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

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)

Clint4Version2(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom lens)

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:

ClintPic1

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.

A week in San Francisco with the Fuji X100s

FromMandarinOriental-4 (The quintessential San Francisco view.  The pyramid building, Coit Tower, Alcatraz, and of course Fog)

Three weeks ago today I returned from San Francisco, where I spent 5 days on a photography vacation.  San Francisco is an amazing city, one I have visited many, many times.   Prior to this trip I had been insanely busy with work, family and business and this was an opportunity to be by myself, indulge in my photography, and visit with a close friend who now lives in Silicon Valley. I travelled extremely light, taking only my beloved Fuji X100s and a small travel tripod.  I will be making a blog post about that travel kit, which will be accompanying me from now on when I travel. I actually have many blog posts to make from this trip, but for now I wanted to share 20 of my favourite images I took that week.  These are in no particular order, and some will be the foundation of future blog posts! Click any photo to view larger!

BayBridgePano-13 (The Bay Bridge at Dawn.  4 image pano, stitched together in Photoshop)

 There are some cities you go to that have a soul.   San Francisco is definitely one of those places, and of course one of its most iconic landmarks is the Golden Gate Bridge: DSCF4356-15

DSCF4393-16 (The Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Spencer)

 San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America.  The people are amazing, and when the light wasn’t suitable for sunrise and sunset photography I spent most of my time there doing street photography: DSCF4328-14 DSCF3857-2Here is a full blog post about street photography in San Francisco’s Chinatown. I would estimate I spent 10-12 hours per day wandering with my Fuji X100s, just snapping images of things that caught my eye like this amazing staircase:

DSCF3891-3(The stairs at the Mechanic’s Institute)

I think one of the things I love the most in San Francisco is the wide variety of architecture you see.  This is the Palace of Fine Arts, built for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exhibition:

PalacePano-6(Palace of Fine Arts, 3 picture pano stitched together in Photoshop)

Fall in San Francisco is usually great, but the weather was exceptionally good while I was there.  This was taken at Baker Beach while I was shooting some landscapes of the Golden Gate:

DSCF4035-8(One of 8 frames shot on the Fuji X100s in continuous auto-focus mode)

One cannot go to San Francisco without going to Alcatraz, one of the most iconic places in the US.

CellBLockPano-17(5 picture pano of the prison yard, stitched in Photoshop.  Those steps are where people like Al Capone sat.  Crazy!)

If you do a trip to Alcatraz, be sure to go upstairs if possible and see the hospital ward.  Very creepy.

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Here is a full blog post about my visit to photograph Alcatraz.

 I spent a day wandering around the west side of the city.  This is one of a series I made (see here for the full blog post) at the Holocaust Memorial at the Legion of Honor:

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I’ve been to Golden Gate Park several times in the past, but this is the first time I have seen the Dutch Windmill:

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Finally, I spent time at the ruins at Sutro Bath and shot through blue hour.  It was fogged in, but there were several moments where the small amount of light that broke through was magical:

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 The National Cemetery in the Presidio is a military cemetery, and was a very solemn place to visit:

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As was Grace Cathedral:

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I spent my last evening at Pier 14, shooting a skyline looking back down the pier at the city.

Pier14Pano-19(3 picture pano, stitched in Photoshop)

My last shot of the night was a long exposure shooting across the water at the Ferry Building:

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And my final view, the BART station at SFO airport after I got off the train to fly home:

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Some people would argue that traveling light with only one small mirrorless camera (and one fixed focal length lens) would be limiting, but I found it liberating.  The lack of gear selection forced me to focus on composition, framing, light, and of course timing.

Much of my time on this trip was inspired by a new series David Hobby has called The Traveling Photographer.  It is available on Lynda.com and I highly recommend it.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I have several blog posts from this trip to write up.  The one thing that comes to mind as I write this though is to remind everyone about this quote:

“The way to make better photographs is to have better experiences”

I love my family, dog, friends, job, etc…. but spending 5 days by myself let me just be a photographer again.  For those of you who love to create I cannot say enough how important this is to your craft and creativity.

 Until next time!