I had the best intentions over the past few months to get out more and spend more time with my camera. As you can tell from the time between this post and the last one, it didn’t quite work out as planned.

I’ve been distracted, and it’s surprising how much a distraction can make you forget what you enjoy.

Arranging with a friend to make a trip to the Vosges area of France gave me the push to get back out.

The drive took longer than usual, the low clouds dropped the visibility on the road down to just a few meters at times. Although from experience of animals on the roads - I rarely drive at any speed on these roads at night - it was still a lot slower than usual, which was fortunate as after driving around a sharp corner I narrowly avoiding a deer jumping out of the undergrowth on to the road and further down the road, two rabbits.

We arrived at the destination half an hour before sunrise, there was a slight glow in the fog, but due to the dense cloud cover, we could barely tell if the sun was up or not. It was 3°C, which felt colder with the wind chill. There was so much moisture in the air that even though it wasn’t raining we were soaked within a few minutes.

In short the best way I can describe it is absolutely wonderful. Even if we hadn’t have found the herd of chamois, I could have wandered around the hills taking in the atmosphere for hours.

The positive feeling that being in the hills, the forests, the mountains or anywhere in nature give me lasts for hours. Being in these places at a time when there are rarely other people around, seeing things that others do not get a chance to, only makes it more special.

What I want to do is try to capture these moments and emotions in the images I take. For this reason, I do not necessarily want to capture a pin-sharp portrait of an animal centred in an image. This first image follows this.

Walking away from the parking place along one of the paths, the hill drops away making the fog feel denser. In silence, we go further into the fog, eyes strained, trying to tell the difference between grey and a slightly darker shade of grey that might be the silhouette of a chamois back lying in the grass, or just a slightly thicker clump of grass, or just a bump. Hoping that we made the right decision to go right instead of left at the last fork in the path. Hoping that the fog will part a little bit more.

We were lucky.

I’ve had to boost the clarity on this image so that it will work online, but I hope that it gives the impression of the atmosphere of the first sighting. A few moments after this the fog cleared a little more to reveal another six chamois close by.

A camera is a tool, sometimes it takes a little help after the image is taken to bring out what was envisioned at the time of taking the image.

The above image is what I wanted the image to be when I took it. The image to the right is the unedited RAW image.

In this one, as you can see, I’ve converted it to black and white and straightened the horizon. I feel that black and white works well with this atmosphere and the straightening and slight crop provides better balance.

With the fog and undulating landscape, it is possible to miss something quite close; that is until they notice you and you suddenly see a horned head rise out of the grass.

In this situation, I find the best way to proceed is to remain still, and quiet. The Chamois in this area are used to people and are quite relaxed, but they will still run. By remaining still I was able to get the next image. The chamois had moved slightly closer, the cloud fog was less dense and the details and autumnal colours stood out a lot more.

The trip was cut shorter than I would have liked by me forgetting my waterproof trousers and spending too much time lying in the wet grass. The wind blowing over the wet trouser wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences.

It was really great to be out again, wonderful to experience such weather conditions and fantastic that we were able to find the herd. I do need to do this more often.

On a related note, all of the images in this post were taken with the GFX 50s. It held up very well in the conditions. Water was dripping off of it most of the time I was out.

I still have the Sony system. Although I have sold a lot of gear recently I kept key lenses that I use more often. A Sigma 60-600 mm, Sony 16-34 f4, Sony 90mm f2.8, and a Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8, but as I’m using the GFX so much, and enjoy the experience and usage of the Fuji system I’m starting to wonder whether I need to keep it or not.

The only advantage that I have with the Sony system is the extended reach of the 60-600 mm lens, so do I need to keep it? The 50 mp of the GFX gives me a greater possibility to crop the images, as you can see below and especially the detail in the last one.

The three images below are crops of the same file. The original is a 8256 x 6192 px.

  • The first 5000 x 5000

  • The second 2000 x 2000

  • The third is 1000 x 1000

Is it worth having a camera system sitting around, that I’m not using much and which is only depreciating in monetary value? The money could be invested in the EVF tilt adapter or the battery grip for the GFX. I would also prefer to use only one OS. This might be partly to do with GAS too, so I’m not going to make a decision right away but will keep it in mind on the next few outings.