Fuji X-Pro2 Review Part Four: Using the X-Pro2 in a Portrait Session

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

Hello again!

Part four of this series will focus on shooting portraits in studio with the Fuji X-Pro2.  The truth is that I don’t shoot in studio very often,  I much prefer environmental portraiture such as this:

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I wanted to test the X-Pro2 under as many different situations as I possibly could though, so I contacted a close friend (and beautiful model) who I shoot with often and we spent a few hours making some portraits.

A few quick notes about shooting in studio with Fuji cameras:

  1. The sync speed on the Fuji X-Pro2 is now 1/250th, up from the X-T1’s 1/180th.  This small increase doesn’t make a huge difference in studio when you are using 100% studio lighting, but it is a helpful addition when balancing flash against ambient light.  The king of the X series in terms of sync speed definitely remains the X100t and its leaf shutter though.  I love that camera.
  2. I commonly see people asking why everything is black in the viewfinder when shooting in studio with Fuji cameras and studio lighting.  This is almost always because the camera has exposure preview turned on, and the low ambient light and typical studio settings make for a very dark scene when the lights aren’t firing.  When shooting in studio it is often necessary to disable this option.

We started our day by shooting a few portraits in natural light, using diffused light coming in from a north facing window.  Here are two shots from that part of our session, taken in the new Acros film simulation:

DSCF4898-Edit(Fuji X-Pro2, 35mm, Acros film simulation, f/2.8 at 1/125th at ISO 200 – Natural Light)

DSCF4925-Edit(Fuji X-Pro2, 35mm, Acros film simulation, f/3.6 at 1/140th at ISO 400 – Natural Light)

I am really falling for the new black and white Acros film simulation.  It has a beautiful look to it, and works very well for portraits in my opinion.

When we were done the natural light shots we started working with studio lighting.  The following setup was used for each of the images below:

  1. The camera was set to ISO 200, the shutter speed was set to the max sync speed of 1/250th, and the aperture ranged between f/8 to f/11 depending on the light to subject distance.
  2. All colour images were shot in Provia / Standard.  The final black and white image was shot in Acros.
  3. The light is coming from camera right, using an Alien Bee 1600 in a 50″ Westcott Apollo softbox.  For some images a reflector was used on camera left for a little fill.
  4. For these images I used the 35mm f/1.4, 56mm f/1.2, and the 90mm f/2 lenses.
  5. We did not use a make up artist, and these images have had very little done to them in post other than the usual RAW conversions.

Here are a few of the images we shot under studio lighting, starting with the one from the top of the post:

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thoughts from the day:

The X-Pro2 was a pleasure to use in studio:  The new max sync speed of 1/250th is a welcome addition, and there were no autofocus issues shooting in a dim studio.  It was nice to have the option of the optical viewfinder, the new sensor renders beautiful images, and of course the new Acros film simulation is ideally suited for black and white portraiture.

I did have to make an adjustment to the way I hold the camera in portrait orientation.  My standard grip, with my left hand on the bottom supporting the lens and body, obscured the viewfinder on a few occasions until I learned to change it up slightly.   Once I did it was not an issue.

This shoot reaffirmed for me how much I enjoy working with small rangefinder style cameras.  Many respected photographers have spoken about the position of the viewfinder in a rangefinder camera, and how your face isn’t completely covered by the camera when you look through it.  There is a truth to this:  The whole time we were shooting,  my model and I were able to see each other as there  was no barrier between us.  It is a small thing, but I think it made for a more personal and relaxing shoot.  It was a good day.

In part five of this series I will sum up my experiences shooting the Fuji X-Pro2 throughout February, and of course there will be a few more photos to share!

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

 

 

Vancouver Music Photography

ClintPic1(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

I can’t believe it has been over two weeks since my last post.  It has been an insanely busy summer of shooting, and I have so much to write about (travel, street, portrait sessions, etc).  Today I’d like to share photos from a session with a musician, discuss things that go through my mind during a portrait session, and, of course, share a lot of pictures.

As always, each image can be clicked to view in larger resolution.

Not many people know this, but before my creative life shifted to photography I was a professional musician, playing the usual circuit of pubs, weddings, corporate events, etc.  I love music, love the guitar, and loved every minute of being on stage.  Being able to bring these two worlds together (music and photography) on this shoot was a rewarding experience for me.

This was also an opportunity to continue working with several items I am reviewing for Fuji Canada right now, namely the new Fuji X-T10 camera body, and two of the pro level zooms Fuji offers:  The Fujinon 16-55mm f/2.8 and the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8.

Let’s get started:

Whenever I am discussing a shoot with a client I always ask what they are looking for.  In this case Clint wanted some portraits for his website that showed him as open and collaborative.  He  then uttered that phrase that all creatives love to here:

“Other than that, go nuts with whatever you want to do.  I am putty in your hands.”

YES!!!

We shot on location, and in studio, to capture some of the following images:

ClintPic6(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

ClintPic5(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

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ClintPic3(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

What you see in the above 4 photographs is really want you get with Clint.  He is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, and a lover of all things music.  It is impossible not to see his passion for it.

Although focused on getting the above images, we also took the time to be a little more creative.  Moving the light to the side and shooting profile got us something like this:

ClintPic10(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

I love this kind of thing.  A clean background, contrasting outfit, side lit… simple and beautiful.

The last thing we did in studio was to bring in 2 small flashes up high on each side, crank the aperture down to get a starburst effect from them, and placed a gridded flash just on Clint’s face.  Oh, and we added a leather jacket of course.  It is rock’n’roll after all.

That gave us this:

ClintPic8(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

It’s cliche, but I love this kind of thing.

In previous blog posts I have said that I love working with actors, dancers, and athletes because they understand their physicality, and usually aren’t shy about putting themselves out there.  You can definitely add musicians to that list.  We put on some tunes and Clint just jammed along while I shot:

DSCF1960-Edit(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

ClintPic9(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

The final shot of the evening was the one at the beginning of this post:

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Where we also shot this:

ClintPic2(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

What an awesome way to end the evening.

You don’t need a lot to shoot compelling portraits.  These were shot in two places only:  My living room, and an industrial park.  I used one camera, 2 lenses, and a light or two.  That’s it.

That’s just the technical though.  Portraits are about so much more.  Portraits are about the person you are photographing.  Once you have your technical down you need to forget about the camera, make a connection with your client, and build a level of trust where they can relax and enjoy the photoshoot.

For example:  Clint is in his comfort zone on stage.  He owns it:

DSCF1289(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

DSCF1324(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

That definitely made my job easier, but a portrait session is still different.  It is just the two of you, maybe an assistant or two on a bigger job.  It is more intimate, and capturing emotion in a still frame is always more difficult than feeling it during a live show.  As photographers this is where our focus needs to be during a portrait session, and something I am constantly striving to get better at.

Cheers,

Ian

p.s.  Readers of this blog will know I am a prime lens shooter through and through.  I cannot tell you, however, how amazing the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 lens is.  My full review is coming at the end of August, but this is an incredible lens to work with.