Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fuji X-Pro1 and EF20 Flash

I always enjoyed the New York Halloween parade on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village. I made a resolution this year to go again and photograph the creative costumery. Even though the XP1 is wonderful in low light, at ISO 6400 there won't be enough light to get great shots, so I sprung for the Fuji EF20 flash. It's a neat little package, not a very high guide number - I think 20 at ISO 100 - but it will be fine for my close up shooting style.

Flash photography doesn't come naturally or intuitively to me. I really have to think about everything I'm doing, and it requires special settings on the camera. I've played with the flash around my house, but there's nothing like a live field test, so I took the camera and flash out on the streets of New York with me this afternoon. The sun was bright and the sky a brilliant blue, which gave me an excellent opportunity to do some fill-flash shooting. I walked around the Chelsea/Meatpacking district of Manhattan - near the lower end of the Highline on Tenth Avenue.

I sat on a wood bench under an overhang, and as people walked by I tried to get a flash shot of them in the shadows with the bright sun in the background. I was moderately successful, as I said - flash photography doesn't come naturally to me.

I had a conversation with this gentleman who introduced himself to me as an attorney, not a photographer - even though he was carrying a Nikon DSLR and was out for the day to shoot. He took a photo of me, and reciprocated by being very patient while I tried several different settings for the flash. The shot was with the 35mm lens set at f8. The only post processing was in Lightroom to crop a little, fix the white and black clipping, and adjust the clarity ever so slightly. The flash was off camera, tethered with a dedicated sync cable. I like being able to make the light come in a bit from the side, rather than directly forward just above the lens. My only problem with that is that I have to always hold the flash in my left hand, and I haven't yet figured out how to make the light come in from the right. In any case, I think the flash and camera did an admirable job in balancing the light between the very bright blue sky and the details on his face.

The sync speed of the XP1 is 1/160th second, which I think is a little slow, so sometimes moving things got a little blurred. I'm sure part of that had to do with my lack of experience using the combo, but that's what practice is for. The spot I chose to sit in was a constant parade of very interesting people, lots of very pretty and stylishly dressed women. A few actually gave me a present of a beautiful smile. Converting flash photos to b/w is a bit more complicated than my usual processing. It's going to take some investigation.

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