Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

Month: January, 2014

Fujifilm XT-1 : Sh*t Just Got Real

shit just got real folks.

Attention Suspect Photography Fans- Finding Photographic Style and Composition in NYC 4 Day Intensive Workshop April 17th to April 20th 2014. Early Registration Discount By March 1st.

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The mouse that roared in the photo world of gear is certainly Fujifilm’s X system. Not sitting on the laurels of their acclaimed XE and XPro cameras the short giants have released a sneak peak of their new flagship camera, the XT-1.

UPDATE January 31st.

The smoke has cleared, the Fujifilm XT-1 was officially announced and you can now pre-order this gem of a camera at B&H.

A few clarifications, we did not get a double card slot. What we did get is an amazing and groundbreaking viewfinder. The viewfinder is larger than the Canon EOS 5D MKIII’s and has unique features never before seen such as a vertical view with info off to the side, not blocking the frame. A focus assist “box” in the viewfinder while still giving you the full view beside it. 3 new weatherproof lenses down the road.

I’m debating on pre-ordering one. I think it’s vastly worth it, but I’m just afraid that when I go to shoot, will I grab my XPRO1 or the XT-1, you can only shoot with one camera at a time.

Ohh heck, who am I kidding, of course I’m going to grab one. 

Several websites have released info and speculated such as Petapixel, Fuji Rumors, and the great Fujix Forum regarding the new camera. The date that an official announcement from Fujifilm will be is January 28th it seems. Lets look at this dream camera a little further based on what we know now.

First off, head over to Fuji Rumors and look at the post. Andrej was first to break the story. I have included some leaked pics that I can only imagine how they were obtained. Looked like a dude had a about 3o seconds with the camera and shot some iphone images. But what a tease!

Hump and Dial:

I think what is most interesting is that they went for the HUMP, the look of having a pentaprism mirror on the camera which is a departure form their other Mirrorless offerings which mimic a traditional rangefinder. We also see an additional dial for ISO, bringing the total analog dial count to three. I can’t think of any other camera that has that many dials on the top deck! Not too sure why the emphasis is for a dedicated ISO dial, I always recommend to just set your auto ISO parameters and that’s just one thing to not worry about. Regardless, the dials look super cool.

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Weather Sealed:

YES! A great feature that I wish my Xpro-1 had. I was taking a class one year up at Maine Media Workshop and a classmate and I went to shoot in the Camden cemetery with some light painting techniques. It was raining and I had a Canon EOS 1 DS III that was weather sealed, I loved it, I put the camera on the tripod and just kept water drops off the front elements and shot away in the rain. My fellow student couldn’t really shoot since her 60D was susceptible to the rain.

Fast- Like kittens with jet packs:

Coming in at 8fps continuous shooting with AF tracking this jammer is going to keep up with the big boys. One thing with Fujifilm is certain, their AF gets better with each generation.

I can see the light:

With a hi-performance EVF that is. OK, Sony has been doing a great job on great EVF’s so I expect that. Better be at this point anyway.

Twice is Nice:

Double SD slot is a new feature for Fujfilm. I would have liked to see CF and SD but why not? Slap an extra card in, say two 128GB SD cards and shoot till the XT-2 comes out. Since I love to shoot RAW+Jpeg I hope I can assign files to card 1 and card 2. That would be something I’d dig.

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That’s all the compelling rumors that are out now that I care to mention. The price at $1800 with a lens is inline for a camera of this heft and specs. But what about Nikon and Canon?

What surprises me most about this upcoming announcement is how the big two have completely missed the boat on Mirrorless. Last week I was on a Linblad Expeditions trip with Nat Geo shooters to Baja and was helping a guest with a Nikon V1 camera. Oy Vey what dog! And the Canon guy who came up with their Mirrorless should be thrown off a cliff.  Fujifilm was silent for the late 2000’s and Early part of this decade, but man have they hit the ground running.

It looks like we wont see an Xpro-1 replacement soon, and I bet we can expect them to offer two lines, a SLR style and Rangefinder type bodies. Regardless I’m excited and can’t wait to get my hands on this camera. Will I buy it? Well I have to say I do love my Xpro1 to death, and I don’t know if I could cheat on the Xpro with a XT.

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Lets keep our eyes and ears open and see where this goes. Long live Fujifilm!

Update 1/22 More pictures of camera leaded on Fuji Rumors- and man does it look good! Click Here for Goodness!

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Coney Island Polar Bear New Years Day Swim 2014 : A Guide To Photographing This Tradition

Rush_to_ocean

The mad dash to get in the water first. Xpro1 – Zeiss 12mm

Attention Suspect Photography Fans- Finding Photographic Style and Composition in NYC 4 Day Intensive Workshop April 17th to April 20th 2014. Early Registration Discount By March 1st.

The first day of the New Year is celebrated by New Yorkers at Coney Island in the form of a brisk dip in the Atlantic Ocean. This has turned into an event which is organized by the Polar Bear club of Coney Island, an organization  founded in 1903. This year the event drew close to 4000 viewers and 2500 swimmers in an extremely festive environment filled with characters, personalities and lots of photographers. I was actually quite surprised at how many shooters turned out, the day was a who’s who of NY photographers that showed up; from the venerable Harvey Stein, the Daily News veteran  Todd Maisel, iPhone extraordinaire Ben Lowy, man about town Louis Mendez, Brooklyn’s Kevin Downs and a motley assortment of many local photographers. I got the idea to shoot the Polar Bears a few days prior (looking for something cool to do New Year’s Day) and I texted my friend and fellow photographer Brandon Remler to see if he was game for it, and found out he had already plans to go, so I hitched a ride with him (creative minds think alike aye?). The board walk was crawling with photographers when we arrived at 11:30 am.

The seminal NY Street Photographer Louis Mendez covering the event.

The seminal NY Street Photographer Louis Mendez covering the event.

Covering this event to make photographs is exciting, fun and actually fairly difficult. Here is my take: first off, set a parameter. I wanted to capture portraits that resonate with the oddity of the moment,  the anticipation of the action, and the shivering resulting from it. Coney Island is an old place (my Grand Mother and Grand Father met there in the late 1920’s) and has distinctive landmarks that beg to be integrated into the final image.

hulk_n_wonderwoman

Characters abound. This is a husband wife Polar Bear team. The wife parked the invisible jet behind the wonder wheel (where else?).

The first part of the day is the action on the Coney Island Boardwalk. The music was provided by a DJ  and the result was a party filled with electric energy of the new year. I slapped on the 35 mm f1.4 for this and opened up between f 4.0 and f1.4 depending on the “width” of the photo. The shot below needed a little more depth of field because I wanted to catch the stuffed polar bear and the lady, and shooting at 1.4 would have given me focus on just one of those elements. I stopped down to f4.0 to capture both.

polar_bear_lady

too_cool_4school

A very typical character you can find on the board walk of Coney Island. I love the tattered leather and the macbook.

Coney_mummer

Elements that give a sense of place like the roller coaster are important to keep in the frame. I didn’t expect the tongue, but fired away when she stuck it out.

I love to shoot wide open and blur the background, but essential to this shoot was Coney Islands uniqueness so I was trying to get the parachute jump or the roller coasters in the background. The 35 mm f1.4 destroys backgrounds into a soft bokeh-ness so if I wanted that background to be demonstrative, I would have to really think about how far I was from the subject and carefully position myself to include those elements in the frame.

jaws_attacks

We’re going to need a bigger camera.

The action is carnival like, and people dressed up and cavorted for the many cameras. It was easy to make a portrait, all you had to do was get their attention and ask for the photo. I found you could also direct them a fair bit and roll out with some nice work. I would wait till the subjects were not being harrangqued by any other photographers so I could get their attention. You can see in their eyes if they are working with you, or the photographer next to them. The lesson here is wait your turn and make the photo yours.

run_to_water

The first wave of Polar Bears head to the cold surf.

The dip in the ocean occurs at 1 pm, so around 12:30 we made our way down to the beach and joined a crush of photographers. The Polar Bear Club makes a channel about 75 feet wide for the swimmers to run down the beach and hit the water. It gets filled up fast, so stake out your spot early. My plan was to shoot wide (Zeiss 12mm), and get in as close to the swimmers as possible. I set the camera for manual focus at f22 and just used zone focus to capture the run. I also put the camera into hi-speed drive mode and shot at 6 frames per second. Editing later on  you can find just the right shot and a lot of ones that clutter up your hard drive.

first_splash

This is my favorite shot of the day. I love the composition, but I did have to crop heavily, there was a Nikon 70-200 2.8 with lens hood sticking into the frame from the left side.

OMG_cold

The police boat on the horizon is an interesting element to include.

Winter_Splash

I did get tired of the police boat in the background, but the back lit splashes never gets old. One problem was the sun was just above the frame and wreaked havoc with the exposure. I was at +2 Exposure Comp to make this one.

After the swimmers took their dip they returned to the shore and an army of photographers converged on them. They showed great attitude and fortitude and posed for us. But again, you have to be proactive, smile at them and ask for the shot. Subjects looking into your lens will connect far better than subjects looking over you shoulder.

have_a_cigar

He couldn’t keep his cigar dry, but that didn’t stop him from smoking it.

I_did_it

This girl was skinny, so the cold was electric but look at that smile. A true NY’er and we don’t need the Giants hat to prove it.

This couple had just gotten engaged and were celebrating by taking the dip. I think everyone had a story, but with LBGT rights being the #1 story of 2013 I had a special warm place in my heart for these lovers. The woman on the right is proudly displaying her engagement ring. Let love rule!

married

How do you celebrate an engagement? In 32 degrees water thats how!

So what does a Coney Island Polar Bear get aside from a jolt of excitement? They get an official certificate stating, “I Did It”! Aside from crazy NY locals, this event also attracts thrill seekers from across the country.

I_did_it.too

This Polar Bear is loud and proud of her accomplishment.

This family came all the way from Sunny San Diego for the celebration and dip.

This family came all the way from Sunny San Diego for the celebration and dip. The family that freezes together stays together. They could have done this in their home town, but it wouldn’t have been the same.:-)

This work was all shot with the Fujifilm Xpro1 and my trio of favorite lenses, the Zeiss 12mm f2.8, 18mm f2.0 and 35mm f1.4. I was aperture priority and on the beach was always at +1 1/3 exposure compensation. I shot with B&W Yellow filter to bring out a little more contrast in the sky. The entire shoot was processed on my iPad using Snapseed. For those of you who find the FujiFilm Xpro exciting, please visit this blog  that collects all artistic articles about the camera. I also brought along my Fujifilm Instax Neo-Classic Instax camera. I gave away about 15 pictures throughout the day. Like I have written before, this camera just emanates good photo karma and it makes subjects happy when you  hand them an instant photo as a take-away.

Pin_hole_man

I saw Xpans, Graphlex, Hassy, and even a pinhole camera to capture the day with.

I am definitely going again next year, and to make better images I want to try mounting the camera on a pole and shooting remote to get a higher angle. I’ve noticed the press guys had fishing waders on and were in the shallow water making shots. I think this is needed, as I found it very hard to make images without lenses and other non “polar bears” in the image.

and the last image... the lone photographer capturing the surf of a new year. Complete with black fedora.

…and the last image… the lone photographer capturing the surf of a new year. Complete with trench coat and black fedora.

Regards to the brave Polar Bears of Coney Island  and see you next year.

~David

End of Year Post : What’s In and What’s Out

Doll_n_whip

Doll with whip, Brooklyn Xpro1 35mm f1.4 B&W jpeg

2013 will forever be known as “The year to try to keep up with”. Innovation found itself at every turn, politics were as contentious as any year in my life I have been aware of, and the now ambiguous smart phone has dominated just about every aspect of life in 2013. Trying to keep up is nearly impossible and requires a devoted assault on what was once known as “free time”. There is no more free time, unless you retreat to a cave, grow your beard (oh wait, the hipsters own beards now), make a conscious decision to quit social media,  isolate yourself,  and avoid at all cost  slew of new cable series that now define pop culture. There is light at the end of the ’13 tunnel, those cables series have become so engaging that reality TV became passé. A lot of shit went down in 2013, and I don’t have time to write about it all, ‘cause I gotta catch up so I’ll break it down with a In and Out list, kinda like In and Out burger.. but much tastier.

candle maker

Candle Maker, Sugar Load NY Zeiss 12mm f2.8

 

InUmami Burger, this LA burger joint opened on 6th Avenue and all the other burger joints in NYC pretty much took the back seat. The flavors are masterful, and the trick is to just sit at the bar and let the families wait for tables.

Out– MacDonalds, actually MickyDee’s has been out for a long time, but this year even their employee HR website recommended they don’t eat what they serve as unhealthy.

 

In– Mirrorless Cameras, this got serious in 2013 after Fujifilm in 2012 was the comeback kid. Olympus pretty much abandoned their DSLR line, and Sony stuck a full frame sensor in a Mirrorless camera.

Out– Cameras with the “hump” (DSLR) and sub $200 point and shoot digitals. Yea, cameras that have the hump mean they have a mirror and a mirror is so everything 2012 and past. Forget a cheap digital point and shoot, you got your iPhone for that. The only p&s digitals that can keep up these days have super zooms, something we are years away from with the phone cameras. At least for now.

 

In– Adobe Light Room 5, pretty much everyone is editing and organizing with this software that pretty much does what we all really need.

Out– Adobe Photoshop CS, It’s cloud based now, and the uproar could be heard in heaven. Adobe had to lower the monthly price and even Scott Kelby was accused of being the bad guy. This move by Adobe will end Photoshop being used by the marginals, and only the pro’s will shell out $50 bux a month for the software. The days of getting serial numbers on youtube pirate vids are officially over. Pony up or just use Capture One Pro 7 or DXO Optics Pro 8 to open up your RAW files.

 

In– the Afordable Health Care Act, with the promises to lower health care costs and provide coverage for all Americans how can you go wrong? Sounds like such a great idea!

Out– Obamacare, with a clunky website and insurance dropping those who are all ready covered and pretty much those who were happy with their insurance before, now paying more to cover those who couldn’t pay. Much like all good intentions, this is looking pretty crappy now.

 

 In– Miley Cyrus- I’m not going there.

Out– Lady Gaga- Her new album is so… meh.

 

In– The Fujifilm 23mm 1.4, and now there is no reason to shoot with any other camera. It’s fast, it’s super sharp, and it’s the perfect focal length.

Out– 18-55 Kit lenses, just go prime. Slow zooms are over, and the everyone knows that to the key to good bokeh, you shoot with a fast prime.

 

In– The Nikon DF, because retro is cool, its half the price of D4, and who really needs video? Oh and did you check out in black?

Out– The Nikon D800, because who really needs 38 megapixel? It’s over kill and there are way too many buttons on that camera.

 

In– Bill D’Blasio, NYC’s next mayor. Who really knows how he’s going to do? We all have our collective fingers crossed.

Out– Bloomberg, He did good for the city and lots of rich guys, but hey isn’t that NYC is all about anyway?

 

InThe Guardian, great journalism that takes chances and it’s free to read.

Out– New York Times, except for the lens blog its clunky to read, who knows if what you’re reading is true or not, and it’s expensive. $20 bux a month!

 

InVine, really my attention span these days isn’t longer than 6 seconds anyway.

Out– Google Plus, despite how much google throws this down our throats, I still only know a handful of people who use it. Yuk.

 

In– The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 with its retro style and advanced features, it’s the best instant camera to come along since the SX-70.

Out– The Fujifilm Instax Mini 25 was great until I replaced it with the Mini 90, but still for the money, a great instant camera.

 

Flatiron

Flat Iron Building Xpro1 18mm f2.0 B&W mode

 So there you have it, my list of the ins and outs of 2013. Suspect Photography is really looking forward to 2014. Workshops, a new book, and all the photographs yet to be taken. Happy New Year folks!

~David

 

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