Inside Denver’s Union Station

Gorgeously restored

Gorgeously restored

I’ve been back from my whirlwhind trip to Denver for a few days now, and I’m finally beginning to go through the hundreds of photos that I took with my X-E2. Denver’s recently invested quite heavily in restoring its Union Station (and environs), and it shows. The building is gobsmackingly gorgeous! I can only hope that when Toronto’s Union Station restoration is complete in the next year or so that it looks even half as swank as Denver’s.

FujiTuesday: Stranded on The Island

Toronto Harbour

Toronto Harbour

Last week I joined the FujiTuesday meetup group for a photowalk on Toronto Island. Sponsored by Aden Camera and FujiFilm Canada (they paid for everyone’s ferry tickets), they not only gave our prize packs of Fuji sling bags (of which I won one!), but also a shiny new X100S (of which I didn’t). The ferry was an hour delayed in taking us over, so the walk itself was a bit rushed. I would have enjoyed more time to stop and smell the roses as it were, but it was still a great evening out and I liked the opportunity to get a few pointers from other Fujinistas :)

I had recently bought a circular polarizer, which had been left on for most of the walk, so most of my photos came out underwhelming. This was the first time I’d shot with it and was something of an experiment, so I can’t say that I’m surprised. I’ve definitely learned that unless shooting into very bright light to remove the filter unless I want everything dull and kind of meh.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario

Alternate ways to get to the island

Alternate ways to get to the island

On the ferry

On the ferry

The clocktower

The clocktower

Hydrangeas and day lilies

Hydrangeas and day lilies

Literally the bird's eye view

Literally the bird’s eye view

The fountain

The fountain

The pier

The pier

Old-time buoys

Old-time buoys

The lighthouse

The lighthouse

The lighthouse at sunset

The lighthouse at sunset

Dusk on Lake Ontario

Dusk on Lake Ontario

Sunset on Lake Ontario

Sunset on Lake Ontario

These here are some of my favourite pictures from the day, but you can view the complete collection on my Flickr page.

After the storm

Gorgeous clouds after a day of crazy weather

Gorgeous clouds after a day of crazy weather

Info from Flickr

Info from Flickr

There was a certain poetic irony that one year to the date after intense flooding that put Toronto on its heels, Mother Nature walloped us yet again with torrential downpours. These fluffy beauties just drifted past my window and I had to try and photograph them.

Now that I’m taking photos on a nearly daily basis, I’m looking at a number of solutions for sharing my images online. There’s this blog, Twitter, Flickr, 500px, Facebook, Google+ — so many possible communities! I’ve resurrected my Flickr account for now, as I’m really keen to see what other X-E2 photographers are coming up with and I really like the little EXIF data graphic it generates for each photo, but I’ve always preferred the artistic community on 500px a little more (plus it’s made here in Toronto!).

Any photographers out there? What are you using for your online photographic community needs?

Shots from a moving streetcar

Alone on the 501

Alone on the 501

In which I attempt candid street photography with my X-E2.

I’ve never been very good at street photography. I love other people’s photographs, but I’ve always feel so timid and conspicuous with my Canon DSLR that I never really got the hang of it. With my Wee Beastie, as the X-E2 has been ceremoniously dubbed, I found it a lot easier to take photos of strangers out in public. Being on a moving streetcar also helped up my confidence level, although I still half expected people to come running up to my window and yell at me for taking their photograph.

Yesterday I crossed town on the 501 Queen streetcar, and thought it would be fun to take a quick and dirty shot of a building, person, or event at each stop along the way. Some of my photos turned out better than expected, others not so much. Overall the photos are a touch blurry, so the biggest struggle I had was getting the shutter fast enough to take photos of moving subjects. I did my best, and think I’m beginning to get the hang of it. Even though I’m coming off of seven years with the DSLR, I rarely if ever shot full manual; I was more of an aperture priority kind of girl. The Wee Beastie is making me want to become a more technical photographer, and I’m thrilled about it!

Downward Dog Yoga Centre

Downward Dog Yoga Centre

Checking out VHS tapes outside of an antique shop

Checking out VHS tapes outside of an antique shop

Loft

Loft

I didnt realize it when I took this photo, but I know this guy! I love how surprising this was.

I didnt realize it when I took this photo, but I know this guy! I love how surprising this was.

I've always wanted to try these places but somehow never have

I’ve always wanted to try these places but somehow never have

Roman Holidaying it outside of American Apparel

Roman Holidaying it outside of American Apparel

A family dressed in sailor outfits cross University Ave.

A family dressed in sailor outfits cross University Ave.

The shot that made me want to master shutter control

The shot that made me want to master shutter control

While there is definitely room to grow with the quality of these photos, I’m really in love with this camera. It’s so light and quick, and fun to use, and I can see street photography becoming a new passion as my confidence increases. I’m looking forward to expanding my arsenal of lenses to include the super low-profile 14mm pancake lens for even more quick and dirty street shots in a few weeks’ time!

Roncy blooms

Flowers at a market on Roncesvalles

Flowers at a market on Roncesvalles

The learning curve has been a little steeper than expected, coming off of my Canon xTi, but I think I’m slowly getting the hang of my X-E2. I went on a short ride along Roncesvalles Avenue today thinking to photograph the entire strip. Of the dozen or so shots that I took, this was the only one I liked. I found that the day was a little overcast, and with a polarizing filter on my 18-55mm lens, the photos came out a little gloomy. Sure, I could have put the UV filter on and maybe cut through a bit of the haze, but I wanted to see what the photos would look like under these conditions.

EXIF data These flowers were at a market practically bursting with cut bouquets and potted plants alike; I regret not going to in to get some for my living room but I didn’t know how long I would be out and didn’t want them to ruin.

I shot in RAW, and applied the direct positive Lightroom preset to help punch up the colours a bit. While not tack sharp, I still think it turned out pretty nice. I can only hope that with each photo walk/ride that I do, my skills get better, if only to justify having bought this camera over one of the lesser models. I feel that I’ve barely scratched the surface with what this wee beastie can do but I have four weeks till I go to Denver. Hopefully by then I’ll feel a lot more comfortable and confident with this camera!

X-E2: soft release button

Photo credit: amazon.com

Photo credit: amazon.com

Today in things I didn’t know I wanted but have decided that I need, a soft release button for my X-E2.

I first came across these wee doodads while hunting through Amazon.com for accessories for my new camera. As I’ll be going to Denver in a few weeks, I’m doing an order from the American site and shipping it to my friend who lives there. Amazon.ca has gotten a lot better in recent months, but it still pales in comparison to it’s elder sibling — these are available only on the American site.

One of the things I love the most about the X-E2 are its looks: the retro styling is killer; this is probably the sexiest camera I will ever own. Once I realized that one of these buttons could improve the quality of my photos (more on this below), I knew I had to have one. I looked at the soft release buttons on eBay that were available for a fraction of the price, but you know? They just weren’t as nice. I love the classic styling of the silver on black because it matches my camera perfectly (like the photo, I have the dual colour silver and black X-E2), that it had carved out designs on top simply sold me on the product. The hardest choice I had to make was deciding which one to get! In the end I decided on the three tadpoles design, as I’ve always had a thing for the number three  — my birthday has three threes in it ;)

What’s it for?

At first I thought that maybe these little buttons were simply a stylish accessory for the camera, that they didn’t really do anything functional. Apparently I was wrong!

  • the soft release provides the user a smoother shutter release, which means you can utilize slower shutter speeds with less camera shake
  • the soft release raises the shutter “contact point” and provides a more comfortable position for your finger
  • by making the “contact point” broader (i.e.: it has more surface area than with the default button), the force required to push the button is less, which also helps with camera shake

As someone who shoots primarily travel and street photography, I try and keep my camera kit as light as possible. This was the #1 reason I switched from DSLR to mirrorless, so the last thing I want to do is lug around a tripod when Im out taking photos. Anything that helps me to reduce camera shake and produce sharper images while having absolutely no impact on the amount of gear in my bag is a winner! That it’s $20 seems positively indulgent!

I won’t know yet for a few weeks if this does as Im hoping, so I’d love to hear from anyone out there who uses one of these little guys.