I always liked to color in Mandalas as a child: It’s soothing to see the repetitive patterns emerge in bright colors out of a black and white sketch.
While I’ve played around a lot with ICM photography in the past, I’ve only rarely used in-camera multiple exposures. Mainly, because my old X-T30 offers a limited set of features. So, here is a short series of pictures using additive multiple exposures with the X-T5:
Which one do you like the most? For me, it is certainly No. 1 (or maybe No. 3). I tried around with multiple plants, but this one worked the best by quite a margin: It was helpful that the edges of the leafs were in strong contrast to the deep greens to get the distinct mandala-like appearance and structure. Additionally, there was some lovely passive light through sparse clouds. The Fujinon XF 80mm Macro lens did a wonderful job at isolating the bloom (which was only around 1cm in diameter) from its background while retaining all the little details.
Life on the 3rd floor, high above the ground, spoiled by consumption of irrelevance, social life reduced to glowing screens, a life detached from truth, daydreams all day long, dreams of what could be, of what should be. Removed from reality, many layers in-between. Life is foul when mass-produced food is catered on silver platters.
I am in search for a genuine life. I guess, we all are. And probably I will continue this search until leaving this existence. So why am I searching in the first place? What hope is buried deep beneath? What do I expect to find? And do I want to find it? Or am I scared to face the harsh actuality of passing time?
Barcodes are commonly used for the identification of items. Many standards exist but, in general, barcodes must be universal, unique, and easy to process. The standardization of barcodes grants great benefits, not only for everyday shopping: A unique identifier facilitates and simplifies the ordering and processing of goods all over the world.
Similarly, the distinct identification of organisms and their relationships is one of the major goals in the life sciences. What would be more suited than a barcode – a barcode of life?
Many genetic regions have been proposed for the use of being such a barcode. For eukaryotic species, the 18S gene is most commonly used today; a rather short fragment of ribosomal RNA that is evolving slowly and allows the reliable identification of most species. It is surrounded by highly conserved sequence regions that simplify the sequencing process. By this, the analysis of 18S RNA from the environment delivers a comprehensive overview of all present species, equivalent to scanning a barcode of all organisms.
I’ve warned you: There will be different stuff on this blog. For example, this post right here; a review about one of my absolutely favorite lenses for the Fujifilm X system.
All pictures are shown in reduced resolution (3000 px on the long side). There is (much) more detail in the full-sized versions.
There are quite some reviews about the XF 80 mm Macro out there. So, why am I writing another one?
I regularly check out reviews on lenses I think about buying or that I am interested in. And, universally, they lack the most essential content: Good pictures. Pictures I can relate to, pictures I am hoping to shoot, or pictures I can marvel at. Mostly, because most reviews seem to be written after only a few hours of use.
This review is about the pictures. About the capabilities this lens provides and how it might help you to fulfill your artistic dreams. From two years of intensive use. And hopefully, for some rare visitors, this selection of pictures fills the void in between the soulless reviews for this wonderful lens and awakens the urge to go out and create yourself.
As all my photography gear, I’ve bought this lens from an online second-hand platform. If you’re not already doing it, I can only recommend to buy used gear. It’s not only cheaper, but also saves resources of our precious planet. All detailed stats for this lens can be easily found online. So far, I’ve used the lens exclusively on the X-T30 body.
The lens is a delight to use. As for most Fuji lenses, it has an aperture control ring that allows the smooth control from f2.8 up to f16. When turned to the very end, it switches to automatic aperture mode. Furthermore, it has two switches: The first one controls whether the optical image stabilization (OIS) is turned on or off. The second one controls the ‘focus range’ – this determines where the lens attempts to find a focal point (either close, far, or anywhere). The lens comes with a lens hood which always stays attached to my lens during use: In my experience, it not only protects the glass from scratches and rain drops, but it also helps to quickly assess how close you may move to your subject while maintaining focus.
The lens is of very high build quality, feels sturdy, and is weather sealed. While these qualities add to its weight, they are also beneficial when you go out in harsh weather (and you should because rain drops are wonderful in Macro photos). I’ve used this lens without any problems whatsoever in minus 23 degrees Celcius, in heavy rain, in scorching heat, at the salty sea, and at sandy beaches. It has never failed on me and still looks like new.
Rarely, I’ve also attached the 1.4x TC, however, it doesn’t bring much benefits as far as I’m concerned.
Macro: Insects and Flowers
When shooting Macro I predominantly use the camera hand-held with low aperture values and OIS turned on. For a very limited number of times I’ve required focus stacking; for this, I turn off the OIS and use a tripod. However, in most instances, my Macro subjects are moving (either by themselves or in the wind), which makes it difficult to use a tripod and/or stacking anyway. Also I find that shooting hand-held is way more fun and enables you to quickly react to changes in light or the environment. On rare occasions I also removed the lens hood; for example when photographing butterflies close up as they are easily scared from the approaching lens or its shadow.
In the beginning, I often had the urge to move as close to the subjects as possible (it’s a Macro lens after all, isn’ it?). However, you should be aware that the depth of field gets very shallow when being close to your subject. For example, getting the eyes of a dragonfly into focus when being at the minimal focus range requires an aperture of at least f8. Getting a whole insect into focus (without stacking) is only possible when moving further away from your subject. I also found that moving further away often improves the possibilities for creative and appealing compositions significantly.
Shooting people, animals, nature, abstracts, and creative imagery
The lens is also excellent at shooting portraits. However, I will not share any because I’ve mainly photographed my family. While I also own the 56 mm f1.2, I still sometimes prefer the 80 mm for people when shooting outside during hikes as the 80 mm gives a lot of flexibility. Somewhere I’ve read that the lens is too sharp for portraits. While it’s definitively the sharpest Fuji lens I own, it still works wonders for portraits; at least for my taste.
I’ve also shot birds, cows, deer, and some other wildlife with this lens. While I would normally go for the 100-400 mm in these cases, the sharpness of the Macro lens also allows for marvelous pictures of animals within the landscape. In the case of the goose I was lucky enough to get close without disturbing them; additionally, the sharpness of the lens allows a generous crop.
Besides, I’ve used the lens a ton on a tripod on f8 for abstract patterns in nature or landscapes; likewise, I sometimes whirl it around for some ICM photography – if you’re into this, I also recommend to play around with turning the OIS on and off: it makes a significant difference in the resulting patterns.
In most cases, buying new lenses won’t help you to take better pictures. But in this rare instance, it felt like it did work for me. Not only because of the capabilities of the lens itself, but also because it is such a delight to use, and because it motivated me to go outside and play with it, no matter the conditions and weather.
Surreal dreams in pink and black
appeal to me, insomniac
part-time, I mime
the creatures of the dark,
embark on voyages into
the mind, without a crew
through untrue realms to leave
Retrieve the unconfined
autonomy, the undefined
I like it here,
revere the fear of unknown
years to come, of jointly tears,
of joys alone, of memories in stone
engraved, the best is saved
in our hearts until the end
when we transcend
The internet is large and most content is shallow. Navigating clickbait, fake news, and social media is exhausting. But sometimes, it also yields something precious, something that is a worthwhile the investment of time, or something that evokes true emotion.
For me, this is mostly the case when someone has mastered his or her art and excels in what they do, such as these three hidden gems I found recently:
I’ve been bouldering a lot (on plastic) recently and it feels great to be back in form! But the last time climbing is a looooooong time ago. At least until last Sunday morning, when I finally managed to squeeze in a short climbing session with my long-time friend and climbing partner. Everything is different outside: Bad footholds, fragile sandstone, and being on a rope high above the last clipping point. Sometimes, a slight fear of falling creeps into the mind. Sometimes, even the good footholds seem tiny and slippery.
Basically, it’s the same as with my current work project: It feels a little insecure, but you keep pushing, little by little, one move at at time. Take a deep breath, do secure movements, calm down, climb high. And luckily, in climbing and in life, there are people who catch me if I fall. Thank you.