35 in 35, with a 35

Dutch Windmill in Elk Horn, Iowa
Fujifilm X-T3 with 35mm f/2 lens

Received my 35mm f/2 lens today, which is a “standard” lens with the APS-C size sensor on Fuji cameras. A standard lens is considered the focal length that will closely reproduce the scene as seen by the human eye.

I’ve never been a big fan of standard lenses. I usually find myself wanting to shooting wide or shooting long. A standard lens always seemed a bit boring to me. I wasn’t planning to buy a 35/2 lens at first, but then Fuji had a great promotional deal on the lens that normally sells for $400. You could save $300 on the lens. When purchased with an X-T30 camera. (Hey, any serious photographer should have a back-up camera. Right?)

I took my 35/2 lens out for a test drive this morning, and I did find myself thinking I shoot shoot with something a bit wider. But I’ve seen many great photos by great photographers shot with a basic standard lens. I’m thinking it might be good to force myself out of my comfort zone.

So I’m giving myself a little photo challenge. Starting today with the photo above, I’m going to post a new photo every day (35 photos) for 35 days, taken with the 35mm lens: 35 in 35 with a 35.I have no preconceived ideas about what I’ll be shooting. I’m just going to go out and have some fun and see what I can come up with.

Shooting with Fuji

Some of you may have noticed that I am now shooting with a Fujifilm camera. And some of you may be thinking, “Didn’t you just switch from Canon to Olympus?”

Yes, I did switch to Olympus in 2017. At the time, Olympus was a logical choice for me. My back and knees just aren’t what they used to be. I was wanting a much lighter system, and one that was good enough for shooting fast action sports. I did consider Fuji at that time, I liked the cameras and image quality, but at that time they lacked the lenses I wanted for sports photography.

So what’s changed? Well, for one, I am no longer working for a newspaper and not currently shooting sports. But if I do get back into sports photography, Fuji has added to their lens line-up and I would be very comfortable shooting sports with Fuji.

But that’s not why I switched. Olympus makes great cameras and lenses. They served me well until my newspaper career ended. But as you know, just like many in the newspaper industry, I did not get to leave on my own terms. I’m still trying to rediscover the joy in photography. And using the same gear I had when I got laid off made me feel like I was working, but without the paycheck. So there was one reason, and one reason only, why I switched to Fuji.


I wanted photography to be fun again, and Fuji cameras are just plain fun to shoot with. I love the old-school control dials. I love the high quality electronic viewfinder. I love their compact prime lenses. I love the way the Fuji X-T3 fits in my hands. I now find myself wanting to carry my camera with me everywhere and wanting to get out to shoot pictures.

And I know what you’re thinking. Wasn’t it expensive to switch? Not really. The Olympus cameras and lenses I had were actually more expensive than the Fuji gear I bought. So when I sold my old gear, that money paid for most of my new gear.

I enjoy going out with my camera and shooting pics again as much as I did when I was younger. Now I just need to discover the direction I want to take with my photography.

Lied Jungle

Lied Jungle, Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

Used my Christmas money to buy a membership to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. When I bought my first real camera back in my school days I had thoughts of becoming a nature photographer. But I got involved with the school newspaper and yearbook, and my photojournalism career snowballed from there.

I may dabble more and more into nature photography as time goes on, especially when the temperatures get warmer. But for now, with one of the best zoos in the world just a few minutes from home, I’ll take advantage of their wonderful indoor exhibits.

Click on image to view as slide show:

Madison County

Hogback Bridge

Had Monday off from work for the holiday, so I drove to Des Moines to meet my brother for dinner. Left early so I could detour through Madison County to snap a few pictures before dinner. This was my first time seeing the Bridges of Madison County and the Clark Tower, and I picked a lousy day for it. It was cloudy and frigid cold outside. I only made it to four of the bridges with the time I had.I’m sure I will return when I have more time, and hopefully better weather.

Click on photos to view as slide show:

Welcome, Take II

This has been quite a year for me. As you may know, I was laid off from my job as a newspaper photographer back in February. I created this website originally for a couple of reasons. 1: to help promote my work as I look for a new job, and 2: use it as a photo blog as I continue to document life in Siouxland.

As I scrambled to find a new job, things like paying for rent and health insurance took priority and this website was often neglected.

I did find a new job, but for the past few months I’ve been busy getting settled in at my new home and my top priority has been and will be my new job. But I’m starting to feel more comfortable in my new home and I am ready to pursue photography again, but this time just to please myself.

I haven’t decided what direction my photography work will go, and I will probably be experimenting and trying new (to me) things. I am working as a travel counselor now and I have a feeling many of my blog entries may be about day trips in Iowa.

This site will change and be updated as I continue to grow. And since I am no longer living in Siouxland, the name of this website is no longer “Eye on Siouxland” but simply “Jim Lee Photography.”

Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy my work as I continue to grow as a photographer.

Fireworks: Round Two

Morningside College Fireworks

Last week Morningside College canceled their fireworks because of rain and rescheduled for tonight. I saw a technique of pulling the focus during a time exposure. Sounded easy on paper, but was much harder than I expected.

The photos were shot with a short time exposure at the lowest ISO possible (ISO 64 on my camera.) I read that wider apertures work best, I wanted to shoot at f/2.8, but it was too bright out. The fireworks display started early, at 9:30, before it was completely dark out, so I shot mostly at f/6.3.

I started with the lens out of focus when I opened the shutter and quickly turned it into focus during the exposure, closing the shutter quickly when in focus. And focusing was a crap shoot since it was done during the exposure.

It was a short fireworks display. I think this technique would work better if A) it was darker out when the display started. B) It was a longer display so I could experiment more. And C) If there would have been more solo bursts. Most of the bursts at this display were in rapid succession, which normally would be good for shooting photos, and great for the spectators. But it did make this shoot more challenging.

This was my first try with this technique, and I look forward to trying it again in the future.

Morningside College Fireworks


Fireworks Sioux City
Fireworks in Sioux City, Iowa, Friday, July 6, 2018.

Shooting fireworks with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 II sure is easy.

In the past I had always shot fireworks either using the bulb setting or long exposures of 4 to 10 seconds (using a tripod, of course.)

My Olympus cameras have the bulb setting, but also a “Livetime” setting. It works similar to bulb. I push the shutter release once to start the exposure and a second time to end the exposure. But with the added advantage of being able to see the image in progress on the LCD screen as the image is being recorded. So I can see when I have a desirable amount of bursts in the frame as it is being recorded.

I would love to try that feature with a larger fireworks display, preferably one where the bursts are all over the sky, not just concentrated in one spot.

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