Spontaneous

I grabbed this shot on the evening before the end of the second Covid lockdown. It was taken with an old Olympus 35mm film camera

I grabbed this shot on the evening before the end of the second Covid lockdown. It was taken with an old Olympus 35mm film camera, loaded with Kodak Gold film – I then used a ‘little’ post-production to remove some of the grain, giving the image more clarity and structure.

© Narrating Images – Lockdown

Depth of field

The X-Pro range of cameras I use has two options for ‘Depth of Field Scale’: Pixel basis and Film format basis. This will enable you to adjust the camera setting to suit your need and style.

Where do you set the focus? This is a question we should always consider. How accurately do you want to focus? That is another critical question is on what basis are you adjusting the focus? Does it suit your needs and style?


The X-Pro range of cameras I use has two options for ‘Depth of Field Scale‘: Pixel basis and Film format basis. This will enable you to adjust the camera setting to suit your need and style.

Technically, the only region that is in focus is one particular plane parallel to the optical axis. All other areas will be out of focus, even when moved by 1mm. All other planes are in ‘bokeh‘; theoretically that is. The reality is that the amount of bokeh is so tiny that it appears to be sharp. You can basically ignore it. ‘Depth of Field‘ is about the plane in focus and areas in front and back of the plane that appear to be in focus (although it is defocused in theory).

The bokeh in the defocused area is referred to as ‘circle of confusion’. The ‘permissible circle of confusion‘ is the bokeh that is almost indistinguishable. Bigger the maximum permissible circle of confusion, the deeper the depth of field it gets. They are proportionally related.

©Fujifilm

The problem is this ‘permissible circle of confusion‘ changes depending on the image sensor resolution and the viewing condition.

The resolution of the image sensor is much higher than that of the silver-halide films, and the circle of confusion is therefore smaller. In addition, pixel-peeping has gotten popular, so the ‘permissible‘ circle of confusion is much more restricted—the ‘shallower‘ depth of field demands for much more accurate focus position and area. The depth of field scale on a pixel basis is optimised for such needs.

However, for some people, the depth of field becomes useful only when it is deep. Snap shooting, for example, takes advantages of the deepness of the depth of field and does not demand a more accurate and strict scale.

Go out in the street. Set the aperture to f/8. Search for the light. Find the composition. Predict the subject movement. Set the focus position based on the prediction. Do not get overly concerned about the accuracy; the ‘depth of field‘ will cover the error…. You can see that in such a style of photography, one benefits from the greater permissible area.

This is something that is inherited from the silver-halide film days. And to match this sense of feeling, we have the ‘Film format basis’. (*The value is based on the 4P print viewed at a standard distance.)

©Fujifilm

There is no correct answer. You should make the selection based on your style and needs. If the viewing size is already determined, then you can make your choice based on it. You do not have to stick to one basis either; you can always go back and forth.

For your information, the XF14mm, XF16mm, and XF23mm has a depth of field scale on the lens barrel based on the film format. If your style is to grab a shot by eye measurement or manual focus, these three lenses can help you.

©Fujifilm

Perfecting On-location Portraits

Rain doesn’t stop me from shooting. My Fujifilm XPro-3 and lenses are weather proof.

Choose the right location

Good locations are safe places to shoot that, in some cases, are close to amenities like a coffee shop and a toilet. They have a variety of interesting backgrounds to work with and have some top cover, too. Good locations include country parks and urban areas in need of regeneration.

Plan for the weather
Rain doesn’t stop me from shooting. My Fujifilm XPro-3 and lenses are all weatherproof. Choose styling items and accessories like hats and gloves for the person you are shooting to keep them warm if required. I find that, even on a sunny day when I’m working in the shade near tall buildings, the wind can be pretty chilling, so bear this in mind.

An underpass in Manchester in the rain is a perfectly good shoot location. I just used the light that was available for this shot of Zara. FUJIFILM X-T1 | XF16mmF1.4 | F1.4 | 1/125th | ISO 400

Travel light
The less kit you take, the fewer decisions there are to make. I often shoot with just one lens on one camera body. It simplifies the shoot and keeps the picture style consistent.

Practice, practice, practice
I find that I need about three shoots a week to keep my photography evolving and improving. It is a practice that delivers the experience necessary to be relaxed and confident. This air of confidence relaxes sitters, and it shows in the pictures.

Even a hedge can be a location with the right forethought. I bought the yellow dress from Primark, and the red bag was Mischkah’s. Strong colours can work well together. It’s not often I use a central subject placement but it works here. FUJIFILM X-T1 | XF35mmF1.4 | F4 | 1/180th second | ISO 200

Purpose
Understand precisely who the audience will be. Are the pictures for you or the person in the picture? Perhaps you are shooting for someone else entirely; a magazine picture editor or a company website designer. Have the user of the images in your mind throughout the shoot, and you will find yourself tweaking the mood, expression and poses to suit their needs.

Prepare your camera
Adjust your camera’s JPEG settings to give you as close to the final look of the shot you want. Don’t say, “Oh, I’ll fix that in post later”. If you are planning to present the images in monochrome but want to shoot colour too, switch the camera to a monochrome Film Simulation but shoot RAW and JPEG so you can have the best of both worlds. With the correct settings for the look you want set in the camera, you can control the shadow detail, highlights and exposure.

We were sheltering from the rain when I took this portrait on a railway platform. The coat acts as a sort of protection and evokes a vulnerability that is met by the full-on confident look. FUJIFILM X-Pro2 | XF35mmF1.4 | F1.4 | 1/500th second | ISO 200

Start with the end in mind
If the shot is going to be published as part of an editorial, leave space for text. If it might make the cover, shoot in portrait orientation and leave room for the title. If it is for social media, think square. If it is to be printed on art paper, give the shadows an extra stop of exposure etc.

Keep the shoot fun
Even if you are shooting serious portraits, have fun between the setups. For a lot of people, being photographed is like going to the dentist. Give your subject something to laugh about, and the whole experience can become fun. A better rapport will express itself in the depth of the pictures.

Once you have a ‘banker’ it’s time for some creative fun. FUJIFILM X-T1 | XF18-55mmF2.8-4 | F4 | 1/125th second | ISO 800

Connection is everything

If you have eye contact in the photograph, make the expression engaging. Pull the character from the sitter into the lens. If you don’t have eye contact in the shot (many of my portraits are profiles), consider using an extended cable release or the Fujifilm Remote App to trigger the camera. Set the camera on a tripod, focused and framed correctly, then move into the eye line of your subject, create the moments you want to capture and take the shots remotely.

Work together
Share the images you shoot with your model as you go, so you can both have input into the creative process.

I love profile portraits like this one of Alicia as they draw the viewer in. We shot this in the entrance foyer to a museum as it was really windy outside. FUJIFILM X-T1 | XF56mmF1.2 | F2.8 | 1/500th | ISO 400

© Fujifilm – All copyrights respected.

X-Pro2 was probably the ultimate camera in 2016

The X-Pro2 was probably the ultimate camera in the X Series lineup, back in 2016.

The X-Pro2 was probably the ultimate camera in the X Series lineup back in 2016. Some may disagree, but it was packed with the newest features, including the latest X-Trans CMOS sensor and the processor. Which model is the most lovable X? This may be a more challenging question to answer. For me, it is currently the X-Pro3. And perhaps there is no end to the discussion, but FujiFilm feels that one of the four X100 models perhaps is the most loved X of all.

© Fujifilm

Fujifilm often set up meetings with the X-Photographers to get feedback on the products. I’d love to be involved. I did send Fujifilm a detailed list of suggestions, and feedback, but didn’t get a reply. Fujifilm prepares a proposal of improvements, but the demand from the X-Photographers is always one step ahead of their proposal.

But a strange things happen with the X100 series. The photographers all demand to “keep the camera the same and not change a thing.” This is not to say that Fujifilm should not change it at all; they are also expecting something new to the camera. To make the successor, Fujifilm had to be careful about picking parts for improvement and parts to keep unchanged. Thankfully, features such as electronic rangefinder and CLASSIC CHROME were positively received, probably because the things that they loved about the camera remained unchanged.

The 23mmF2 prime lens is one of the main reasons I love the camera so much – that at the 16mm F2.8. The lens remained unchanged in all X100 models. It renders soft images at maximum aperture and in close-up, but the photos get really sharp once stopped down. The lens is a hybrid. You can enjoy both sharp and soft images. The 35mm equivalent angle of view also makes it really easy to use the camera. There are photographers who take all their photos with this camera alone.

Per-Anders Jörgensen from Sweden created a book called “Eating with the Chefs”, with the X100 only. When you look at the pictures, you will be surprised how eclectic the images are and that they are, in fact, taken by a single fixed lens camera. “Mastering the camera” is not a thing they say often. But when you read the book, you can sense that the camera has become an eye and a hand of the photographer. It is as if the photographer has liberated himself from the typical use of a camera.

© Per-Anders Jörgensen

Another reason why so many professional love the camera is the lens shutter.
Zack Arias, a street photography master and a lighting pioneer, quickly saw the benefit of it, and created numerous works that only lens shutter can create with the high-speed sync flash.

© Per-Anders Jörgensen

There is more reasons to love the lens shutter: it’s so quiet. There is no focal plane shutter that can get as quiet as the X100. X100 makes minimal noise when releasing the shutter. Many appreciate this quietness, especially in reportage, documentary and family events photography. X-Photographer Gianluca Colla from Italy often talks about the importance of “Getting close”. He says the distance is the deciding factor in making the photos good or bad. There are things that cannot be captured from a distance away. To get close with the inner side of the subject, camera needs to be unassuming, and you need to act natural.

© Per-Anders Jörgensen

There are countless other reasons why people love about the X100 series. With 100 photographers, we would have 100 different reasons. But in the beginning, the camera was criticized as much as it was praised. “Why APS?”, “Why prime lens?”, “Why rangefinder style?” So many critics question the significance. However, as it turned out, the product planner was not so concerned about the negative response that the camera was getting back then. Because much more heated discussions had already taken place repeatedly within Fujifilm. His name is Hiroshi Kawahara. He is the person who gave birth to the X100 Series. He departed to a different path, away from the product planning of the X Series. His last word was, “Love the camera that you are involved with.” The camera he loved is still loved by so many still today.

© Fujifilm

Using a Fujifilm X-Pro3

The Fujifilm X-Series have a stunning range of lenses, giving me high-quality images that can be printed without concern.

MY FIRST FUJIFILM CAMERA WAS the X-Pro1, which I purchased back in 2012. Until then, I’d been a Canon user. However, I never felt a connection with my Canon’s; it was like holding just another electronic device. Don’t get me wrong, they are great cameras, but the X-Pro range instantly felt like an extension of my hand. The X-Pro range has a soul and a great analogue classic design too. Another advantage is the X-Pro3, and most of my lenses, is they are weather-resistant, avoiding extra stress when working!

Fujifilm X-Pro3 – © Narrating Images

I usually, when we’re not in lock-down due to Coronavirus, travel a lot for work. My Fujifilm cameras, touch wood, have never let me down. They are some light and small; I don’t need to lug a heavy backpack around.

The Fujifilm X-Series have a stunning range of lenses, giving me high-quality images that can be printed without concern. While most of my work is in black and white, I do love with colours my X-Pro3 can produce. The ability to create different colour recipes and simulate the look of the traditional film is indispensable.

Fujifilm X-Pro3 – © Narrating Images

I’ve also recently purchased the tiny Fujifilm XF10, its a camera packed with amazing functionality. It is my everyday camera that I take everywhere, as it fits unnoticed in my pocket. People never look at me when I’m photographing them with my XF10. However, my X-Pro3 does sometimes gain attention – despite it being small. When people don’t think they are being photographed, they act more relaxed and natural.

Fujifilm X-Pro3 – © Narrating Images

Using Fujifilm equipment really enhances the joy of photography. When I was in Miami a couple of months ago, I had so many people spot my X-Pro3 when I was relaxing in a cafe or restaurant and ask me questions about it. I felt almost like a sale representative, the way I was reeling off details about it. Just in case you’re wondering, nope, I’m not a Fujifilm salesperson, and nope they don’t pay me to say nice things!

Fujifilm X-Pro3 – © Narrating Images

Don’t get me wrong; there are always things that can be improved. The more I use it, the more features I’d like added or design features I’d change. I have written to Fujifum with a list; I’ll write them up and post them here soon.