Fun with the Fuji 16mm f1.4

It’s always so much fun to get a new lens for my camera and this one is special in a few ways.  It’s a Fujifilm 16mm f1.4.  On my camera that gives me a 24mm field of view. In other words it’s pretty wide and brings in a relatively large amount of the environment that I’m shooting in.  That’s some of what makes this lens so much fun and such a special lens to shoot.

I was in a discussion with a friend of mine recently about the difference in how one person sees and interprets the environment they shoot versus an other.  My friend likes and sees the world around him up close, nothing extra in the frame but the subject. I typically shoot a little wider and bring more of the environment into the scene.

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Crazy fun at the Pike Place Market

His images are stunning and there’s no questioning what the subject is because it fills the frame.  I like his work so much that it inspired me to get a lens that would accommodate that look and went out to capture images in the same way.

But it didn’t work for me in the same way that it does for my friend. It’s fun and I like the look of that type of photography and I do still occasionally shoot that way,

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Seems like a pretty happy dog and human

but overall that’s just not how I see or how I tell stories with pictures. I felt restricted. Like I just couldn’t tell the whole story of what I saw.  I found myself backing up to get more of the scene in my viewfinder.

So I decided to get a lens that would bring what I saw, my vision, into the viewfinder and got theFuji 16mm. It offers a wide view and I can get up really close if I want to, as well. 20170819-_DSF2565It renders an image that is sharp, has great color and is fun to use. With a super fast aperture of f1.4 I can create images that separate the subject from the background and it will do it all in low light conditions. It’s built really well and feels good in my hand. Technically it seems pretty close to perfect and there’s been a ton of articles written and reviews completed that hold this lens up as one of the best.

I’ve only had it for a week and haven’t really even had much time to use it. But the handful of images I got walking around Seattle with my wife

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Seattle intersection with my lovely wife

(she inspired me to get it, whew! that doesn’t happen often) was enough for me to know that I will enjoy this lens and it may end up mounted on my camera and not coming off. I love having a tool in my bag that interprets my vision of the world and does it so well.

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Seattle, Washington ~ Pike Place Market
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Gig Harbor, Washington just minutes before the solar eclipse.  We only got about 90% coverage but the light changed to this eerie look, the temperature dropped and it got really quiet.

Tom

Living Together

We have been given the hearts and minds to learn and to teach.  As a species that relies on each other, for almost everything, the decision to be hateful and worse to encourage and teach it, knowing that our time together in this life is amazingly short, baffles the mind and hurts the heart. Loving and teaching love is so much easier and a much better life follows.

When I photographed these Sandpipers I was amazed that hundreds and hundreds of them could, simultaneously lift off the ground, fly with their wings overlapping each others, do a big complex circle in the sky then all land again and keep on foraging for food together. I know we’re not capable of that but it could be nice to try.

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So be kind to someone today. Let someone in front of you on the road. Say something nice and be encouraging to a child. Smile and make eye contact and say hi. It’s easy and its guaranteed to have a positive impact and it will improve your day. Try it there’s nothing to lose.

Thanks for following along,

Tom

Team Rust

I’ve been asked who Team Rust is and why we go by that name.  So I’ll try here to tell you who we are, how we came to be and what our mission has been and continues to be going forward.

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Team Rust ~ L-R George, Joe, Jeff, Mark and Tom

We are a small cadre of wannabe banditos exploring Americas past.  I say cadre but none of us are professionals; no historians, no scientists just a few guys that enjoy connecting with the past by exploring the high plains of the Pacific Northwest, the settlers homesteads, theirteamrust receipt books tools and equipment, the towns that were built by and around them and cemeteries where so many of them were laid to rest.  We’re not really banditos either.  We respect the homesteads, ghost towns and properties we explore.  No Trespassing signs are observed and we leave what we see behind for others to enjoy as well.  But in terms of being banditos, we do like to while-away the evening hours with song, drink, food and exaggerated tales.

The group was loosely formed around the year 2000 by a half dozen friends who all live on the peninsula near Gig Harbor, Washington.  Since then we’ve visited around 15 to 18 locations in Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon.

One of the truly fun things that happen on these trips is not having an agenda or at least having a very loose agenda.  Frequently the road we’re on leads us to another road that seems to call and say, come this way.  20091017-IMG_0140We do and when we follow our noses we’re rarely disappointed.  We’ve accidentally come across small town rodeos, civil war enactments, happened upon astronomical observatories, had private tours of big damns and, the best part, met some of the nicest people with the most amazing stories. Making new friends is easily the high light of all these journeys.

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Meet Sam (Hardman)  That is not actually Sams last name.  We met Sam in Hardman, Oregon.  He wasn’t so happy to see us wandering around at first but after a few minutes of talking he was more than happy to show us around and turned out to be another really great guy to have met.

The Team continues to look for new places and we love going back and revisiting spots we’ve been to before.  Sometimes trying to understand what happened in a certain area or community takes a few visits.

When you’re actually standing on the ground where a family had their home in the mid 1800’s and you see what is left of their homestead, sometimes nothing more than a foundation, or an old yolk from the wagon that provided transportation, to the grave sites that still today hold the family members names, is sobering and insightful.  We always feel honored to be in their presence.

There is an entire portfolio/gallery of photos from past Team Rust Adventures here:  Team Rust Adventures

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George ~  El Capitan of Team Rust

Thanks for reading along,

Tom

A Ghost Story (another Team Rust Adventure)

A friend of mine and I like riding around the high plains of the Pacific Northwest, specifically eastern Washington exploring old ghost towns and abandoned homesteads.  Many, in this part of the country, date back to the mid 1800’s and just by looking at them you know these were hard times.  Visiting old cemeteries is proof that life in the high plains of Washington State was not easy.  20120505-20120505-DSC_7659-EditHeadstones marking the life and death of families, many of them children that didn’t even make it to the age of one.  Many others where entire families died far too young.  Medicine was hard to come by, doctors were far and few between and it could take a day or more on horseback to get to the family that needed them.  Even if they could get there it was never certain that the doctor could help or even have the right medicine.

In some of these places there would be a marker for one child, age 5, another age 4 then another age 3, then the headstone of the mother of all three children right next to them.  The pain of loss must have been too much to bare.

I don’t believe in ghosts.  I kind of feel like our spirits move on in other ways but not necessarily moving around us manifested in some visible form.

Until we got to this house. This house was different. Situated on The Waterville plateau in eastern Washington. Home to settlers in the mid to late 1800’s. 20131121-20131121-PB210186-EditA large red barn was the first thing you see pulling into the long dirt driveway.  Beyond that sat the house.  A two story brick house, uncommon for the area and the time.  Just past the barn and surrounding the house was a metal wire fence.  The gate, broken and unhinged sat directly across from the front door and under several dead trees.  That was the first moment George and I stopped and paused while looking at each other as if to say, ‘did you feel that?’.  Across the short sidewalk to the front door was overgrown.  The front door was partially open and we went in.  To the right was the living room.  Straight ahead was a flight of stairs.  To the left was the kitchen. That’s where things began to take on a slightly different feel altogether. 20131121-20131121-PB210195-EditThere was a large, very old canvas suspended from the ceiling, over the kitchen sink and in front of a broken window.  Presumably to keep the wind out.  But who would have put it there? Below the sink the cabinet doors were open and an incredible amount of debris was piled high under the sink then flowing out into the kitchen.  It looked as though it had come up out of the ground and flowed into the house.  20131121-20131121-PB210194-EditWe kicked it around but couldn’t tell what it was.  Somewhat like left over debris from a fire but not.  It felt weird to be in this house.

We went upstairs next.  At the top was a window looking out to the back yard where there was another out-building and a clothesline.20131121-20131121-PB210192-Edit

To the right was a closed door and to the left was a partially opened door.  We looked inside the room to the left and there, amongst a pile of debris similar to that in the kitchen, sat an old chair directly in front of window that faced the front yard and driveway. Behind the door, on a hook, was an old housecoat.20131121-20131121-PB210190-Edit  This place just had a different vibe than other places we had been.

George left the room first and went to the room across the hall.  The one with the closed door.  I was right behind him as he reached for and grabbed the round door knob. As quickly as he grabbed it, he let it go and looked at me in a way that sent a chill up my spine and said, “somethings wrong here, I’m not going in that room, lets leave right now”. And we did.  We made our way down the stairs, out the front door, across the lawn through the gate and to the driveway where we were parked.  But as we passed through the gate I turned around with my camera and took one more shot of the house.  It was a ‘grab’ shot from the hip because I was on the move.

I didn’t look at any of my pictures until we got back.  As I was looking at them I saw the last picture I took.  The picture below is that picture. I don’t have an explanation for what you see here. Lighting and shadows, motion from being on the move while I took the picture, I don’t know.  It could be anything.  But to be honest, with the weird vibe we were getting at this place, this picture just creeped me out.198035EC-7281-4E0E-8531-1FCF8AD48991

We visit this area a lot. We’ve talked about going back but we’re just not sure if we want to.  We’ll see.

Tom