Fuji X-Pro2 Review Part Three: Vancouver Cityscapes, Long Exposures, and Street Photography

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Note:  This is part three of a five part review series on the soon to be released Fuji X-Pro2:

My original plan for part three of this Fuji X-Pro2 review series was to focus 100% on street photography.   Things changed for me a little though because of the weather on the days I went out to shoot.  The clouds were beautiful, the blue hour light was gorgeous, etc.   These conditions just begged to be shot, so I have included some of those photographs in this part of the review too.  Let’s just think of it as a “using the Fuji X-Pro2 in the city” kind of review.

Long Exposures:

Those amazing clouds I mentioned have unfortunately brought us a lot of rain lately (welcome to life on the “wet” coast).   It was dry and sunny yesterday though, with a fairly strong breeze that was pushing the clouds across the city.    The combination of sunlight reflecting off of high rises and moving clouds  always makes for some great architectural long exposure opportunities.

The following three photos were all shot with the Fujinon 10-24mm f/4 lens mounted on the Fuji X-Pro2.  The camera was on a tripod, a 10 stop ND filter was used to lengthen the shutter speed a bit to blur the clouds, and a remote shutter release was used to avoid vibration.  Each image was shot in the Acros film simulation, with the contrast pushed in camera.

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I experienced a lot of good, and a tiny little bit of frustration, when taking these photos…

The good was the exposure preview.  I LOVE being able to preview my exposure, white balance, film simulation, etc in camera, BEFORE I click the shutter.  It never gets old.  Switching to cameras that preview the exposure made a fundamental shift in my workflow, and greatly enhances the creative process for me.

And Acros.  I love, love Acros.  Such a great black and white film simulation.  I did edit these photos in Lightroom a bit though, to push the blacks and highlights a little bit more.

The one small point of frustration was the lack of a tilting LCD.  I have to admit I rarely use this feature on my X-T1, and I get by just fine without it on my X100t.  For these photos I had the camera pointed up and fairly low to the ground though, and an adjustable LCD would have made things easier in terms of focusing, etc.

Street Photography:

My love of the X100 series is well documented, and I was curious to see how the X-Pro2 performed during a day or two out shooting on the street.  I love the X100t for street photography because it is completely silent, it is small, and it is unassuming.  I wondered if shooting street with the X-Pro2 and the Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 lens would be different due to the size and the shutter sound, but once I was out shooting it was all good.

As I shot in Vancouver’s Chinatown and Gastown areas I again noticed the improvements in the autofocus system of the X-Pro2.  It is snappy and accurate.  I often zone focus my X100t when I am out shooting street, but every photo below was taken with autofocus. At this point I feel quite comfortable saying that the autofocus system in the X-Pro2 is a definite step up from previous Fuji X cameras.

All the images below were shot in aperture priority mode (around f/8 depending on light), with the Auto ISO set to maintain a minimum shutter speed of 1/250th and a ceiling ISO of 3200.  If I needed to make any quick exposure adjustments I almost always used the exposure compensation dial.

Colour images were shot in Classic Chrome, black and white ones were shot in Acros.

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I honestly don’t have a lot to say about shooting street with the Fuji X-Pro2.  It was seamless, and despite my earlier concerns people took no more notice of me with it than they do when I am shooting with my X100t.   The camera got out of my way and I was able to focus completely on the shooting experience.

I really appreciated the improved autofocus, and having a little bit more room for cropping because of the new 24mp sensor was also a welcome addition.

Blue hour cityscapeS:

I love a good cityscape, and each evening I was downtown there was a beautiful blue hour.   Here is one of Granville Street in Vancouver:

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Here is another, taken in Gastown:

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These are fairly straight forward photographs to take, regardless of the camera used.  Lock the camera down on a tripod, get your composition, lowest ISO, set your desired aperture, use a remote shutter release, etc.  What I loved about shooting these images with the X-Pro2 wasn’t that the process was any different, it was the colour and detail that I was getting off of the new sensor straight out of camera.  It is very nice.

part 3 – Final Thoughts:

In many ways I feel like part 3 of this series is much ado about nothing, but I mean that in the best way possible.  The X-Pro2 is refined…. the new sensor produces beautiful images, the new autofocus system is snappy and responsive, and I love the new Acros film simulation.

Looking back over this post perhaps the most telling thing is how easy these images were to capture.  I had the Fuji X-Pro2 in a small shoulder bag with 2-3 lenses and a few small accessories.  I walked about 10 kilometres in the city on the days I was out shooting and didn’t even notice the weight of the bag, nor the small travel tripod I was carrying.  I was able to shoot street, cityscapes, long exposures, handheld, tripod mounted, all from this tiny but powerful little kit.

You have to love that.

I did find one situation where a tilting LCD would have been nice.  For those that are curious I burned through 2 batteries during each full day of heavy shooting.  Not too shabby.

In Part 4 of this series we will be talking about using the X-Pro2 in portrait situations, and in part 5 I’ll sum up my final thoughts.

Cheers,

Ian

The Best of 2015 – A Year in Review

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Editing a year’s worth of photography down to the 25 images that most represent your work is a difficult task, especially when it has been the most rewarding year of your photographic career.

I traveled a lot this year, visiting Hawaii, Paris, Seattle, Las Vegas, and various locations throughout my home country of Canada.  I had incredible moments with my camera, met brilliant people, saw beautiful places, and got to tell stories about these experiences here on this website.

I continued shooting the occasional commercial job (portraiture, weddings, lifestyle and fitness), and most importantly for me I pursued my love of street photography as often as I could.

Away from the camera I made new relationships with photographers I respect,  I guested on a popular photography podcast, and I began sharing my knowledge through teaching workshops and presentations.

Finally, I had the privilege of continuing my relationship with Fuji Canada and reviewing several products in the X series, including the new Fuji X-T10 camera, the Fuji Instax SP-1 printer, and four new lenses (the 16-55mm f/2.8, the 50-140mm f/2.8, the new 35mm f/2, and the 90mm f/2 review which will soon be published).

What a year!

Let’s look back at some of my favourite photographs from the year.  I have divided them into three sections (travel photography, commercial work, street photography), and at the end of this post I’ll give a brief outline of things already planned for 2016.

All photos in this post were taken with either the Fuji X-T1, the Fuji X-T10, or the Fuji X100t.

Let’s get started…

Travel Photography

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Commercial Work

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Street Photography

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What’s coming up in 2016?

I’m excited to say that 2016 is already shaping up to build on the momentum of 2015, and promises to be another exciting year.

My first speaking engagement in 2016 will be a presentation on street photography on January 26th.  This is something I want to build on throughout 2016, so if you are a member of a camera club or organization, and would like a guest speaker to present on travel photography, street photography, or on working with Fuji’s products, please let me know!

In regard to travel,  I will be in Europe twice in 2016 (Amsterdam and London), and there will also be at least one photography road trip through parts of North America.

I am very excited to announce the launch of a new interview series on the website that will showcase photographers whose work I respect and love.  The first interview will drop early in January.

I will be shooting portraiture and street photography as often as I can.

Finally, I will be continuing my journey of learning how to see the world through the lens of a camera.  David duChemin said “Gear is good, Vision is better”.   My main goal in 2016, as it should be for all visual artists, is to continue to learn how to see better.

I would like to end this post by saying thank you.  Thank you to the people I have collaborated with on projects.  Thank you to those who trusted me enough to hire me for their portraits and weddings.  Thank you to those who offer me advice, guidance, and inspiration.  Thank you to the readers of this site, and to those of you whom I engage with daily on social media.  Thank you to my friends at Fuji Canada for all of your support over the last year.  Finally, thank you to my lovely and patient family who understand my need to spend as much time with photography as I do.

Photography is amazing.  I am so lucky.

Best wishes to all of you over the holiday season!

Cheers,

Ian

 

 

Shooting long exposures at the Lonsdale Quay

DSCF2208(Fuji X100T, 10 stop ND filter, 180 second exposure)

I have always loved long exposure photography, especially when the scene involves dramatic clouds and water.  Last night I was heading down to the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver to shoot a skyline of Vancouver, and went an hour earlier to shoot some long exposure images.  (As always, all images in this post can be clicked to view larger and without WordPress compression).

My gear for shooting long exposures is very simple these days:

Here is a quick shot showing my setup:

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It’s very simple:  Camera on a small travel tripod.  ND filter on the front of the lens.  Threaded cable release to open and close the shutter.  Timer on my phone.  Done.

For those not familiar with long exposure photography here is a brief explanation of the process (please skip if you are familiar with it):

A properly exposed photograph is based off of a specific amount of light (for a given scene) hitting the sensor of your camera.  When more light is present the camera only needs to record the light hitting the sensor for a short period of time.  When less light is present the camera needs to hold the shutter open longer to allow the sufficient amount of light to record.

A neutral density filter reduces the amount of light coming through the lens (think of it as dark glass), so the camera needs to expose the picture longer.  While this longer exposure is recording, the motion of any water or clouds blurs together and creates the smooth glass like effect you see.

There are different thicknesses of ND filters, so a timer is used to calculate the length of time the camera’s shutter needs to be open to see through the filter.  A remote control (in my case a threaded cable release) is used to open and close the shutter to avoid camera shake.

And now, back to our story…

It was very cloudy when I arrived, and the colours were washed out from the grey sky.  I chose to stay with black and white until the light changed:

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I love the juxtoposition in this image:  The old pilings in the water, and the leading lines they create bringing the eye toward the modern city of Vancouver in the background.  The first image in this post also takes this approach, with the lines created by the pilings leading toward the crane in the background.

Here is another shot from almost the same perspective:

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Long exposures tend to smooth out water, creating a glassy perspective.  When the wind is blowing you can also get great movement in the clouds.

As the evening progressed the sun burst through the clouds just before sunset, backlighting a nearby marina:

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Shortly after this image was taken I set up to shoot the city skyline.  I needed a longer lens, so I switched to my Fuji XT-1 with the 55-200mm lens.

I must say was a bit disappointed with the skyline shot.  We were still under cloud cover so the light was very mute, and the lights in the buildings didn’t come on in time to balance well with the falling ambient light:

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The picture is ok, but lacks punch and contrast to my eye.

But then, in one of life’s happy accidents, I turned around and saw some of the city lights reflecting off of the marina and made one of my favourite shots of the night:

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Long exposure photography can be a lot of fun, and can invoke a different feel in your images.  David Allen Harvey says “Don’t shoot what it looks, shoot what it feels like”.    Long exposures are a great way of creating a different feel to your images.

Cheers,

Ian