Fuji X-Pro 2 & Fuji 16mm f/1.4: Washington Heights in a March Blizzard

Fuji X-Pro 2 & Fuji 16mm f/1.4: Washington Heights in a March Blizzard

On the Spring Equinox, I learned just how important weather sealing really is.

 A tenement building in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

A tenement building in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

This morning in New York feels very surreal. I'm writing this post wrapped in a sweater and under a fleece blanket with a mug of tea in hand, my bay window completely whited out from perhaps the most insistent blizzard I've ever seen.

It feels like only yesterday I was in Paris, roaming the beautiful tombstones in the Père Lachaise. Oh, wait – that was yesterday!

 Standing in the Père Lachaise, Paris. Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

Standing in the Père Lachaise, Paris. Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

With an eight hour flight under my belt, I finally arrived at my apartment last night. Much to my frustration, the weather in Paris was unseasonably cold during my brief visit, but it was nothing like what waited for me back home in New York.

Today – that is March 21st, the equinox and first official day of spring – we're being struck by a brutal snow storm, expected to last the entire day (and then some).

 A family running through the snow – but do they know school has been cancelled? Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

A family running through the snow – but do they know school has been cancelled? Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

Schools are closed, and most everyone who had the option – myself included – chose to work from home today. The streets are eerily quiet, exaggerated by the puffy white snow banks muting all the normal cacophonies and reverberations I'm typically desperate to avoid in this neighborhood. 

But neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night could prevent me from taking my Fuji X-Pro 2 out for a brief photo walk on my way to get a bagel for breakfast. 

Give how environmental this weather condition is, I twisted on the Fuji 16mm f/1.4. I've written about this lens quite enough already, but the optics and milky bokeh are just pristine. I figured this focal length and fast aperture would be perfect for soaking up the scene and getting creative exposures of the snow fall.

 A park in Washington Heights, Manhattan.  Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

A park in Washington Heights, Manhattan.  Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

I took the long way to my bodega because I figured the park would look beautiful in this weather. The moment I stepped outside with my X-Pro 2 around my neck, I kept it tucked away inside my coat, close to my body. Lens condensation is a real nuisance, and I wasn't going to wait for my gear to clear up in this kind of weather.

Photography tip: the best way to prevent lens condensation is to keep your lens in a closed bag before you step outside so that it can acclimate to the temperature change gradually. If you've already got a foggy lens, don't wipe it – that'll cause streaks and sabotage your photos. All you can do is wait for the temperatures to equalize and the fog to dissipate. 

Within two minutes, I was completely coated in snow – and soaked to the bone. 

 The mouth of a parking garage in Washington Heights, Manhattan.  Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

The mouth of a parking garage in Washington Heights, Manhattan.  Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

I hurried along out of the park and over to my bodega so I could get end my errand and get back home as soon as possible. My wool coat and leather boots were standing up well enough, but my Fuji X-Pro 2 and Fuji 16mm f/1.4 had become slicked with melted snow.

 Boots in the snow.  Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

Boots in the snow.  Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

Rationally, I knew that my gear was weather sealed, and for that I was infinitely grateful. Had I grabbed my Fuji X-Pro 1 and Fuji 35mm f/1.4, my gear would be shorting out right now.

But still, what a disturbing experience!

After I grabbed my bagel, my resolved strengthened and I tried to grab a few more photos on the brief walk back to my apartment. The wind was blowing directly in to my eyes – and lens – but instead of giving up, I thought I'd take advantage of the drama.

Photography tip: in weather conditions like rain or snow, lower your shutter speed to 'drag' the drops and emphasize their size. The best shutter speed to exaggerate the weather depends on the intensity of the storm, but 1/125 is usually a safe bet for a balance of long, dreamy drops and realism.

My favorite thing about shooting in snow, as you can see below, is capturing the storm as it feels rather than how it looks. Cameras are great for that kind of thing.

 A snowy stoop in Washington Heights, Manhattan.  Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

A snowy stoop in Washington Heights, Manhattan.  Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

This was a stressful and short lived photo walk, but Fuji's trustworthy weather sealing – and gorgeous optics – made it all possible. In fact, I'm thinking of getting back out there after this mug of tea. Wish me luck! ☃️


Digital strategist, writer, and image maker based in Manhattan working with clients in the tech and entertainment industry.