So half way through Soul Intention gig last night I asked to take some photos of the band. With two hundred rockers and jivers surrounding us, five Saxophones on stands, drums, trumpets and guitars everywhere, it was too good a chance to miss. When there are flashing red and green overhead lights, reflections off everything, shadows and darkness everywhere else you know any image taking is going to be tough. And the band members, hot and pumping adrenaline, get them to sit still or even sit down is going to be tricky. Armed with the tiny Fuji XE2 fitted with the XF35mm 1.4 lens you kind of hope that you will be able to cut through all the problems and get a half way decent shot. These are jpeg images, taken wide open, with auto ISO and minimum shutter speed 80, processed in Lightroom 6.
The Fujinon XF60mm was one of the first three lenses made by Fujifilm for X_Series cameras. Always regarded as super sharp however it was initially criticised for slow autofocus and excessive focus hunting. Lens and camera firmware updates have now transformed this little beauty into a superb portrait lens. Having a little more reach than it’s big 56mm brother at 2.4 wide open it is admittedly not the fastest in the Fuji stable. No image stabilisation either, so beware those with shaky hands. For these trade offs, in return you get very nice colour rendition, [and now] smooth and pretty fast focussing, a classic focal length for portraits and the ability to get as close as you want to your subject. Oh, and here in the U.K. it still can be found at about half the price of the Xf 56mm orXF 90mm.
Shooting natural light with a slowish lens can be a challenge especially in low light or murky conditions. For the two shots I use as examples I had aperture set to wide open at f2.4, auto iso with minimum shutter speed set to 80, auto dynamic range, +2 sharp, noise reduction set to minimum and Classic Chrome film simulation. I set my young[ish]subjects opposite a single window as light source, partially controlling the light with a blind, the background was red. I wanted to capture catch light in the eyes and asked them to look directly into the lens. I used area metering but underexposed by two stops using the exposure compensation dial. The first image was taken at 200 ISO at 80th sec. and the second at ISO 500 and 80th sec. Both processed as jpgs. in Lightroom 6. I am grateful to my glamorous assistants for allowing me to show them, without brushing out their beauty spots!
Here is a brief post describing some ideas for editing Fuji files in Lightroom. I have included Nik pack plugins too. Sometimes a little colour works well for street photography as demonstrated by this lovely lady. Here she was decked out in matching red sandals and spotty bag, pulling along her little dog while pushing a giant pram. Shot with Fuji X100 with the brilliant 23mm lens, stopped down.
So first we have the out of camera Jpg file imported into Lightroom with no adjustments. Looks fine to me but lacks a little impact and contrast which reflects the gloomy light in which it was taken.
Next I opened Analogue Effects pro plugin, adjusted detail, contrast and saturation sliders in camera 3, included a little grain, turned off scratches etc then added a little spot adjustment in her face area. The resulting image was saved back into Lightroom. For me this image seems to be a reasonable representation of a 1970’s Kodak analogue snap.
Despite my belief that colour works best for this image, in the interests of black and white fanatics I next edited the original jpg file in Silver Effects Pro. I used high contrast smooth camera setting, added detail and a little brightness using sliders, increased white and improved tonality using curves. Then again I used the spot adjustment to add detail to her face and scarf. The vignette was already quite sufficient in this setting.
Nevertheless being a Lightroom aficionado I usually prefer to edit my own images rather than relying on others interpretation of the scene I shot. So my normal workflow is to reduce exposure slightly, add a little contrast and adjust white and black sliders, then highlights and shadows. For this image I decreased clarity, added a touch vibrance and a little saturation. Then added two gradient layers in top left and right adding some exposure and a tad saturation. Next I used the adjustment brush to add some exposure to her face, some clarity and improved skin tone a little. Finally I added some grain and a little vignette. The final image looks pretty strong and I like how the red tones in her bag attract attention. Comments welcome!
Landscape and product photographers like me are fascinated by street photography: it sucks us in, we are drawn to it, yet shy of getting in close. It seems strange to have no horizons, no limits and to go back to the old style zone focus method we used when shooting film. Then there is the dilemma, should I process my shots in black and white or colour? There is an often cited theory that colour distracts from the story. Hence, I suppose we see so many street shots on Instagram, Tumblr,and Twitter in black and white, contrasty, filmic, old style and full of depth. Yet every now and then I come across someone I admire in the Photography world posting wonderful colour street images and these seem to me to be equally valuable, to have a vibrance and quality that cannot always be conveyed in B and W. And, they seem to tell a story equally well. So here are some street shots using both formats. Which is best? As usual I will leave this up to the viewer to decide.
Venice, last light: A little lens flare, Fuji XE2 XF 35mm 1.4
Evening sunlight, Venice. Fuji XE2 with XF35mm 1.4
I have to admit the contrast in the black and white image with the wall, leading away into the distance is my favourite here.!
This gentleman just looked up as I shot him, the good old Fuji X100 did the trick even though it was gloomy in the bar.
French Gentleman: Fuji X100
On a recent trip to Avignon, my lovely French friends sneaked into the courtyard one evening, to snatch a forbidden smoke. There was barely any light, just the glow from a few lanterns. Their smoke drifted lazily upward as they chatted. I had no camera with me at the time but my friend Mark was busy with his Fuji X100T recording events inside. I asked him for a loan, two shots I said, that’s all I promise. I posed them as best I could, asked them to stay as still as possible and fired away, hand held, one tenth of a second at f2.0. Sometimes you have to capture the moment. Here are the two shots.
Three quick images processed in the latest Lightroom update 6.1 and shot in bright sunlight with the brilliant Fujinon XF35mm lens. Still some strange banding in middle photo..