More On Photographing Children (with X100s, etc.)

In a previous post, called Fujifilm X100s and Photographing Children, I talked about engaging children in a static zone to help nail focus and generally control what they are doing, yet provide a spontaneous look. Here’s another example, this time deliberately less spontaneous, and rather fixed looking.

The point this time, visually, was to create a composition that is balanced and interesting and also one that invites speculation. In this case, through oddness. By inviting some ‘oddity’ speculation, the viewer is (hopefully) engaged. It’s kinda like they will (again, hopefully) ask “What’s going on here?”*

Technically, the point this time is the same. Engage the child so they stand still.

Also, what you can’t see here is that I’m sitting down. My leg is extended and the ball of my foot and my toes are pinning the subject’s feet to the spot (softly, in stockinged feet). You need to tell them what you are doing and why. Kids get it, but they need the help. This is another good trick to keep children in one place. You can also put a ruler or something similar on the ground and have them curl their toes over it.

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* a lot can depend on the viewer here – some will just go ‘That’s weird, I don’t get it. What’s the lemon (or whatever) for?’ etc. To which you can reply “Exactly” and then tell them to Google Albrecht Dürer so they get even more befuddled.

 

 

B&W Intent

In a previous post I wrote the following:

“This has been my basic approach for a while now to B&W – try in the Fuji, and if I don’t like it or want a different took altogether…take the B&W file to Silver Efex Pro.”

Interestingly, this workflow also reflects intent, as I hardly ever convert a colour image to B&W now. I tend to make the decision and start out in B&W when I want B&W.

I really appreciate the X100s’ ability to do this, not only to shoot B&W jPEGs, but also to view the scene in B&W though a really good sized viewfinder.

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In all honesty, I can’t remember if I took the above in B&W mode or not, it’s just the only one I have available at the moment, on my iPad Mini, that is B&W and from the X100s.;

Why Grandma, What A Big Lens You Have

See here,* at the bottom of Yodobashi Camera’s Blog page for the new X-Mount XF56 f1.2R lens, to see just how large it looks on the X-T1.

Why Grandma…

 

* the whole article is worth look at, for image examples, as too is the blog site in general. Even if you can’t read Japanese, the photos are worth a look. Also, hunt around, as there is the occasional English language article / report.

X100s / X-Series B&W Possible Workflow

After several posts the other day, featuring the moody B&W looks here, here and here, I was asked, once in person and once via comment, what I was doing. What follows is a slightly modified version of my reply to the comment question.

In these cases, I was working in manual with off camera flash. The X100s was set to daylight balance (cos shooting with flash outside), ISO 200, DR 100, H-Tone -1, S-Tone -1, B&W + R filter and all other settings default. That’s my custom setting for when I use off camera flash, except for the film simulation part, which is usually set to Pro Neg. Std.

Incidentally, this is a little different from my usual in-camera B&W custom settings, which are auto for ISO (200 – 3200), DR & white balance, and NR -1, H-tone 0, S-tone +1 and B&W R filter. All others at default.

Anyway, then in Capture One Pro I converted the jPegs (& the RAWs) to TIFFs, and after that then imported them to Lightroom. Basically, I adjusted them in Capture One Pro to give nice open and bright, but not too contrasty files. These form my good, solid starting base for more precise adjustment in Lightroom. I have no idea if this makes any difference at all. It’s just what I do. If I’m going to use jPEGs, I just like to turn them into more robust TIFFs first. Might actually be a huge waste of time. Who knows? I personally get better results from Capture One with Raw, but it’s close. Also, Capture One also works for me here as a first edit stage. So, that’s what I always do, my typical workflow, regardless of intent or image type (except, in the case of these images, I was also experimenting with the structure slider and over cooked several of the files – the hair, especially in the colour files, looks too brittle, so won’t be doing that again).

Then, in Silver Efex Pro (via Lightroom), I used the TIFFS from the jPEGS, so started out in B&W. I had first adjusted them as I wanted in Lightroom, brushing in some exposure in places, darkening in other places and adding vignettes. So, by the time they arrived in Silver Efex Pro, they’d been adjusted twice. First in Capture One to give a basic starting point that’s fairly well exposed across the board, but not too contrasty. Then fine tuned in Lightroom. Again, maybe over the top and unnecessary, but who knows?

This has been my basic approach for a while now to B&W – try in the Fuji, and if I don’t like it or want a different took altogether (after the above multi-step workflow), take the B&W file to Silver Efex Pro.

Then, in the case above, I just used the Antique Plate I (i.e. Antique Plate 1) template. In this session I didn’t do too much. I increased the exposure a little, and also the mid-tone exposure slider a little too in all cases, to suit. In some (don’t remember which) I also increased the highlight exposure slider (I used the preview / tone thingy bottom right to find the tonal range of the faces and then adjusted accordingly). In a few (again, don’t remember which), I also ever so slightly increased overall exposure once back in Lightroom.

In Silver Efex Pro, at the time, I didn’t even scroll down to look at the other settings for Antique Plate I, but I suspected it was adding vignette, and assumed that the final images had then had two doses, once in Lightroom and once in Silver Efex Pro. Once I’d finished I thought that in hindsight, it probably would have been better to only add a vignette in Lightroom at the end as a last step, once I’d seen what the Silver Efex Pro versions looked like back in Lightroom – as the Silver Efex Pro generated files sometimes look different once back in Lightroom. Today playing around again with the same workflow, I see that Antique Plate I is indeed adding a vignette, so today I didn’t add one first in Lightroom, but only later if I thought an image needed it – in the B&W photos below I added a fair amount at the end to bring down the highlights.

Here’s two, rather rubbish photos from today, illustrating the same workflow. In each case, I’ve first given the original, only adjusted in Capture One, and then the version that follows the above workflow. Note however, I didn’t feel compelled to to anything in Lightroom with these, other than the post Silver Efex Pro vignette (also, you can see that the second one did in fact start as colour). In the case of the Silver Efex B&W images, I brought the mid tone exposure down in Silver Efex Pro, as I though that’s what these images needed (there’s no right or wrong remember, just what you like the look of). The top Silver Efex Pro image I took down less than the bottom Silver Efex Pro one, and you can see the difference in feeling – the top one is much airier and lighter in feeling, even though the tonal difference is not that much. Well, that’s what I think anyway.

Another thing to note, when going for these kinds of heavily modified, somewhat over the top looks, it does’t always matter so much about blown highlights or blocked up shadows. Well, that’s also what I think anyway…

That’s about it. Hope someone finds it useful.

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More Thoughts On The Camera Fujifilm Should Make

I have to admit to being happier that a pig in a bucket of slop the bush* with my X100s, so I haven’t really felt compelled to slavishly drool over and exquisitely explore all of the new things the X-T1 does,** so there is some risk that what I’m about to say could be met with a ‘Hey, the X-T1 already does all of that, diddle-head!’

It’s a risk I’m willing to take, mainly cos I’ve nothing to do for the next 45 minutes until my train stops where I want to get off.

Anyway, to further advance into the world of the professional photographer (and serious amateur), I think Fujifilm would do well to consider the tethering options it offers. To wit;

  • on all future successors to the X100s, X-Pro1 and X-T1 (& all future pro orientated models), wireless tethering that will connect (reliably) to a computer and integrate with all the popular photography software tools (assuming said apps will allow this). For example, Capture One, Aperture, Lightroom, etc.***
  • firmware and cabling to provide the same via physical tether for the X100(s) and X-Pro1 models (surely something can be done with the existing USB ports – if obviously and blatantly not, see the three asterisks below).

Why? Well, firstly, it’s really useful. Quite simply, it makes life easier. It’s a feature many professionals and even amateurs are increasingly making use of. For some, this could be a deal breaker. Secondly, it would put Fujifilm up near the head of the pack. Some camera makers already do something like this – see here for example, for a list of Nikon, Canon and Leica cameras compatible via physical tether with Lightroom. Working with software vendors and making the top end of the X-Series range really useful and usable across a wide variety of software options via wifi would be yet one more standout, distinguishing feature. Better to lead the way there, rather than follow. Many people who make their living with cameras are switching to Fujifilm X mount cameras; reliable tethering would provide one more reason to prompt those contemplating the switch.

Is tethering to a computer really that important, especially in light of the fact that options for iPads and other tablets also exist? I think so, especially in relation to critical exposure. Camera LCD exposure blinkies♱ and histograms are not always the best for judging what is really going on. The actual software you use to adjust the imported images is far better, and being able to view this information accurately in real time is a valuable tool for portraitists, product photographers, architectural photographers and the like.

You could counter with the idea that it really should be a case of “photographer, know thy camera.” And that’s true, people should really try to come to grips with their tools and understand said tool’s behaviour, including quirks and shortcomings. Having said that, there are some really creative people out there who are just not technically capable and who never will be. Just because their ideas and their lighting and composition are brilliant, doesn’t mean they can reliably and consistently interpret what their camera is telling them.

Another biggie is composition. There’s no substitute for being able to see your photographs at or near the size they will finally end up at. Or just plain large for that matter. I guess for people who print over about 27 inches on the diagonal, there literally is no substitute. But even then, computer screen large, even 13 inches on the diagonal, is way better than camera LCD large. With a large image, not only can a more nuanced and precise approach be brought to the overall figure / ground relationship, but also attention can be given to finer points of position, tone, texture and so on. Composing snapshots on my iPad mini has really driven this point home. So, having results immediately available on screen can be of great aid, if not invaluable even.

The final biggie is critical focus checking. Checking the image at a large size, with software with features designed specifically for this, is the only way to be 100% sure.

To date, wifi cards such as those by Eye-Fi have proved problematic and temperamental, but those oh-so-rare occasions of success I’ve managed so far point to how useful wifi tethering can be.♱♱ Incidentally, I have to wonder too, at what such companies have up their sleeves for the future, if anything. The day will eventually come when all cameras have decent wifi capabilities and what then of their business models?

Anyway, I think I’ll end it there, now that Jimi Hendrix has just conveniently popped up on iTunes. So, come on Fujifilm, be a wild thing and sock it too me!

*ever seen feral pigs? Left to themselves they’re pretty clean and tidy
** thinking about it now, I’m jealous. Not entirely true either, the idea of the new portrait lens on one does make me drool
*** left myself wide open there to those more knowledgable. Go ahead, have at it
♱ you know, those flashing bits in the camera LCD review images that indicate blown highlights or blocked up shadow detail
♱♱ more on possibly cracking that nut later