A Pirate Birthday

Earlier I posted some pictures of the incredible Black Pearl/Queen Anne’s Revenge from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Coincidentally enough, my 4-year-old is about to turn 5, and he wants a pirate theme for his party. So I took the opportunity to use the images for a ‘party poster’ (I have a habit of doing this. Check out my other kid’s Star Wars poster).

Here’s a cropped version of the image. To see the full uncropped version in all of its pixel glory (1MB), click here.

The pirate thing has been with Trevor for a while. Here’s his 1-year-old birthday image I designed back in 2007:

There Be The Black Pearl

While on a trip to Oahu, I came across this beauty. It’s the actual ship from all of those Pirates of the Caribbean movies. While it was the Black Pearl for the first three films, it became Blackbeard’s ship (known as Queen Anne’s Revenge) for the fourth film.

The ship is quite impressive. It’s sitting inside a fenced-area dry dock along the coast of Oahu (map and directions below). The detail level is amazing! I was able to get about 30 feet or so away from it, and you could easily make out all of the skeletons, design, and more that went into this incredible ship.

Talking to the locals, it sounds like this ship is waiting for Disney to decide what to do with it. My vote would be to either make another movie or move the vessel to a theme park or the nearby Disney Aulani resort. It’s so visually striking that people would enjoy taking a look at it.

All of these shots were taken with a Fuji X-Pro 1.

 

If you ever find yourself on Oahu, getting to the ship is quite easy. Here’s a Google map of its location:


View The Black Pearl in a larger map

What you need to do is to park where I’ve marked the pin, and then walk towards the boat landing to the beach area. Then, walk along the beach to check out the ship. Since beaches in Oahu are all public, you are free to walk along them. The parking area is a public-ish boat landing, and there were kids playing there when I visited. The entire walk takes about 5 minutes.

Gateway to the West

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is an incredible structure to say the least. At 630 feet high, it’s the tallest man-made monument in our country. And it also holds the record for the largest stainless-steel monument in the world.

To get to the top, you sit in a somewhat-cramped ‘pod’ (which looks like something straight out of 2001). It’s about a 4 minute ride up to the top. You can stay up there as long as you want (although the crowds made it easy for us to bail after about 10 minutes).

The way it was constructed was incredible (and here’s the matching wiki article that you’ll want to check out). As each pre-fab piece was assembled, construction platforms and cranes moved up the spire to the next level. So, each completed section was used as the work area for the next section.

In that wiki article, check out the ‘Stunts and Accidents’ section. Especially the 1992 stunt where a dude climbed the exterior with suction cups. Crazy. I want to do that.

Here are some shots from my visit. They were all taken with a Fuji X-Pro 1. Next time I’d like to bring my own lighting ;)

Having a little cinemagraph fun here.

A few days with the Fuji X-Pro1

About a week ago, I decided to rent the brand-new Fuji X-Pro 1 for a few days. It was on a whim; I had not played with a Fuji X100 before, and so I didn’t know really what to expect. My professional cameras to this point have been the Canon 5d and 5d mark 2, plus a stint with a 20d several years ago.

Photographers have talked about the retro feel of the body, and there’s no denying it. It has a definite Leica sensibility. Large, metal dials on top of a tank-grade metal body. APS-C sized sensor. About 18 megapixels. Having not spent a lot of time with either Leicas or retro-ish cameras (before they were considered retro), the feel of the X-Pro 1 was new to me. But I quickly got used to it as the benefit of a smaller-than-a-5d-body mentality kicked in.

One of the biggest benefits of the X-Pro 1 (other than its new, interchangeable lens mount), is its hybrid viewfinder. When you are looking through it, you can either see a LCD version of your scene (the EVF, or electronic viewfinder), or an optical version with some informational overlays (the OVF, or, wait for it, optical viewfinder). They both have good and bad points. The EVF mode definitely shows more information, but it seemed more difficult to focus for me. In low light, however, it excels. The OVF is interesting because you are not seeing directly what the lens sees – you are looking through a viewfinder that’s a little bit off axis. So, you have to learn to adjust for that (but it wasn’t that difficult).

Both viewfinder modes suffer from some sort of polarization issue. Meaning, when I use the camera with my polarized sunglasses on, I can’t see either the EVF or the information overlays in the OVF. I’m sure there’s a fancy name for this issue. It goes away when you rotate your camera vertically, but I thought it was weird to have this issue in a camera that has a rubber protection piece specifically for eyeglasses. All you ‘togs that sport those self-shading glasses may want to take note.

And let’s talk about that focus. Zack Arias originally thought this camera would be his DSLR killer. It’s not, at least not completely. Overall, the image quality is awesome and I could see using it as an additional camera for a lot of jobs. Just not any involving motion, because the focus is too slow. One way around this I found is to pre-focus on an area and wait for the moving subject to pass through. With enough light and a tight-enough aperture, I was able to get some good results. In fact, the X-Pro 1 beats my 5d2 in fps by at least a full frame. But there were several times I thought I had achieved focus, only to discover later that I was way off:

What tha? I have 5 other images exactly like this, just from this spot.

Over the few days that I had the camera, I got better and learned to give the camera the time it needs. I even brought it along on a portrait session:

Manual focus is near impossible in a motion shoot, as it’s a focus-by-wire system. Turning the focus wheel doesn’t actually rotate the lens elements. The super-smart Fuji computer does that, just slowly. This might be something fixed in a future firmware update.

When the 7-year-old tells you to work it, you work it.

The built-in picture style modes are cool – I found myself shooting black and white and film simulation images in-camera a lot. You can also have the camera record multiple simulations at the same time (say, a RAW and a black and white.) Those are fun. Speaking of RAW, I couldn’t test that as there was no RAW support for the files in PS or Lightroom, and you can’t download the Fuji software from their site (update: a recent Adobe update has appeared to fix this.)

So, after 4 days with it, I was sad to see it go. It does have a personality to it that you immediately feel when you hold it. It’s hard to describe. You find yourself wanting to make the camera work despite all of its idiosyncrasies. It has charm. Or it’s dope. Or tight. Or whatever you kids want to call it. It’s the camera I would take on a trip when I want great quality without the size of my 5d. Quiet and not intimidating.

Here are some samples, processed with VSCO via LR 4 (thanks a lot, Ben).