Monday, April 16, 2012

How The XP1 Is Making Me A Better Photographer

I'd like to start today's blog with a quote from Magnum photographer Alex Webb, talking about his work: 'Luck - or perhaps serendipity - plays a big role ... But you never know what is going to happen. And what is most exiting is when the utterly unexpected happens, and you manage to be there at the right place at the right time - and push the shutter at the right moment. Most of the time it doesn't work out that way. This kind of photography is 99.9% about failure.' 

This quote speaks to so much of what I have put forward in many of my previous blog entries. To be there at the right place and time, you have to be out on the street, a lot. Moving, looking, anticipating, planning. And you have to have your camera with you and ready to fire. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. I've gotten poked and prodded so many times by friends' jabs at me for always having my camera with me. Now here's the thing - the size, weight, and inconspicuousness of the XP1 make it so easy to have with me all the time that there's no excuse not to. 

The D700 was an entirely different beast. When I was out with my D700 I always had the shutter set to continuous/high mode so that when I saw something interesting I could fire off a series of exposures - that's the machine gun syndrome. It worked well with the camera and lens combo because the shutter and focus were so fast. But they were that fast because the camera was big enough to incorporate the necessary motors and electronics to enable the speed. There's always, always, always a trade off.

With the XP1 I most often shoot in single shot mode. Because I can't fire in machine gun mode and be relatively sure the shots will be in focus, I have to be more aware of events as they develop and of people as they move into target range and become fair game. I have to anticipate my shots more carefully and prepare myself to fire the shutter when the instant is right. Which all makes the whole shooting experience so so similar to shooting with my beloved Leica M6.

And another thing, I haven't yet figured out how to display an image on the reader LCD after each shutter click - I'm sure I can do it, but after a few days without that functionality available (without being able to chimp, that is) I find I don't miss it, and there's that electric kind of anticipation, that I used to have shooting film, about seeing the shots at the end of the day when I unload them to my computer.

One more XP1 related note. If you're considering using this camera, don't hesitate for a moment to get the additional hand grip. It makes all the difference in the world. After one shooting session with it I realized my hand was much more relaxed, I wasn't constantly pushing buttons and switches that turned functions on or off, and because I could hold the camera better I got many more usable shots. I'll have some of those processed for the next post.

For now, here's a couple of shots from the Saturday walk. The first is my usual, much anticipated b/w. The color in this shot was amazing. It almost made me want to show you why I have a little tickle in the back of my mind about doing some street shots in color.



I included the next shot with no processing except to convert the RAW file into a jpg, just so you could get some idea of the incredible detail the 18mm f2 lens can grab, and how sharp the revolutionary new sensor technology in the XP1 really is.