Ordinary

Should I try to make an exceptional photograph of a commonplace scene or an ordinary picture of a memorable scene? What is normal and commonplace? Normal for me or normal for others?

UPDATE: My Fujinon MCEX-16 arrived on Saturday morning, but I didn’t open the package until later. I used the lens today, but it was too late to process and include photographs for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.

This past week's Lens-Artists Photo Challenge was indeed a challenge. I. J. Khanewala1 has asked us to lift "...the commonplace into the most extraordinary thing that you have seen". But what does it mean?

adjective
with no special or distinctive features; normal.
noun
what is commonplace or standard.

Should I make an exceptional photograph of a commonplace scene or an ordinary picture of a memorable scene? What is normal and commonplace? Normal for me or normal for others? Does it matter?

At first, I thought about I.J. Khanewala's onion photograph and her approach. I might play with light and shadow from the early morning sunlight coming through the kitchen window. I'm a weekend photographer, and it's October in New Jersey. The light comes up later and goes down sooner, leaving very little time for playing with sunlight in the morning. The skies have been cloudy all week; flat light. But I tried. I'm not too fond of the result. I looked around my home and realised I didn't want to photograph any of it.

As a primarily outdoor photographer, my real challenge is seeing beyond the "every day feels the same" struggle of self-enforced "mental survival" routines I created during the pandemic lockdown. Netflix, Apple TV+, HBO, Hulu, and Disney+ became my escape from the constant reminder that I could not do the things I wanted to do. But, these routines continue despite the "opening". Monday to Friday, I usually don't leave the house Monday to Friday, and some weekends, I don't leave the couch.

It's October in New Jersey, and some leaves on the trees have begun to turn yellow, but not enough of them. I finally gave up on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge and went for an early morning walk in the Billie Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve in Princeton. The preserve is about ten minutes (6.3 km) from home.


I've hiked the Billie Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve many times over the last several years. It's a quiet place to sit, think, and get some low-effort exercise. The loop around the lake often has stunning fall foliage. I've photographed spectacular displays in early October, mid-October, and late October. But not today. It's too early in New Jersey. The fall foliage forecast in Central New Jersey has defied prediction. Perhaps next weekend?

I focused on photographing what was commonplace at this time.

Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve
Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm | 140 sec at f/16 | ISO 160
Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve
Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 1125 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 320
Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve
Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 1125 sec at f/9.0 | ISO 1000
Community Park North
Community Park North | Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 1340 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 160
Community Park North
Community Park North | Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 47 mm | 1480 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 160
Community Park North
Community Park North | Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 1950 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 160
Community Park North
Community Park North | Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 1640 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 160
Community Park North
Community Park North | Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 1850 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 160
Community Park North
Community Park North | Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | 50 mm | 1220 sec at f/1.0 | ISO 160

While exploring Billie Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve, Pettoranello Gardens, and Community Park North, I saw some people cross a narrow wooden bridge I had not noticed before. I had promised Bhavna we would go hiking this weekend, so later that day, we returned to Billie Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve and explored one of the loop trails.

Bhavana asked what photography challenge I was working on. I explained what I thought the challenge was about and why I struggled with it. I stopped to photograph some flowers, wishing I had a macro lens. The XF60mmF has been on my "wish list" since I both my Fuji (2018). But it's an expensive lens, and I have not convinced myself I would use it enough to justify the expense.

Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve
Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1210 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 160
Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve
Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1125 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 160
Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve
Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1640 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 160
Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve
Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1950 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 160
Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve
Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1320 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 160
Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve
Saturday 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1125 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 200

I recently re-discovered Fuji X Weekly's Nostalgic Negative Film Simulation. Ritchie Roesch created this recipe to mimic the Nostalgic Negative Film Simulation, which can only be found on the high-end and expensive Fujifilm GFX100S medium format digital camera.

Ritchie wrote:

Fujifilm stated that the Nostalgic Negative film simulation is based on "American New Color" photography of the 1970s. They studied photographs by William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld and Richard Misrach in order to create them. Eggleston and Sternfeld largely shot on Kodachrome—II and X in the early 1970s, 25 and 64 in the late' 70's—while Shore shot mostly Kodacolor, and Misrach shot a lot of Vericolor. All of those are Kodak 35mm films but with different aesthetics.

The Nostalgic Negative Film Simulation recipe may not be an accurate facsimile of the true Nostalgic Negative, but I am an instant fan. All of the images in this blog post are straight-out-of-the-camera (SOOC) JEPGs captured using Ritchie's Nostalgic Negative Film Simulation with some cropping to suit my needs.


  1. Who is I.J. Khanewala? I don't know. Unlike Patti and Leya, some guest bloggers don't post their first names. 

Author: Khürt Williams

A human who works in information security and enjoys photography, Formula 1 and craft ale.

7 thoughts on “Ordinary”

  1. Better late than never, especially when you've shared some very interesting info re the extension tube and the new Fuji film simulation. You got some excellent results with it Khurt - I especially liked the last. And BTW, IJ didn't even share his first name with our team. Honestly I think he just goes by IJ.

    1. Thank you, Tina. Although I used the SOOC JPEG from the Nostalgic Negative Film Simulation to reduce editing time, if I wasn't so tired from the two hikes in Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve, I might have had the energy to finish the blog post on Saturday.

  2. These photos were worth the wait. I have seen fallen leaves, and I've even taken photos of them. But the featured photo and its cousins are outstanding macros. The extension tube is a pretty interesting gadget, it looks like. I say that without diminishing away the credit due to you for the technical ability and the artist's eye that you brought to these photos. I love them: saturated colours and details. It was worth the wait, I think

    1. Hi I.J. ( is it okay to use your initials ), this was a good challenge. I was pushed to thinking outside my usual box. The arrival of the extensions was a serendipitous surprise.

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