140723 FujiTuesday - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Yesterday was a remarkable FujiTuesday – a trip to the Toronto Islands with sixty Fujifilm-camera enthusiasts, including representatives from the Canadian and American Fujifilm operations. It was an impressive event, especially given that FujiTuesday is an enthusiast-led group that started organically and has grown on its own. True grassroots, not the usual corporate astroturf that event planners think up.

This event was also unusual in that it had a theme. If you're going to be stranded on an island, what camera and lens do you bring? It's a fun thought experiment, the sort of thing I might hash out over a beer if I ever drank one, but here we were heading to an actual island with only a one-way ferry ticket. So: one camera, one lens.

I went through my roster and tried out some combinations, and chose the Fujifilm X-M1 and Zeiss 1,5/50 C-Sonnar lens. This is both an inevitable choice and something of a cheat. I don't actually own a digital Fuji camera (subject to change without notice) and have had the X-M1 as an evaluation unit from Fuji for far longer than I should have. My Sigma camera ensures that I'm fairly comfortable with a 50mm lens on a 1.5x sensor, and I've joked that the 50/1.5 Sonnar is actually two different lenses depending on its aperture. This was my chance to put that to the test.

Wide open the Sonnar is designed to be soft and glowy. This is wonderful on film, but translates fairly badly to the different temperament of digital colour. So I decided that I would only shoot in black and white jpeg mode, and that I wouldn't get too hung up on the whole 'sharpness' thing. I still used a lightweight tripod, but overall I think it worked out fairly well. It was certainly a nice vacation from my usual routine, and isn't that really the point of an island getaway?

The Toronto Islands is the only place in the city with sand dunes. Dunes are interesting creatures, and reading Michael Welland's book Sand made me want to go see them.

Sand piles up through the prevailing wind and currents, grasses and plants lock it in place, and the island builds. The Gibraltar Point lighthouse was once on the shore and now it's well inland, and it's the dunes and their grasses that made that happen. We, in our turn, try to fence off and protect this fragile environment.

And of course

I can't be on the edge of the water, with a tripod, and not point the camera at the horizon. Every time the mood is different. And true to my earlier project, I drew out the shutter to smooth the water slightly. In this case it was a relatively quick half-second, but that was enough for this time.

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