So, my extended book project nears the end. Still a few more trips into the night to complete and a few more images desired, but the bulk of the project sits on hard drives awaiting the giving of life which is the print itself.
Being an Official X Photographer you may surmise I am biased, but I can assure you this is not the case. The little Fuji X cameras made this project possible.
Of course I could have shot with another camera, brand, design, format, but I am convinced that I would have caused more of a stir, been recognised more (leading to more "posed" mages) and imho the images would not have looked as good (at least how I envisaged and wanted them).
Like many, I started where it all began, with the original X100. Sure the camera had it's flaws, but it had something many will not understand, it had soul! Now Fuji have a plethora of offerings, something to suit everyone, even those that hark after/more desire the SLR look with the X-T1. They are all tools for the vision and all excellent at what they do. Personally I am working with the XE-2 and X100s mostly, although "The Munchies" series was shot exclusively on the X Pro 1. The lens lineup, well, Fuji has now got such a range and of such quality only the mentally challenged would argue otherwise. The new 56mm F/1.2 is a marvel! I have not been using it as a portrait lens (it's a tool and should be used when appropriate, it is not a specialist lens at all) but rather to uncloak the night time world and all it's wonders and eccentricities.
The editing of any large project is probably harder than the photography. After only several months of shooting I have a deep respect for W. Eugene Smith and his tribulations. How to edit down the mass of images, all remembered, all personal to a degree, all vying for attention and acceptance. No easy answer. Personally I favour a simple approach. I do a first edit (all using Lightroom), then consult several trusted non photographers, after all they are the ones I am most aiming to view, question and enjoy my work. Then I consult a master photographer or two (established industry professionals, in this case also with an MA in photography and well exhibited nationally), and finally, I filter all they have said and take which is useful/I agree with and forget the rest and choose my edit :) Live by the sword and die by the sword, well it is my project.
Working with the XE-2 and X100s on a harness, walking miles at a time, under my coat, ready and waiting to jump to attention and capture that moment is a joy. Their lack of weight and size make any lengthy forays into the night a non issue. But then, when called upon, it's their willingness to perform, capture that moment with professional dexterity, thats the truly amazing thing.
I am neither paid nor cajoled by Fuji to write these things, being an X Photographer does not come with "strings attached", so what don't I like? Honestly, I am a very happy photographer. I wish the XE-2 could cycle view mode the most, I dislike reviewing images in the EVF (however fantastic it is) and the lag from LCD to EVF actuation when bringing the camera to the eye is annoying. Sometimes a split second is all it takes to miss magic, so please Fuji, give us a firmware fix already for this.
The stealth nature of these cameras is superb for this type of shooting. It's not that I am trying to accomplish anything nefarious, but to the general public they don't normally understand why someone is taking their photograph, especially at night. I am shooting in a voyeuristic manner as I don't want too much recognition. That too often breaks the natural behaviour and all too often results in a false pose "watch the birdy", so these cameras are perfect indeed.
The controls are superb also. Many of my students are now Fuji x camera owners, why, simply they could see the simple beauty of my cameras, their stellar performance and minimal size/weight and jumped on the Fuji train. Teaching with these cameras is about as close to teaching with a 35mm manual film camera (probably the best tool for the job, yet sadly most would not entertain the idea) as can be and I have seen time and again the accelerated progress made by students using these wonderful tools.
So, why no X-T1? I am not ruling it out but I don't feel I need (working photographers are not generally rolling in cash sadly) to buy one right now. The XE-2 is the same architecture minus the flappy screen, full remote and new evf (yeah weather sealing too but have not had a problem keeping a camera as small as an XE-2 or X100s dry tbh). Simply put, the files are the same and quality of image produced the same. I also am not a fan of the dSLR style look. I may get one down the line, but much prefer the rangfinder layout. I do applaud Fuji for their bold design choice though as firmly believe many are so used to the "prism hump" look that the X-T1 will be more of a runaway success for them, and success for Fuji is long overdue in my book.How about that firmware update (along with view mode) to evf response to the XE-2 then, huh huh :) And is it possible to give the XE-2 the remote capabilities too? after all it has wifi.
So there we are, the Fuji X cameras conquer the night! My biggest "grin" moment, the first shot with the new 56mm F/1.2 without doubt, a stellar lens by any stretch of the imagination.
Best get planning the next project I guess (actually, already have plans there too, but shhhhh ;)).
p.s., these are all sooc jpegs atm, just saying :)