Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Autumn at Walden Pond with the Fuji X-E1 and 35mm f/1.4 lens

This past weekend it was off to Walden Pond in Concord, MA to add some autumn photos to the portfolio I am doing illustrating what the pond might have looked like to Henry David Thoreau when performing his famous experiment by living there for two years beginning in 1845. I have been photographing the pond for in every season for a year. I have been using a Nikon D800 to photograph the series, but this time I also tucked a Fuji X-E1 with 35mm f/1.4 lens into my bag. As it turned out, I wound up using the X-E1 more than the D800. There was something about being able to shoot from extremely low angles and tucking it into difficult positions that was very convenient. I had also set the camera to record 1:1 square format in both RAW and jpg. For the jpg, I chose the high color profile of Velvia which looked great on the LCD and gave me a very good approximation of what my images would finally look like once I had reworked the RAW in Photoshop.

I have already ordered an X-E2 so I included the X-E1 on this trip for sentimental reasons, thinking it might be my last serious outing with it.
I set the camera to record jpg in addition to RAW because it is the only way to use the 1:1 format. I always work my images in RAW and never process from the jpgs, using them occasionally as a reference only. Working on the images in RAW allows full 16-bit control of the colors and contrast that is not possible in 8-bit jpg. The autumn colors are Walden are subtly brilliant and benefit from some careful post-processing to bring them out without falsely over-doing it.

It was interesting to me that while I had two very different cameras with me, I didn't find a conflict in the choice of which one to use. They complemented each other, each serving a different purpose. In my next post I will publish the images taken with the D800. I haven't processed them yet, but I suspect they will have a different look and feel.

I  used a polarizing filter to deepen the sky and water as well as to bring out the saturated colors in the autumn leaves.

The small size of the X-E1 allowed me to place it right on the forest floor for shots like this one and the one of pine needles below, both taken at a spot right around where Thoreau built his cabin.  I often used a wide open aperture to obtain extremely pleasing bokeh effect for which the Fuji 35mm f/1.4 lens is famous. 

The woods next to where Thoreau had his cabin.

I found the full color palette of this scene unusually striking, especially the purple hues. 

I can't think of a better way to end this one year photo journey of mine than the same way it began, with Thoreau's most famous introductory quote to the book on his Walden experience.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” 

Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods"

Check out the next blog post showing how differently the same scene appears when photographed with a Nikon D800.


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  3. wonderful set of images, very inspiring.