You Got It or You Don’t – Maestro or Noodler?

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Immersion and the Subtle Art of Honing Your Craft – Becoming a Better Street Photographer

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How to make my Instagram secret sauce

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David Alan Harvey is Blowing My Damned Mind (again)

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Hanging with the Pelican – A study in “working” the shot

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11 Photography Lessons 2016 Taught Me

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Holy Crap, it’s 2017

How was your 2016? Into which worlds did your own photography journey lead you?

2016 took me on a 20-day non-stop photowalk that had stops in Barcelona, Southern France, Poland, and the Czech Republic. I held my first month-long exhibition resulting in the sale of several prints, I participated in a group showcase, and I was invited to hang one of my Iconic Santa Barbara images in the Mayor’s Office as part of the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative Art in the Mayor’s Office program. What have you done over the past year? I’d love to hear your stories!

All in all, it’s been one hell of a year. As I do at the top of each year, I’m currently ruminating on what I’ve learned, where I’ve grown, and where my growth has maybe been stopped or slowed. I’m not a big fan of listicles, but I’ve got one here anyway. What started out as a list of 3 or 4 items that I have learned over the year quickly Tribbled into a list of 11 items. Let’s dig in.

#1: Shoes matter

This year I’ve walked more than 850km in service of photography in all sorts of environments. I’ve worn out a pair of Nikes and a pair of Merrill Moab Rover street shoes (my favorite photowalk shoe) chasing my craft and I’ve learned that shoes matter more than almost anything else. If you’re serious about pounding the pavement you need to focus on form over fashion with regards to your footwear. I recently went out for a few hours in the pouring rain in order to get some shots that were rare and difficult to get (as it hardly ever rains in Southern California) and in doing so I very quickly learned that I had completely worn the tread off of my sneakers. I almost took a nasty spill at one point but recovered. Luckily, I had another pair of shoes in the car, which leads me to my next lesson.

#2: Change of clothes

I often shoot an hour or more from home. I live in Santa Barbara and I like to work the Santa Monica-Venice Beach area. Since it’s Southern California I never know what the weather is really going to be like, and since I tend to be a bit on the adventurous side I never know if and when I may find myself standing waist-high in the surf trying to shoot a dolphin or something. I always therefore have a change of clothes in the car and I cover all of my bases down to socks, underwear, and a dry pair of shoes. This isn’t only a preventive measure; I’ve found myself accessing my daypack at least 50% of the time. In fact I find that knowing I have a wardrobe with me affects the risks I’m willing to take in order to get a shot.

#3: Blend in but add flair

Disclosure: I’m kinda fashionista. My wife is definitely a fashionista so it sort of rubs off. When I go out I normally dress for going out.. but I’ve learned not to. This year has brought me to some rather dicey urban spots around Los Angeles, San Francisco, Prague, and Poland. On at least one of those occasions I realized rather abruptly that I was entirely overdressed for that part of the city after sundown. I’ve therefore learned to dress for my audience. Dress to blend in, not to stand out. I’m not trying to impress anybody with my fashion sensibilities. In fact I’m trying to not attract any sort of attention to myself at all.

Let’s talk about street photography psychology for a moment. With regards to shooting people on the streets, I’ve learned that I need to look like them in order to blend in but I also need to display a bit of credibility in case I’m caught taking the shot and that this varies from location to location.

For example, I wear street clothes in Los Angeles. Jeans, non-descript street shoes, a cap, sunglasses, etc. I blend in. But I will also wear a nice scarf. This is a step above how others are dressed and I’ve learned, as weird as it may sound, that a scarf totally disarms people who I approach openly. They look at the scarf and relax a bit. I look like they do but the scarf tells them (I have no idea why) that I’m not going to bother them for money or try to scam them in some way. They usually see the scarf before they see the camera.

In Paris this is different. People dress very well in Paris. I therefore have to dress well. If I were to wear my LA street clothes in Paris my subjects would actively avoid me. I need to dress up when working the streets of Paris and I wear an even nicer scarf.

In Poland, I found that my clothes need to be practical, not showy, but also a step above casual.

I’m not sure how much of this actually matters but you want people to ignore you in the best of times, not feel unsafe around you if they do notice you, and you always want to avoid becoming a target for aggression or theft. I feel more safe on the streets now that I’ve worked this all out. Your mileage may vary.

#4: Have business cards in your bag

This one speaks to credibility as well. Let’s say that I’ve just shot a candid portrait and the subject catches me in the act. I can slink off into the crowd like some dirty thief, or I could play the “silly Asian tourist card” that Eric Kim uses — he’s such a funny and great instructor. Working with him was a high point of 2016 for me — but I’m not Asian.., or I can walk straight up to my subject with a smile, say “HELLO!”, hand them a business card. While they’re busy being very impressed with my calling card (I have very cute little Moo MiniCards with images on the back) I chimp the best image of them and show it to them on the back of the camera. I always invite them to email me and I offer to send them their photos for free, no strings attached. I have only ever been met with enthusiasm and gratitude at this.

#5: Watch that Bag

If you’re anything like me you have a penchant for nice camera bags. I own no fewer than 5 camera bags of varying size and fancy-pants-ness and no matter how much I covet that wonderful full-leather ONA Bowery or Prince Street bag, I’m never going to buy one. Why not? Re-read lesson #3 about blending in. Carrying a very expensive leather camera bag puts a target on our backs that I’m not willing to wear. My everyday carries are an ONA Bowery or an ONA Prince Street bag in waxed canvas with leather accents. They’re beautiful bags and they do great in foul weather (the leather bags obviously do not.) And what’s best is that these bags could conceivably be a (AHEM) man-purse. I do not attract very much attention wearing these bags which for me is entirely the point.

[x_alert heading=”A note about camera straps.” type=”info”]Hopefully you’re not carrying the strap that came with your camera and has an enormous CANON EOS 5DS-R logo printed on it. If you are, come on. Only tourists do that. A mugger can see that logo a mile away and you’re just asking for trouble. These straps are awful anyway and will contribute to neck and shoulder strain. Get yourself a Black Rapid sling strap or better yet anything from Peak Design. Better gear, better experience on the streets means that you’ll shoot more frequently with more comfort and fewer obstacles. Ditch the branded stuff.[/x_alert]

#6: Be able to hide the evidence

This one is really an adjunct to the last lesson. I always carry two camera bodies for reasons I’ll get into in a moment. It’s important that the bag you carry can accommodate ALL of your gear. Here’s why: I used to carry a small bag with either a spare body and lens, my phone, wallet, car keys, etc. That bag would be full and I’d then wear my main body on a strap. Travel light, right?!

NO. I have come to appreciate the ability to stow all of my gear into my bag and become just another tourist in a moment’s notice. This practice has served me in several cities around the world. There are times when I want no evidence of carrying a bunch of rather expensive camera gear on my person. I’ve gone so far as to stow all of my gear and drape a sweater over my bag, through the straps, in order to look like a tourist with a day pack instead of a photographer carrying $6K worth of highly desirable and easily re-sellable equipment.

Imagine how you look to a mugger in Barcelona carrying 3 months pay on your person. That’s a lot of temptation and you’ve got to think about this sort of thing if you’re going to be out in the world.

#7: Gear pack

I keep a small waterproof camera bag in the trunk of my car with a few items in it. There’s a small flash unit, a set of Allen wrenches, a box of AA batteries, a Peak Design Cuff hands strap with some replacement hardware in case I lose the bottom mount or one of my anchor clips breaks on me. I also keep a MeFoto Walkabout monopod (in fire-engine red, of course) in the car in case I need it for something or in case I need a bludgeon. No joke.

#8: Always a backup

I bring two bodies with me on all planned photowalks and trips. I’ve come to realize that changing lenses in the field is a huge pain in the ass and exposes one to risk of theft, damage, and increases wear and tear on my gear. Thus two cameras. Also, I have had a camera body die on me while on a photo trip. Replacing it was not an option at the time and the entire trip would have been forfeit had I not been carrying an exact duplicate of my main camera. I put a wide lens on one body, a long-ish lens on the other and that’s just how I work. My hit rate has increased dramatically since I employed this habit. For those of you who argue “one camera, one lens”… yeah, okay. That’s fine. That’s also hobby-talk and there’s nothing wrong with hobby-talk. There are days when my second body never comes out of the bag at all and I do work with “one camera, one lens.” The difference is that I have it when I need it. I’m shooting for prints and projects and being unprepared against equipment failure is simply unprofessional.

I can’t imagine not having a foolproof backup system for my files and I can no longer imagine not having a backup for capturing and creating those files.

#9: Plan your walks

This one’s a little bit banal but has made a big difference for me. There is something to be said for just losing oneself in an unfamiliar city. I advocate this and enjoy doing it myself. When I’m working an area that I’m familiar with I do tend to make a rough game plan instead of leaving it to chance.

I figure that I’m going to shoot in zone A for a certain period and I’ve got a good idea of what the light is going to be like at that time in that area. I plan out zone B and I know what sorts of things I’m looking for and I know where the light will be coming from. Zone C is almost always a café or restaurant that I’ve been looking forward to trying out, and I will hang out, rest up a bit, and review my images. That pit stop becomes an oasis and a point to look forward to. I’ll change out my lenses if needed and then head off to Zone D. And that’s how I plan my photowalks. I leave plenty of room for improvisation but I know what I’m after and my eye is calibrated against the natural light.

Discards, revisited

A couple of years ago I wrote about sitting on your discards as I learned that immediately following a photowalk was not the right time to do selects and delete images. That’s stuck with me and I teach it to this day. I’ve since taken it a step further however. I now work my shots quite more than I have in the past.

I wrote about this one image I got of The Princess and the King. That was frame #13 of 15 shots. In the past I’d have taken 2 or 3 shots and moved on, missing out on that perfect shot that has made a wonderful print and has sold a handful of times.

There’s another image, currently one of my personal favorites, of a heron that I worked for 10 minutes before finally getting what I wanted. I enjoyed a lengthy interaction with the bird whose natural distrust eventually turned into curiosity. My rapport with this heron (if you can call it that) enabled the image to be far more than it would have been otherwise. And to make things even more magical a pelican flew right into my frame adding even more magic than had been there before.

The resulting print came from frame #69 of 75 total shots. There’s an argument for doing the work and sticking with an idea if ever I saw one.

I have found that I like to have a record of the “misses,” a sort of digital contact sheet, if you will. It’s incredibly instructive to save those images which before I’d have considered rejects; discards. I now save them and I learn from the “contact sheet.” This contact sheet also serves as an excellent teaching tool for me as I work with others.

#10: Projects, always Projects

Think about your favorite television shows. Some episodes tie together into a larger narrative told over several weeks or months and some episodes stand by themselves and deliver their story arc in a single sitting. I think of photography in this way. I like to have an ongoing project that I’m shooting for because it changes how I shoot.

I’m all for heading blind into a town and getting what I can. It’s fun and as an exercise, serves to train my eye, hone my skills, and sometimes even results in an image or two that I can be proud of or even turn into a print for sale. This is like one of those stand-alone television episodes.

However, the larger narrative approach is far more rewarding for me and I generally tend towards having multiple open projects at a time. It’s like going into the grocery with a list. A shopping list doesn’t exclude the acquisition of items not on the list but helps you get through the grocery more effectively while ensuring that you don’t leave without essential items.

People ask me about being overwhelmed with too many concurrent projects and the truth is that shooting for one project has me shift my thinking about how I shoot for another of the projects. Having multiple ongoing projects is an enormous benefit for me as my results are better and bigger than the sum of all parts.

Projects I’m working on:

  1. Knockers and Knobs. Format: Photobook. A coffee table book of door knocks and door knobs shot over 6 years on locations throughout Europe and USA.
  2. The Other Santa Barbara. Format: Photobook. A socio-policital photo essay covering a fuller story of beautiful Santa Barbara, California than is normally conveyed.
  3. The Origin of Food. Format: Photobook. A story of agriculture in California.
  4. The Now Bostonians. Format: Photobook. Still conceptually vague. First location trip to occur May 2017.
  5. Iconic Santa Barbara. Format: Collection of Fine Art Prints. Ongoing project resulting in regular product updates on my store.

Each one of these projects takes up space in my head and what I learn in support of one of the projects acts to enhance and improve the work I do on other projects. I highly recommend conceiving a project and holding space for that whenever you go out to shoot. This leads to the pursuit of Voice, which I intend to expand on a lot more in future articles.

#11: Wetter is Better

I never thought having water resistant gear would make much of a difference for me until Fujifilm starting releasing WR camera bodies and lenses. I do not like being wet and I do not like being cold. Therefore I used to have no photos that were taken in wet or cold conditions.

Well, look: If you want images that are different than what everyone is shooting you’ve got to be different than everybody else. My WR gear has encouraged me to go outside in the rain and capture some truly unique images and a range of subject matter that I otherwise would have no access to.

Images of Santa Barbara in the rain are very rare given both people’s reluctance to go out in the rain and the infrequency with which rain actually falls in Southern California these days. Another huge upside of being out in the rain is that the rain will sometimes stop and when the sun comes out through the clouds the resulting light is unbelievably gorgeous. And rare. Very rare. An entire new world has opened up for me and I’m enjoying it. See Lessons #2, #3, and #9 from above as they’re related.[/cs_text][x_line style=”border-top-width: 1px;”][cs_text]Well. Wow. That’s all, folks.

Thanks for reading, and if you want to chat, let me know what’s going on for you.

Cheers, and Happy Shooting.
Chris[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_element_section _id=”7″ ][cs_element_row _id=”8″ ][cs_element_column _id=”9″ ][cs_element_global_block _id=”10″ ][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][/cs_content]

Heading to Europe – What’s in my Bag?

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_alert heading=”Episode 1 : Pre-travel Prep” type=”danger” close=”false”]This is the first in a series that I’ll be writing to chronicle my photography project through Spain, France, Poland, and the Czech Republic over 3 weeks in the spring of 2016.
Click on this TAG to view all of the articles in this series.[/cs_alert][cs_text]I’m heading to Europe on May 19th for a 3-week long photowalk through some of my favorite cities. I’ll be moving through Barcelona, Cadaqués, and Figueres in Spain and will have a day or two to drive up into France to visit the town of Céret where Pausha and I lived for 2 years, as well as the Mediterranean port towns of Collioure, Banyuls and Argelès-sur-Mer.

From there I fly off to Kraków and Katowice in Poland to attend the wedding of my mother-in-law. I’ll have 5 days to explore some industrial areas in southern Poland, visit Auschwitz-Birkenau (which is always quite an experience) and drink truly exceptional beer before hopping a train into the Czech Republic for 8 days in Prague.

With the exception of one day attending (and presumably shooting) the wedding, the remainder of the time is dedicated to urban exploration, finding exceptional eats, and getting my travel tog on. I’m excited for the entire trip, though I’m actually feeling nervous about the first leg and what that experience might be like for me.

Having spent two years living in French Catalonia, I know that region very well and I’m already very well-acquainted with Barcelona and the towns I’ll visit along the coast on the way up and back from France. I’ve also got a loose shot list prepared. And while I am familiar with the area, and I know what is there, I return to the area with a much different eye and as a very different photographer than I was when I lived there. This is both terrifically exciting and mildly terrifying to me.

My travel companion will be my younger (unofficially-adopted) brother Kazdyn, who has visited French Catalonia before, but who has never visited Poland or the Czech Republic, so that’s going to be very fun for us both. And since we’re both Fuji X Shooters, there’s been a good deal of discussion around what equipment will be in our respective bags for the trip.

I mean seriously, 3 weeks will see a lot of different shooting scenarios

I like to travel light whenever possible, in fact, the last time Pausha I were in Prague I totally blew it. I was so tired of lugging a big-ass heavy Canon DSLR around with me, and just sick and tired of photography in general that I only shot a handful of snaps with an iPhone. Well, I’m over that, I’m back in action, and ready to work.

If I were pursuing a single genre it would be easy, but I’m not. I’m shooting for cityscape and landscape prints. I’m shooting a good bit of industrial architecture. I expect to have full days where all I shoot is people on the streets. I’m shooting a wedding…

And then there are the locations to consider. Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia is the most mind-blowing bit of architecture I’ve seen in my entire life and I’m still not entirely clear how I’m going to shoot it. And then there’s Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim, Poland. Shooting Auschwitz-Birkenau is going to require a light hand, lest I return with the same images everybody else has made there.

I went back and forth on gear for over a month before finally coming up with a solid plan.

What to bring?!?

160513-Gear_Europe-23-08-46-Edit
Click to view BIG. (You’ve been warned.)

The Main Course

Okay, let’s start with the main gear. Here’s what I’m working with:

  • Fujifilm X-Pro2
  • Fujifilm X-T1
  • Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS Zoom Lens – This is by far one of the best, sharpest and lightest walkaround lenses I’ve used. I do my street photography with primes in most cases, but when the centuries old cityscape is as much the focal point as the people I’m shooting, I prefer to have a zoom to lock in better (more saleable) compositions. I’ve done some incredible things with this lens, at night, as “slow” as it is.
  • Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS Wide Angle Zoom Lens – A bit on the big side (all things being relative) but this lens brings the drama when desired. Again with the zoom approach. I could bring Fuji’s 14mm prime (which I sold to get back into this wide zoom) but this zoom has an incredible OIS feature on it (Optical Image Stabilization) so I don’t even care that it’s 1 full stop slower than Fuji’s 14mm f/2.8. And since the X-T1 and (especially) the X-Pro2 can see in the dark, I can do with f/4 in the evening.
  • Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0 XF R Lens – This is my favorite street photography lens. I shoot wide, and while some streettogs go for a 50mm equivalent, I find that to be far too long. I even feel that a 35mm equivalent is too long. For me, the 28mm equivalent is perfect for street, and that’s just about where this one sits on Fuji’s APS-C sensor, give or take 1mm.
  • Fujinon XF35mm f/2 R WR – Fast, crazy sharp, weather-sealed. This one’s a great portrait lens for the wedding. I don’t want to bring my Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 R as it’s bigger and heavier and would only come out at night or at the wedding. I’m feeling the need to cover my bases in the most versatile way possible. I have no fear taking this and either the X-T1 or X-Pro2 out in the rain to shoot as both camera bodies are weather-sealed and a great match for this lens.
  • Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye – Okay, this one will very likely stay in the hotel on most days, but it’s definitely going with me into Sagrada Familia. I’ve tried to shoot that cathedral with a 35mm equivalent before and seriously, I was not up to the task at the time. Perhaps I am now. We shall see.
  • BONUS: Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Zoom Lens – Kazdyn wants to use this lens for a short list of high-vantage cityscape shots that we plan to do in the early morning in various locations. I’m lending him this one on the singular condition that he has to carry it. So that’s really not on my back. It’s a good lens and far lighter/smaller than the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR, which I do not own or feel a desire to own. Again, I’m a wide shooter, and I’m actually kind of surprised that I bought the 55-200mm at all. It’s nice to have and I’ve had some need for it but it lives in my camera case and gets dusted off every week but very rarely leaves the house.

Support Equipment

  • Fujifilm Instax Share Smartphone Printer SP-1 – Okay, I love this thing. It’s brilliant. My Polish is horrible and I won’t be able to communicate very well with 99% of the people at the wedding, but for my brother-in-law who speaks English very well. I intend to print out portraits as I shoot them and hand them out as favors to the guests. I think this will be a fun thing for everybody and will serve to keep people smiling while I’m shooting them in the face. I’m bringing 5 10-packs of prints for it too. This is going to be a lot of fun.
  • Nissin I40 Flash – Small, compact, powerful. I almost don’t feel it in my bag.
  • Peak Design Field Pouch (x2) – This is one of the best-designed accessories made for photographers. Hell, everything they do is brilliant.
  • Peak Design Slide Lite straps for Mirrorless (x2) – Love these. My favorite straps.
  • Peak Design Cuff wrist strap – I tend to wear the X-Pro2 on a Slide Lite and keep the X-T1 in the bag with the wrist strap on it with my secondary lens attached. I used to go all Rambo and wear both bodies at the same time but that got old really quickly, and anyway nothing says MUG ME like wearing two expensive camera bodies on you on the streets of Barcelona.
  • Ona Bowry Bag  – What can I say about this. It’s great, small, hip, made of waxed canvas and leather with closures in all the right places. I love this bag.
  • Think Tank Shape Shifter, Photographic Backpack – Okay, this one is a must have for any traveling photographer. While this bag will not be my daily carry, it enables me to pack all of my camera gear, and my 15″ MacBook Pro, iPad, and all of my travel documents and a change of clothes into an airline-ready carry-on bag. This thing is unbelievable. It’s made for larger DSLR camera tech, but it works just fine for a mirrorless system, expands and compresses as required, and is remarkably light, fully-loaded.

Obviously: Chargers, 6 batteries, 10 SD cards, backup Lacie hard drive, etc.

What’s conspicuously missing is a tripod or monopod.

I plan to buy one in Poland or Prague, but I don’t want to have to pack and fly with one, though I may well change my mind. I own the excellent MeFoto Roadtrip Travel Tripod and I love it a lot. I also have the smaller MeFoto Backpacker Travel Tripod. For that matter, I also have the MeFoto Walkabout Monopod/Walking Stick. I may end up dropping one of these into my cargo suitcase, but don’t want to have to deal with the TSA thinking it’s some sort of weapon. I’ll think on this further.

Additionally, I’ve decided to leave my film cameras behind. Too much. It would be fun to shoot film on the trip, but it’s just too much of a hassle, especially when I can simulate it so well with today’s tools and with the Fujifilm jpg film simulations.

And there you have it.

That’s it! I’d love to know if you think I’m missing something that I’ll regret forever if I don’t bring. Let me know in the comments section.

Check back over the next few weeks, as I’ll be updating this blog with travel updates and lots of images of my travels as I’m able to input, edit, and post-process them.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!

xoxo
Chris

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3 Different Stories in Under 5 Seconds

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]I’ve been thinking a lot about storytelling lately and how much influence my preconceived notions can have on me finding what I seek when I’m out working the street, or more importantly, what effect my expectations have on me failing to find what I seek.

There’s a lot to be said for going out with an empty mind and following the muse. I tend to dislike that approach because it makes me feel like I’m not in control, or something. I do prefer to go out looking for themes and ideas, as well as the obvious search for the perfect light source and unexpected events, and so on.

This night I was on the Santa Monica Pier and some jogger came up the boardwalk and jumped up onto the railing and started dancing on the railing. Mr. Dangerseeker here, unimpressed by the obvious risk to his person (oh I don’t know, maybe he’s a terrific swimmer…) then raised the bar by jumping up in the air and landing in a perfectly balanced handstand on said railing. I was shooting an 18-55mm lens with some reach but not a lot, and I ran to capture what was left of his performance.

Here’s the shot I was hoping to get:

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I like this shot. It’s not going to win any awards, but it’s printable and likely saleable. It’s got good context and tells a fun story, leaving the viewer to imagine what the hell is going on with this guy.

Next, I zoomed out just a bit, leaned to one side and I got this shot, just 1 second later.

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This shot tells a very different story. Here’s a picture of some guy taking a picture of some guy. It’s not the shot I wanted in my bag, but it’s different and was also interesting to me. I’d love to see what this other photographer was able to capture.

Lastly, I somehow had the presence of mind to zoom out even more and take this final shot before my subject ran off into the Los Angeles evening.

160310-Santa_Monica-17-16-11

This one tells again a very different story from the other two images. This image conveys the truth about what was going on at the Santa Monica Pier that evening. It tells a different story about the daredevil. In the first two images, he’s a nut and he’s wild. In this last image, he’s a nut, and he’s wild, and he’s a total exhibitionist who’s showing off before a large crowd of tourists. Very different story.

Note his pose and the position of the seagulls. These three shots were within 5 seconds of each other, based on the time stamps in the filenames. Three frames taken over the course of 5 seconds. Thankfully I had already set the camera’s exposure settings a few moments prior.

What a difference 5 seconds can make!

Not to mention the degree to which a simple and fast change in framing changes the entire truth of the story. So which image is the truth? Which image tells the better story? You tell me.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_element_section _id=”5″ ][cs_element_row _id=”6″ ][cs_element_column _id=”7″ ][cs_element_global_block _id=”8″ ][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][/cs_content]

Don’t Leave the Camera at Home

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While packing for a recent trip to NYC, I decided to leave my Full-Frame Canon 6D at home and bring instead only my Fujifilm X-E2 and a single “kit” lens, the excellent Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 Lens Zoom Lens. I’ve been very apprehensive about investing in this system because until this trip I simply was not convinced that I could produce the same level of image quality from a smaller, “toyish” camera system.

I’ve had the X-E2 for 4 weeks now, and I’ve shot the Canon and Fuji side by side. In 4 out of 5 cases, I prefer the Fuji shots over my Canon shots, and that fact has shocked me, and leaves me feeling both excited and anxious. I’ve since replaced my Canon 70-200 f/4 L IS USM lens with a Fuji 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 lens at half the cost, and twice the sharpness and quality. I seriously cannot believe this.

I briefly owned a Fuji X100S and while I was very impressed by the image quality, I was very disappointed by the user experience. It was slow and while I found its hybrid viewfinder to be a very interesting concept, with loads of promise, for my needs it was entirely unusable. I’m too accustomed to looking Through The Lens. I wrote a bit more about this here. I like to know that I’ve got the shot because I can see that I’ve got the shot. When I purchased the X-E2, I went in knowing that the EV was faster than the prior generation of Fuji cameras and that they’d worked hard to reduce the latency and increase resolution. I wasn’t disappointed with it, when I finally got it in my hands, but it still required a leap of faith: I had to simply trust that when my focus indicator turned green that the camera had acquired focus and was locked and ready. That’s a HUGE leap of faith!

Last week, I installed the latest firmware release for the camera, and I announce now with excitement that the EV is far faster and sharper than it had been, requiring far less of a leap of faith. I’m now happily shooting the X-E2 on 9 out of 10 photowalks, and my image quality is as high as it’s ever been with my Canon. At a fraction of the cost for both the camera and the accessories and at a fraction of the weight, my own experience of carrying a camera around with me, including a functional and high-quality assortment of lenses, has improved dramatically. Shooting has become an absolute pleasure, and the joy of finding new subject matter has been coming through in my images. My line was always “Fuji cameras, and mirrorless systems are really awesome, and show promise — but they’re just not THERE yet.” I now change my position. They’re there now.

A busker sings her ass off in Central Park, NYC. Film processing in Analog Efex Pro

Incidentally, I shoot RAW + FINE JPEG, and in most cases I select the RAW over the JPEG. Fuji’s film simulation is superb, and for most snapshots I just go with the JPEG and throw the RAW file away. It’s a snapshot.. who cares? But for my important shots, I still find that I can do better work with the RAW file working in some combination of Lightroom, Photoshop, and Nik’s (Google’s) various suite of tools than the JPEG is going to give me. This is to be expected of course as no 1 conversion recipe is ever going to be able to create the feel that I’m going for in a final image. I include this obvious statement only because some people have been asking me if I rely solely on the in-camera JPEG conversion.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!
~ Chris

[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_element_section _id=”5″ ][cs_element_row _id=”6″ ][cs_element_column _id=”7″ ][cs_element_global_block _id=”8″ ][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][/cs_content]

10 Photography Rules I Learned in 2014

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]2014 Was a very strange year for me, in many ways. This was the year we packed up our life in France and relocated back to the States, triggering a surprising bout of culture shock in reverse. I was also fearful about where my photography might take me upon returning to the States. In France we had ready access to some pretty amazing places, architecture, scenery, people, food, and cultural events which, to my eye, were more exotic and pleasing to make photos of. I was quite nervous that I’d quickly discover that my photography skills amounted to nothing without these interesting things to point my camera at. Luckily that wasn’t the case, and my skills, my patience, and my eye continued to grow after I returned to California. What a huge relief!

From there, I bought and sold a small army of new and used lenses as I began to experiment with various focal lengths and techniques. I had only used a Canon 50mm f/1.4 EF USM lens in my travels for more than a year on a full-frame Canon EOS 6D and I was ready to stretch my legs a bit. This process led to me eventually becoming completely fed up with my Canon system, and trading it all in for a Fuji X system, which I fell immediately in love with. It stands to reason that the more passionate one feels about one’s craft, the more risks one takes, and that summed up my 2014 pretty well.

I learned some things along the way, and I’ve put aside ten of those things here to share with you. I’d love to know if any of these things resonate with you at all. Keep in mind, these are not 10 universal rules of photography. Not by any means. They are 10 rules for me. Ten things that I’ve learned through the course of pounding my head against the wall over and over again while chasing my own muse. What’s interesting to me is that none of these 10 rules is technical in any way. They’re all process stuff, the feely stuff. The artist stuff.

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1. Always have a camera with you.

While this one should seem pretty obvious, it’s really not. I had to train myself to always grab the camera on my way out. I even started keeping my Black Rapid sling strap on the key rack next to my car keys and the dog’s leash so that I’d remember to not forget my camera.

And keep in mind that I’m not referring to a smartphone. I mean a real honest to goodness camera. The iPhone is terrific to shoot with in a pinch, but there have been countless times that I’ve seen something while driving or walking that I have to make a picture of, and all I have with me is my iPhone, or nothing, and I just can’t get the shot. I’ve missed things this way that I knew could be made into salable prints that people would be interested in. And I’ll tell you what, my wife Pausha would never let me hear the end of it, whenever this would happen.

Always have a camera with you. Buy a nice point and click and keep it in the car. Get a Fuji X model, or a micro 4/3 system. It really doesn’t matter.

2. When in doubt, go wide.

There have been very few times when I’ve been walking through some fabulous city or another with a 35mm or 50mm lens and wished, like truly wished, that I had more reach. It has happened, sure, but not really all that much.

On the other hand, almost every damned time I would go out with a 70-200mm I found myself cursing that I couldn’t get wide enough to make my shot. I’m not a fashion shooter, and when I do shoot portraits it’s usually with an 85mm equivalent prime. I don’t really walkabout with a lens like that as I far prefer the 35mm or 50mm feel. My favorite walk-around lens is now the Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 OIS and I shoot that until I start to lose the sun. Then I slap on the Fuji XF 23mm f/1.4 (35mm equiv) and that will get me through sunset and any evening shooting that I might want to do. These are my 2 favorite lenses for street shooting and general walkabouts.

3. Ditch the DSLR – lifting weights is for the gym.

Yeah, it’s true: I’m not getting any younger, and I have no patience for carrying a bunch of heavy gear around with me any more. Take a full-frame DSLR, magnesium body, and attach a high-quality lens to it, and you’ve got a recipe for neck and shoulder pain. I’m a total Mirrorless Convert, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have walked away from the DSLR paradigm for many reasons, least of which is the weight and bulk.

My chief experience with Mirrorless systems is limited to the Fujifilm X100S, X-E2, and the X-T1. With one, or even two of these over my shoulder and a small zoom or prime lens attached I can walk around for hours and fill up two cards before I even become aware of the weight.

ditch_DSLR

I might even be willing to give up image quality to minimize the physical damage to my own body. Luckily with the quality of the image output from these cameras coupled with the overall astonishing quality of the Fujifilm series of lenses, I don’t have to give up anything. In fact, most of my own side by side image comparisons from my Canon EOS 6D and an entry-level Fuifilm X-E2 proved to me that I was getting better digital images, and better print quality (at large print sizes) from the smaller, more pedestrian Mirrorless system. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and now that my camera doesn’t weigh as much as a coffee table, I happily bring it along whenever I may roam. My Canon spent most of it’s days in the closet anyway, poor lonely heavy thing that it was.

4. Shoot something personal every day.

Even if I can only get out for 20 minutes, and venture a block or two from my home, I get out every day and shoot something. Anything. As long as it’s not tied to a client project. Shoot a flower, shoot somebody walking their dog. It doesn’t really matter as long as it’s your own. I see it like drawing in a sketchbook. Every artist sketches to keep their chops up and their eye sharp. I’ve found that it’s really helpful to have a theme to shoot against and explore for a week. This week for example I’m working on “Distortion as Expression.” I don’t have a fish-eye lens, so I have to go out of my way to create distortions in my images, and it’s been a fun challenge.

Cautious Luca

5. Full Frame isn’t so important.

You know, I’m feeling now that the Full-Frame craze is just the new “Megapixel Myth.” Full Frame, who cares?

NOTE: I’m not a huge fan of the Micro 4/3 systems because the sensor size is so much smaller that getting a really good foreground/background separation is not so easy, so while I wouldn’t really recommend that system for serious shooters, I do appreciate the latest APS-C sensor models over all but one or two Full-Frame models.

With the Fuji X-Trans CMOS sensors however, and their (again) astonishing line of lenses, achieving great subject to background separation is very easy with gorgeous background rendering and super-sharp focus where you want it. The system delivers superb images at high ISO despite the APS-C sensor size that dramatically outperforms the Canon 5 MkII and Canon 6D Full-Frame models. I haven’t gone side by side with the Fuji X-T1 and a Canon 5D MkIII yet, and I don’t feel that I really need to. I’m getting incredible results printing my Fuji images at 30” x 40” even with images that were shot at ISO 1600. Full-Frame? Meh. It used to matter, but I feel like that time has passed.

6. Your prime is worthless if you can’t shoot it wide open.

I’ve gone back and forth about this one a bunch, and this really speaks to one of the points of frustration that led me to dumping my Canon system. I owned the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens and hated it. I owned the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens and hated that too. I rented the coveted Canon L Series 85mm f/1.2 and hated that on general principle. I found all of these lenses to be almost entirely useless until they were stopped down to at least f/4 or f/5.6.

I’ll be damned if these lenses just would not acquire focus accurately, and I tested them on 2 bodies. Even when I’d lock focus everything on the focal plane would be soft. And I’m not talking about having a very narrow depth of field, I’m talking about soft focus, and that soft focus would plague me until I stopped down the lens to “cheap lens territory.” At that point it would be tack sharp. A prime is worthless if shooting it wide open gives you blurry images.

7. Life is too short to deal with Chromatic Aberration.

I don’t think I need to even get into this one. Almost every Canon lens, including very expensive L series lenses, would suffer from this scourge. My Canon EF – L 70-200 f/4 was crawling with chromatic aberration. It got so that I just stopped taking the damned lens out anymore. The only lens that I didn’t get a ton of CA on was one that I’d only rented once, the excellent Canon L 135 f/2 portrait prime. That thing was solid. I had a Tamron Ultra-Wide that was really good at keeping out the CA, and a terrific Sigma Art series 35mm f/1.4 that had it, but not nearly as badly as the Canon lenses. Trouble is that this Canon 135mm, the Tamron Ultra-Wide, and the Sigma 35mm are all crazy heavy lenses. So we’re back to rule #3 again. Sigh.

8. Portraits are all about Rapport.

I got my first paid portrait job in 2014, and it was a spur of the moment thing. I was onsite working with a client when the CEO asked if I could handle a corporate headshot shoot, right now. I had my camera with me and a few lenses, but no lights, no flash units. We found a great location in a nearby historic building that had some terrific ambient light and I pulled somebody out of the marketing department to hold a piece of white foam core in lieu of a reflector. It was pretty shoddy but we got some great shots that the executive team is using for national PR efforts as well as on their blogs, and print advertising.

What I didn’t know already, but was able to intuit from my days (in a past life it now seems) as a music producer, is that the first 15 to 20 minutes was going to be crap. It took me a little while to overcome my own panic, and locate a place on our location that would look really great to the camera. Some time was then spent getting the technical stuff out of the way and trying to keep a busy CEO from getting bored, disappearing into his iPhone, and overall becoming entirely impatient with the process.

It wasn’t until I got him talking about his company’s activism that he started to loosen up and I began to get some keeper shots. The more passionate he became about his work, the more he started to really shine through, but it took a while for him to come out of his shell, and for me to stop having it be all about me. In the end, I realized that portraits are about the connection first, and the images second.

rapportraits

9. Sit on your discards for a little while.

This one’s a little counter-intuitive, but failing to recognize its importance has come back to bite me a few times. I’ll go out and shoot a whole bunch, come home and excitedly get the images imported into Lightroom and dig right in. This one’s a select, let’s flag it, this one’s bad, I’ll reject it. Well, the sad truth is that I would routinely reject images that weren’t actually bad. Their only crime is that they didn’t fit what I was looking for inside of the day’s shoot, and that’s going to happen. Even if you go out searching for some specific shots, other things will catch your eye and you’ll come home with images that fall outside of scope. That’s a good thing, and I’ve learned to save the rejecting process until a few days have passed.

That’s not to say that I don’t immediately discard images which are completely unusable; out of focus, overexposed beyond the point of recovery, poor composition, or accidental exposures, such as when I hit the shutter release when I only meant to lock focus. I’ll kill these right away, but I no longer discard based on subject matter for a little while.

Too many times I’ve needed an image of a child playing with a balloon, or something similar for an article that someone on my team is working on and I think OH YES I HAVE A PERFECT IMAGE FOR THAT just to fire up Lightroom and discover that it’s gone. And it’s gone because I rejected it. And I rejected it because it wasn’t exciting to me the day I imported it because I was more interested in the baby turtles that I shot and the pictures of the little girl with the balloon just seemed to get in the way.

Sit on your discards. Disk storage is hella cheap and we’ve all got access to crazy amounts of it. Don’t throw good images away because you don’t feel you have room for them, or because you don’t currently think that you need them.

Of course, if you are bringing in images that fall outside of your immediate needs, you’re going to have to ensure that your organizational kung fu is strong, and this brings us to our next and final rule.

10. Make better use of Keywords.

This is a huge one for me. My image library has grown a lot over the past couple of years and my keyword workflow got way out of hand. At one point I realized that I had acquired over 500 different keywords for my images. Some of them were redundant, some downright duplicates (one being capitalized and one being lower case) and in almost all cases, I wasn’t applying keywords to all of my images, only when I could be bothered to, which wasn’t often. My system sucked, and I wasn’t using it.

The more unwieldy my keyword workflow had become, the less likely I was to even use it at all. I came to avoid it like the plague, and because I wasn’t using keywords to their full advantage, I wasn’t saving as many images because I knew I wouldn’t be able to quickly find them later anyway, so why bother?

So, first I created a handful of import templates in Lightroom, one of each of my cameras, one of each country that I routinely shot in, and another for each of 3 areas in California that I frequent: Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Then, I completely overhauled my keyword tagging system into a top-down workflow that I could use to quickly add only the most relevant keywords to my images. Sometimes I will add them on import, and other times I will add them when I handle my discards and perform post-processing to my selects. (see screenshots)

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This keyword system was easy to achieve but required just a little bit of strategic planning up front. First, there are some keywords that I want to use for my own use and aren’t intended for public consumption. Other keywords I’d like to stay attached to the image file upon export for posting to various Stock Libraries and Social Media channels. Lightroom allows you to specify which keywords will be included on export and which ones will only be used to organize your images in Lightroom. Since implementing and fine-tuning this system, I’ve had much more control over my inventory of images, which comes in really handy when an opportunity to share and/or sell something comes up.

keywords_expanded

That’s it. My 10 photography rules that 2014 taught me. I hope that you got something out of this article. Please do speak up in the comments, and share this article with friends you think might benefit from it. I’m looking forward to seeing what rules 2015 will teach us.

Cheers, and happy shooting![/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_element_section _id=”5″ ][cs_element_row _id=”6″ ][cs_element_column _id=”7″ ][cs_element_global_block _id=”8″ ][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][/cs_content]

The Big Switch – Canon full frame DSLR to Fuji Mirrorless

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]Fuck DSLRs, man. I’ve just had it. You can go over to David Hobby’s blog or read Zach Arias and the like to find out more about why they switched. Check out my friends at MirrorLessons and see what Mathieu and Heather have to say on the matter. There are a lot of switchers out there and for good reason and many of them present some terrific scientific information for those who need it. I’m not going there.

Here’s the short story.

I bought a Fuji X-E2 in September and slowly (well maybe not so slowly) started to build up a respectable collection of lenses. I decided to not make the same mistake I made the last time I jumped Canon’s ship for the Fuji x100s. That one didn’t work out so well. So I spent the next 4 months shooting both the Fuji System and my Canon 6D side by side, and I became increasingly frustrated with the fact that I was consistently getting better overall image quality from this $800 camera and it’s 18-55mm “kit zoom” lens than I was getting out of my $2,000 full frame DSLR and a $2,300 Canon L Series lens.

I’ve bought and sold a lot of lenses for my Canon system throughout 2014 including 3 different L (the Canon Holy Grail) lenses and I hated most of them. The two lenses that I bought and loved were not even Canon products. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Series lens is just sublime. Downside, it’s huge and it’s hella heavy. I also had and enjoyed the Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX lens. It’s terrific. And huge. And also hella heavy.

Anyway, I digress. I had a strategy for my gear: 3 zooms for the Fuji system and 3 primes for my Canon. Let the games begin. September through November I took them all out together and shot them side by side. In almost all of my tests I chose the Fuji images over the Canon images. (I shoot RAW, btw, so we’re not talking about a sweet tooth for Fuji’s in-camera film simulation presets — though they are fantastic, for snapshots that is.)

By November I’d stopped carrying my Canon at all. It was just too damned heavy, and the only lens I could stand to shoot with it was the Sigma 35mm f/1.4, so we’re talking extra heavy shoulder action. I’d already sold the Tokina lens to cover the costs of an equivalent ultra-wide zoom on the Fuji side, the excellent Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS lens.

141228-Ventura_Harbor-17-37-45
Fujifilm X-E2 – XF 56mm f/1.2 R 1/1000 @ f/2.5 ISO 200

Seriously people, the lenses for this system are just stupid.

Alright alright, here was my decisive moment. The Sunday before Christmas I decided to shake the dust off of my Canon 6D and take to the streets to capture some local Christmas light displays around the neighborhood. I came home, got the images up into Lightroom and sure enough, it was just as I had feared: my images were just crawling with Chromatic Aberration. The pics shot with the Canon EF USM 85mm f/1.8 were the worst. Those shot with the Canon EF USM 50mm f/1.4 were pretty bad, but less so, and even the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 has some of it, though far less so than the shitty Canon EF lenses.

That was it. That was my moment. I’d had it. Even at f/5.6 there was too much CA to easily remove in Photoshop. Even at f/5.6 the Canon EF lenses were useless with focus falling off at the edges. I mean really, if you have a fast prime lens that isn’t sharp until you’re stopped down to f/6, what’s the point of even having that “fast prime?” At that point it’s a quite slow prime.

I never get any of that crap with my Fuji XF lenses.

So. I grabbed all of my Canon gear, lenses, caps, filters, chargers and rushed down to my local camera store. Being the Sunday before Christmas they were happy to buy my stuff from me, and didn’t even mind that I showed up 15 minutes before they closed (sorry guys, I had quite lost track of time!) They took all of my gear in trade and I was able to turn it into the final 3 Fuji lenses I needed to round out my system.

I’ve got my 3 fast primes, all crazy sharp, edge to edge even wide open, and I’ve got 3 excellent (also astonishing in their sharpness) zooms to fill in those holes. The X-E2 with my heaviest lens hardly registers as being on my shoulder at all. I’m more inspired than I’ve ever been before, I’m having more fun and truly I feel that I’m now doing my best work.

I may just be in love.

Street Shadows and Holiday Lights
Fujifilm X-E2 – XF 56mm f/1.2 R 1/105 @ f/1.2 ISO 800

Check out this Fuji Lens Buying Guide over at Zach Arias’ thing and you’ll see a better outline of which Fuji lenses are the ones to watch.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_element_section _id=”5″ ][cs_element_row _id=”6″ ][cs_element_column _id=”7″ ][cs_element_global_block _id=”8″ ][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][/cs_content]

The Little Camera that Changed My Mind – Fujifilm X-E2

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While packing for a recent trip to NYC, I decided to leave my Full-Frame Canon 6D at home and bring instead only my Fujifilm X-E2 and a single “kit” lens, the excellent Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 Lens Zoom Lens. I’ve been very apprehensive about investing in this system because until this trip I simply was not convinced that I could produce the same level of image quality from a smaller, “toyish” camera system.

I’ve had the X-E2 for 4 weeks now, and I’ve shot the Canon and Fuji side by side. In 4 out of 5 cases, I prefer the Fuji shots over my Canon shots, and that fact has shocked me, and leaves me feeling both excited and anxious. I’ve since replaced my Canon 70-200 f/4 L IS USM lens with a Fuji 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 lens at half the cost, and twice the sharpness and quality. I seriously cannot believe this.

I briefly owned a Fuji X100S and while I was very impressed by the image quality, I was very disappointed by the user experience. It was slow and while I found its hybrid viewfinder to be a very interesting concept, with loads of promise, for my needs it was entirely unusable. I’m too accustomed to looking Through The Lens. I wrote a bit more about this here. I like to know that I’ve got the shot because I can see that I’ve got the shot. When I purchased the X-E2, I went in knowing that the EV was faster than the prior generation of Fuji cameras and that they’d worked hard to reduce the latency and increase resolution. I wasn’t disappointed with it, when I finally got it in my hands, but it still required a leap of faith: I had to simply trust that when my focus indicator turned green that the camera had acquired focus and was locked and ready. That’s a HUGE leap of faith!

Last week, I installed the latest firmware release for the camera, and I announce now with excitement that the EV is far faster and sharper than it had been, requiring far less of a leap of faith. I’m now happily shooting the X-E2 on 9 out of 10 photowalks, and my image quality is as high as it’s ever been with my Canon. At a fraction of the cost for both the camera and the accessories and at a fraction of the weight, my own experience of carrying a camera around with me, including a functional and high-quality assortment of lenses, has improved dramatically. Shooting has become an absolute pleasure, and the joy of finding new subject matter has been coming through in my images. My line was always “Fuji cameras, and mirrorless systems are really awesome, and show promise — but they’re just not THERE yet.” I now change my position. They’re there now.

A busker sings her ass off in Central Park, NYC. Film processing in Analog Efex Pro

Incidentally, I shoot RAW + FINE JPEG, and in most cases I select the RAW over the JPEG. Fuji’s film simulation is superb, and for most snapshots I just go with the JPEG and throw the RAW file away. It’s a snapshot.. who cares? But for my important shots, I still find that I can do better work with the RAW file working in some combination of Lightroom, Photoshop, and Nik’s (Google’s) various suite of tools than the JPEG is going to give me. This is to be expected of course as no 1 conversion recipe is ever going to be able to create the feel that I’m going for in a final image. I include this obvious statement only because some people have been asking me if I rely solely on the in-camera JPEG conversion.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!
~ Chris

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