When the skies are cloudy all day

This week started on a positive note but ended in the gloom.

Monday 23 August 2021

On Friday, I called the Fujifilm repair facility in Edison to inquire about the status of my damaged X-T2. The person who answered the phone told me that it would cost nearly $600 to repair. I was disappointed, very disappointed. I ask for my broken companion to be returned to me.

When Bhavna woke up, I told her about the cost, and she agreed that she didn't think it was worth it to repair. I had bought the X-T2 used for $1000. I told her it made more sense to buy another used one. She agreed.

I looked on KEH and MPB and Lensrentals. Initially, I focused on buying an X-T2, but I mainly found silver body choices, and I prefer the black body. KEH and MPB sell used X-T2 bodies for $630 to $790 depending on the condition (Excellent to Like New). I noticed that MPB and KEH had more used black body X-T3 models for sale for $900-$1029 for bodies in Excellent to Like New condition. A new X-T3 sells for $1200. I discussed with Bhavna, and she suggested that since we did not vacation in 2019 and 2020, perhaps it was ok to spend that money and get something "new".

My "Like New" Fujifilm X-T3 arrives this Wednesday. Yay!

Henri has brought some heavy rainfall to New Jersey this past weekend and even today. But hopefully, the sun will come out this week, and I can practice some Komorebi for the Lens-Artists Challenge #162 – It's All About the Light.

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Last week I bought a pre-owned "Like New" Fuji X-T3 from MPB. I had expected delivery today, but it arrived one day earlier on Tuesday. It was a pleasant surprise and lifted my spirits. During my last meeting of the day, I programmed the settings on the cameras using my memory of what was set on my Fuji X-T2. The Fuji repair site in Edison has still not returned my broken companion.

This morning as I inspected the unit more closely, I realised that though used, it is in excellent shape with no scratches or dings. I want it to stay that way. After some thought, I bought a pre-owned Fujifilm BLC-XT3 Bottom Leather Case from Adorama for $34. The Fujifilm BLC-XT3 is a genuine leather bottom case designed for X-T3, that according to Fujifilm's description, has premium textures and normally retails for $77. My web searches found other attractive (and handmade) options, but they all cost two to three times more. I cannot justify spending that much money.

I also realise that I want a new L-bracket (base plate and L-plate). I have a Really Right Stuff (RRS) BXT2B-L for the Fuji X-T2. It sort of fits and would work in a pinch but doesn't fit snugly in the right places. The Fuji X-T3 is a slightly longer and broader camera by an mm or so. But the RRS BXT3-L plates for Fuji X-T3 seems so expensive. I'm on a hunt for a used one. The best price I have found so far is one in "EX" condition on KEH. I don't require it right now. I'll hold off and maybe find one cheaper.

Thursday 26 August 2021

First images from the Fuji X-T3.

Allium canadense
Allium canadense | Thursday 26 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | MD ROKKOR-X 45mm F2 | 1340 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 320
The Kurayoshi Malt Whisky
The Kurayoshi Malt Whisky | Thursday 26 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 175 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 3200

Friday 27 August 2021

Two weeks ago, Bhavna and I had stopped at Magnifico's late at night, and since my broken Fuji was still out for repair, I exposed a few frames of a 35mm roll of Kodak Velvia 100 that I had in my Minolta XD-11. We had driven to Source Brewing to pick up the new release and ended up staying to sit in the back lawn and enjoy a flight before heading home. The sunset was setting as we were leaving.

On the way up through New Brunswick, we stopped for soft-serve ice at Magnifico's, a popular ice creamery we often visited when my nephews lived in South River. Honestly, despite some blurring from low shutter speeds, some of the images from the Minolta are decent. I sent the film off for development and scanning to Boutique Film Lab.

As you may know, in July, Fujifilm has discontinued Velvia 100. The film cannot be sold or developed after September 2021. This is the last roll of Fuji Velvia for me.

August 2021 | Minolta XD-11 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | FUJICHROME Velvia 100
August 2021 | Minolta XD-11 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | FUJICHROME Velvia 100
August 2021 | Minolta XD-11 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | FUJICHROME Velvia 100
Source Brewing
August 2021 | Minolta XD-11 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | FUJICHROME Velvia 100

10811_KW_8108_Velvia-100_108968-R1-E039-960x661.jpg" alt="Magnifico's" width="960" height="661" class="size-medium wp-image-82509" /> August 2021 | Minolta XD-11 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | FUJICHROME Velvia 100[/caption]

Source Brewing
August 2021 | Minolta XD-11 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | FUJICHROME Velvia 100
Source Brewing
August 2021 | Minolta XD-11 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | FUJICHROME Velvia 100
Source Brewing
August 2021 | Minolta XD-11 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | FUJICHROME Velvia 100
Magnifico's | August 2021 | Minolta XD-11 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | FUJICHROME Velvia 100
Magnifico's | August 2021 | Minolta XD-11 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | FUJICHROME Velvia 100

Kodachrome 64

I've been preparing to sit the CCSP certification exam for several months. Despite knowledge of the material, some people, like myself, don't perform well on multiple-choice tests. We do better on practical tests or tests where you write in your answer. I completed an online CCSP training course a few months ago, and since then, I have been taking practice tests. I completed a practice test every chance I had, especially this week. I feel confident that I will pass the exam on Saturday.

Today after my last practice test, Bhavna, Shaan, and I drove up to New Brunswick for soft-serve ice cream at Magnifico. I wanted to capture some images for the Lens-Artists Challenge #162 – It's All About the Light before the weekend. The images below are the JPEGs created in cameras using Fuji X Weekly's Kodachrome 64 Film Simulation Recipe.

Magnifico's | Friday 27 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 140 sec at f/7.1 | ISO 640
Magnifico's | Friday 27 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 140 sec at f/7.1 | ISO 1000
Magnifico's | Friday 27 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 170 sec at f/7.1 | ISO 320
Magnifico's | Friday 27 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 140 sec at f/7.1 | ISO 640

Saturday 28 August 2021

I was excited about today. Today was supposed to be special in a few ways. I would participate in The Photographers Group one day project, One Summer Day.

The 28th is the last Saturday of blissful August. Our objective for this project is to chronicle the day, to visually record this summer day from dawn to dusk. We will create an online gallery of all the photos and the top photos will be exhibited at the South Harrison Street Outdoor Gallery and compiled into a book.

I had a busy day ahead of me. Blood draws in the morning for my quarterly blood work. Then stop in at Sakrid Coffee Roasters for a cappuccino. Then home for two hours to watch the F1 qualifying race for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. Then back out to Princeton University for about an hour to help an international student - child of some doctors from St. Vincent - get his smartphone set up on Verizon. Then back home to relax until my scheduled three-hour exam for my CCSP certification.

I’m interviewing with Amazon Web Services on Monday, and I wanted to mention that I had passed the exam. I had prepared for this certification which I feel will help open doors to more career opportunities. I completed my online training months ago and have been doing practice tests and exams to prepare for the exams. This week I did about eight hours of testing, and I felt confident I would pass the exam. It also meant that I had very little time this week for photography.

But at 2 PM, when I arrived at the testing centre, I found the doors locked, and no one answered the phone. This was the end of my excitement for the day. I checked my email and found this disappointing message.


Client name: (ISC)2
Site name: Pearson Professional Centers-Princeton(Trenton) NJ
Exam name: Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
Exam date and time: 28 Aug 2021 2:00 PM
Case ID: 06992499

Dear Khurt L Williams,

\*This is a system generated message.\*

Unfortunately, we are unable to deliver your exam as scheduled on 28 Aug 2021 2:00 PM. We know this is disappointing news, and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

We are working to clear out your existing appointment. In most circumstances, you can select a new appointment for your exam on our website by signing in to your account.

Some event- or window-based exams may not be available for rescheduling on our website. If you are not able to reschedule, your program-specific customer service team is available to assist you. Additionally, if you have any special accommodations, you must call to reschedule your exam.

Please allow one business day before trying to choose a new appointment date through our website.
Thank you for your patience. We look forward to seeing you for your test soon.
Thank you,

Pearson VUE Customer Service

An automated system generated message with no explanation and no contact information?

I am so furious. Livid. Too angry to continue the one summer day project.

I found a new exam date, September 18, but I’m worried about how I’ll maintain my momentum until then. I have strong knowledge of the subject is but sitting exams is challenging for me. I’m also worried that the testing centre will also cancel the new exam date with no explanation.

I feel defeated. I don’t know how to let go of the anger. But I have to find a way before my interview with AWS on Monday. But for now, I want to sit on the couch.

I want to mention that we've had overcast conditions the entire weekend. Any thoughts of Komerebi are dashed. Flat light from the giant softbox that is the sky.

Where's the sun | Saturday 28 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 160 sec at f/7.1 | ISO 6400
Blood draw | Saturday 28 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 140 sec at f/7.1 | ISO 800
Sakrid Coffee
Sakrid Coffee | Saturday 28 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 140 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 250
Sakrid Coffee
Sakrid Coffee | Saturday 28 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 140 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 160
Sakrid Coffee
Sakrid Coffee | Saturday 28 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 140 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 250
Lupita Bodega
Lupita Bodega | Saturday 28 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 180 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 160
Lupita Bodega
Lupita Bodega | Saturday 28 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 175 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 160
Sir Alphonso Mango | Saturday 28 August, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 170 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 160

Country Roads Take Me Home

Sunday, 25 July 2021

The Wandering Dawgs are hosting this week's Lens Artists Challenge, and they have chosen the topic of "along a back country road".I live in an area that many people in a large city like New York or Boston would consider "country side". Photographing the "country roads" here is challenging. So when photographing hills from these roads for another challenge, I had to think up a creative approach.

To me, a backcountry road can be any road that's off the beaten track. The route can be paved, gravel or dirt. It can take you through farmland, desert, forests, quaint small towns, or in the middle of nowhere. It may even be one with quirky roadside attractions or funny signs you see along the way.

I live among several quaint small towns with roads that traverse woodlands, farmland boundaries with roadside farm stands, and various brooks and streams with, in many places, ditches on either side of the road.

From the top of Grand View Road | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 38.8 mm | 1200 sec at f/5.6 | ISO200

Montgomery Township borders Princeton Township and is bisected by US Route 206, a one-lane, mostly straight federal "highway" that runs through Mercer, Somerset and Hunterdon Counties. Route 206 is just wide enough for bicycles and cars to share the road safely. But it has no sidewalks, and walking or taking on the side of the road can feel very unsafe. The speed limit is between 70-80 kph (45-50 mph). A few high traffic artery roads such as County Route 518 intersect Route 206 and are similarly wide and straight with similar speed limits and no sidewalks or curb to walk or park safely.

Burnt Hill Road
Burnt Hill Road | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16.5 mm | 1200 sec at f/2.8 | ISO200

In Montgomery Township, Princeton Township and Hopewell Township, there are much smaller and very narrow farm roads that wind around these other roads, with some named for the town they connect. These one lanes are just wide enough for cars but have deep ditches on either side and, again, no sidewalk or curbing. There is no space for large trucks, bicycles, or room for pulling over to take a photograph. And because New Jersey is so densely populated, the traffic is high. I have talked with Bhavna about biking out to the Brick Farm Tavern, getting some exercise and rewarding myself with a pint at the end of the ride, but she’s adamant that it is unsafe and does not approve.

Country Road | 18 April, 2020 | Day 197 | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2

The best way to see photographs of these country roads is via Google Street View. I have linked to a Google Street View along a section of Cherry Valley Road, a tree-lined road that runs from Rocky Hill to Pennington. In Rocky Hill, the road begins as Princeton Avenue (it leads to Princeton), then becomes Cherry Valley Road when it crosses Route 206. From there, it runs along the border with Princeton (the northern part of the road is in Montgomery Township), all the way out to Carter Road, where it becomes Pennington-Rocky Hill Road, where it leads into Pennington. Certain sections of Cherry Valley Road are beautiful in the fall when the trees change colour, and on a sunny fall day, the light is spectacular. This is one of my favourite roads.

Servis Road | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 364 sec at f/5.6 | ISO200

I have wanted to photograph many sections of my favourite roads for the two decades I have lived here but I have yet to find a safe way to do so. There is no curb to park the car on Cherry Hill Road or Mountain View Road or along Province Line Road with its wonderful roller coaster rise and fall.

I admit that I did something a bit reckless a few years ago when I first attempted to photograph some of these roads. I didn't want to get hit by cars because I focused on composition instead of paying attention to traffic, and I certainly didn't want to annoy other drivers or, worse, get ticketed by the police for obstructing traffic. On a photo drive a few years ago, I rolled down my window and drove slowly with the camera sticking out of the window. That's how I took some of the images in this post. Don't do this!!

FYI, check out Jim Grey's photoblog, Down the Road, where he documents many of the old and new roads around Indiana. Jim is a film photographer.

Spring Hill Road
Spring Hill Road | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 32.1 mm | 171000 sec at f/5.6 | ISO200

Monday, 26 July 2021

My Schiit stack arrived last weekend, but I didn't use it until today. What is a Schiit stack?

A Schiit stack combines a Schiit Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) and a Schiit amplifier to interface between a digital source such as a smartphone. I ordered a Schiit Modi 3 DAC and a Schiit Magni 3 Heresy headphone amplifier.

To set up this stack, I needed RCA cables to connect the DAC to the headphone amp and a micro USB to Lightning cable to connect my iPhone 11 Pro to the DAC. The Modi 3+ has two separate micro USB ports for power and audio media transfer. I needed two micro USB cables. But I did not have a micro USB to Lightning cable, and finding one on Amazon proved fruitless. Instead, I ordered a female USB cable to Lightning cable and then connected a male micro USB to a male USB cable.

The Magni 3 Heresy only takes analogue input. To feed the signal from the Modi 3 to the Magni 3 Heresy, I connected two RCA cables which I ordered with my package.

The headphone jack is on the front of the Magni 3 Heresy. If I want to connect a pair of stereo speakers, I can use the RCA outputs at the rear. But for now, this Schiit stack is purely for using my Grado SR60s to listen to Apple Lossless audio from my iPhone 11 Pro.

Schiit Magni 3 Heresy and Schiit Modi 3+
Schiit Magni 3 Heresy and Schiit Modi 3+ | Monday 26 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1140 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

As I read Jason Fried's post, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, I nodded my head. As a consultant, I don't work weekends or long hours, but before that, I would say I was a "company man". It's sad.

... people are working longer, earlier, later, on weekends, and whenever they have a spare moment. People can’t get work done at work anymore.

Work claws away at life. Life has become work’s leftovers. The doggy bag. The remnants. The scraps.

That’s just not OK. It’s unacceptable.

In his post, Thoughts on WordPress for Photographers, photographer Alexander S. Kunz writes about his challenges maintaining a WordPress based photography website over decades.

I’ve been blindsided by my love for the idea of open-source publishing and the community-driven WordPress universe but with regards to my photography website, I can honestly say that I didn’t see the forest for the trees…

Alexander goes on to describe his challenges, and I agree with all of what he wrote. He is considering a move to Squarespace, which I have also considered Squarespace as a new home for my 17-year-old WordPress website. Still, there are many challenges with moving thousands of images and blog entries.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

The Online Photographer has a rant about smartphone contests.

Not long ago a friend here showed me a wonderful snap of his twin grandsons, toddlers in diapers, who were energetically helping each other climb up into the family refrigerator after bedtime. By chance they were as well composed as putti in a Renaissance frieze**. That's one example of the kind of thing a non-photographer grandpa can get a picture of only because of his unique access and familial intimacy. That's the kind of picture a smartphone can enable that an outside photographer coming in all prepared with serious kit would never get.

I just do not need to see some stupid dead-conventional anodyne desiccated "Abstract" shot with an iPhone as opposed to being shot with an ordinary camera. Who needs it? I've seen better pictures in clickbait slideshows.

Thursday, 29 July 2021

Alphonso Mango
Alphonso Mango | Thursday 29 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1125 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 3200

This morning Alphonso Mango did that thing he has been doing for several weeks now. Every day after I feed him breakfast, sit to eat my meal, usually at the computer so I can read the RSS updates from other blogs, he jumps up on the desk and insists on laying down on the keyboard. He nudges me and behaves in a very playful manner. I have no choice but to stop and play with him.

I found this interesting video on YouTube that discusses a rarely addressed top, namely the technical nuances of shooting film with darker skin with popular film brands such as Pro 400H or Kodak Portra 400.

Friday, 30 July 2021

This is my brewing guide for Chemex with Able Kone Filter. Brewing coffee with a Chemex carafe and Able Kone metal filter produce a bright-flavoured, full-bodied beverage.

Tonight we had an outdoor dinner and drinks with long time friends Frank and Jennifer. Frank is a photographer, and his wife Jen is the marketing and business brains of the operation. Frank is from New Jersey. Jen is from Alabama. They struggled greatly during the pandemic; business dried up overnight. Jen's father passed away in January and left her his house. They did some math and realised that with the hot real estate in New Jersey, it made sense to sell their home here and move into Jen's former home in Alabama. Frank is bracing for culture shock and adjustment.

Goose Island, Next Coast IPA | Friday 30 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1300 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 200
Friday 30 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1640 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400

Saturday, 31 July 2021.

This week, Bhavna brought home two sugar apples from Patidar Supermarket, an Indian grocery store in North Brunswick Township. It was a rare treat for me. We set the two sugar apples in the cupboard inside a brown paper bag, and today one of them was ripe enough to eat.

sugar-apple or custard apple | Saturday 31 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 16400 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400

Sugar-apple, also sweet-sop, is the fruit of Annona squamosa, the most widely grown species of Annona and a native plant of the Americas and West Indies. The fruit was brought to the Philippines by the Portuguese, and it quickly spread throughout Asia.

The Annona squamosa fruit I ate in Bequia were pale green through blue-green with white flesh. Annona squamosa is unique among Annona fruits in that it is segmented, and the segments tend to separate when ripe, exposing the interior.

sugar-apple or custard apple | Saturday 31 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 16000 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400

As I ate the flesh of this deliciously sweet fruit, I had flashes of precious moments as a boy with my grandmother on Bequia. Whenever we visited, assuming it was the season for the fruit, she would take us to one of her trees to pick the fruit. I always had fun spitting out the seeds.

The Last Photo

Bhavna and I spent the day at Bhavna's cousin's home. They have just completed the construction of a pool and hosted a pool party with the first and second cousins. I have not processed those images yet, but I wanted to get a picture up for Bush Boy's Last on the Card project. When I looked at the Adobe Lightroom catalogue and saw this image, I was taken aback. What was this? It looks like a face with a pair of creepy eyes staring back at the camera. After cranking the exposure slide, I realised it was my failed attempt to photograph the wood-burning firepit. Per the rules, the image below is the unedited RAW file.

Creepy eyes
Creepy eyes | Saturday 31 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 160 sec at f/1.0 | ISO 12800

Weekly Journal


During the pandemic, Bhavna and I talked about how when it was safe to do so, we would take some road trips to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, perhaps with a stop in Boston to visit some of our college days favourites. I wanted to satisfy my urge to photograph lighthouses, and Bhavna wanted to experience the romance of the New England coastal towns.

Now that most of the North East are vaccinated, it seemed like the right time. It's cooler up north, so a trip to Maine would help us escape the heat and humidity of a New Jersey summer. It seems that everyone everywhere had the same idea.

New England resorts are booked through the end of October. Hotels like the Marriot have raised their rates to almost resort levels. My brother-in-law planned road trips to Tennessee. On Sunday, he mentioned that even the usually budget-friendly Holiday Inn has rates one would expect if staying in a hotel in Manhattan or Philadelphia.

But I think we really need to getaway. What to do?

Tuesday 29 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 17000 sec at f/1.7 | ISO 400

I'm bored with breakfast. Every day it feels like I eat the same things. Part of it is that my mornings are busy, and I am too lazy to make something, but it's also partly because I have not returned to some of the routines I had pre-pandemic.

Pre-pandemic, I alternated between a few places to get coffee and breakfast on the days I worked from home. Sometimes I went to Bagel Barn for a bagel, egg and cheese bagel sandwich or bagel with a schmear of cream cheese. It's excellent with a coffee from Buy the Cup. Sometimes I drove into Princeton for a muffin and cappuccino from Rojo's Cafe. If time permitted, I sat outside on Palmer Square. On Friday's, if my morning calendar allowed it, I drove into Hopewell for a sit down slow breakfast of grits and collard greens.

I am wary of using the word normal, but I miss these routines. I think it's time for a reset.

Last on the Card for June

I think this is the first time I am linking to the Last on the Card challenge. According to Adobe Lightroom, the last image pulled in before July 1 is this one. The photo has not been edited or post-processed in any way. But that begs the question. Given that my Fuji X-T2 can use in-camera film recipes to apply certain effects to a JPEG before an image is recorded, can I use the straight out of camera JPEG for this challenge?

Tuesday 29 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1640 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 400


No one can amass millions of followers on a person blog in a matter of weeks. That is something that can only happen on a social platform like Instagram or TikTok. And that's why most people don't go down the personal site path. Most people are not chasing freedom of expression. They're chasing fame. Quantity over quality seems to be the law of the modern web. ~ Manuel Morale


Two years ago, I started photographing migrating Warblers in southern New Jersey. I rented a Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens and did my best. These photographs are not significant compared to other photographers, but they are precious images to me.

Prothonotary Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler | Sunday 19 May, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1500 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 4000

Kunj Tirvedi has been photographing wildlife - lions, tigers, cheetah, elephants, etc. - around the world for over two decades, mainly in Africa (Serengeti, Samburu, Kaziranga, Madagascar, Mauritius, Tanzania), America (Argentina, Antarctica, Florida), Europe (Iceland, Norway) and Asia (India, Sri Lanka). He's put together a two-volume bounded portfolio book of his bird photograph, simply entitled "Birds, My Portfolio". I am fortunate that Mr Trivedi's daughter is a good family friend, and she loaned me both books.

Thursday 1 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1125 sec at f/1.7 | ISO 2000

The book starts with a foreword that introduces the photographer and explains the purpose of the books and the care and effort put into selecting each photograph and identifying each bird. Though there is no index or table of contents, the book is broken down into sections featuring specific birds - rollers, bee-eaters. I agreed with Kunj Trivedi when he wrote in his book that the "Lilac Breasted Roller was my favourite bird...". The lilac-breasted roller is stunning. But one of my favourite photographs is one of an Indian Roller in flight. Others are the European bee-eater and Fischer's Lovebird. Their colours remind me of the wooden fishing boats of the West Indies. The photographs are stunning. The book contains over 400 photos.

One more thing about which I am thinking. When will I produce my photobook, what shall I put in it, and who will "read" it?


I've had an ongoing debate about electric vehicles (EV) with my friend Johnny over the last several months. Unfortunately, there's no economic incentive in the USA to push for bikes, e-bikes, scooters etc. A dedicated bicycle infrastructure requires almost no maintenance, vehicles are incredibly cheap to buy and run, insurance for accidents is irrelevant, and health improvements means fewer hospital visits.

In addition to providing a more affordable and more efficient form of alternative transportation for riders, e-bikes actually help improve things for everyone. While e-bike riders can directly benefit from lower transportation costs, perhaps quicker commute times, and free parking, more e-bikes on the streets mean fewer cars. And fewer cars means less traffic.

I'm writing a bit tongue in cheek, but promoting bicycling could lead to an economic recession. With very few notable exceptions, the USA government won't prioritise cycling infrastructure.

Electric bicycles certainly can't replace all car trips but e-bikes continue to outsell electric cars massively around the world. The growing number of e-bike styles and the emphasis on e-bike utility mean that an increasing number of people are trading a second car for an electric bicycle. If I worked from home regularly, Bhavna and I could get by with just her car and with me using an e-bike for trips around the area.

orange cat
Sir Alphonso Mango | Friday 2 July, 2021 | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 4.25mm f/1.8 | 130 sec at f/1.8 | ISO 640

At first, Alphonso Mango was like, "Please, play with me".

orange cat
Sir Alphonso Mango | Friday 2 July, 2021 | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 4.25mm f/1.8 | 135 sec at f/1.8 | ISO 640

Then ... he was a bit more forceful. "Get off the computer. Play with me now!"

The Last Word by Flounder Brewing Co | Friday 2 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1/1000 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 400

This evening Bhavna and I picked up a few slices of pizza from Joe's and headed over to Flounder Brewing for a few pints of ale. While we dined, we were surprised to see Jim D. and Kath D. sitting at another with a group of their friends. They came over to say "Hello," and we ended the evening with a few pints at their table. It turns out that Jim's friends, Rob and Tammy, live in our neighbourhood at the other end of Blue Spring Road.


I let Alphonso Mango play outside on the deck. It's enclosed. Bhavna and I sat outside so we can keep an eye on him. He had so much fun sniffing around and exploring and hiding under the house plants.

Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 100 mm | 1640 sec at f/5.0 | ISO 1600
Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 100 mm | 1640 sec at f/5.0 | ISO 640

In the evening, Bhavna and I drove to Conclave Brewing for a pint. We visited Conclave only once during the pandemic, choosing to sit outside. Today it was raining, so we sat inside. We ordered food for delivery from a place called Pork Chops BBQ. The menu was an odd mix of Filipino, Spanish, and Portuguese food. I ordered a paella platter and a serving of fried plantains. Bhavna had a salad.

Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 190 sec at f/1.0 | ISO 6400


Today was a whirlwind of activity. We went to the Brick Farm Tavern for an outdoor BBQ. The chilli cheese dog was delicious. The experience was like being at a BBQ at a friend's house. We didn't have to do any cleanup after.

Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1400 sec at f/9.0 | ISO 400
Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1950 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 400