Courtesy of Moon Golf Club

Sunday’s Best: Finding calm before storm

Believe it or not, this is one of the most stressful weeks of the year for me. It's not because there's three sport overlap or upcoming playoffs. It's not because the workload is too great. It's really just that it's the week before Steelers camp.

Steelers camp means that football season follows immediately after. That bleeds straight into Penguins season. That overlap can be chaotic, but feels calm before potential football playoffs. Then we're suddenly back into hockey playoffs and the start of a new baseball season.

And this year ... This year ... I've got a wedding sandwiched between camp and the start of the Steelers season. Help!

So, especially for me, this is the last week where I can do something that lets me catch my breath before three sports schedules choose that time for you. Honestly, one of the best ways I can think of doing that is hanging out with friends, taking in nature's beauty, man-made beauty and enjoying good food.

This was a week with just two games covered by me, one of which was a Riverhounds game I covered, so doing something different for this Sunday's Best made sense. Here it is!

I took my Fuji X-T2 with me for our Wednesday getaway at Moon Golf Club, a camera I get a lot of questions about from subscribers. The meeting was for lunch and to catch up with Josh DeNinno, the general manager there, but I figured ... why not put a brand new lens of mine to the test on a beautiful course? When I posted a couple of said photos into What's Brewing, I got several mentions and questions about the camera and my use of it. I figured we could dive deeper.

Why not share some photos I shot on it from Moon Golf Club, and not explain why I love the camera so much? I also got some wonderful relaxation time in in New York when making a trip to pick out wedding rings ... so those are here, too.

Let's start with the camera, because, well ... the photos are all already up there anway. The Fuji-X mirrorless system is something I've truly gone to cherish. It's a camera with tactile feeling that looks and feels like a retro film body. The colors from the Fuji system (both the RAW files and the JPGs that make use of Fuji's own film simulations), and their first party glass quality, has made this system a desirable one for photographers, even when they don't want it for more than family and travel "work."

My love for the tactile feeling of the camera extends to shooting it in full manual. I don't just mean putting the mode dial to "m" and setting my shutter speed, aperture and ISO for a manual expresure. For me, I take it further and shoot manual focus prime lenses.

Doing this has reignited a love for photography with me -- one that isn't always attainable when shooting sports. I compose a frame, I focus using "peaking" to see what's in focus and I snap.

The two main lenses I use in this fashion are a Mitakon 35mm (52mm full frame equivalent) f/0.95 with a paper thin focal plane that leaves creamy background bokeh. It's a wonderful portrait lens that gives you excellent low light usability or an artsy, dreamy look in daylight (like the photo of Chris Carter throwing his head back and laughing to kick off this piece).

The other is a lens I've had my eye on for a while, and finally picked up at B&H Photo when I was actually able to attend in New York this past week (I've included a couple photos from that trip to see it at work as well). It's the Rokinon 12mm f/2 that operates on the Fuji crop sensor like an 18mm lens.

This lens is very, very affordable and a wonderful landscape lens to add to my travel arsenal.

Honestly, I've considered going full Fuji for my non-sports photography. For photo, video, travel, landscape, portrait, wedding (if I ever get back into that scene), etc. I've just fallen back in love with actually creating photos again because of this kit.

There are several photos from Moon Golf Club up there. Some of the course on the Rokinon, some of Carter and Hunter Homistek. Another one of Josh DeNinno, on the Mitakon. And, as mentioned, a couple from my time in New York where our view was ... not great (insert eye roll here). The ones of Molly Jenkins are on the Mitakon as well. Shout out to her for booking the view out there, by the way.

See you guys and gals in the comments! If anyone wants deeper details about my equipment, let's chat there.

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