Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

Tag: fujifilm x pro 1

My Beloved Fujifilm XPro1 is up on Ebay!

I know it’s hard to believe, and it breaks my heart… But since I bought my XPro2, my XPro1 is simply getting dusty. Time to share the piece of gear that excited me so for near 4 years.

Here is the link to the camera on Ebay. The Auction ends February 5th at Noon EST.

Mention you saw it from Suspect Photography blog in the comments and I’ll send you a nice Day of the Dead Triptych.

Have fun!

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Environmental Portraits, Location and the Importance Of Background

Yesterday I went on a motorcycle ride with my outlaw biker brothers (and fellow photographers) out of NYC and into Long Island. I brought along my trusty Fujifilm Xpro1 looking forward to shooting some portraits during the ride.

I wanted to shoot pretty wide open to get a blur going on the background, but it was mid-day and quite bright so f4.0 was about as open as I could go. I also wanted to show off the bikes, so I would be further back then my normal portrait shooting distance, thus increasing detail in the blur. The background would have to be considered and thought out as importantly as the subjects. As a matter of fact, I can’t emphasize enough a good background! I like to treat my photographs in three layers, a foreground (in this case the front of the bike), the middle layer (the subject) and the background. I place the emphasis in portraiture on the middle and the background; they are certainly the most critical of the composition, and finding a good foreground being a bonus.

18 f 2.0 2500 sec f 4.0

18 f 2.0 2500 sec f 4.0

First consideration on the background is keeping the horizon in a third. Never ever cut the horizon in half! In this portrait of Joe Otto on his big 1100 V-Twin Cruiser I made sure I lowered myself to ensure the horizon was placed 1/3 to the top. Notice the pavement line that leads your eyes up to the center of the image, and also the blurry car in the far top left, centered between grip and mirror. These background details are tiny, but are elements that ensure the portrait is pulled off with a compositional perfection.Relationships of shapes in the image should also be identified and included, the shape of the headlight mimics Joe’s helmet, so the included that in the crop.

35 f 1.4 4000 second f 4.0

35 f 1.4 4000 second f 4.0

 

In this next photograph of the Kingpin I found a background that has strong elements such as the board walk planks and the sign. While composing the image I would use the Bayside Marina sign to frame Kingpin, while being very careful where the light fixture in the upper left would be placed. During the composure I then noticed the second light fixture and made sure it didn’t touch the subject. I was conscious of the horizon cutting the frame, but the framing overided that consideration and I placed the Kingpin and his Honda RC51 Sportbike in the bottom 2/3 of the frame. By placing the subject in harmony with the planks, all the lines in the image push your eye to image right. F4 ever so slightly blurs the signage, but the intent look on the Kingpin holds the viewer’s eyes around the center of the image.

35 f 1.4 shot at 2000 second f 4.0

35 f 1.4 shot at 2000 second f 4.0

 

Jason took off his leather and underneath he sported a plain whte T with a v-neck. I thought of Marlon Brando in the Wild Ones and liked his casual pose over the handlebars. His HD Sportster Roadster is a new acquisition, and he loves it, the gesture in his left hand shows that. I asked Jason pose in this spot, due to the shade the tree to camera left affords. I like the texture from the cucoloris effect as well, not too strong, not too light. The rocks in the background mimic the bad-ass attitude of the Harley Davidson while the line of the path draws you across the image nicely. Horizon neatly placed in the top third with a hint of clouds.

All the images were shot jpeg with the b&w style applied, then imported into Snapseed with my ipad workflow used. Ride on readers, and keep a sharp on the background (and potholes for NYC riders!)

~David

Keep Calm and Carry Cameras II

What the Garbage Truck Sees

This is a short and sweet post, it’s about something I have said in this recent post, “always carry a camera”. You just never know when the photography gods will throw you a good image to capture. On the street, or just coming out of your bathroom. Carry that camera.

So here’s the story, on Sunday mornings I head out to La Bergamote bakery to pick up some croissants to bring back for breakfast. This trip takes me down 9th ave, and sometimes, I head east to 8th ave if I’m in the mood for bagels and lox from Brooklyn Bagel Company. Mostly though, it’s all about the croissant. I always grab my camera, because La Bergamote is in the heart of Chelsea and the architecture and tree lined streets is just perfect in so many ways. It was early on this particular Sunday morning, and cloudless. On the Corner of 22nd and 9th Avenue a Garbage truck had pulled in the corner diagonally so that its front pointed across the street instead of down the street. While a normal site on the streets of NYC, as I crossed it I noticed the windows reflected the buildings across in an interesting composition. Standing almost in the middle of the street I took some time to compose the image, falling into that tantric composition photo seeing trance through the viewfinder that only ones who love photography can understand. Time stands still, traffic matters not and in a 250th of a second it’s done. Exposure made, for better or worse or most likely, for nothing really because only a small percentage of images actually has any guts to it- destined to fall deeply into a folder on the hard drive.

Later during breakfast I did a chimping session and thought, “you know what David, you got something here…” so I downloaded the image onto my iPad and started to do my new workflow with snapseed and was quite surprised at the final edited image. I posted it on my Facebook and got loads of Likes. I’m so happy I brought the Fujifilm Xpro1 with 18mm f2.0 on that croissant mission.

before and after

 

Fast forward a week later, and I visited the bathroom early this morning. Of course I had the requisite iPad with me, and I was sitting there, through the door I spied the rising sun pouring through the windows and shedding light on my wife Barbara’s cabinet. Click.

 Heads greeting the morning sun.

Photography is about so much, and sometimes I just blush with happiness, when all that matters is making the image. I friend of mine recently posted a shot of her under the darkcloth of a Deardorff on Facebook, as I was writing this post I had spotted it on my feed, We had a short exchange and Kendra gets it, she said, “love it”.

photodialog

Check out Kendra’s work, she shoots Tin Types and brings a wonderful aesthetic to her work. When I first met her she was shooting with a 4×5 Speed Graphic, now she’s rolling big time with a 8×10 Deardorff!  Look at those TinTypes, thats LOVE! www.kendraesadams.com

That’s all there is to this I guess. Carry a camera, keep calm, and love it.

 

~David

 

Fujifilm X Pro 1 Predictions – No more pro Mirrorless Cameras?

Lady Liberty

It’s Fujifilm X series prediction time. I have my photo tarot cards out and here is what they say. One word first, yes I have industry connections and I respect any NDA and or personal confidential info that comes my way. However this info is just my personal prediction and is not based on any confidential intell I’m privy to. I came down to these conclusions with Moose Peterson and Gabe Biderman in conversations this week.

With Photo Plus East just around the corner, we’re going to see lots of announcements in the upcoming days of October. I’m only interested in what Fujifilm has up thier sleeves, since I believe they are the currently the most interesting and principal driver of new and cool photo gear. Yup, I just said that. Sorry Big C (the good kind) and the camera company who used to “take the worlds greatest pictures”. It’s all about the Fujifilm X system. Here we go…

We won’t see a XPro 2. I don’t think ever. But we will see a XE2. I think that the hybrid finder on the Xpro1 is going to be the last Mirrorless camera made that has it. It’s what set the Xpro1 apart from pretty much the whole rest of the Mirrorless world but it’s going to be a feature of photo goodness past.  Here is a question to all the current users, do you still use the OVF as much as the days when you first had the Xpro? Or do you find yourself using the EVF more? Lets face it, the EVF is not accurate, I’d say it has about a 10% minus factor on what you see as to what you get. Also, two words, Focus Peaking. Yea, I’m using the OVF less these days. And it hurt to just say that. Seems like analog is just slipping further and further away from me. Next I’ll just be like Neo in the Matrix.

The future is fuzzy… and this is just what I feel in my bones and read in the cards so take it with a grain of salt and look forward to more weather proofing and enhanced EVF functions (manual exposure wysiwig and clearer view).

The Above photography is Lady Liberty shot on the Moose Cruise II with Fujifilm Xpro1 w/ 35 1.4 @ 1/64 F 2.0 ISO 200 and processed in Camera Raw (pretty heavily I may add).

~David

The Old Tuscan Farmer and Every Picture Matters Lesson

The Old Tuscan Farmer in the Cortona market

The Old Tuscan Farmer in the Cortona market

On Saturday mornings in Cortona the market comes to the squares. It’s where we buy our produce, and Barbara’s family has been shopping there for seemingly forever. We have a favorite farmer, and when I met him, he was old. Italian countryside old, which means he looks older than he is due to that famous Tuscan sun. Plus farmers always age harder than regular folk do. His stall was attended by his extremely nice wife (equally as old, but very sturdy), and who I think is his daughter in law, along with his son and a few others who might be family but might be farm hands helping to bring the crop to the market. For as long as I have been coming to Cortona, this has been the same. They are very nice, and the old farmer is jolly and congenial, he always has a firm handshake and a grand smile. For the life of me, I have a problem understanding older Italians and we would go back and forth talking and I never really knew what he was saying or if he understood me, but I grew to like him immensely, he became part of what I love about Cortona.

Two years ago he stopped working the main part of the stall, and broke off to the side setting up next to a wall, sitting mostly, and selling herbs in little pots. No more the heavy melons and sacks of tomatoes, this aspect of the business was now delegated to his wife and the kids. His hands would be always wrapped around a cane, and it was understood he was letting the next generation take over and he would just be in charge of a much smaller crop. When asked how he was feeling, he shook his head and said he was fine, but age was taking its toll on the old farmer, and his pride wouldn’t let him stay home, complain, nor stop what he had been doing his whole life. When I was working on my Instant Italy project (shooting Fujifilm Instax photos exclusively) I took a fine photograph of the old farmer and tried to give it to him but he didn’t comprehend an instant photo so I slipped it in his top pocket as the image was developing. I shot a second photograph of him, the one I would keep, but didn’t come out well. Pointing a camera at the old farmer produced a random result because he didn’t keep still and was always in conversation with who ever would be near him. The next year, I came with the Fuji X-Pro 1 and had decided that I would shoot the people I knew, but I would do it unobtrusively and I would focus on thier hands frequently.

I was eager to be shooting him, and as Barbara and mom selected produce I chatted him up and photographed his hands wrapped around his now ever present cane. I made one exposure, that’s all. I didn’t want to be intrusive as he was now engrossed in another conversation. We saw him a few more times that year on following Saturdays but I had my image.

This year we trotted through the market to buy our produce. I looked forward greatly to seeing the old farmer and being in the presence of his smile and hearing his undecipherable Italian. When we turned the corner the herbs where there, in little black plastic pots but he was nowhere to be seen. His wife upon seeing Barbara and mom greeted us, and mom and Barbara had an exchange with her. They asked where he was and I was hoping for another story of what I had already gotten and inkling about. The farmer’s wife looked down, and said something I of course couldn’t follow. Barbara turned slowly to me and lamented, “he’s gone” with a long face confirming what I had already suspected. He had passed 4 months ago, and further details were absent. I hoped it was an easy passing, and I walked away sadly, feeling empty, like a little part of my summer was forever gone, and then I thought about the photo of his hands. Holding on to his cane, and perhaps a grip onto this world for his last year here. The old farmer will live on in my memories and in that photograph, as well as the Fujifilm Instax photo. I don’t have the latter, but I hope his family found it in his belongings and it’s sitting on a hearth in the farmhouse.

Photography is powerful, it can make a man immortal or conjure the emotions of a past moment. As I lamented the passing of my nameless old farmer I knew I would treasure that image for all time. When I made the image I was thinking of how I could elaborate on my style and work that I shoot in Tuscany. When I edited the image I was unimpressed and not too excited about the photograph I had made. Now, with his passing the condition has changed dramatically, the importance of the image magnified.

Never ever take an exposure for granted. What is drab can become brilliant, what is mundane exceptional. Photographs like wine can into something far more important and relevant than what you thought during the 1/60th of a second it took to expose.

Every picture matters.

Image made with Fujifilm XPro1 and 35mm 1.4  shot in film sim B&W Mode 1:1 format. Processed in Snapseed.

Hurricane Sandy and the Obliteration of a Safe North East

Chelsea Pier on the Hudson River Monday October 29th

I’m not sure I know where I’m going with this blog post. Being a Manhattanite effected by the super storm Hurricane Sandy I was one of millions who lived through an interesting time to say the least. It was the week of Photo Plus East, the massive imaging trade show at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center  and we had just finished up a grueling week of camera a photo education. My favorite holiday, Halloween was a few days away and the reports of a “Frankentstorm” started being reported. The Saturday before the storm the government and media really started to talk about it. The presidential election was in the fury of its last days and even that took a back seat to the impending storm.

By Sunday it was obvious, we would be getting hit, and get hit bad. Hurricane Sandy was killing people in Caribbean, and she was moving up the eastern seaboard slowly. From the mid west of the USA a massive low pressure cold front was heading towards the Atlantic and would collide with Sandy far off the coast of the Carolinas. The weather scientists were saying this was more than the perfect storm, this was something we haven’t seen yet. Ominous.

As a photographer and not a first responder I decided I would continue shooting the event. Knowing that power was most likely going to go out, I set to charging all batteries and devices. Monday everything was closed or closing. Hurricane Sandy was approaching. I was going to fall back on photographer mode. I shot these all with the Fujifilm XPro1 with the 18mm f 2.0 lens over the next week. Images were shot in JPEG and then converted to black and white with Nik Silver Efx 2.

When the impending storm was just innocent fun.

Bottled Water was the first thing to run out. Monday the 29th.

The Mayor’s office began mandatory evacuations and broke the city into three zones. Zone A was expecting severe flooding and on Sunday they ordered evacuation from a block from our building. The Chelsea galleries are famous in this neighborhood, and they would be right smack in the center of Zone A.

The Galleries of Chelsea braced for the impact, and flooding.

Things we take for granted, like access to our parks closed and locked up.

Art in NYC is bad ass. They stop for nothing.

The wind picked up Monday night and the storm smacked into Manhattan around 7:30 p.m.. I pretty much stopped shooting at this point and waited out the storm. We lost power shortly afterward.

and then the lights went out. The storm had hit Manhattan. 8:16 PM Monday the 29th.

I thought I had eclipsed my fathers wisdom was “a know it all”. Turns out Dad can still dispense with good advice, he had recommended we fill the bath tub with water. I followed Dad’s advice and was very glad because when the power went, so did the water. I shall not doubt my fathers capacity for wisdom again, if we had not had a bath tub of water to use to flush the toilette that would have put a huge damper on the next 5 days.

News became a luxury in a dark city. The morning of October 30th.

houston

Manhattan had taken its hit. Overall not too bad, severe flooding and a few downed trees. However three other parts of New York, Breezy Point in Queens, The Rockaways (out by JFK airport) and Staten Island would get a hammering of epic proportions. On election day, November 6th I took a trip with Brandon Remler to Staten Island to survey the damage. What I saw will be forever in my mind of the power of nature and the futility of man to thrive in her shadow.

Cleaning up after the massive flood in Staten Island. Sense of humor is still dominant in New Yorkers. November 7th, 7 days after Sandy landed.

Boats in Midland Park Staten Island, tossed like kid’s toys.

The boats created a surreal sense of place, all out of place.

The scope of property damage was unreal.

Homes pushed off their foundations by storm surges.

In some places, the ground itself was washed away.

I witnessed devastation, but also a community united. The American flag was ever present.

Crooked Church in Staten Island, still standing.

I walked away from this experience with emotions. Everyone you meet asked how you weathered the storm, and you ask them too. I actually felt guilty saying I had no electricity nor water and lived on the 18th floor without elevator service. Those are small inconveniences next to the fires of Breezy Point, the washouts of low lying Rockaways and Staten Island. We are told that this will now be a current state, vicious hurricanes and flooding. NYC now has it’s natural disaster, its earth quake/brush fire/volcano. Water. That will be our challenge.

Film Simulation Modes on Fuji X Pro 1

18mm 1/30th at f/2.0 B&W r ISO 800 B&W- Y JPG

So I’m old, I cut my photo teeth on film, I predate digital photography. Back in the halcyon days of film the choices were plenty and you could match a film to your style or the subject. Kodak was king, but then in the late 80’s Fuji Film came out with a highly saturated slide film (e6) called Velvia and the game changed. Fuji roared into the market and just kept coming up with innovative professional emulsions that defined the film mindset and challenged Kodaks hold on film. These Fuji films all had a certain look to them, some subtle and some bold. Velvia possesses a super saturated slightly contrasty look that became the darling of nature shooters. Provia was the “go-to” film for product, commercial and general use, while Astia and its lower contrast smoothness hinting with a touch of warmness was perfect for portrait and fashion work. These were just the slide films, in the print world of negatives (c41) you also had a bevy of specialized films such as Reala for portraits, Press film for journalists (very pushable to higher iso’s), and some great b&w choices. Neopan 1600 was a wonderful high speed fine grain film, and I still shoot with Across 100, a smooth and fine grain emulsion that produces lovely prints.

Digital Photography is very versatile, in post  you can easily adjust the look of your image to match the attributes of these films. In many ways, the art of matching a film emulsion to your subject is lost these days but was crucial back in the day. The X Pro 1 however has something very cool that us old shooters dig, it’s called “Film Simulation Modes” and in the menu we can bias the camera to shoot like a particular film. I teach a class called, “finding photographic style” and I encourage people to work with in-camera digital styles to fine tune their vision. Shooting this way forces you match subject, genre, and style to a look, easily achievable with a film sim mode. The X Pro 1 takes it even further and offers a film sim bracket mode. You can assign three films and take one shot and the camera gives your three images each with a different film simulation. It’s a bit slower to work this way, as the process time takes few seconds. But the results are fun and shows you the comparison between three types of classic Fuji emulsions.

Barbara models for me at Central Park trying out different film sim modes.

The X Pro 1 offers you a choice of Provia (standard), Velvia (punchy & saturated), Astia (soft), Pro Neg Hi (contrasty), Pro Neg Standard (great range of tones), Monochrome (b&w), Monochrome Y (Yellow filter for contrast), Monochrome R (Red filter for higher contrast, great for clouds), Monochrome G (green filter for smooth skin tones), and Sepia tone (warm old feel).

35 mm lens 1/4000th at f/1.4 Provia ISO 200 JPG

I have been shooting Jpegs with the X 1 Pro on account of no RAW support from Fuji yet, so I haven’t been able to test how a RAW image would work under a film sim mode. The merits of this feature are certainly debatable, but I stand by my statement that it allows you to instantly “own” your image in a unique way. I would advise you to explore these settings both in color and b&w. You just may be surprised at the path this film simulation takes you, or at least get a warm fuzzy feeling now that you can shoot with Velvia again… sort of.

~David

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