the ISO is 800 or less, but once you get to ISO 1600 and higher the digital noise acts like a convincing weak grain, and adding more grain on top of it is too much. So I elected to set grain to off, but you might consider using weak grain, particularly at the lower ISOs.

Astia
Dynamic Range: DR-Auto

Highlight: +1
Shadow: +3
Color: +4
Noise Reduction: -3

Sharpening: +1
Grain Effect: Off
White Balance: Auto, +3 Red & -2 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: 0 to +1/3 (typically)

Example photos, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs captured using my Kodak Ektar 100 Film Simulation recipe:

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Ice Cream Sandwiches – Brigham City, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektar 100”

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Open Fountain – Brigham City, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektar 100”

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Peach City Fun – Brigham City, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektar 100”

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Sunlit Sisters – Brigham City, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektar 100”

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Happy & Sad – Brigham City, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektar 100”

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Splash Time – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektar 100”

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Summer Wildflower Blossom – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektar 100”

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Birds In The Window – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektar 100”

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Crates & Dollies – Brigham City, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektar 100”

See also:
My Fujifilm X100F Kodak Porta 400 Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F CineStill 800T Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Fujicolor Superia 800 Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Vintage Kodachrome Film Simulation Recipe

Road Trip: Black Hills, South Dakota – Day 3, Part 2

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Rocky Ridge – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Days 1 & 2  Day 3 – Part 1  

After leaving Mount Rushmore National Monument, we drove around the Black Hills a little, and then returned to our campsite to relax. After spending the two previous days on the road, it was good to limit the time in the car. We kept the evening low-key, playing board games and throwing around a football.

That night, once everyone was in bed, I tiptoed out into the darkness and did a little night photography. I set my X-Pro2 with a Fujinon 16mm f/1.4 lens on a tripod for some long exposure photography, utilizing Fujifilm’s Cam Remote app. The sky was dark but full of stars. I shined a flashlight into the forest and saw about 100 eyes looking back at me–deer, and perhaps other animals, were all over the place!

These photographs are all camera-made JPEGs. The black-and-white are Acros and the color are Velvia. I really appreciate the look that Fujifilm gear creates in-camera. I could spend hours in front of a computer post-processing, or I could rely on straight-out-of-camera JPEGs that look like they’ve been post-processed. I choose the latter whenever possible, because my time is important to me.

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Black Hills – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Norbeck Overlook – Keystone, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Twisted Tree – Keystone, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Leaning Tree & Stars – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm f/1.4

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Night Forest – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm f/1.4

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Night Sky Over Needles Highway – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm f/1.4

Day 4 – Part 1  Day 4 – Part 2  Days 5 & 6

Road Trip: Black Hills, South Dakota – Day 3, Part 1 – Mount Rushmore

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Four Fathers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Days 1 & 2  

On the morning of the third day of our South Dakota trip, which was the first full day in the Black Hills, after breakfast, we headed out to see Mount Rushmore National Monument. This is an iconic landmark of America. The heads of four quintessential presidents were carved into the rocks: George Washington, the first president and Revolutionary War general, on the far left, Thomas Jefferson, the third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, on the middle-left, Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president and Rough Rider, on the middle-right, and Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president and slavery abolisher, on the far right.

Gutzon Borglum is the sculptor who, along with his team of over 400 people, carved Mount Rushmore, which is an incredible work of art. The work began in 1927 and finished in 1941. It was mostly carved by careful use of dynamite. Borglum was a renown artist even before Mount Rushmore, but this is certainly his biggest and best known accomplishment.

When we arrived we were surprised to learn that our National Parks Pass didn’t do us any good. There is a “parking fee” (but no entrance fee), and they offer no discount for those who have an annual pass. The parking garage, which resembles something you’d find at a large airport or downtown, is a big expense, I’m sure, so I certainly understand the need to charge money to park. I just think that, if you have an annual pass, they should give a discount of some sort.

The way that this monument is set up is you traverse a walkway towards the sculpture, with things on your right and left as you make your way down. It kind of feels like much of it was an afterthought instead of integrated design. Still, it’s laid out in such a way that you could choose to get as much out of it as you want. Except, when we were there, half of the trail and the Sculptor’s Studio were closed. Still, we found the museum to be interesting enough.

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Mount Rushmore Monochrome – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Our ten-year-old and eight-year-old kids did the Junior Ranger program. This is a great way for them to not only learn about the park, but to be engaged and excited about it. Afterwards, once they had completed the requirements, they were sworn in as Junior Rangers and received a badge. This was a highlight of the trip for them.

The four heads are very large, but it is difficult to really appreciate the scale from the main viewing area. There is a trail that takes you closer, and it isn’t until you reach the end that you can better appreciate the size of the carvings. After we left the park we decided that Mount Rushmore was a neat place to see, but mildly disappointing. On the other hand, it made us want to watch the Alfred Hitchcock classic North by Northwest, which takes place, in part, at Mount Rushmore.

One takeaway from visiting this place is that photography is a lot like sculpting. Borglum’s job wasn’t all that much different from yours and mine, except the tools are different. He removed all of the stone that wasn’t Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. What was left was his great work of art. When you and I compose, our job is to remove everything that doesn’t belong so that what we are left with is the strongest image possible. Often less is more.

The photographs in this article, which are all camera-made JPEGs, were captured using a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens attached to it. I really like this camera-lens combination, and I thought it was a good choice for the location. One of the things that I appreciate about my X100F is the simplicity and restriction of one-camera and one-lens, and I found that not changing lenses on the X-Pro2 while at a location provides a similar experience.

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Forefathers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Heads Up – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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George – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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George Washington – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Monumental Proportions – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Junior Oath – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Getting Ranger Badges – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Junior Rangers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Making Connections – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Securely In Father’s Arms – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Along For The Ride – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Josh, Joy, Jon & Forefathers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Amanda, Johanna & Forefathers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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American Heroes – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Monumental – Mt. Rushmore, SD – X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Avenue of Flags – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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State & Federal – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Umbrella of Liberty – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Day 3 – Part 2  Day 4 – Part 1  Day 4 – Part 2  Days 5 & 6

Fun With RNI Films App

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A couple of weeks ago I downloaded a photo editing app called RNI Films. It’s got a ton of different film simulation presets, including Negative (color and black-and-white), Slide, Vintage and Instant. With one touch you can transform your digital image into something that resembles analog film. It sounded like an app that I would appreciate, so I gave it a shot.

The RNI Films app is free to download. It comes standard with quite a few different film presets, but you can add more for a price. I believe to unlock everything is around $20, which is cheap but kind of unnecessary as it comes with a lot in its basic package. I did purchase one film pack for $4 to get a certain film simulation that I thought I’d like.

The different film presets seem accurate. I have personally used some of the different films that they are attempting to simulate, but many of them I have not. I don’t think it holds up in comparison to Alien Skin Exposure, which, as far as accuracy is concerned, is tops. But for a free or cheap cellphone app, it’s quite good. You get a look that appears analog instead of digital and seems reasonably close to actual film stock. Using this app, I think that you could convince some people that you shot film when you didn’t.

One issue that I have with RNI Films is that there are too many choices. I wish that I could keep a dozen that I really like and get rid of the rest. It takes forever to flip through each preset one-by-one, so it’s important to remember which ones I want to use and where they are located. The process is very slow going if you are browsing.

I don’t see a good way to incorporate this app into a regular workflow. I shoot Fujifilm because their JPEGs are good, which allows me to achieve the look that I want with less time and effort. I have created a bunch of different film simulations that I can use in-camera, and most of the time I don’t have a need to post-process. I believe creating the look that I want in-camera is more authentic than using software to manipulate an image. Sometimes, though, it is not practical (or it might even be impossible) to achieve the desired results straight-out-of-camera, so an app like RNI Films could be a good option for quickly and easily getting the right look. I see this as being helpful occasionally, and remaining unused most of the time.

Where I have found this app to be the most fun is re-imagining photographs while waiting. If I’m at the post office standing in line I can open up the app and create a slightly different version of one of my pictures. If I’m at the auto shop waiting for the oil change to get done, I can re-imagine one of my pictures there. Wherever and whenever I find myself with time to kill, I can open up the RNI Films app on my phone, pick one of my pictures and run it through some film presets. Maybe I’ll create something that I like, maybe I’ll prefer the original version better. You don’t always get better results with this app. Most often you just get a different result, which may or may not be as good as the original. But it’s fun to see how different film presets change the look of an image.

The photographs below show the before-and-after from using this app. For a few of the images I prefer the RNI Films version, while the rest I think the original version is better. I didn’t document which presets I used because I was lazy. I just found the ones that I thought would work for the photograph at hand, and went from there. Obviously what I feel would work best for me and my pictures might not work best for you and vice versa.

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Schwabacher Landing Beaver Dam – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

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RNI Films App Edit

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35mm Film & Yashica – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

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RNI Films App Edit

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Bubble Hazard – Seattle, WA – Fujifilm X100F

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RNI Films App Edit

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Conoco – Edgemont, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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RNI Films App Edit

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Little Blooms, Big Blooms – Lehi, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

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RNI Films App Edit

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Window Rose – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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RNI Films App Edit

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Blossom Branch – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-A3

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RNI Films App Edit 

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Red Lamp – Antelope Is. SP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3

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RNI Films App Edit

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Seattle Center – Seattle, WA – Fujifilm X100F

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RNI Films App Edit

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Early Morning Bloom – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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RNI Films App Edit

Road Trip: Black Hills, South Dakota – Days 1 & 2

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Threatening Sky – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

A couple of weeks ago my family and I took a road trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore. I visited that area when I was a little kid and don’t remember much of anything. Mostly what I remember is getting a piggy bank with the four presidents’ heads on it. My wife and kids had never been. We decided that it would be a great travel destination, so we hitched up the RV trailer and went.

Living in the Salt Lake City, Utah, metro area affords us the opportunity to see all sorts of great places. It’s closely located to many iconic sites of the American West. We can get to most anywhere west of the Great Plains within two days of driving, and many places can be reached within one day. To get to the Black Hills required two days on the road, although, if we weren’t pulling the trailer and really stretched ourselves, we might have been able to make it in one day.

Approaching the Wyoming boarder the landscape changes significantly. Even though you cross the Continental Divide several times while traversing the Rocky Mountains, the scenery becomes rather boring. While it is quite clear that these are not the same Rocky Mountains that John Denver penned songs about, there is a certain beauty in the emptiness, especially with building thunderstorms around.

We spent the night in Alcova, Wyoming, which is a tiny community along the North Platte River. It’s also the halfway point between our house and Mount Rushmore. This is where the scenery starts to become interesting again. The hills slowly become more green and trees begin to appear here and there, eventually becoming thick pine forest in South Dakota.

On the second day of our trip we arrived at our campsite north of Custer and south of Hill City in time to cook dinner and enjoy a campfire. Everyone was glad to be out of the car and at our destination. The fresh pine air felt great to breathe in. We spent the evening settling in and relaxing, as we had plenty of things planned for the next two days.

The only pictures that I captured on the drive out was at the camp in Alcova, Wyoming, and at a gas stop in Edgemont, South Dakota. Mostly I just wanted to “get there” so I kept pushing forward instead of stopping for photography. I saw plenty along the way that would have been worth the time to capture, so maybe on another trip through the area I will take my time. Once settled in at our camp in South Dakota I pulled out the camera again and captured some more images.

All of the photographs in this article were captured using a Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Meike 35mm lens. I really like this combination a lot. On this trip the lens was brand new so I was still figuring out how to best use it. I had other gear with me, but on these first two days I stuck to just this one camera and lens, more for the simplicity of it than anything else. These are all camera-made JPEGs, mostly Classic Chrome and Acros, although Velvia, PRO Neg. Std, and PRO Neg. Hi were also used. Enjoy!

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Grey Reef – Alcova, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Rusty Cactus – Alcova, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Old Wood Fence Post – Alcova, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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N. Platte River – Alcova, WY – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Flowers & Rail – Edgemont, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Gas Tanks – Edgemont, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Sinclair – Edgemont, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Conoco – Edgemont, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Big Cookie, Little Girl – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Camping Face – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Adventure Joy – Hill City, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Campfire – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Leaning Tree – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Black Hills Monochrome – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Partly Sunny – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Ominous – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Day 3 – Part 1  Day 3 – Part 2  Day 4 – Part 1  Day 4 – Part 2  Days 5 & 6