A Review of 2019

Well, 2019 is over in a few hours and I thought it would be a good time to share a few of my favourites from the year. Photographically it was a very good year. I took a big step back from taking photos for other people yet I still took about 12000 shots, the majority being self-motivated.

Jenny and I had two trips, to Cuba in February and Spain in November. For both of these trips I brought the lightest kit I could… the X100S to Cuba and my new X100F to Spain. I brought the WCL and TCL adapters as well and made pretty heavy use of the former.

Speaking of the X100 cameras, more of my favourites were with those bodies than my two Nikons (D750 and D810) combined. That says as much about the “bring everywhere” portability as it does about the image quality. Still, I’m delighted by those little cameras. I took my favourite Milky Way shot so far on the X100S with the WCL and the minuscule Ultra Pod.

I picked up two new lenses this year, the Nikkor AF-S 24mm f/1.8 G and the Samyang 14mm f/2.8. The Nikon 24 was my default hiking lens, along with the 70-200mm f/4. The Samyang, on the hand, was used maybe just 3 times. Yet, it took one of my absolute favourite all time shots (the boathouse at sunset). Looking at the other shots in this post I see appearances from the Nikon 18-35, 24, 60 macro, 135 DC, the Sigma 35 and 50 1.4 ART lenses, the Samyang 14. The X100 series make up the rest with 5 from the native lens, 6 from the WCL and one from the TCL.

I also managed to complete a month of Photo of the Day but called it off when I got too busy… maybe I’ll pick it up again in 2020!

So here are my favourites, in order of date:

DSCF2990

Street shot in Trinidad, Cuba (X100S and WCL-X100)

DSCF3030

Street shot in Trinidad, Cuba (X100S and TCL-X100)

DSCF2951

Playa Ancon, Cuba long exposure (X100S and WCL-X100)

DSCF3143-HDR

From the roof of our hotel at Playa Ancon, Cuba (X100S and WCL-X100)

StarMerge-Edit

Milky Way at Playa Ancon, Cuba with an alignment of the Moon, Venus, and Saturn (X100S and WCL-X100)

DSC_6522-Pano

Spring thaw at Schneider’s Bush, my favourite local trail (panorama D810 and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART)

Greta on the Piano

Greta on the Piano (D750 and Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART)

DSC_4210

Hall’s Lake boathouse at sunset (D750 with Samyang 14mm f/2.8)

HouseWithStars_2_stitch_2

Milky Way near Thornbury, Ontario (D810 and Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5, panorama with five exposures at each of two positions, processed with Sequator)

Milky Way with Sigma 50mm Art

Milky Way near Thornbury, Ontario (D750 and Sigma 50mm Art at f/1.4, 6s, ISO 1600. 9 images combined in Sequator)

Old Baldy Crevace

Old Baldy, Beaver Valley Ontario (X100S and WCL-X100)

DSCF4166

Leslie and Magnus (X100S and WCL-X100)

Golden X-Wing

X-Wing (D810 with Nikon 60mm f/2.8 G Micro)

Bashful and Grumpy

Egg Cup and Clown (D810 and Nikon 135mm f/2 DC)

Immaculate Puffball

A perfect puffball (X100S) 

DIckson Wilderness Area

North Dumfries, Ontario (D750 with Nikon 24mm f/1.8 G)

DSCF4497

Canada flag and a cornfield near St Jacobs Market, Ontario (X100S)

Sunrise at Beithaupt Park

Sunrise at Breithaupt Park, Waterloo, Ontario (D810 with Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G)

Grand River Sunrise

Misty sunrise on the Grand River, Waterloo, Ontario (D810 and Nikon 24mm f/1.8 G)

DSCF0484-Enhanced

On the Canal du Midi, Toulouse, France (X100F)

DSCF0659

Placa de Sant Filip Neri, Barcelona, Spain (X100F)

DSCF0879-Enhanced

Sunset in Gerona, Spain (X100F)

A Day at Carcassonne

While in Toulouse for work I used one of my days off to visit Carcassonne, about a 1hr train ride away. The walled city is very old, founded by the Romans, and changed hands many times before being faithfully restored in the 1800’s. I arrived early, and walked the cool and drizzly walk from the train station to the castle. In the off season, on a weekday morning, and with mediocre weather there were very few people and I had no trouble taking photos of the building alone, or waiting to position a single person perfectly in the shot.

The inner ramparts opened after lunch (although they were supposed to be open in the morning too) so after a hot cassoulet and local beer I paid the admission and got up high. The weather did eventually clear somewhat but not so much that I lost the dreary look to photos. Here are my favourites, with the D750, AF-S 85mm f/1.8G and Sigma 35m f/1.4 Art.

A Week in Toulouse

For the second time, my job sent me to Toulouse, France to speak at an image sensor conference. I had a few days off after and was able to explore the city.. For the most part I used the X100s, shooting only in JPG. I had the D750 as well, with AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G, AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G and AF-S 85mm f/1.8G.

 

Simplifying Travel with a 35mm Lens – Part 1: Toulouse, France

I recently travelled to Toulouse for work and naturally had a tough time deciding what lenses to bring for my time off. Wide + tele came to mind and is something I’ve done in the past with the AF-S 18-35/3.5-4.5 and AF-S 85/1.8. Or just the wide, or maybe a 50/1.4. In the end I chose the Sigma 35/1.4 as the sole lens for 6 days.

35mm has a nice, natural field of view for travel and often captures a scene similarly to how we remember it. It’s not so wide that the framing becomes difficult and not so tight that information is left out. In the cases where a wider field of view is needed it’s not a big deal to snap off a quick panorama and stitch later at home. The Sigma version has excellent sharpness and contrast, even at f/1.4, and has snappy and accurate autofocus – something equally as important as image quality i situations where you need to capture fleeting moments.

Here are a few shots from the trip with the D700. The weather was absolutely outstanding and the city had just decorated for Christmas.

DSC_4171 DSC_4173 DSC_4190-Edit DSC_4203_stitch DSC_4236_stitch DSC_4249 DSC_4277_stitch DSC_4285 DSC_4289 DSC_4299_stitch DSC_4309 DSC_4315-Edit DSC_4310 DSC_4329