Saturday, January 24, 2015

12 hours in the city with the Fuji X-T1

The digital cameras I like to use when photographing for my art portfolio are the Fuji X-T1, X-Pro-1, and Leica M 240. The Leica optical system delivers images that have a unique fingerprint of superb resolution. Often when reviewing some of my images I come across one that has a breathtaking sharpness to it, and, when I look, it is always a Leica that took the shot.

I like using the Fuji cameras with the X-Pro1, a camera I still use even though many of its features are no longer as convenient as those of the X-T1. I suppose that when an X-Pro2 finally comes to life, I may go back to it as my number one choice.  And why not? It combines the film-like qualities the Fuji X cameras deliver with the familiar body style of the Leica's I have been using ever since my first Leica M2.  The optics, while not up to Leica standards, are certainly exceptional, and, I can always mount a Leica lens on a Fuji X camera if I feel the need.

When using a Fuji X camera I always have it set to record both jpg and RAW at the same time, and most of the time I have the mode set for black & white -- even when I am shooting for color. The monochrome mode lets me visualize and compose the image in the viewfinder in a pattern of light and dark, which is what photography is all about. Later I have the extended detail of the RAW file to mold and fine tune the final image to my original vision.

Additionally, the Fuji X camera allows me to see my crop. I often use a square crop -- something that goes back to my Hasselblad days -- or the panoramic style of a 16:9 crop. The main reason I like to see the actual crop in the viewfinder is that my crops are often very tightly composed. This is evident in the photo below of the Empire State Building juxtaposed against the ornate pattern of a cornice and shadow of another building on Fifth Avenue. If you look at the line-up of the top part of the molding with the top edge of the frame, this is not an accident. All the lines of the elements in the frame and their relationship to the outer square frame are juxtaposed with purpose.

In this scene of the Flatiron Building with the dark pattern of superimposed tree branches the low, winter, afternoon sun was directly behind the building enveloping the building itself in a bright haze without detail. The foreground tree branches formed an intricate, intertwined pattern of dark contrast.

Over night the weather in New York changed to a mix of snow, rain, and sleet. This photo of the Empire State Building with the city laid out below it shows how the tall building often intertwines with the passing weather phenomena. Originally, I was planning to treat this scene as black and white, but the subtle colors fighting to break out of the haze made me want to keep it in color -- another good reason for having the RAW file in addition to the jpg. I am not sure that the subtle colors of this image will appear in the blog post so I included a high res version here to download. I shot this hand held at a high ISO of 1600 because I like the effect of the noise of the Fuji X-T1,as it is very similar to the graininess of 400 ISO film. 

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