Friday, March 7, 2014

Smoking On Fifth Avenue

The weather is changing, Spring is coming. I feel it in my bones, and I'm jonesing to get out and shoot without being restricted with ten layers of clothing. Saturday looks to be in the low 50's! So I have to make room in my blog library of images for the new stuff that's coming up.

I shot this with the X-T1 and the 14mm lens. It's a great combination for street shooting in New York.
Smoking on Fifth Avenue:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Non-Photography Post

This past Saturday I happened to be near the Museum of Modern Art in midtown Manhattan. For this past week the museum has been having a members' preview of a new show that opens to the public on Saturday, March 8th entitled Gauguin: Metamorphoses. Being a member, I decided to stop in to see the preview, what a wonderful way to warm my body and soul. Gauguin is one of my two favorite artists (the other is Pierre Bonnard). The show is centered around his work in mediums other than oils, although there are a number of stunning oil paintings from which he borrowed motifs and figures for his other work. Prints at different stages of production are sequenced along with the woodblocks from which they are pressed, stunning wood sculptures, ceramic sculptures, oil transfers .... the man was an obsessive worker. His output was prodigious.

Since it was Saturday the gallery was quite crowded, even though it was members previews I didn't have a chance to see all the work on exhibit. I was in the neighborhood again on Wednesday and went back to see the exhibit again and confirm that my original impression was valid. The work was more stunning the second time I saw it.

I grabbed this shot on the corner of Fifth Ave and 53rd street, near the museum. There was a brisk wind and the person in the center was struggling to get that cigarette fired up. Just when I lifted the camera to get the shot, the girl next to him turned her back to me and nailed the composition.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

More On The Fuji X-T1

I have some important events to photograph coming up in the next few months and I want to be as comfortable as possible shooting with the Fuji X-T1. There's new functionality and an entirely different feel handling the camera in contrast to my X-Pro1. And I need to be comfortable switching from one to the other. I'm hoping to use the 14mm lens on the X-T1, and the 18-55mm zoom on the X-Pro1.

I've been out shooting quite a bit this past week and had a scary but very enlightening moment. The X-T1 is small and light, but it's built tough. I have a Black Rapid wrist strap attached to the camera with a screw bracket that fastens to the tripod mount thread of the bottom plate. I'd grown quite secure with the wrist strap, and at one point needed to get something out of my pocket, so I just let go of the camera. Unfortunately the bracket had loosened and become unscrewed from the bottom plate. OUCH! A tenth of a second after I let go of the camera and I didn't feel it catch with the wrist strap I heard a clunk as the camera hit the sidewalk. When I looked it over, the only scars were a tiny abrasion on the edge of the bottom plate, and a dent and large scratch on the lens shade. This was not the plastic Fuji lens shade supplied with the 23mm lens. I had replaced that with a smaller but sturdier  metal lens shade, made in China, which I found on Amazon. The takeaway lesson: Always, and forever, use a lens shade (and for that matter a sturdy filter also) - they're cheap. The lens is expensive.

On Saturday I set out to try the face recognition function of the XT1. It was a new function for me, but I could definitely understand its usefulness. In theory when in autofocus mode the photographer composes the scene in the viewfinder and the camera hunts the scene to detect a face. If it finds one, the electronics set the focus and exposure for that focus point and the camera fires the shutter. Better yet, after the face is acquired, if it is moving through the frame the camera will track it. Sounds great, but for my shooting on the street it's way too slow finding the appropriate face. I missed many shots, but stuck with it to get some feel for how it worked. When I switched back to my standard autofocus mode of locking on focus and recomposing, my success rate improved dramatically. But I haven't given up on it yet. I need a lot more practice. Guess I'll just have to get out more and play with my toys.

I was happy with two shots I captured on Saturday. Both on Fifth Avenue.  The first was in the afternoon light of a bright sun and dark shadows. The camera performed like a champ (the photographer too):

After spending a few hours at the Museum of Modern Art where I attended a members' preview of a new - spectacular - Gauguin show, I went out on the street again to work in the early evening light and happened to catch a shot of actor Michael Kouri. Once again, the camera and photographer performed flawlessly (ahem):