Walking toward the fairground was a thrill in itself when I was a kid. The type of thrill that built up with every step even when it wasn’t visible until I crossed the big entrance. The laser lights that sheared through the thickness of the night, the music that pour into Continue reading
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I spend an afternoon in downtown Los Angeles with a Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and a Fujinon XF 35mm 1:1.4 R. Learning to use the X system requires lots of patience, some trials and errors and many notes taking. Challenging but fun.
On top of that, Adobe Lightroom 4.1 begins to support X-Pro 1 RAW, the real fun starts. More possibilities to manage color, sharpness, noise. Even making books.
These days, one can never stop learning.
That’s one of the reasons why I keep notes of everything. From apertures to distances, from Clarity to Curves. Another reason for me to keep notes is that I can’t capture the breeze, the smell, the temperature of the scenes with my camera. Sometime, these things do play crucial parts during the editing process.
For me, editing RAW files is just as fun as wandering through La-La Land with a camera in my hands. The visual sensations, the thoughts when my thumb pressed down the shutter release to capture the shots flashes through my mind like a movie clip the seconds my photographs appears on the monitor’s screen.
Moments like these helps me to decide either my photographs should be in color or in black and white. It’s difficult for me to explain, but to me, photography isn’t what happened at the moments I took the shot. Photography is what happened at the time I processed the images, reshaped the photographs, fine-tuned their colors, gave them the titles. And then, the memories that will come back when I look at those images years later. Moments like these turn street photography into an addictive drug.
Those little stories I captured would never make the front page of a newspaper, nor would it make the cover of any book. Still, I love them. I love them not only for the people in my photographs but also for everything I’d learned during the progress of the art.
Street photography—or any field of photography—isn’t that difficult. Anyone, who has the right equipment, can do it; but if you take street photography seriously and you want to create some decent photographs, you need to study every tool you have in your possession. Do not think your X-Pro 1 is a simple camera. Once you dig into this little black box, you will realize it’s much more complex than you have thought. Do not blame the awkward focus by wire or the shutter lag. Once you master your X-Pro 1, these faulty designs seem to disappear on their own.
I mean, how do you enjoy street photography to the fullest if you don’t have the love for your camera, right? But how are you going to love your camera if you don’t know a thing or two about it? You’re not going to learn anything by going to forums and read other people’s issues with the same camera you have. You need to find your own problems with your equipment and learn the ways to solve them. That’s what photography all about, my friends. It’s not about the most expensive camera or the fastest lens but rather about learning to solve problems.
Surprise you, don’t I?
Think about it. Composition is a problem. Getting the correct exposure is a problem. To see what others can’t see is a problem. And there are more…
You’ve seen folks who spent thousand of dollars on DVDs, books, seminars and workshops but learned nothing much. Have you wondered why? That is because they tried so hard to scratch the surface but barely made the effort to learn from themselves. In reality, no teacher will be there for you when you need to solve a photographic problem; and ninety percent of these problems are from the hands of the users.
Learning from your own mistakes has never been an easy task. However, once you get to know your habits, the learning process will accelerate. Your photographic foundation will also be strengthen.
Take a notebook with you the next time you’re on the streets shooting. Experiment with things you’re not already know and things you’re already know but wanting a better solution. Give your strength and knowledge a test. I’m positively sure that you will amaze yourself with with things your notes are going to reveal.
It’s time to explore and conquer, my friends.
Yesterday, I met with a friend for lunch at Kaye’s Kitchen on Main Street. A narrow two lanes street in the heart of the city of Garden Grove that most people would miss it if they’re not familiar with the area. The whole street was too small to attract the tourists. But it’s the place where local classic car lovers hung out every Friday. Sometime, this little community went wild with Elvis impersonator concerts.
I decided to put my Fujifilm X-Pro 1 in BW Film mode and tested it with the built in red filter. It was a sunny afternoon so I was forced to use ISO 200 and an aperture that’s not wider than f/4.0. “I need to get a polarizer filter,” I said to myself. This made me appreciate the conveniently built in ND filters on the Fujifilm FinePix X100 and the little brother X10. I also wished that the folks at Fujifilm would allow us to shoot at a slower ISO, like ISO 25. Crazy, you think? Sorry, I just couldn’t control my thoughts sometime.
So, I took a stroll on Main Street with the X-Pro 1 powered up in hands, the Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R was set on AF-S mode. I was ready and eager to learn about the BW Film mode from this poor man’s Leica. Since people were not shiny enough to fool the in camera exposure meter, the thought induced me to train the lens on metal, chrome, and rubber parts. I chose the distance from 3 to 5 feet, camera to subjects to seize as much detail as I could with the XF 35mm lens. Oops! The AF sensor didn’t like up-close shiny objects under bright sunlight. Switching on the Macro mode seemed to calm down the AF sensor and the lens began to lock onto whatever I aimed it on. I absolutely needed a polarizer filter for this.
At f/4.0, the XF 35mm produced very nice depth of field. The lens had the capability to capture detail, render sharpness as well as given decent contrast for both BW and color photographs. If this wasn’t for testing purpose, I’d crank up the contrast and override the Exposure Compensation to get BW to fit my liking.
The molded diaphragm blades helped to reduce lens flare and ghosting. It also played a big part in creating lovely bokeh; even when the lens was stopped down to f/4.0. How did you like results you saw in these images?
The Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R was actually a 53mm in 35mm equivalent; the same focal length and viewing angle that’s similar to human eye. With the glass-molded aspherical lens to minimize spherical aberration, quality build and sharpness, it’s indeed a fantastic lens for its price. Of course, the focus-by-wire was a turn-off for many of us but it’s not that bad comparing to the X100′s 23mm. My trick to beat out the slowness in Manual Focus mode was the old school zone focus, then fine tuning for best result. It took a while to practice but it worked every time.
Going back to the BW Film mode, I think Fujifilm had done a good job on the filter. But would it be more fun if they allowed us to add some film grain to the BW Film mode? This would bring the BW film effects even nearer to their Neopan 400 or the lovely Natura 1600.
Crazy idea, I know. But think about it. For street ‘togs like us, a bit of film grain would make huge difference to the moods of our photos. Our creations would be much closer to the work of HCB, Robert Doisneau and Daidō Moriyama.
C’mon, Fuji. Give us the Add Noise button.
How joyful I was to see no white orb infesting my shiny spots! My love for the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 grew a bit more as I was bringing to close this post.