A Warm Saturday Evening

I made the decision yesterday morning to keep my camera by my side at all times throughout the day. My personal photographic output had decreased over the past few months so I was looking for something to jumpstart my creativity. To sum it up, the idea was a great success. I was able to capture a handful of images that I am truly proud of. Below is a sample of some of the photographs I made as the sun was setting on the lake. Some family had come over for the evening and paired them with some golden hour light. Enjoy.

A larger selection of photos from the day can be seen in my Photo Archive


Easter Weekend

Below are a few snapshots from Saturday afternoon. Victoria and I spent a majority of the day doing some light yard work while the pups chased each other around. The highlight of the day for me was the small 20-minute nap I was able to take on the dock around 2 o'clock. The weather was pleasant and the Sun was strong enough that I had a tiny bit of sunburn on my neck by the time we finished up. 

In regards to the images, they were all taken on a Pixel 2 by both Victoria and me. Three for her and likewise for me. On first glance it appears might I have overcooked these images in Photoshop but to be honest they just have a slight High-Pass filter over them to increase their sharpness for web viewing. The files that the Pixel produces are quite amazing, the dynamic range in some of the photos, especially the one of Jefferson in the sand is better than anything I can achieve with my trusty Fujifilm cameras. You can thank Google's machine learning software for that. 

I geeked out a little in that last paragraph, and I'm not expecting everyone to know what I'm talking about when I go on photography tangents. However, bonus points to anyone who reads those two links above and responds with something they learned in the comments below. At the very least I encourage you to read the Google Research link. It's a fascinating insight into the technology that powers the photography in our smartphones. 

First Snow

We've had snow on three separate occasions this week here at the Pine Barren Man World Headquarters. The surface of the lake has been frozen for the past couple of days. Here are some photos covering all of the meteorological events of the last week. Enjoy! 

A Light Morning

Light Inspiration

The other day we were having a little discussion in the Fujifeed Slack group about the Fujinon 27mm lens. We were trying to figure out where they lens stood between Fujifilm's other offerings of the 35mm and 23mm lenses. I have to admit that it isn't a lens that I use often despite owning it for the last 2 years. As a result of that discussion, I've been inspired over the last couple of days to incorporate this lens into my photographs on a more frequent basis. This morning I decided to put on a jacket and hat to take some photos off the dock at sunrise. What makes this lens easy to use is that it is equivalent to what the human eye sees. My goal this morning was to keep a narrow aperture and try to capture what I consider "normal things".


Thoughts on the Fujifilm XF 27mm

One of the benefits of this lens is that it is much smaller than anything else Fujifilm has in his lineup. It's a great piece of kit to take out with you on a day where you want to keep things light. The beauty of this lens is that it is able to keep things in a relatable perspective but also capture intricate details that you might miss if you were looking at them in real time. The focal length of this lens has the distinction of sitting right in between wide-angle and telephoto. If you want one lens to put on your camera that is going to challenge you throughout the day it's this one.

Let's Take A Walk

We woke up around 7 am yesterday morning and the lake was covered with a thick, dense fog. The surrounding area is usually covered in fog most mornings so by now I have become accustomed to it. At first, I had brushed off the idea of going out to take a few pictures. I even went as far as to make myself a cup of coffee. After another quick look out of the windows, I decided to drag Victoria out of bed, grab my camera, and take a walk to the dam. The second we stepped out of the door I was glad we were outside. Not only was there a thick layer of fog everywhere, but there was also a nice coating of frost on every surface from the night before. As soon as we got to the lake the sun started to peek through the clouds and create some interesting light. After ten minutes we were getting a bit chilly out on the water and decided to head back home and make a second cup of coffee.

I suppose I can't complain about not progressing as a photographer while brushing aside the opportunity to go and make something new. One of the things my brother in law Chris and I, talked about over Thanksgiving dinner was the idea of breaking through the procrastination that comes along with photography. In order to have great photos, you have to put the effort into making great photos. It also helps to capitalize on opportunities when they arise. For example, the light in any given day is just right for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. Why not use that time to go out and make something instead of checking social media, playing video games, or watching TV?

Portrait Work

Just a few photos from a little portrait session that I had with Victoria this weekend. I’ve been having the itch to make some new portraits over the last couple of weeks but with owning a new home, the weather being so nice I haven't really had the chance. So you could imagine when it was raining all day on Sunday I jumped at the opportunity to sit down for a few minutes and snap some quick photos of Tori. These are all taken on my X-Pro2 with an adapted Nikon 50mm lens. This lens renders really well and is surprisingly sharp for a 40-year-old piece of kit.  They were lit with a mix of ambient light and a single strobe through a softbox bounced off the blinds in the great room. It was my first time trying this lighting technique and I have to say is that I was pleasantly surprised. It's a technique that I would definitely recommend trying out and you could probably achieve similar results using a smaller light source like a Speedlight. Overall I'm very happy with the photos. Portraiture is the one area of photography that I think I could use a little bit of work in. It's rewarding to try something out and achieve a good result my first attempt.

I should mention that Victoria is not as sad as she always appears in some of my photos. There's actually a photo of her that was published on my Unsplash page that was used in all kinds of depression blogs a while back. There's a running joke between us that someone from her high school is going to stumble across these photos one day and think she's one sad person. I think that's a hilarious idea. In reality this can't be any further from the truth. She just happens to be really good at taking moody photos I suppose. Im grateful for the fact that she’s always willing to pose for me, I couldn’t ask for a better model.

Wedding Reportage

This one is going to be quick. Yesterday, Victoria & I attended the wedding of my cousin Alyssa and her (now) husband Danny. I had the pleasure of photographing them for their “Save the Dates” back in February. You can see those photos here, on my portfolio site.  To sum it up in a few words, we had a great time. It was nice to see the extended family, especially after moving a couple of hours away. This was my second time being back up north since we moved down here... Below are a few photos I snapped yesterday in an effort to exercise my creative muscles. Enjoy!

Pixel Perfect Morning.

We took a short stroll with the pups this morning. We made our way towards the end of the street, near Ashley & Ryan's house, then turned back towards our house.  I'm assuming most of you readers aren't familiar with the layout of our neighborhood but it goes something like this: Our street, South Shore Drive, runs along the side of the lakes and has no outlet. Most of our walks consist of us walking down the street and turning back towards our house which is situated at the beginning of the second lake.

So.. as we turned back towards the homestead this morning, I could see the Sun peeking through the trees. I then made the decision that we should walk past the house and walk over to the dam that separates the two lakes. I'm glad we did, as the sunrise was absolutely perfect this morning. The lake was perfectly still and smooth like glass. I only had my Pixel with me so I snapped a few photographs to add to my Instagram story. I liked them so much, I decided to do a little write-up and post them here.

It's kind of hard to believe how far smartphone photography has improved in the space of a few years. It seems like only yesterday that I was scoffing at the idea of taking a picture on a cell phone, while I walked around with a giant Canon 7D around my neck. The hardware side of things has steadily improved over the last 10 years, but ultimately there is only so much information that you can pack into a tiny sensor. Where the true future of phone photography lies is on the software side of things. Computational Photography is the future of the photographic industry.

A word from the Editor: I'm quite happy with the traffic to the website this past month. There have been over 500 visits in September with almost all of them occurring in the last week, in large part to the Corvettes In Color post. My goal for the next month is to match that 500 number and perhaps even break 1000 by the end of October, so wish me luck. I'd also like to hear from you readers. I try to remember to turn the comments on for each and every post, but now an again it slips past me. I encourage everyone to leave a comment, like this post, share it on social media, or just plain old tell your friends y'all.  Let's try to grow this thing as big as possible.

- Michael

The Door Is Always Open

7:23 - Its Saturday morning, I'm having my morning coffee, casually flipping through some photography blogs, and videos on YouTube. That's when I get the itch, that creative itch. It's this feeling of knowing that I have to have some sort of creative output today for it to be a good one. I look outside and I can just tell it's going to be a nice day, but I know that we're only going to get a couple hours of “good” light. Deep down I know that no one wants to see another photo of the lake and trees outside at high noon… I need to get more creative than that.


7:48 - I decide it's time to grab my camera and just hang out in the living room for a bit while I finish those last few sips of coffee. The light coming through the big windows in the great room is soft, I snap some photos of my laptop and coffee cup. They are satisfactory, but not groundbreaking. It’s the kind of stuff you would expect to see on a blog whose name is play on words of the name Pioneer Woman...


8:01 - By now I have conceded the fact that nothing is happening this morning. The Photo just isn't there, and if I try and force something, it will be to obvious. Perhaps it's time to make another cup of coffee and get on with my day. I’m sure that something come along. The day is just getting started right? As I walk over to the coffee machine something from the laundry room happens to catch my eye. The morning sun was filling the room with light and the glass on the door is completely illuminated. The door is slightly ajar and a sliver of that unobstructed light is bursting through the jam. I quickly run back into the great room and grab my camera. I began to make a series of exposures at all different types of settings. I have my photo for the day.


Now I know my laundry room door is not the most exciting thing in the world. But this just goes to show that when the light is just right, something that is dull and ordinary can be transformed into something interesting. As the Earth orbits the Sun, and the seasons pass, the light is always changing. The door is always open for new ideas. 

A Reflective Morning

I'm keeping this post short today for the sake of consistency, it's an attempt to generate some blog writing inertia. I'm actually writing this post as I watch our new dog Jefferson eat his dinner. We have to feed him in a separate room at the moment because Scarlett can agressive when food is around. Who knows, maybe this 10 minute portion of the evening is what ignites my quest to write more. Anyway, here are three photos taken this morning as the sun was coming up. There are just some lovely pink and purple hues in that morning sky. All of the photographs we're taken on my trusty X-Pro2 with the XF23mm lens, using the Velvia film simulation. They're also the JPEG files straight out of the camera with a slight tone curve applied in Lightroom.

Move In Day

The one day everyone dreads. Move In Day. It's a combination of stress, nerves, and excitement. The thing I was most anxious about was whether or not all of our stuff would fit in the rental truck (It did). So let's talk about that rental truck for a second... I had never driven one before so I was a little nervous about driving such a big vehicle with the visibility of a potato. Nothing calmed my fears more than taking a wrong turn out of the Home Depot in Jersey City and driving straight into the Holland tunnel. There's no better way to start your rental truck driving experience than taking a lovely drive through lower Manhattan on a Saturday morning.

After our quick lap in the tunnel we made it back to Bayonne where my friends Tony, Jim, and Matt along with my brother-in-law Chris were waiting to help us move. After a couple of elevator rides we had the truck loaded and the apartment cleaned in a little over two hours.

The next part of the day had me driving the truck for two hours on the turnpike down to South Jersey. Now remember earlier how I mentioned the truck had the visibility of a potato? Well this lovely Ford box truck also has the aerodynamic capabilities of a brick and the steering feel of an oil tanker. I lost count of the amount of times my butt clenched as an 18 wheeler drove past me on the turnpike. I made it down without incident, that's what's important right?

There was nothing better than pulling up to the new house where a few pizzas and some cold beer were waiting for us. The rest of the day passed by without any surprises. Later on in the afternoon we took a ride to Mark's house to pick up some furniture. It was quite enjoyable to take a spring afternoon drive through some of the backroads in South Jersey, a place I now call home.

Chris, Tony, Matt, and Jim from left to right.

Chris, Tony, Matt, and Jim from left to right.

Settlement Day

We settled our house on May 1st. We did what anyone else would do as soon as they put the key in the door... Run around to each room and take pictures of course. 

 I posted these photos on Facebook the day of, but they deserve a good "home" here on the blog. They were all taken on my Pixel XL, which I love, and processed in Lightroom.  I'd recommend this phone to anyone in the market for a new smartphone and who is looking to break away from iOS.