Portrait Session on the Beach at Sunset in Okinawa

All the pictures in this post were taken with the Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 lens mounted on a Fujifilm X-T1.


 

I’m back in Tokyo after having spent the Easter week-end on the main island of Okinawa. Just a couple days relaxing on the beachside with the Ms. We stayed at the Busena Terrace hotel, which was built to host the G8 summit back in 2000. Not a photo trip, but could still used this opportunity to grab  few quick portraits of the Ms. by the beach…

  

… followed by a bit of jazz by the pool. 


 

As far as gear was concerned, I only wanted to use my carry-on luggage, so I only took one Fuji X-T1 body with the XF16-55mmF2.8 mounted on it with me. I just had enough space remaining to throw-in a Yongnuo flash with a remote trigger on top of my stuffs, which came in very handy for those backlit portraits. You can see below how I just handheld the flash at arm length for some easy off-camera lighting in this serie of images. Sure, bigger light modifiers could have provided a better quality of light, but as far as family holiday pictures go this works well enough for me. 

BTS Okinawa

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A Walk to the Shrine

All the pictures in this post were taken with the Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 lens mounted on a Fujifilm X-T1.

There is virtually an infinite amount of beautiful temples located in Tokyo. In fact, there are so many that it does not take much walk outside of the beaten paths found in every travel books to find some little known but beautiful ones.

I just found out the one below last week-end. Although mostly ignored by foreigners, it seems to be a very famous power spot among Japanese.

I consider the pictures below as “draft” pictures. I’ll take the time to come back here in a better light, if possibl after the lights have been turned on. Add some reflections of those lights on the wet path of it has been a rainy day beforehand, and this might be the best combination for this specific location…

I had no idea this shrine existed before last week-end, and I think it would deserve to be better known. It’s such a beautiful place I have made it the background image of my phone 🙂 If you liked this post, please consider sharing it with your friends on social networks, and keep in touch with me on Twitter 😉

Matsumoto Castle

All the pictures in this post were taken with the Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 lens mounted on a Fujifilm X-T1.

I recently made a brief detour by the castle of Matsumoto on my way back to Tokyo from the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. The castle looks gorgeous and is definitely worth a stop on your way to Takayama for example. I did not have time to visit inside this time, but I will be coming back in May.

      

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Jigokudani Snow Monkeys

All the pictures in this post were taken with the Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 lens mounted on a Fujifilm X-T1.

Winter is coming?

Easily accessible from Nagano, the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park is famous for its group of Japanese macaques who warm themselves by bathing in a onsen (hot spring) during the cold days of winter.

If you are on holidays in Tokyo, you can visit the Snow Monkey Park as a day-trip (if you are ready to wake-up early and come back late you can even take a detour to Matsumoto to see the castle on the way back), but there are only a limited number of buses that run between the Yudanaka train station (which you will be likely coming from) and the start of the trail that leads to the onsen (from the Kanbayashi Onsen bus stop), so if you decide to do that make sure to plan your trip carefully. You can find some very useful the timetables of the main trains and buses here.

Having said that, rather than doing a day trip I would recommend to treat yourself with a night in a ryokan of the hot spring resort of Shibu Onsen in the same area. This will give you more flexibility to go to the Snow Monkey Park at your convenience, and potentially before the many buses of tourists that will keep on coming through the day.

Before you go to the Snow Monkey Park, you can find all sorts of informations about the Japanese macaques here, including their daily life and their system of dominance hierarchy. There is even a live webcam if you want to check the current activity and the weather conditions.

The walking trail that goes from the Kanbayashi Onsen bus stop to the Snow Monkey Park  is a very easy stroll through the forest, and takes 30min when taking your time.

If you spent the night at Shibu Onsen, you will arrive by a shorter trail from the other side of the valley.

The Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park is a must-do when you visit Japan in January or February in my opinion, but it is becoming victim of its own success. As you can see below, once the days start to warm up going into Spring, you might end up with only few monkeys facing an army of tourists, which explains the lack of variety of pictures I took on this specific occasion and left me disappointed compared to my previous visit. I will probably go back for a week-end in January next year to get better pictures.

The highlight of my day was actually (cruelly) when one of the visitors dropped his point-and-shoot camera into the bath. As he leaned forward to try to fish it back, his iPhone fell off his pocket and sunk into the water and his wife had then to retain him by his bag otherwise he would have just jumped into the water himself! I was hoping one of the monkeys would get the phone first, so that I could get a shot similar to this famous one, but someone from the park just came to fish everything back with a net, looking as if it is quite a common problem these days.

Talk to you soon, but for the moment I go back to my bath 😉

Why the XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR is in my bag

When someone or something really gets on my nerves, I have found myself on a few occasions irrationally buying a lens that I did not need or found too expensive for what it was. A compulsory purchase that cleanses me of my inner fury – for a while at least… The middle-age crisis for photographers I guess, rather than driving a Porsche like Duchovny in Californication.

The XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR (no-OIS…) is one of those lenses. Absolutely did not need it. Did not lust for it. Had more important things to spend my money on. Yet, it is now in my bag while my bank account is now feeling lighter. Hashtag #firstworldproblem I guess.

To be precise, it’s actually not inside my bag, it is still mounted on my X-T1. I got it on the day it came out (it’s almost my birthday was the official justification…), and ironically I have only been shooting with it ever since. Mind you, I don’t count the pictures I have been taking with it these past few weeks as my finest body of work: if I think portfolio, when I shoot wide I want to shoot really wide… and when I shoot tight, I want to shoot really tight!

However, I certainly have been enjoying my time with it. i found it to be a perfect travel companion, or  to take with me while walking through the city or meeting friends. As expected (and as priced…) it is optically perfect and produces beautiful images. More importantly for me, it just never gets in the way. I can just shoot with it through the day and never have to think about it or worry thanks to the weather resistance.

So does that mean I now think i was stupid not to want this lens in the first place? Not really. I am certainly glad I bought it, and i do enjoy it. But i still believe that such a lens produced in 2015 should come with OIS. While I hear the arguments of Fujifilm’s engineers regarding the better optical quality of the lens without OIS, I am still thinking that i’d rather have a not optically perfect but sharp picture than an optically perfect picture but blurry if the shutter speed was to slow, or noisy if had to crank up my ISO too high. Also, I know that video sucks on the X-cameras, but nonetheless OIS is mandatory if you want to be able to film handheld without making all your viewers seasick. Who knows, Fujiflm’s video capabilities might get better somedays