Tag: xpro1

X-Pro2 in Barcelona

016_derekclarkphoto-x-pro2
X-Photographer strip BLACK

By Derek Clark

My aim for a recent trip to Barcelona was to travel light. Last year I was in New York shooting jazz musicians for a book I’m working on and I had to carry a lot of kit. The Fuji gear was light, but I also had a laptop, flashes, light stands and a background too. But traveling light was a high priority for this trip to Barcelona.

I packed the X100T with the WCL-X100 (giving me the full-frame equivalent of 28mm & 35mm), plus the X-Pro2 with the 35mm f2 and the 18-55mm f2.8-f4 zoom. The zoom was the tough choice as I prefer primes, but I wanted to take something longer than the 35mm. The 56mm f1.2 was an option and I also considered the 16mm f1.4 because Barcelona has so much great architecture and I knew a really wide angle would be useful. But I had to be strict about travelling light and so opted for the 18-55mm. In the end, I probably shot 95% of the X-Pro2 pictures with the 35mm f2 and 95% of the X100T pictures with the WCL (so 50mm and 28mm in FF).

“I fell in love with the optical viewfinder all over again”

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

I have to say upfront that the X100T is probably my all time favourite camera, even though at this point it has been overtaken in performance by newer models. But it’s still a design masterpiece in my opinion that just begs to be held and used.

X100T & The WCL
X100T & The WCL

That said, I’m in love with the X-Pro2. The camera feels great in my hands, especially with the Gariz half case (Fuji half case also available). The performance is amazing and I’m still being surprised on a daily basis by how great the focus is (especially with moving subjects). Autofocus has reached new heights on mirrorless cameras and I can think of two major DSLR brands that could be an endangered species if they don’t wake up, see what’s going on and adapt quickly.

 

“The X-Pro2 takes things to another level”

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

Shooting on the streets of Barcelona was a blast! The X100T is my favourite street camera, but I have to say that the X-Pro2 did out-perform it and produced far more keepers. I’ve always been happy with the image quality on the X Series cameras, more than happy in fact. But the X-Pro2 takes things to another level wth the 24 megapixel X-Trans III sensor giving a welcome increase in resolution. But I’m glad to say it is without doubt the same Fuji look and feel, which is more important than megapixels!

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

Film Simulations have always been a big part of the X Series cameras. A while back Fuji gave us Classic Chrome, which was unexpected, free, and became an overnight success. I use it most of the time and love it. These are my settings for Classic Chrome.

-1 Highlight tone
+2 Shadow Tone
+3 Colour
-3 Noise Reduction
+2 Sharpness

unnamed-1
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

But when light gets low I find this can be a little harsh and the shadows can get blocked up, so I reduce the Shadow Tone setting to -1 or even 0. Sometime I’ll switch over to Provia as it’s a good general all rounder and much more forgiving.

I don’t often use Velvia (too saturated for me), but I found myself quickly switching to it when photographing rooftops against an orange Barcelona sunset.

X100T & The WCL
X100T & The WCL

Another film simulation fanfare came along with the X-Pro2 in the shape of Acros. The original black and white film simulations were pretty good, but I didn’t shoot a lot with them unless I was in RAW+JPEG to have the option of the colour version later.

I just preferred to do my B&W conversions in Lightroom or Silver Efex Pro. But with Acros I find myself wanting to shoot in-camera B&W a lot. In fact I have to force myself to switch out of it again.

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

X Series cameras have always had the option of bracketing three film simulations at a time, but I wish we could shoot two at a time with our own recipe of Highlights, Shadows, NR, Colour and Sharpness baked in, but without the delay of bracketing (where you can see the processing in the viewfinder). Classic Chrome and Acros…ahh. But I digress.

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2 (Acros)
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2 (Acros)

Acros is beautiful, especially with a bit of highlight & shadow tweaking. There’s a grain in Acros files that just gives the pictures a timeless documentary look, and that’s without using the grain feature of the X-Pro2. On the subject of the in-camera grain feature. The two settings of light and heavy are great, but the same again with larger grain would be nice too!

I like high contrast black and whites, so my settings for Acros are:

-1 Highlight tone
+3 Shadow Tone
-3 Noise Reduction
+2 Sharpness

Don’t worry if you like to see tons of detail in the shadows, because Acros can do low contrast B&W too, plus you still have the option of adding a red, green, or yellow filter as well (I mostly use Red).


Derek explores the Acros mode further in ‘Jazz With Fuji’s Acros & The X-Pro2 – SOOC

The Hybrid viewfinder is now an Advanced Multi-Hybrid Viewfinder, similar to the X100T’s where you can have a tiny screen in the bottom right corner (as an option) that shows a zoomed area of the focus point to assist with manual focus. I use this now and again and it works really well.

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

I fell in love with the optical viewfinder all over again on this trip. I wear glasses, but peer over the top of them when looking through the viewfinder (I’m so happy to see a built in diopter on the X-Pro2), so I can’t get my eye right up close. With the OVF I can see the frame lines and some space around them which allows me to see what’s about to enter my picture.

With the EVF I need to move my eye around, looking at the corners of the frame individually, but there isn’t always time to do that. Plus the Harsh sunshine of Barcelona can make it hard to see the EVF because your eyes are adjusted for the brightness, which makes it hard to see if your exposure is ok. That’s when I like to dial in my exposure 100% manually and switch to the optical viewfinder. It’s not as big as the X100T’s OVF, but it’s still big and bright and the frame lines are easy to see. Using the OVF just feels more old school and I like that!
X100T
X100T

‘My Menu’ is another great feature that allows you to store frequently used menu items on a single page. The best part of this is that it pops up as soon as you press the Menu/OK button. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make all the difference!

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

Fuji have took a great camera like the X-Pro1 and improved everything that needed improving. Then they added all the best bits from the other X-Series cameras and threw in a few features that we didn’t even know we needed. The fairies then sprinkled just the right amount of magic dust and hey presto – The X-Pro2. It’s an absolute joy to use!

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

I now have a dilemma. Do I upgrade my two X-T1’s for two X-T2’s or sell them both and buy another X-Pro2? But while I’m thinking about that one, Fuji – how about a 24mp X100 with identical features and an identical button layout as the X-Pro2.


To see more of Derek’s work, click here. 

 

The joy of creating star trails

I have longed to try my hand at star trails for many years, and for one reason or another there would always be an excuse as to why I didn’t try it. Finally, all the factors came together to allow me to give it a proper go. With star trail photography you 100% have to know what you’re doing, I say this because if you’re ‘experimenting’ and don’t fully understand the factors involved then more than likely you will waste many hours getting cold in the dark and come back with nothing!

There are numerous tutorials out there which are comprehensive and will help you understand the fundamentals. One article I would definitely recommend is by Floris Van Breugel.

This blog is going to breeze over the general set up and workflow of putting together star trails. Just to make it clear I am not an expert astrophotographer but if you want to create an image similar to the one above then this might be helpful. So lets get started!

Preparation

As I mentioned before, preparation is key to getting really rewarding results. I really recommend you read the article above and also do some things which can really make your life easier – such as the brilliant Star Chart app for your smart phone or tablet. This app gives you a map of the starts, which is particularly helpful if you know nothing about the stars (like me) and want to find polaris, the north star (if you’re in the northern hemisphere). The reason why you want to find polaris is that it is the centre point for the stars rotation, so effectively the stars are rotating around it.

Kit

Camera (obviously), preferably one that is compatible with a remote which has an intervalometer built in, or use a camera like the X-T1 which has one built in. An intervalometer is a device that can control your camera to take pictures at set intervals for a set number of photos and sometimes for a set duration. This is VERY helpful as it means that you can set up your shot and leave your camera to take all the photos for the duration of the shoot without any further input from yourself. From there you’ll usually want to use a wide-angle lens to capture as much of the sky as possible. Finally you need a sturdy platform to leave your camera, more often than not a good tripod (however I have managed to produce some shots using a gorilla pod too!).

Star-trail-landscape
The composition I chose. Note that taking long exposures after sunset using Velvia can produce some incredible colours!

Shooting

Hopefully you have found a suitable location, ideally with little light pollution, on a relatively clear night (with a good forecast). Foreground is what makes a star trail photo different from all the other star trails, so really think about you composition and how you want the star rotation to affect your photo, whether you want to have polaris in the picture to have a centre point for the stars to move around, or whether you want to shoot away from polaris to exaggerate the star movements.

This wants to be done all before sunset happens. Choose your location, frame your image and then don’t change it, leave it on the tripod! Over the next hour or so take a selection of sunset photos, preferably with F8/11 to give you a large depth of field, which you won’t be able to shoot later. If you really want to cover all the bases then you can do some bracketing to make sure you have every part of your composition correctly exposed.

Star test
This is a 5 minute exposure I did to make sure I was happy with my composition. You can start to see the movement of the stars, particularly those furthest from polaris (just above the horizon a third of the way in from the left).

As the stars start to come out you can then set up your camera for star photography. I used an X-T1 and a XF10-24mm F4 OIS for the top photo. I set it up to shoot a series of 30 second exposures at F4, ISO1600. 30 seconds is the longest that you can run with the built in intervalometer, ideally you would shoot longer exposures so you didn’t have so many photos to merge later, but this is often the easiest way.

A screen grab showing the first star-focused image. the sky still has colour but the stars are clear.
A screen grab showing the first star-focused image. the sky still has colour but the stars are clear.

A few hours later and I stopped the camera and downloaded the shots.

Post production

This is where it gets quite interesting and fun, now that you have the shots you can experiment to see what works best for you. I downloaded all the images into Lightroom and selected all of the star-focused images and ran a preset on them which boosted the highlights to make the stars brighter. This helps to make the star trails that much brighter. Don’t worry about the rest of the content in the star images as this will be replaced by the earlier landscape image. Once the images were all ready to be blended together, I exported them as high resolution jpegs.

I then opened Photoshop and used a script made by Floris Van Breugel which you can find here. Go to File -> Scripts -> browse -> select the script (I used the flat version instead of the layered version as my computer couldn’t cope with the layered version!), then select the folder where you’ve exported the star images. These must be named in a sequence e.g. star image 1.. The script effectively blends the images together taking the brightest part of all of the images and bringing it forward. What you will end up with is something like this.

The complete star trail before editing to remove the ambient lights.
The complete star trail before editing to remove the ambient lights.
The mask layer button is the third on the bottom.
The mask layer button is the third on the bottom.

Notice that there is some ambient light, the lights on the water are from fishing boats and the green glow is from a few houses on the other side of the headland. To remove these lights I opened up the original landscape photo shown earlier on. I copied the original file (background) and placed it above the inserted landscape photo. Using a mask layer I then removed the lights using the brush tool which acts like a non-destructive eraser making the landscape photo come out above the background copy (I really hope this makes sense!). You can adjust how effective this is by adjusting the opacity of the brush, this is helpful when removing light pollution in the sky.

Opening up the files in Photoshop.
Opening up the files in Photoshop. With a bit of work you can produce a pretty rewarding image.

I hope that made sense and that you’ll go out and try your hand at star trail photography. If you manage any star trails then share them with us.

You can keep up to date with my latest work via the following links: Facebook, Instagram, twitter, Website.

X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Dave Kai-Piper

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography? How did you develop your style in photography?

Image of Dave kai PiperIt was one of those kind of things where Photography almost found me. I have been taking photographs for a long time for many reasons, as we all have I guess. Over time I started to make that move from taking photographs of the world around me to creating photographs in the way I see the world, from there it was the slight shift into making images for commercial usage. It does still amaze me today that I get paid for creating images.

The style I am shooting today is quite new; the Fashion Noir theme that my website carries combined with undertones from a deep love for cinema and photographers like Helmut Newton and Ellen Von Unworth. To me, provocative imagery is quite interesting and challenging to shoot. Getting that fine balance of mental stimulation and nudity that, for me, creates amazing eroticism. Nudity and explicit nudity are not linked with the power of an image in this way, or not for me anyway. Photographers like Guy Bourdin have been amazing at blending these lines over the years. Guido Argentini is another photographer that, looking back, I seemed to have been influenced by.

The question of how did I develop my style is an interesting one. I am not sure that until very recently I had one, or if I did it was something that I was working on. Today I do though, and this is more out of a commercial need to work into a specific area. I have a great fondness for all type of photography still; from landscape to beauty to bright comic filled images. I would love to shoot street stuff like Matt Hart, or weddings like Kevin. I adore the images that the Yerburys create and would love to have a play creating the soft and sensual styles that they create. Currently I am actively trying to work on a style I am not seeing people creating at the moment. The big push started after a conversation with Mirko De Nicolo of Train to Create. We were talking on Skype; Mirko knows his stuff and was able to convince me it is time to really start to define my style. It is early days, but, I have never had so much fun or felt so much creative freedom. I feel like I am working in the right direction more than before. So, I guess the short answer is Mirko told me to do it!

3

Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

It does still amaze me today that I get paid for creating images. The reason I like to use Fuji cameras is quite a complex one. Last year I was asked to provide an image for the 80th anniversary book Fuji had made. This is what I wrote :

“Some photographers spend their days waiting, some spend their lives waiting. Some spend their hours crafting and creating, some document from distance and there are those who record, who impose and intrude. For some it is a release, an adventure of sorts. There are those who practice in private and some who flaunt exuberance and flair in such lavish styles. There are those to whom photography is a commercially driven need. Photography can create celebrity or convey the downfalls of empires. They say the art of genius is to make the complex simple. So, it might not be so easy to explain why I simply love the X-Pro. For me, in a camera, I look for a companion along a journey. If my X-Pro could talk, I only wonder of the stories it would tell…”

12

The Fuji X-System makes so much sense to me on so many levels. The size, weight and nature of the camera are all amazing, and the images the system makes are incredible too. Whenever I get asked this question I always think, why would I not use this system?  The only time I need to use the D800 is when clients dictate a final size output, and I know they will want to crop heavily, but this is rare with the on-set of digital usage over print.  It really is hard to say why someone would not be happy working with this system.

5

Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

Maybe, I like to test things; I like to think I am not worried about making a mistake. Trust me … I have made many of them along the way for sure. I am not sure if learning in public with the internet is a good thing though. I mean, you can Google me and see work from 2009 and work I have just made today and it is super hard to control that. At the moment the main philosophy I have is that people are going to judge me on the worst image they see, or the worst thing they can find. People judge me just as much as they judge my work. This is nothing new though, but juggling this with having to be a perfect human being is kind of new. Getting the balance between photographer and social media guru has never been more interesting. Social media is the root of all evil, but at the same time the closest thing we have to a magic bullet to getting along in this line of work.

In a photographic and technical sense, I have no over riding thing, aside from: only set out to make the best thing you can, and slow down and think for a moment. Engage your mind and think about what you are doing, what you are saying, and why. Cameras don’t make images, people make images.

White House

Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

Guido Argentini, Helmut Newton and Ellen Von Unworth in a photographic sense. People like Thomas Woland and Robert Voltare in other ways, including photographic. Photographers like Lara Jade, Rebecca Litchfield, Ben Von Wong, Joey L, Kirsty Mitchell and all the amazing talent we have coming though at the moment. I feel very blessed to have such amazing people around me. It seems every day that someone new pops up that pushes the bar one more level.

As I mentioned before, I am a big fan of film and cinema. I would say people like Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino have had just as much of a stylistic influence over the years. Maybe it shows in the smallest ways or in more obtrusive ways at different times.

4

Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?

I am big, big fan of filters, especially the Lee Filter system. There was a blog post I wrote a while ago about the way I use ND Grad Filters for portraits:

http://ideasandimages.co.uk/lee-filters/

The image below was created using the X-T1, 16-55mm with a single speed light. Most of the shaping of the light was done using the Lee Filter system. For me, it gives me a quick way to create the light I want when I don’t have the time to set up the lighting I need or I use it to speed up my retouching process by using the hard filters instead of the digital grad filters in Photoshop or Lightroom.

6

Shooting in Classic Chrome with my new quad filter system and Matte Box gets me pretty close to what I want, leaving me with only a few tweaks to be made in Photoshop.

8

What’s next for you?

This month? We are doing some fun things up in North Wales with the Fujiholics. I am doing a set of fun workshops looking at creating my style of erotica and fashion.

http://ideasandimages.co.uk/cambrian-photography-photo-and-optic-show-2015/

We also have a few travel plans coming up to Tel Aviv and New York, and as always my Fuji cameras will be coming everywhere with us!

13

Contact info

website
instagram
twitter

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Could this Canon photographer make the switch?

By Brian Rolfe

Back in August the guys at Fuji were kind enough to give me some time with the new X-T1 and 56mm 1.2 lens, I’ve had an X-Pro1 since around April time and since getting that it has become my natural light camera of choice but I was looking forward to seeing what the XT had to offer as I was still using my Canon full frame for commercial work… could this be the camera that made me move away from Canon?

Gemita-beach-321-web

I had a location test lined up with model and stunt woman Gemita Samarra, we were off to a beach for the day about an hour from where I live, as I was packing my gear the new Fuji kit arrived, I had no intention of using a completely alien camera but thought I’d take it along with the X-Pro and at least give it a go while I had the opportunity.

We arrived at the beach on a beautiful warm sunny day, got the make up done and headed down onto the beach to set up camp, a good selection of clothes and a surfboard, it was sure to be a good day! I decided to try out the XT straight away and then I could switch to the X-Pro once we’d done warm up shots and got a feel for the natural light of the day, what actually happened was a pretty unconscious thing really, the XT controls didn’t feel alien at all and I only realised when we stopped for lunch that I’d shot our first half a dozen looks with just the XT, the X-Pro did not leave my bag the entire day, I was that at ease with the new camera, we were all chatting and enjoying the shoot so much that I just kept going with it and the results were just perfect!

Gemita-beach-819-web

Gemita-beach-388-web

I’m not really into technical reviews, I’m not really qualified to give one anyway but I can give a user experience, which for me is far more valuable than graphs and pixel peeping! The first thing I noticed about the XT was it’s size, it’s smaller than the X-Pro which surprised me, with the 56mm attached though it felt solid and balanced in my hands. The addition of back button focussing was a big plus for me as that’s how I use my 5D Mk2 most of the time, there is a workaround way of doing it on the X-Pro but it’s not something that was built into it. Auto focus and responsiveness on the XT is a huge leap from the X-Pro, I’d shot on the beach a few weeks prior to this shoot with the X-Pro and I didn’t feel that confident in capturing the model moving around too much and getting focus every time but not so with the XT although I did miss focus on a number of shots that was me and not the camera.

Even as we were losing light and golden hour was fading away the focus didn’t let me down and although the ISO was going up and noise was becoming a factor it was still more than acceptable and because at this point I was shooting black and whites it worked in my favour anyway. The EVF is unbelievable on this camera, the vision through that viewfinder is a big plus, unusually for me though I did find myself using the screen to compose quite a bit as well, it’s so clear! I even found the new flip screen useful, that was unexpected, I just thought it was a nice gimmick but I do like to shoot at unusual angles and being able to do this without laying on the floor or pulling any muscles can only be a good thing, shooting from above would normally have meant a ladder but with the flip screen I can just hold the camera up, angle the screen and still compose well without just guessing.

Gemita-beach-176-web

Gemita-Studio-310-web

So those were the main things I noticed with the XT, I also like the fact that ISO control is now on a dial on the left side of the body. Obviously the camera is only as good as the glass attached to it and the 56mm is just amazing, I already loved the 35mm as being a 50mm equivalent it suits what I shoot but the 56mm just blew me away, come in close for a beauty shot and wow!! I’ve used the 85mm L series from Canon and this is equal if not better than that lens to my mind. For beauty and fashion work it’s on my wish list now, I’ve used it in the studio and out on location and it’s just an amazing, fast lens, focus is quick, the detail it produces is just beautiful. I compared my Canon beauty shots against ones from the Fuji and I actually think the Fuji edges it, every little facial hair, every pore and eyelash is in sharp focus. The lens itself you might expect to be ridiculously heavy and a bit clumsy feeling on the smaller bodied Fujis but it’s actually just right, I really liked the balance of it on both the XT and the X-Pro, honestly I really couldn’t fault this lens.

Having had the XT over the Summer I do regret not having used it more in the studio and worked out the white balance sweet spot under strobes but I love shooting with the Fujis in natural light so I took every opportunity to do so, whether it’s the XT or the X-Pro they both give me that filmic feel that I love and coupling that with natural light only accentuates that film like quality.

Gemita-Park-417-web

Will I switch to the X-T1? I haven’t yet, if funds allowed I would have one and a 56mm by now, I’m only really holding out because when (and I’m certain it’s when rather than if) I go 100% Fuji I have to tick all the boxes for my commercial work as well as my personal work, that includes tethering to Capture One which I’m sure will come, in the back of my mind is an X-Pro2 though and if that is as much of a leap forward as the XT & has tethering capabilities then I think that will be the moment I become a 100% Fuji shooter. For now, I’m happy with my X-Pro still, I am missing the XT mind you, but a 56mm is looking very likely and I have now added the X100T and teleconverter lens to the family. I’m just excited to see what Fuji comes up with in 2015, I have a feeling it’s going to be very interesting!


About Brian

me2Brian Rolfe is a professional photographer based just outside of London with a clean and classic style specialising in beauty, hair, fashion and portraiture.

“I always strive to create images of timeless beauty & ensure the subject is still the main focus. Lighting is important but I don’t like to let it take over an image and the same applies to retouching.” 

Blog 

Twitter

Website