Monday, April 21, 2014

Open aperture shooting with the Fuji X-T1 and 56mm lens at f/1.2

Rust is Mother Nature being an artist in the aging process. Rust adds character to a surface, like wrinkles on aging skin. I have always loved photographing old textured surfaces -- rust, decaying leaves, weathered wood, cracked paint. Rust is one of my favorites. When you get in close you can see a full palette of colors not obvious from a distance.

There is a rusting hulk of an old abandoned pier along the Hudson River in NYC. I pass by it often on my bike, and just as often stop to take some photos.  It always presents itself as a different subject to my lens mostly due to the changing weather, but just as often a result of my mental state and the photo gear I have with me. On this occasion I set out with the Fuji X-T1 and two lenses, the 56mm f/1.2 and 35mm f/1.4. I was determined to only photograph with the apertures wide open. Since the base ISO of a Fuji X camera is 200 I needed a neutral density filter on such a sunny day. I also intended to get in close so I packed a Nikon 5T close-up lens for the 56mm.

For this series I only used the 56mm lens at f/1.2. Using it like that forced me to take a point of view that exploited the out-of-focus areas as much as the narrowly focused subject. The character of what the equipment will do at this setting becomes as much a part of the subject as the scene itself. When all the disparate elements are working well they integrate into one flowing visual experience.

I set the X-T1 to record both RAW and jpg mostly using the Velvia/VIVID film profile.  Now that Adobe ACR has the full Fuji X camera set of profiles added to its latest version of camera RAW, I was able to transfer the profile to the RAW image, using the jpg image as a sample. The advantage to this is that now I had the color depth of a 16-bit image to use for further processing. This allowed me to take the image, especially the shadows, to places a simple 8-jpg could not go.

I also shot some of the scenes in black and white for later processing as platinum prints. Below are some samples from the rusty day shoot.

This is the scene where all these images were taken. I have no idea of what this, but found its close-up character colorful and intriguing in the harsh sunlight.

This is the only photo not taken with wide open aperture. I saw the pigeon perched on the beam above me and caught the silhouette at around f/5.6.  I was hoping the bird would take off so I could capture an in-flight shot of it framed by the grids...but no such luck. 

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