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Surprising Spontaneity


Today is about spontaneity. I love people. Good people. 🙂 I love open people, you know those folks that smile at you as you walk by on the streets and say “hi” or “have a good day”? They have their heart open to the streets, to the world, to others. They go with the ebb and flow of spontaneous interactions. They make your day. Their energy is contagious and they can instantaneously change your mood with a smile or a laugh or a simple nod and gesture. This woman is one of those people. She rocks. She also knows how to dress and to pose – I love that outfit! and that smile!

There’s a place and time for “street photography”. I’m not one of those people that goes around sticking a flash in others faces or using a zoom lens, or even a 50mm lens to get superficially close to others to steal a moment of their life to keep for myself and others I share it with. I like to stay covert or respectful. I ask with a smile or wave. I like to go with the flow and not force anything, to enjoy the present and the atmosphere, the streets, and then when the moment presents itself, I am ready and fluid. This was one of those moments. Street photography is not a hunt. It’s a walk in the woods to nowhere, the purpose of which is to simply take in all the trees and birds, squirrels, stumps and roots, etc.


Spicing up the Subway


Welcome to the Boston Subway aka the MBTA or just the “T”…infamous…squeaky…shaky…and expensive. But it’ll do right? The buses are in a bit better shape because a few new ones were placed in service last year or the year before. Fancy hybrid ones. The actual subway however? Nope nada. The focus is more on extending the lines further outside the city where people might actually be able to afford a place to live rather than improving the lines they already have. And improvement, they need. But that’s fine – they’ll just keep building those new “luxury” apartment villages right behind one of the biggest electrical grid near the city and onward so folks can feel a sense of connection to the city. They still have to have a 30min ride in – depending on where you get off.

This photo is from one of the red line stations north of Harvard. It’s either most definitely Porter or Davis. I can’t believe I actually forget! I’ve been on those lines so much in the last few years. Anyways, each of the stations have their own unique architecture or designs and this is an example of one of them. Pretty neat right? Even if you feel like you are riding the escalator the long way to hell. 🙂 It’s sooo long you could probably have time for a lunch or a nap!

Bostonian tip – no one calls it the MBTA – just say the “T” and you won’t get any confused looks.


Buddy Guy Legends & Legacies


Buddy Guy is a legend of blues music. He’s right up there with John Lee Hooker, BB King, Howlin Wolf, etc. But I don’t want to talk about Buddy Guy today. Today, I want to talk about his daughter!

The man’s daughter followed in her father’s footsteps. I mean, with a voice like hers, how can you not? She has her own band called NuBlu. I’m talking about Carlise, because he has more than one daughter. Anyways, she and her band were performing the night I decided to catch a late show on my trip to Chicago, AND let me tell you, it was one of the best live performances in my life! That’s where this photo comes from. Her guitar player rocked it. She rocked it. They all rocked it. And IT was the house and it was shaking. Until they had to do the dishes and mop the floors and we (as in the crowd) sadly had to let them…


A Twisted Tale of Turns and Twigs


Turns and curves in nature – I just wanted to post this for the title. 🙂 But in all seriousness – how insane is this tree? Nature never disappoints with its unique and strange, just as much as with its symmetry and consistency. It is an infinite-edged spectacle. And I stand in awe, and try to keep my jaw from falling open all the time. Nature is the only pure cure we have. All else is shallow. Get thee to the forest! There is much healing that can be had just being surrounded by the beauty of life – of healthy eco systems (if they even truly exist anymore as we have ruined almost every corner of our planet).

I always think of this tree as having a personality, I would imagine it as a dancer, twisting and bending in the sun’s glory, making a poem in pure joy from basking in such splendor. 🙂

San Francisco

The Sorting Hat in San Fran


The sorting hat has come to San Francisco! Discovered in an arcade of a time well past…a collection of relics…mechanical brilliance for the period in which they were constructed. Whimsical machines and toys whirl around to delight the eyes of modern citizens! To delight the eye and puzzle the mind. To ponder upon the difference between the whimsy and creativity of the early twentieth century to the commercialism of the early twenty first arcading. How did we get here? from there? and where’s my whiskey?

But more importantly – which house do you think he wants to be placed in?!

When it’s my turn – I’m thinking Gryffindor! (duh)


A Little Pinch of Magic Aurora Dust


Let’s get this out of the way first – Aurora is magical.

Now – Hello! I love mornings so damn much. Everything is so fresh and nothing has been tired of – yet. The coffee is hot and delicious. Yes, I fully admit to being a coffee addict. Black only ever though. None of that sugary or milky stuff will ever touch the hallowed liquid that is pure rich dark black coffee. Won’t do it. If you ever see me adding anything to my coffee, I need to be rescued from whatever space cell the aliens are holding my real self in.

So this photo was taken on the Boston harbor at sunset. If you have ever been down here, especially on the weekends, you know that photographers line up (in good weather of course) along the fan pier with their enormous tripods and become ill at east with you if you try to find a spot that’s not in their frame. But it’s always in their frame!! Is that a fish-eye lens my friend?! (This is what photoshop is for)

This is a classic Boston skyline shot and it’s a bit overshot, but I LOVE it. I love sitting at the tables next to the Daily Catch restaurant, watching people each expensive seafood, watching the sunset cruises come and go, and watching the photographers take the same long exposure over and over again from the same spot – all night! I used to work around this area for four years and would come, eat lunch here and take walk breaks here. There have been a lot of changes in the seaport (because we are technically in the seaport here) and where this area was not particularly highly trafficked – even just five years ago – now it’s insane. All the new luxury apartment buildings have been finished, the new office buildings have been completed. There are more going up, but a lot of them that weren’t there just five years ago are now live and active. There’s also a relatively new luxury hotel with a roof deck that people LOVE to party at. I miss the almost desolation of the seaport, I miss the historical chapel they tore down, and I miss walking across the footbridge only being met with runners and people that worked at the Trade Center. But it’s “progress” right?

ANYWAYS – I really wanted to talk about how I edited this photo. I used Aurora – the new one that just came out in October. I LOVE it. It’s so much faster. I had it before and it used to crawl on my computer so I stopped using it. I don’t have a lot of patience sitting around and doing nothing. I must always do something! But I couldn’t even use my internet browser at the same time. THAT has most definitely changed. Not only can I used both at the same time now, the load time for a photo/set of photos is amazingly fast compared to the old one. Also, it really is spectacular the improvements they made to the fundamental HDR image the software processes upon upload. There are hardly ever any ghosting, noise, or all that other funky stuff you get when you merge photos or try to create HDR from a single RAW image. It’s like magic!!

Which is why I say I sprinkled this photo with some magic Aurora dust. BTW I created my own preset but the software has some already in there for you to try out. Also – I didn’t get paid anything to say this 🙂 I’ll most more Aurora photos soon!


Molly Kate


Nashville – Tennesee


Nashville. There is something exciting about going to a place that is nothing like the one in which you live. A place that is new and different than your day to day. That’s why people (including me) fantasize about travel. It’s like a new romance. You find out about the destination of your desire and you like it. The photos online are beautiful. You hear good things about it from others and it sounds even better and you get more excited. The plan is made to go and discover it for yourself. You prepare and think about how your trip will be constantly. Then you actually go and it’s so new and fresh for you, it’s exciting. You are most likely on vacation so you don’t have any worries of your daily responsibilities. You can afford it. It’s like the fall winds or spring flowers. You take photos for memories. Then once you leave, you remember the good times, the beautiful things. That is, of course, if everything goes well.

Even though the US is one country, albeit seemingly never united, if you travel just 6-8 hours, the culture can be so different. Each state is different, each quadrant or section is different. The Northeast is a completely different beast than the south or the west, for better or worst.

To be honest, I tire of the culture in Massachusetts very quickly. My family is here and my current job is here, but that’s pretty much the only allegiance I have. The winters are harsh and cold, summers hot and humid, the culture is rough, hurried, and overcrowded. There are not a lot of parks or natural spaces, no mountains, beaches are polluted and way overcrowded. The traffic is terrible. If someone was planning to move here, I would tell them to run away very fast. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine are lovely. I am not referring to them here.

Anyways, I digress.

I crave a friendlier, warmer people. People like me, who smile at you on the street and say hi when you pass each other, and don’t just stare at the space behind you as if you don’t exist. This is why I took a trip to Nashville and New Orleans to discover if it was true what people say about southern states and their hospitality. Or friendliness.

Nashville first 🙂

It was as they say! Mostly everyone was so friendly and I didn’t spend my time in the touristy areas, so it’s not like they had to be or were other fellow excited tourists. Nobody treated me like I had a disease, which is sometimes how I feel in Massachusetts.

There is a mass exodus into this city, so it may change the culture. It happens in cities. It happened in Boston. For good or bad.

I usually find myself in back alley, smoke-filled, rough and real places, bars and dusty pool halls, with normal people. Not tourists, not yuppies or hipsters, just normal people. Like Rudy – who evidently works at M&M Oil? I’m not sure that’s a real place, or even if his name is really Rudy… 🙂 I think you end up in what you attract and I must attract this sort of raw unpretentious atmosphere, with good music of course.

The only bar I enjoyed in the touristy area of downtown Nashville (Broadway) was Robert’s Western World and that band that was playing there in the early afternoon. They were fantastic and older and played really good music, not this “bro-country” shit that was in every other bar on Broadway.

Just a few thoughts on my trip to Nashville, check back for more!


A Weekend in Chicago


Somewhere on Sunday – Chicago!

Isn’t it fun to travel? To seek out new places, explore new streets, new landscapes, new mountains! To always keep expanding your body and mind with knowledge, experiences, memories, places, fresh sensations and sounds, rather than with objects. How can you expand your mind with a new piece of jewelry, video game, shirt, lamp, phone, or whatever else people might by when they spend their whole weekend in Target rather than in a good book, or a good hike. Is that receipt from TJ Maxx really as rewarding as the view from the top of a mountain after a four hour hike, or the satisfying happy belly feeling after taking your time with a delicious dinner with a friend? I don’t think so.

Go somewhere new today. Go walking.

If it’s cold or raining, or even sunny but you want to relax inside before going for a walk, come to Chicago with me 🙂 I promise it won’t be dull. Of course, I believe being dull or boring or being bored is a choice. People only get bored if they are boring. Interesting people are interesting because of their interests (of which they have many) and don’t get bored. Boring people are boring because they have no interests. I digress….

Back to the topic at hand!

Chicago, oh chicago! How you spoiled me with your impressive architecture, your classic streets, your characters! How I am grateful to have basked in your summers and not realize the rumors of your windy chilly winters.

In this city, I walked and walked and walked, and walked until my legs couldn’t hold me anymore. I didn’t sleep. I drank a few coffees. I danced. I made some friends and met the love of my life. It was a dream. It was magical.

This will always be a special place. That is the magic of traveling if you focus on the experience and memories and say yes more than you say no. I didn’t spend a lot of money. I went alone. I didn’t stay alone for long, but also didn’t mind being alone when I was. I LOVE being alone 🙂  Especially with my camera! Lose the fear and you gain much.

The ballet school was playing in the fountain. They were gracious enough to allow a crowd of photographers to take their photograph, many photographs, including mine. I wonder if they thought we were crazy or odd or cool. I couldn’t tell…

I couldn’t leave without getting a shot of this one, now could I? A tad blurry as it may be…

Going out into the world alone opens you up to so much. To people, to experiences – you are not compromising for another person’s trajectory. You are exploring your own interests. It’s not selfishness, no matter how some might see it. Selfishness only seems to have an impact only when traveling with others. It is when we relate ourselves to others that we find a self and an other and some of the time conflicting interests. Being just us – there is no self, there is no other, we are the other and self at the same time. Thoughts to be reviewed for another article… 🙂

Anyways, have a happy Sunday 🙂



Finding Used Camera Gear


The key to finding a great deal on used camera gear is knowing when to be patient and when to pounce. I buy most of my gear used. In today’s consumerist global society, objects, toys, and tech like cameras become obsolete every six months or so, or even sooner than that. There’s so many great cameras that you can find on the secondhand market. The only trouble is convincing your inner capitalistic demons that you don’t need the newest, latest, highest MP count, or IBIS stabilization, or .2 less f stop!! Get that inner disciplined shopping warrior awake!

Much of the junk out there in the photography gear circuit will tell you, you need the latest and greatest, which is amidst more junk from photographers that will tell you that the only camera that matters is the one you have with you (blah blah blah)…yet said photographers are touting the latest tech and being sponsored by brands (receiving free gear for reviews). Hmmm…doesn’t smell right to me.

If you don’t have a camera or want an upgrade – the one that you need is the one that A – fits in your budget and B – has the capabilities and tools to be able to do what you need it to do. Forget about what you want (unless you have spare money and want to blow it away needlessly). That is the first rule of budgeting. Wants are out. Needs are considered. Necessities are priority.

Budget and Debit – NOT CREDIT

Before even looking for a camera, you need to sit down, be realistic, and figure out how much you want to spend…from your DEBIT account. NOT your credit card. Take the advice or leave it, but this will make you feel much better in the end. Budget from your debit, your checking accounts. If you don’t have the money, please wait until you have saved enough. Don’t put it on the credit card. This is how credit card companies get you!

Budget for the entire system at the very beginning before buying anything. Make a list of everything you will need. This includes:

  1. Camera
  2. Lenses
  3. Camera & Lens Insurance
  4. Filters
  5. Carrying case
  6. Protection
  7. SD Cards
  8. Cables & Adaptors
  9. Tripod/gorillapod
  10. Cable releases
  11. Software (however there are loads of free alternative photo editing software to start with)

And that’s not even everything! That’s only the basic. Maintain everything within your budget. If you can only spend $500, you cannot buy a camera that is $450, you only have $50 left for lenses and everything else, especially insurance. Trust me, you will want the insurance. It’s worth it. I recommend getting the drops and spills extra insurance too, not only the basic. You will thank me!!

Tools + Necessities

Once you’ve got your budget, set out a checklist of specs or functionalities you need from the camera. The camera is a tool, not an accessory. If you think cameras are only good for fashionable accessories, get out. There’s the door. 🙂 Good? Ok, moving on – Prepare a list of what you need, not what you want. Set out a list of must haves and nice to haves. Search based only upon this list (only on must haves) and the budget you set.

If you don’t know what you need or want, do some research into types photography that you like. Do a lot of research. Do a lot of thinking 🙂 Experiment with your phone first, or older camera. Borrow a camera. If you want to shoot sports or wildlife, don’t look for cameras with known slow auto-focus or wide angle lenses, even if they are cool or pretty. Think FUNCTION. 🙂

Here are a selection of places to find used camera gear that I would personally recommend.

Adorama – My Favorite

I love Adorama’s used inventory. Sometimes there is not much, it depends on what they have, what is going out of style or date. I’ve found most of my used gear here. They are reliable and fast. They have protection plans and warranties. You can also trade in your gear here for proceeds towards the item you are looking to purchase.

My favorite aspect of shopping for used gear here is the rating system that they have. They rate the used gear from Like New to pretty much For Parts. Most of the inventory is excellent or good grade. It’s working perfectly, just might have a scratch or two. But honestly, if you buy new, you might scratch the camera taking it out of the box. These are tools to be used, not decorative necklaces!

Another helpful thing of Adorama is that you have a reliable company evaluating the used gear, instead of one person or company that really wants to sell it on Ebay and might not be as truthful or reliable as a company such as Adorama.

Buying from here actually just feels like buying a new camera. The most common brands you will find used here are Sony and Fujifilm. Which is fantastic because these are so much more expense new and other places where they are sold.

BTW – I have no affiliation with any of these places…

Local Camera Stores

These are not always the cheapest option, but sometimes you never know what you can find here in their used inventory. You might not find cheap camera bodies, but there might be some used cheap lenses depending on the store. One near me is the Newton Camera Store and they keep an online inventory of used products. I find this is one of the best options if you are looking for film cameras instead of digital.


Be selective here and spend the time and patience to find a good option. Read where the product is coming from and try to have a discerning eye on the seller’s reputation and overall appearance. There can be many fake goods sold on Ebay. This is the site I would advise the most caution on, but you can potentially find some of the lowest prices here. People looking to upgrade and need to sell their current version to add to their budget for the new version. Only go with a seller that has positive reviews. Actually read the reviews and see what people say. Take your time with Ebay. You don’t want to spend $500 and then realize what you bought was a scam. Not to scare you, just be cautious here. I’ve never had an issue because I’ve been patient and picky. 🙂

Other Options I don’t particularly care for:

B&H Photo – Used – less user friendly than Adorama, less inventory, and higher used prices. That’s my experience. It depends on what kind of gear you are searching for.

Amazon – I find most of the tech sold here secondhand is more expensive than other places like Ebay or Adorama.

Buying used has saved me so much money over the years. I’ve never had a problem with any item that I have purchased used.

One tip – ALWAYS buy a service plan. Squaretrade is really good. In the event that you have an issue, they take your camera and fix it. That’s it. Never buy used, or new for that matter, without a protection plan. I would recommend spending more money for the extra Drops & Spills one. That way, anything that happens, your investment is backed up. Hakuna Matata! This is why Adorama is my favorite because you can easily add a protection plan to the camera when checking out.

If you want to read more about the gear I have had success with – click here!


Boston – Home Base

Ahhh Boston…there are so many things wrong with you…but I still love you and probably always will. 🙂 I don’t know if my attachment with Boston is because I was born here, raised near here, and then returned for college and work for the past four to five years. I don’t know if I would love or hate this city if I was not from here. I don’t know how I would see it from the outside. So, in a way to introduce you to where my home base is now, I have written a brief unique (non-love) letter to this unique city. Oh, there will be many more articles about Boston, this is only the beginning! 🙂 boston from above

Dear Boston,

I don’t know if anyone has told you (probably many), your roads and drivers are insane. First of all, your roads were built for horses, not cars, or bikes, or TRUCKS for that matter. I was born in you (that came out wrong) and I still have trouble comprehending the nature of your pathways and intersections and the nature of the people that drive on them.


You get really freikin cold! It’s hard to be around someone who gives you a chilly attitude for six months out of the year. That’s all I have to say about that.
remember this?
car covered by snow
Ya…remember this?


You have allowed way too many universities to be built upon your not so expansive territory. I mean, this can be a good thing, because you are overflowing with knowledge, research, and resources. However, many of those young students that are living in an American four year fantasy have turned housing across the city and the traffic on September 1st into a nightmare. They have flooded the city, coffee shops, and bars with their immaturity. I don’t mind a few universities, but 35?!? Come on, couldn’t you have spared the rest of the population (the mature working professionals and families) a little bit from the impact of self-absorbed, unaware, incomprehensible college youth (that I never once was)? fenway from above


How did you get your citizenry to be so passionate about sports? I mean, it’s as if there is nothing else to do in this place other than to watch sports, talk about sports, drink in sports bars, etc. I’m not talking about sports that I like, I’m talking about the most boring sport in the world – baseball. (Sorry baseball fans). Come on – the fact that you got millions of people to be so into a sport that involves so much waiting, sitting around, more waiting, chewing tobacco, etc. is a true miracle. I think the chewing tobacco is the real sport here! Boston Bruins stadium

Despite this

Boston, you are beautiful. You are walk-able and small. You have a bloody and disturbing history. You have both cranky people and very friendly people. I think sometimes visitors misjudge or misunderstand you. You are fun! There are always things going on and even though events may not be as big as Chicago, San Francsico, or New York, you do pretty good. One thing we need to talk about is your “progress” or what people think is “progress”. You are becoming increasingly gentrified and expensive. People that used to be able to afford to live close to downtown, no longer can. Projects and Section 8 housing is being relocated from what used to be undesirable locations, but are now becoming the hottest new area in the city to buy and rent real estate.

Take Southie for example.

Southie used to be a working class neighborhood and now it is a haven for yuppies and rich wealthy families. There are people that still live there from many years ago, but rents are increasing, prices are increasing. There are more luxury apartment buildings built on what used to be old houses/apartments, open spaces, or older restaurants. I even lived there for a few years before it became too expensive for me and my landlord wanted to raise my rent by $700! First of all, that should be illegal. He was a greedy bastard. I had to move because I couldn’t afford anywhere else in the neighborhood.

Rents skyrocketed

Even just in the last five years! Another observation is you see more young professionals with a lot of money, nicer cars, nicer clothes (I don’t know why you would have a nice car and street parking in Southie, just don’t). Instead of affordable clothing shops and restaurants, there have only been luxury boutiques, pricey restaurants, and even STARBUCKS. I just slightly vomited. When they approved the starbucks, I couldn’t believe it. It was sickening and that’s when I knew what the neighborhood would become and that there wasn’t enough of a fight from local residents (because there aren’t enough left who care!). An expensive, yuppie, wealthy, hipster heaven. yuppie mamas with baby strollers So progress in you, Boston seems to only be primarily for the wealthy, students (Harvard/MIT), or yuppies/hipsters. Which is NOT progress. Progress is when you involve everyone, not leave behind or push out the folks that cannot afford the ridiculously expensive rents and other costs of living OR those that you would rather sweep under the rug and pretend they don’t exist. Every city has its issues. But don’t think for one second that you, Boston, are a progressive city. From an insider who is not part of the 1%, it is NOT. Get your shit together, Sincerely, Molly

Anyways, that is a random shpeal about where I come from, and where I live (for now….). Just a river of thoughts as I think about this place. I have a large gallery of photographs since this is where I have spend the most time. Check it out here if you want to see more of Boston on a visual level. 🙂 Click here to see gallery!  

Lowell Folk Festival – Free!

The Lowell Folk Festival just happened and I CANNOT believe it was free. It’s a folk festival in Lowell, MA, right in the National Park (yes, there are park rangers here, see evidence below). I felt like they should have been chasing down Smokey bear in the forest instead of driving golf carts around the urban jungle, but hey, it’s only tax dollars that go into that, right? There were only about 15 of them and they seemed to be doing nothing but goofing off and talking to each other. I digress. My favorite band the festival brought was the Colombian group Tribu Baharu. They, by no small feat, were able to being  New Englanders onto their feet to dance. The New Englanders that had brought camping/beach chairs with them and had plunked themselves down in front of the stage. Plunked down! To listen to Colombian champeta  – which is dance music, for dancing! Not plunking! New Englanders/Bostonians are a tough crowd for musicians. Except for the folk musicians that might make you fall asleep. We love that here. Just sitting and listening 🙂 That’s us. (some of the plunkers below) the crowd watchers at the concert I was impressed by the level of energy here. I’ve been to quite a few “festivals” in New England and this was one of the best if not the best! The largest, most organized and not to mention the free part again, festival. There were so many food stalls with different types from all over. It was fun. It was fantastic. Here are some of my favorite images from the event: I just adore the flower in the woman’s hair – right in the middle. 🙂 Downtown Lowell’s historic section is beautiful, but you can see the effects of gentrification and the widening of the income gap throughout. Interesting place.

iTravel LTE – Be Cool. Be Compact.


Travel light: I love to move. I love to explore. I love to be on the go. I love to discover new places, even if its just down the street from where I live. What comes with me is only ever one backpack, if that. A small backpack. With small things. And a small camera. And a tiny gorillapod that fits in my palm. And that’s all.

It’s both trendy but also truly liberating to “travel light” in this decade. Big and bulky is not cool anymore, thanks to the birth of an “ultra-portable, lightweight” gear industry. Small just got too big for its britches, was tired of being put in a corner, and wanted more. Nobody puts small in a corner!

These are my thoughts on to travel light but I have these just about all the time. Not only when you want to make those trendy “what’s in travel my bag?” posts, or challenge yourself to go on a long trip with a 30L backpack. To travel light is a way of thinking, not just a trend. It’s a perspective that follows you through your day to day as well as your holidays. It’s very philosophical too. Reducing the heavy baggage (literally and figuratively) in your life and camera kit. That’s a topic for another day. 🙂

Me, I don’t even have a purse, and for a woman that is something a little out of the ordinary where I live. There are only a couple of backpacks and one camera bag in my closet. I only have small ones too. I don’t even have a “camera backpack”. Just a tiny Tamrac messenger bag that only fits one camera and lens (not even a tablet or computer!). And I like that. And I have a few reasons why…

I don’t like to be weighed down. I don’t like to be obtrusive. I don’t like to be tired and I don’t like to be distracted. I hate bringing things I don’t use around with me. But that’s my style and everyone’s style is different. I will always say…

Be Cool. Be Compact. 

A – Your body will thank you

B – Others will thank you

C – Your photography will thank you

D – Your savings will thank you

We (as a collective society and majorly based on trends and experience) are increasingly paying more and more for things in this decade that are getting smaller and smaller. With the exception of the new iPhoneX (what a beast!). I still have the iPhone 5 and don’t want an “upgrade”.

Anyways, how does that make sense?! We took small and elevated him to a giant times-square-esque platform supported by loads of moola (that’s money). I’m not complaining, I love it. Well, let me rephrase that. I love packable, portable, ultra-light things. I DO NOT LOVE paying an arm, a leg, and my left eye for it. However, I understand how we got to this premium that the market has put on these types of products. Thank you capitalism!

“Small” “Thin” “Lightweight” “Portable” “Packable” “Lean” “Compact”

The Names of the Game. In the manner of a confession, secretly those words make the wheels in my massive gear-head start turning. Who doesn’t love a teeny tiny “budget” friendly camera that fits into your pocket but yet packs the punch of serious “pro” cameras?!! YES please. And truth be told – there’s something to it. Remember when we (and I mean we as in me and all y’all if you have had this experience) used to lug those GIGANTIC DSLRs around?! Those crazy heavy zoom lenses?! When “we” thought that made us cool and serious photographers? When we thought we needed a gigantic camera to get good photos?! Ya – I know it wasn’t only me 🙂 I see you there 🙂

Enter stage left – Fujifilm X Series…

best travel camera, fujifilm, xt-2, xt2, xa2, xa-3

Yes, I am one of thosethose x-heads…those cult people...a self-confessed unashamed convert…heck, I even named this “b-word” with a play on words that can be interpreted many ways, but one of them is xherexthere (x as in x-series)…

I used to have large Nikons, Canons, etc. After a few years, this thing called the Fujifilm x100s came into my life and let me tell you – I was a goner! Still am. Dunzo. Totally head over heels. It was as if I had been in a dark hole and Fuji dug me out with their magicalness of portability and lightweight fantastic-looking “retro” mirrorless camera.

Cue gospel music!

Don’t be deceived…this might seem like an Ad for Fujifilm X Series, but trust me, I advertise for NO ONE. I am also NOT a hipster. I don’t sling a film camera around my neck because I think it makes me look cool. This is not one of those travel blogs where I write enthusiastic praise words about products I don’t use or care about or don’t have a burning desire in my blood to use them everyday of my life because they give me such joy and happiness. (fist pumps in the air). Alright, I admit, now that sounds a little materialistic. For the record – I could use a disposable camera, I don’t care – photography is an art form – not a product of what kind of camera you have. It comes from your soul, your imagination, your practice, etc…

I’ve used Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, Fujifilm, etc. I’ve purchased and used a lot of different types and brands of camera. I’ve used DSLRs, point and shoots, and mirrorless. I’ve also shot a lot of film and digital both. I even cheated on Fujifilm for a year or two with a Sony a6000 (which is still a great camera). They brought me back with the x100F and XT2. I know there are many great cameras out there, from many different engineers and designers. In fact, I don’t think anyone can go wrong if they just close their eyes and chose a camera at random. However, I’ve found that there is none that I like more than the Fujifilm X series and way the technology is able to materialize and produces my actions into a beautiful digital file. It’s feels like magic (even thought I know it is science). 

Returning to the topic – iTravel LTE with my Fujifilm X Series cameras. I currently run around with the XT2 and an XA3. I only bring ONE of those wherever I go though, not both. But what about a backup? Well, maybe if something happened to my camera that rendered it inoperable, the universe is trying to tell me to take a break and that’s ok with me. I can still take photographs in my head. Unless I want to realllllly take photos and then I always bring the Fujifilm XP120 (it costs about $140 and I love it). 🙂

(those links to the gear are affiliate links, which means you can shop normally on Amazon and support this site at the same time. 🙂 Both you and I will appreciate it because I will be able to fund spending more time on this project, and you can spend more time reading/looking at pretty pictures, thanks!!) 🙂 

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For lenses – I have the 27mm pancake, 35mm F2 WR, and the 18-55mm. Most of the time, the 27mm is on my camera. I don’t really like carrying around the 18-55mm, because even that feel heavy to me. Remember, I shot with the x100s/t/f for the longest time. With the 27mm, it feels like the camera is nothing and I am taking photographs with an extension of my hands.

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This is liberating. I’m sure you have heard this before. But let me say it again. It’s liberating!! I feel free, free to be just me, unencumbered by unnecessary burdensome baggage. Free to only take the camera, one lens, and nothing else. Maybe for long days, just the tiny Tamrac apache (smallest) bag. And I don’t even like carrying that around. 

A – Your body will thank you

If we want to take better photos, we have to be fully present and concentrated in the moment and in the energies we absorb and emit between our internal and external environments. Not distracted by a heavy bag that makes us tired.

I have way more energy taking pictures with a tiny camera than a super-charged IBIS body with a gigantic all-encompassing-zoom-lens. I also tend to keep the camera out of the bag and on my neck or in my hands. I don’t put it in the bag most of time, like I did with larger cameras because my neck hurt.

I also only take one camera, and one lens. I don’t want to have the choice to change lenses, because for every angle, I will be wondering which lens I want to use, and that shit is distracting!

B – Others will thank you

I don’t see anybody on the street with a large DSLR and massive zoom lens as cool anymore. My perspective has evolved to this over time. Unless you are a professional sports or wildlife photographer, don’t stick your massive 70-300mm lens around the streets or anywhere for that matter. Just. Don’t. Take that shit on safari! (for the record – people are NOT a safari, despite what some photographers think and how they act on the streets).

There is a reason why sports photographers usually have a designated area at the game. There is a reason why wildlife photographers usually shoot, alone, in the middle of nowhere far away from their subjects. Because people, myself included, don’t want to be hit in the face or feel a long tube extending in their peripherals (this has happened) from some idiota’s burning need to zoom in so he can see the tiny little mustache hairs on your face and the crumbs on your chin as he snaps a shot of you putting that scrumptious croissant into your mouth.

C – Your photography will thank you

What do a lot of writers do when they need or want to write something? They rid their environment of distractions. Art is often compelled in the quiet. Too much noise and focus/concentration or inspiration is lost. Unless you find focus or inspiration in noise. And then, my friend, I salute you.

So many people I have talked to about this have confirmed my suspicions and my experience. Me, I photograph better with the most minimal gear possible. One camera, one lens. I get more creative. I get more active. I make due with what I have. When you have too many options or too many tools, it becomes more about the decision of which tool to use, rather than how to use it. It’s distracting.

Now, for different occasions, you might need different tools. But chose one tool for the occasion and be done. Leave the rest at home. If you are going on the street, take one pancake lens. If you are going birding, take one zoom lens. That’s all. Unless you are a professional photographer on assignment or a client job, you don’t need backup gear. Most of us have our “smart” phones as well. Did I mention this post is not directed towards pro photographers (and by professional, I mean people that make a living from photography)?

D – Your savings will thank you

How much does a Canon 5D Mark III cost? Or a Nikon D-blahblahblah…I know I know, mirrorless/small cameras, especially Fuji can be expensive depending on the model/glass. Leica is small too but unreal expensive. I don’t jive with Leica’s price tag, but to each their own.

However, compared to the full frame ones with large lenses, small/mirrorless are more friendly on your savings plan. You can absolutely blow your paycheck on small cameras, that’s true. I’m speaking here to small lightweight cameras that DON’T cost you an arm, a leg, and your left eye. It’s all in the decisions made and what you think you need versus how you can do more with less.

For example, Fuji has expensive lenses that are quite large and heavy. I don’t waste time drooling over those when I know I want to keep my kit light. They actually make their smallest lenses cheapest. The 27mm – cheap. The 35mm F2 WR – cheap. The XA-3 – cheap. The XP120 – cheap. The XT2 – cheaper. “Cheap” compared to the range of lens options. Inexpensive for the value when you compare what it can do and the quality of Fuji’s glass, even the inexpensive ones. The glass is really freakin good, damit.

One more thing on this – I always buy my gear USED. Never new. Cameras are like phones, a new version comes out every year. People are always upgrading so there is always a market for cameras that are one or two years old selling for a huge discount. You can get a really good, practically new, hardly used camera for $500 less than sticker price if you had bought new.

I didn’t intend to write a book with this article, but it seems I got carried away! By the way, if you have read this far, you are incredible. Want to be friends?

As an aside – I am not a travel blogger that likes photography. I am not a photographer that likes to travel. I am just a regular person that likes to make things…art…and my favorite medium is photography. I photograph. I travel. It’s more simple to describe what I do and let you interpret that than to start putting labels on myself. I hate labels. I would just like to make that nuance known. K. Cool. Glad we got that down 🙂

Have I convinced you to chuck that DSLR yet and travel light -er?

About X Here X ThereThoughts

X Here X There – First Things First


Hi! And welcome to X Here X There…the beginning of something…. I would like to hope it’s the beginning of something beautiful…hope is always beautiful no? – anyways, a beautiful friendship between me, my camera, words, places and photographs. (and you too!) As always, in the beginning of things, it’s hard to know where to start, how to introduce something, what do you say?

X Here X There

best travel lenses, lenses, fujifilm, best travel camera, travel cameraI’ll just simply say, I made this to be a styled collection/journal of photography and a recountive memoire of both simple or outrageous exploits/adventures.

So kick back, relax, grab a coffee/tea, beer/wine or glass of water or whatever your poison be, and get ready for a roll of photographs and words from which my mind, fingers, and a hopefully never ending supply of internet and photo storage, drop onto this “figurative” page.

Ok, I think that’s it for now. Come back soon!

Peace out 🙂 …drop of “figurative” mic…