Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Christmas In New York

Midtown Manhattan Magic

a photo of the rockefeller center christmas tree in new york at night
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

a photo of giant decorative candy canes in new york
Candy Canes on 58th Street

a photo of the armani 5th avenue store at christmas in new york
Armani 5th Avenue at Christmas

a photo of a tinsel teddy bear in new york at christmas
Tinsel Teddy Bear - Christmas in New York

a photo of radio city music hall at christmas new york city
Radio City Music Hall At Christmas

a photo of christmas decorations on fifth avenue new york
Christmas Decorations on Fifth Avenue

a photo of huge christmas balls in a fountain in new york city
Christmas Balls in a Fountain - New York City

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lenses: GF 23mm f/4
            GF 30mm f/3.5
            GF 80mm f/1.7

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Night Views From Central Park

An Evening Of Fresh Perspectives

a photo of the new york skyline from central park at night
Skyline and Reflections

a photo of the new york skyline from central park
Secret Window

a night photo of central park in autumn new york
Autumn Turbulence

a photo of skyscrapers reflecting in the lake at central park
Lake View - Central Park - New York City

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lenses: GF 23mm f/4
            GF 30mm f/3.5
            GF 80mm f/1.7

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Spooky Nights And Halloween Frights

Halloween Decorations In New York City

a photo of a new york city townhouse decorated for halloween
House Of Horrors - New York City - Halloween 2021

a photo of halloween decorations with skeletons at a new york city townhouse
Skeleton Crew

a photo of halloween decorations in new york city
Web Of Frights

a photo of halloween decorations with sinister clowns in new york city
Sinister Clowns - New York - Halloween 2021

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lenses: GF 30mm f/3.5
            GF 23mm f/4

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 20, 2021

Night Windows - Madison Avenue

New York's Eye-Catching Boutiques

I love strolling along Madison Avenue in the Upper East Side and browsing the creative window displays in the high end shops and boutiques. This area is New York's version of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or Les Champs-Élysées in Paris.

I enjoy photographing the windows at night when the shops are closed, the sidewalks are deserted, and the lights enhance the colors, shapes, and textures of the creatively designed displays.

a photo of laduree macaron shop on madison avenue new york at night
Ladurée - Madison Avenue

a photo of colorful macaron in a new york boutique display window
Colorful Macarons - New York (2021)

a photo of boutique mannequins on madison avenue new york
Well-Dressed Mannequins - Madison Avenue

a complex shop window display on madison avenue in new york city
Potpourri - Madison Avenue (2021)

a photo of a boutique for dog and pet accessories on madison avenue in new york city
Pet Accessories - Madison Avenue - New York (2021)

Sony a7R IV
Lens: Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.

Copyright © 2021 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 17, 2021

Metal - The East River Roundabout Sculpture by Alice Aycock

Public Displays Of Art

Sometimes you know exactly what you want to photograph. You plan your shoot in advance and set it up to control as many variables as you can.

Sometimes you have no idea what you might photograph. You wander around until your eye spots something interesting, and then you use your skills to create an image in your style using the things that you have discovered.

Most often, photography is a hybrid of these two approaches. We have an idea of what we want to shoot, but we end up incorporating elements and conditions that we could not have foreseen.

a photo of the east river roundabout sculpture in new york by alice aycock
East River Roundabout by Alice Aycock (Detail)

When I ventured out for a walk on a clear afternoon in late May, I had no idea that Alice Aycock's 'East River Roundabout' sculpture existed. My intention was to walk along the river on the jogging path on the East River Greenway.

Unfortunately, after a few blocks, I found that the path was closed for construction and completely impassable. I doubled back across the footbridge and pondered where to go next.

a photo of a footbridge to the east river greenway daniel south photography
Footbridge To The East River Greenway - New York (2021)

I decided to walk toward the Queensboro Bridge. I noticed that a barge with a large yellow crane was moored near the bridge. I thought that I might be able to find an interesting composition combining the crane, the bridge, and perhaps a passing cable car.

a photo of a yellow crane and a cable car near the queensboro bridge in new york
Bridge, Crane, and Cable Car - New York (2021)

As I was looking for viewpoints, I noticed that I was standing in a space covered by a large, open metal structure.

The structure didn't appear to have a clear purpose. It looked as though it might have been the skeleton of a building that was being assembled. Parts of it looked like gears or tracks that might have been part of the machines that drove the cable cars.

a photo of alice aycock east river roundabout sculpture in new york
East River Roundabout Sculpture by Alice Aycock - New York (2021)

People were hanging out under the sculpture, talking, reading the paper, browsing their phones. Some took in the view, took selfies and group shots. Families with children were playing ball. Every few minutes, the Roosevelt Island Tram would pass silently overhead.

a photo of the roosevelt island tram cable cars near the queensboro bridge
Roosevelt Island Tram Cable Cars - New York (2021)

Art encourages new perspectives. Surprises make the journey fun.

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lenses: GF 80mm f/1.7 
            GF 45mm f/2.8
            GF 23mm f/4

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 13, 2021

On Being A Generalist

Standpipe At Night - Manhattan (2021)

When I began my study of photography, my goal was to become a generalist. I wanted to be able to capture memorable photos in any situation.

Whatever is most important, I want to be able to capture it. If it's a person, I want to create a portrait that they'll be proud of. If it's a location, I want people to look at the photos and want to know more about place or even want to travel there to see it.

a photo of a standpipe with steam at night in new york city
Standpipe At Night - Manhattan (2021)

This is the source of the motto in my signature. Be ready. Be ready for anything, and work as hard as you can when the opportunity presents itself.

You may only get one shot (pun intended). Be prepared, so you can make the best of it.

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lenses: Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Three Views Of A Crosswalk - New York (2021)

Moments In Times Square

a photo of people in a crosswalk in times square new york city

a photo of people in a crosswalk in times square new york

a color photo of people crossing the street in times square new york city

A medium format camera brings a new dimension of color and detail to street photography.

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lenses: Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 31, 2021

Night On The West Side

First Handheld Night Shots with the GFX 100S

a photo of the hotel belleclaire at night new york
Hotel Belleclaire - New York (2021)

a photo of a well dressed lady crossing the street in new york
Well-Dressed Lady - New York (2021)

a photo of a man entering a doorway at night in new york
Man At The Door With A Bag In His Hand - New York (2021)

a photo of a new york comedy club at night
That Shape Is My Shade There Where I Used To Stand - New York (2021)

Camera: Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lenses: Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4, GF 80mm f/1.7 

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 27, 2021

GFX 100S - Impressions and Discoveries - Week Two

Sophomore Hijinks

Here are my impressions after my second week of daily shooting with the GFX 100S.

a photo of a classic green dodge dart in new york city
Classic Dodge - 1/280 @ f/8 ISO 160 - ASTIA Simulation

- The more I use the camera, the more I enjoy it and the more I respect the engineers who designed it. 

- The shooting experience is a joy. The camera becomes a part of you. You don't just use it, you love it.

- Lens firmware update are critical to getting the most out of your gear. Some of the softness that I had blamed initially on the shutter speed has been corrected.

- I have gotten sharp results handheld down to 1/30s. It's not guaranteed, because unexpected body movement can have an impact, but if you're disciplined and steady, you'll get more hits than misses at slow shutter speeds.

a photo of a young woman renting a citibike in new york city
Renting A Citibike - 1/240 @ f/5.6 ISO 400 - ASTIA Simulation

- My favorite film simulations have been ASTIA (which surprised me), PROVIA, and VELVIA. Nostalgic Negative and Classic Negative have been useful in some cases, but I use them sparingly.

- Sometimes the simulations look better than Adobe presets, but in other cases, I'll use Adobe Color, Landscape, or Vivid, or their suite of B&W presets. There's no clear preference. I apply them on a case by case basis.

- The GF 30mm f/3.5 is the sharpest lens that I have ever used on any camera. It's also wonderfully small and lightweight.

- The 32-64mm zoom is a more satisfying walk-around lens than I expected given its size and limited range of focal lengths. It's quite flexible.

- The battery drains faster than on my Sony full frame cameras, but I have now changed the image stabilization feature from "Always" to "While Shooting Only." I'll have to see over the next week whether that makes a difference.

a photo of a church sign in new york city
Crop To Show Detail - Full Image Below

a photo of a church with a red door and red sign in new york city
Church With A Red Door - 1/100 @ f/5.6 ISO 2500 - Adobe Vivid

a photo of two women walking their dogs in front of a jazz club new york
Hello Doggie! - 1/55 @ f/5.6 ISO 500 - VELVIA Simulation

a photo of mangled orange construction barrels in new york city
Barrels Of Chaos - 1/120 @ f/5.6 ISO 500 - Nostalgic Negative Simulation

a photo of a person carrying a painting across the street in new york city
Art On The Move - 1/950 @ f/4 ISO 400 - Adobe Color

a photo of a red mini cooper parked in new york city
Red Mini Cooper - 1/110 @ f/5.6 ISO 800 - Adobe Vivid

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lenses: Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4, GF 30mm f/3.5 

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Fujifilm GFX 100S - Week One - Samples and First Impressions

Big Sensation

About a week ago, the delivery man dropped off one of the most hotly anticipated camera bodies in recent memory: Fujifilm's new GFX 100S medium-format camera.

Is it everything that you might expect? Are there any glitches that you might want to be aware of?

Read on to hear my impressions after a week of shooting with the camera. I’ll also discuss how I discovered and resolved a perplexing autofocus mystery.

a photo of fifth avenue new york fujifilm gfx 100s velvia
1/140s @ f/5.6, ISO 200, VELVIA simulation

General Impressions

The texture, buttons, and menus of the GFX 100S remind me of a Canon 5D series body. This is completely subjective, but to me, it feels more like a Canon than a Nikon or a Sony. That’s not a criticism, just an observation. They’re all great cameras.

When you attach a lens, the combination feels heavy, but it’s surprisingly comfortable to walk around with this camera and shoot handheld for extended periods.

The enclosed strap is comfortable and seems quite durable. It’s the best came-with-the-camera strap that I have ever seen.

The shutter is remarkably quiet, the softest actual shutter sound that I have ever heard (excluding silent shutter modes which you can’t hear at all).

a photo of colorful flowers at a new york deli
1/90 @ f/5.6, ISO 800, PROVIA simulation

The autofocus is pleasantly responsive. It’s as fast or faster than most cameras that I have used, and it has been remarkably accurate (see the mystery below for an exception). I have yet to see the camera “hunt” for focus, which is quite impressive. This is not a wimpy autofocus system.

Manual focus works well. There are options to turn show focus peaking with a variety of colors, and also to magnify the image as you focus it. Neither of these settings are enabled by default, but it’s easy to find them in the menus.

High ISO noise is very well controlled. I haven’t pushed the camera to extremes, but I’ve taken a number of shots at ISO 1600, and they are considerably cleaner than files from my Sony bodies (a7R III and IV). This surprised me, but it’s a pleasant surprise.

The film emulations are fun and inspiring. They provide looks that are different than anything that I have seen. (This is my first experience with a Fujifilm body.) Lightroom and ACR emulate these settings as presets, so you compare different looks during post-processing.

a fujifilm gfx 100s photo of the guggenheim museum in new york
Adobe Color Profile

a photo of the guggenheim museum in new york city fujifilm gfx 100s
Nostalgic Negative Simulation

A black and white photo of the guggenheim museum in new york fujifilm gfx 100s
Acros + Red Filter Simulation

To get the sharpest results while handholding the camera, I found that I need to shoot at 1/180th of a second or faster, even with the in-body image stabilization engaged while using a relatively wide-angle lens (GF 32-64). Images taken at slower shutter speeds, even down to 1/40s, were detailed and usable with rare exceptions, but images taken at 1/200s and faster look considerably sharper. It’s as though the camera can produce “sharper than sharp” images under optimal conditions.

The GFX 100S uses SD cards, not the newer, more expensive card types. This is fine, because the 100S doesn’t shoot 20 frames per second.

When you use multiple cards, the default configuration is called SEQUENTIAL, which writes to Card 2 when Card 1 fills up. You can change this to BACKUP if you want images to be written to both cards at once. There are separate settings for stills and video.

The camera is big enough for people notice it. It’s not a stealth camera that you can slide into a crowd. That said, it looks like a regular camera body, not some cutting-edge technological marvel. People will think that you borrowed your uncle’s DSLR.

a photo of a bicycle in fujifilm nostalgic negative film simulation gfx 100s
1/180s @ f/5.6, ISO 400, Nostalgic Negative Simulation

The GFX 100S doesn’t ship with a printed manual. The manual is online, and you can download a PDF.

It also doesn’t come with a battery charger, which for the price seems ridiculous. To charge the battery, you put it in the camera and connect the camera to a power source (wall plug or computer). Adapters for all global regions are included.

The battery is not charged before shipping “for safety reasons.” You’ll need to charge it before you can start using your camera. A full charge will take about an hour, so be patient. A light on the camera is on while charging and turns off when you’re done.

GFX 100S raw files stored in Lossless Compressed format are about the same size as raw files from a Sony a7R IV. The Sony does not have a lossless compression option. Convert a raw file to TIFF format, and it will be about 600 megabytes in size.

a photo of people walking dogs across the street in new york city
1/200s @ f/4, ISO 200, Adobe Vivid Profile

A detailed photo of a lady crossing the street with a dog on a leash
Detailed crop of the above image

Firmware updates are extremely easy. (I updated an old lens.) You download the file, copy it to a newly formatted SD card, put the card in the camera (with a fully charged battery, please!), and turn the camera on while holding the Back button. Follow a few simple prompts on the LCD, and be careful not to press any buttons, and the update happens fairly quickly. Sony engineers should look at how the GFX 100S updates firmware, because Sony’s method is the worst that I have seen.

I don’t miss the four-way pad that, for example, Sony bodies have on the back. The camera is easy to use without it. The controls are very well-placed and comfortable to reach.

Battery life is good but not exceptional. The GFX 100S battery drains faster than the Sony a7R IV, but not nearly as fast as earlier Sony bodies like the a7R II. I would recommend carrying at least one spare battery with you depending on your shooting needs, but more if you plan to shoot for long days without recharging.

a photo of classic new york architecture fujifilm gfx 100s
1/120s @ f/8, ISO 400, ASTIA simulation

Evaluating Sharpness

I was eager to see how much detail the GFX 100S could capture, because details is the main reason why someone would buy a camera like this. I ran out on that first day and took shots of buildings with detailed brick façades.

When I viewed the files on the computer, there were some surprises.

- JPEG files out of camera are not as sharp as raw files. I was looking at JPEGs because ACR and Lightroom were not yet updated. You can tweak the sharpness control in the camera, but I would question why you would buy a camera like this in the first place if you primarily shoot JPEGs.

- I have already mentioned that for handheld shooting, a fast shutter speed will give you the sharpest results when you’re shooting with a non-stabilized lens. In-body image stabilization helps, but it won’t work miracles.

- I did my initial evaluation on a GF 32-64mm lens. If you have used this lens or read reviews, you probably know that it’s soft in the corners. The worst performance is at 32mm. It’s better from 35-64, but it’s not perfect, even when stopping down to f/11.

- Please remember to update the firmware in your older GF lenses or they won’t work properly with phase-detect autofocus.

a photo of bricks and fire escapes in manhattan
1/170s @ f/8, ISO 250, VELVIA simulation

The Mystery Of The Misplaced Autofocus

As a result of my trial and error, I started shooting with faster shutter speeds, and I did my best to maximize the performance of the GF 32-64 by avoiding its weak spots.

Within a few days, Adobe updated ACR, and I was able to look at the raw files in Photoshop. They looked very sharp in most cases, but some files were still disappointing. 

When I looked closely, I noticed that the camera had focused on objects that were close to the camera even when I had positioned the focus point on distant objects.

A bit of research in the manual solved the mystery.

The GFX 100S has familiar autofocus modes (single-point, zone, wide) and they work as you would expect them to. But Fujifilm provides another mode (All) that I had never encountered before.

When AF MODE is set to All, it appears to let the camera choose whether to use single-point, zone, or wide depending on the circumstances. Think of this as the mode that you would want if you handed the camera to your aunt and asked her to take a picture of you in front of Niagara Falls. You want the focus to be on your face, and the camera will make that happen even if the focus point is out over the falls somewhere.

I was placing the focus point where I wanted it, but because All is the default AF MODE, the camera chose to override my instructions. Mystery solved. Lesson learned. I switched to Single Point mode, and everything is working fine now.

a photo of a taxi in manhattan
1/80s @ f/5.6, ISO 500, VELVIA simulation


The GFX 100S is a groundbreaking camera. No other camera on the market today has its combination of features, ergonomics, and price point. There’s a lot to appreciate here, and so far I have not uncovered any negatives.

That said, it’s not an inexpensive piece of kit once you add in a GF lens or two. I felt that potential buyers might benefit from an account this camera being used in real-world conditions.

The bottom line is that I am very impressed. The camera is not overly heavy or bulky. The buttons are well placed. The autofocus is more responsive than you might expect. The menus are easy to navigate. The film simulations are lovely. The body seems to be durable and well-made. Battery life is acceptable as is the viewfinder resolution (although either of these could have been a bit better). And when you have the right settings enabled and you handle the camera properly, the output is wonderfully detailed.

Camera: Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lens: Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved