Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Shooting Street Fashion Sydney with the Fujifilm X-Pro1

Shooting Street Fashion Sydney (SFS) is all about getting the image as quickly and efficiently as possible. Its about getting a great portrait, a great shot, often in as little as three or four frames. There's not much room for error or messing about with equipment; your attention is on the subject who you don't really know and who out of kindness and courtesy (and maybe knows the blog) is now allowing you to photograph them. You want to respect that kindness with a clean sharp shot that stands out as much as the person you are photographing.  And while I had been doing pretty well with my little point & shoot and on occasion with a DSLR I could see that if I wanted to keep SFS up with the fashion blogging pack it was time for a camera upgrade. Thanks to Fujifilm Australia SFS is now shooting with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and this is the story, a review if you like as to what this camera is like to use in the galleries, in the street and in the studio too.

The first thing everyone notices about the X-Pro1 is its great retro styling. It's a Rangefinder style camera where you can use the offset eyepiece as either an optical or video viewfinder or you can use the LCD screen on the back as you would with a point and shoot. The camera has all the old school knobs and dials, shutter speed on the top of the body, F-Stops on the lens barrel along with a silky smooth and responsive manual focus ring. The body and lenses are a minimalist shiny black on metal and these distinctive good looks are a real advantage when it comes to catching someone's attention when I ask them if I can take their portrait.

While the X-Pro1 has the options of Aperture/Shutter priority or Programme, set with the red A on the Speed and Aperture Dial I like having the traditional layout of apertures on the lens not on a command dial and the same goes for the shutter speed knob on the body. This is a camera that you work with like a traditional film camera and for me that has had positive results in having me think more photographically about what I am doing when I make my shots.

The process of thinking more photographically about your shots flows through to Fujifilm's focusing system. Most importantly and impressively the focusing of the X-Pro1 is bang-on accurate. And as of the 2.0 firmware update for the body and the lenses, auto-focus (and manual) is quick and responsive and while admittedly not being blindingly fast it is highly unlikely you will miss a shot - and the shot will be in focus. That's the sort of thing that builds a lot of photographer confidence when using a camera and the Fuji has it in spades. Fujifilm have also done something with the focusing system that at first seems quite unusual. Unlike most cameras you do not have full time control over moving the focus points. On the X-Pro1 you must first push the focus point button to activate the 49 points at which time you use the 4 way pad to position the point where you want it - at the same time you may resize the focus point for finer focus control. Repressing the button or tapping the shutter release returns you to shooting mode. While this approach may seem a bit counter intuitive, the up side of this is more time concentrating on composing the image and less time fiddling with the focus points, by deciding before-hand where the important point of focus should be and then, getting on with the shot. If it was not for changing back to manual focus with an after-market screen in my DSLR I am not sure I would have quite gotten this approach. But I think the designers at Fujifilm have thought long and hard about how to make a digital camera that delivers a less electronic and more traditional photographic experience for the photographer, along with the manual dials and optical viewfinder, this is how they have done it.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Neuw Denim Launch 3200 iso with the XF18mmF2 R at F2 1/35th

I needed higher quality shots in low light and if you have already read reviews of the X-Pro1 you will already know APS-C 16M X-Trans CMOS Sensor is awesome! I like to keep the ISO as low as possible but even with the fast Fujinon prime lenses, sometimes you need to turn the ISO dial up, the Neuw Denim shot above was made at 3200 iso with the XF18mmF2 R at F2 1/35th of a second with no loss of clarity and great detail thorough the blacks. The sensors ability to render clean smooth shadow detail has been something of a revelation to me and its something that holds well after you move up from base ISO.
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Charlotte was made at 400iso in late afternoon light with the XF35mmF1.4R, F 2.5 at 1/500th

This portrait of Charlotte was made at 400iso in late afternoon light with the XF35mmF1.4 R, F 2.5 at 1/500th. Our bicycle commuter below at 1000 iso, XF18mmF2 R F2.8 1/60th.
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Bicycle commuter below at 1000 iso, XF18mmF2 R F2.8 1/60th

Having a camera like the X-Pro1 has been firing up all sorts of photographic desires in me and encouraging all sorts of photography; all three prime lenses delivering superb image quality rewarding a wide range of uses. I have been shooting clouds and urban landscapes on and off for years, cloud detail is tricky to capture but again the Fuji nails it; though this is one subject where switching to manual focus is the way to go. Red sky, XF60mmF2.4 R Macro F9 at 1/250th 400iso.
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Red sky, XF60mmF2.4 R Macro F9 at 1/250th 400iso
Urban landscape morning light, XF35mmF1.4 R F 9 at 1/500th 200iso.
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Urban landscape morning light, XF35mmF1.4 R F 9 at 1/500th 200iso

In line with the X-Pro1 & Fujifilm's film background (and Fujifilm are still making film) the camera has a selection of film emulation modes. I have tried a few of them and have settled on mostly using the standard setting, hello! And also the PRO Neg Hi. For white balance I have tended to setting Daylight in daylight and relying on the very good Auto white balance setting for most other situations like mixed or tungsten light when shooting indoors. One of the reasons I keep the settings simple is that I usually prefer to make adjustments in RAW and finish all my shots in Photoshop. It's certainly not that the X-Pro1 does not make great JPEGS, they are about the best I have ever seen; but I know from experience that customising the final image always delivers my own final look and feel. But of course the X-Trans sensors unique design which has allowed Fujifilm to do away with the Low Pass filter to capture full pixel depth detail means that you can't use just any RAW processing software, and at the moment it would seem that the best RAW converter is the software provided with the camera from Silkypix.

The Silkypix software is very powerful and has the best highlight recovery/control I have come across period, and as you would expect can deliver an even crisper more detailed file, however... While Silkypix respects the camera white balance and exposure; from there on in you are on your own, the settings don't provide a seamless match for the in-camera film emulation and shadow - highlight control and saturation that you see with your camera JPEG. While sometimes this is a blessing as you work toward a superior file; it can also be hugely frustrating. Fortunately the JPEG output from the XPro-1 is so detailed, when I have been beaten by Silkypix I have simply worked-up the JPEG instead. In fact simply working on the JPEG when I go down that path has always been so successful that I am leaning toward only working with the JPEG files; but the RAW habit is hard to break so I am hoping that Fujifilm and Silkypix bring out an updated version of the software that is fully integrated with the X-Pro1 in-camera settings.

Belinda in the Studio XF35mmF1.4 R 250th  F2 800iso
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Belinda in the Studio XF35mmF1.4 R 250th  F2 800iso

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Pink Rose Bud XF60mmF2.4 R Macro 125th  F5.6 200isoPink Rose Bud XF60mmF2.4 R Macro 125th  F5.6 200iso

So how do I feel about using the Fujifilm X-Pro1? I love its quality and the cameras feel in the hand;  the compact size and lighter weight over a DSLR and that there is no compromise in image quality. The camera looks great, yes looks are important, and I have found it's portability and the way it allows me to produce beautiful pictures has rekindled my love affair with photography and that is not something I was expecting to experience. If you love photography and the tactile aspect of working with the shutter speeds and F Stops, the X-Pro1 is a camera that returns control to the hands and the eye of the photographer. In an age of increasingly generic digital photography, that's something both quite rare and special indeed.

Miss Earth Australia contestants  XF35mmF1.4 R 125th  F2 1000iso
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Miss Earth Australia contestants  XF35mmF1.4 R 125th  F2 1000iso
Lexi Land 'Street Fashion'  XF18mmF2 R F2.8 1/30th 500iso
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Lexi Land 'Street Fashion'  XF18mmF2 R F2.8 1/30th 500iso

My kit,
Fujifilm X-Pro1 body
XF18mmF2 R Lens
XF35mmF1.4 R Lens
XF60mmF2.4 R Macro Lens
EF-X20 TTL Auto Flash
Custom "Quick Shot" Leather Case.

The first Street Fashion Sydney X-Pro1 post here, Tenmoregirls Wearable Art
Larger images, Urban & Portrait in my X-Pro1 set on Flickr includes camera/lens details.

Street Fashion Sydney is sponsored by Fujifilm Australia; the views and opinions expressed in this review are solely those of Kent Johnson of Street Fashion Sydney.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Nuew Demim Launch XF18mmF2 R F2 1/20th 1250iso
 Nuew Demim Launch XF18mmF2 R F2 1/20th 1250iso
As a final note; the camera comes with beautiful high quality packaging. Again the attention to detail is amazing right down to the plastic widgets to help you fit the leather strap. Here's a video of the guys at Fujifilm unpacking the body and lens.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Mens 'Street Fashion'  XF18mmF2 R F2.8 1/25th 500iso, EF-X20 TTL Auto Flash

Monday, October 29, 2012

Art Never Sleeps - While fashion takes a Nanna Nap!

Yes while the art galleries and artists of Sydney are hard at work making and showing art; my inbox has been strangely void of invitations to fashion events save for an invite to a 'socks' launch I sadly failed to attend last Thursday. (sorry guys next time I promise). All the while my gallery list just keeps on listing more and more shows every week; sure its not all work by the same artist but if you think of the much vaunted 'new turnovers-of-range' à la Zara; ART and Galleries are turning around and 'dropping' new Art even faster! Try thinking of the gallery as the Brand, Art as the Range.. So all this art activity VS not-so-much fashion activity has had me thinking about the nature of both these pursuits, and not just in terms of how you market yourself but also in terms of creative output and work put in - how you go about it. And last night a close friend and working/exhibiting/professional artist brought up the hoary old question (in a perfectly nice way) of the gulf between the amateur who would be a professional and the Artist who is; and the difference that does involve.

Of course, as you would,  I am putting this downturn in fashion's largesse of event and party to a downturn in trade and perhaps minding a pre-decimal currency penny while waiting for the customers to 'drop' (and-spend) like a new range 'drops' (perhaps with below average look-books shot by well meaning amateurs not the professional who could... to save a penny) or so they say - and maybe we will have a little launch party when the next range really does 'drop'. Which also brings me to the world-wide-runway-juggernauts known quite simply as brought-to-you-BUY this Brand Fashion Week. Now I love a runway show as much as the next person but I do sometimes think that these big shows have become a bit of a one-stop-marketing-shop, a wonder drug and a fashion panacea that has taken some of the creativity out of the fashion marketing game and gobbled up a large proportion of smaller players budgets. No its not cheap to participate in. Not to mention - and I will, the love of the 'like' button (yes please do like and share this post; ah the sweet irony) and social networking... is this all... So its great to go to art openings and they are happening all-the-time regardless of budgets. And I do know that probably no-one works harder than people in fashion, though many artists work very hard too; but a downturn does not slow down art's parties; though sales may be a little slow; the trade goes on, the celebration continues; now that's something I like - pun intended; something to think about while I await my next fabulous Fashion Event to Drop!

So here's how Art fared last week (tip of the iceberg really), and what people wore, style wise; mouse over for details, gallery and show info links below..

China Heights

Couple, tattoos, full sleeve, Black Tee & Jeans A Study of Hands Friday, China Heights Gallery  - Fujifilm X-Pro1

Orange Tee, tattoos, A Study of Hands Friday, October 26 at 6:00pm at China Heights

Chunky black boots and shoes, A Study of Hands Friday, October 26 at 6:00pm at China Heights

Karki hiking backpack with groovy stickers on clear plastic. A Study of Hands Friday, October 26 at 6:00pm at China Heights

Film Camera, Chunky boots and black tights, A Study of Hands Friday, October 26 at 6:00pm at China Heights

Mod style with layering, white boots, A Study of Hands Friday, October 26 at 6:00pm at China Heights

Heavy gold chain necklace, Red Bull in both hands, A Study of Hands Friday, October 26 at 6:00pm at China Heights

Skate boards and empty beer bottles, A Study of Hands Friday, October 26 at 6:00pm at China Heights

Tattoo, White Tee, Baseball Cap, Blue Shirt as jacket, Champion Ruby, Smoking, A Study of Hands Friday, October 26 at 6:00pm at China Heights

Fire Gallery

Anna Wheeler artist portrait at Fire Gallery Sydney - Fire Gallery 22 Enmore Road, Newtown

Plump Gallery

Porthole windows, Timber, Wire, Tire solo exhibition by Mark Swartz, Plump Gallery - 240 Enmore Road, Sydney

Art through the window, Timber, Wire, Tire solo exhibition by Mark Swartz, Plump Gallery - 240 Enmore Road, Sydney

Sexes - Carriage Works

Perforamnce piece, five women, Performance Space - 245 Wilson St Eveleigh, Sydney

Cigdem Aydemir, Burka installation, Sexes, Performance Space - 245 Wilson St Eveleigh, Sydney

Frasers, CUB development site

Outdoor large scale sculpture, Frasers, CUB development site Broadway Sydney

Sheffer Gallery

Artist Portrait, Gilbert Grace - Luminous, Sheffer Gallery - 38 Lander street, Darlington

Black boots, black 'dinner shirt' dress, Luminous, Sheffer Gallery - 38 Lander street, Darlington

Sandles, rust jeans and burgundy jacket over olive V tee, Luminous, Sheffer Gallery - 38 Lander street, Darlington

Street fashion portrait with removable bike handlebar light and bell set, Luminous, Sheffer Gallery - Fujifilm X-Pro1
My picture from China Heights...
Cityscape with pink clouds and silhouette, taken from China Heights A Study of Hands.
Fire Gallery (Anna Wheeler) 22 Enmore Rd Newtown Sydney - Facebook
Plump Gallery, 240 Enmore Road, Enmore, Sydney - Facebook
Sexes, Gilbert Grace - Luminous
My own little 'luminous landscape' taken from the window at China Heights. Composite Image..

Comments welcome.

All pictures made with the inimitable Fujifilm X-Pro1.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Winters Last Gasp - Spring Coats and Jackets

Well what with all that Snow today in the Blue Mountains yes the cold frozen white stuff not the arty abstract sNO, it was hardly surprising to see the warm jackets and coats hauled out tonight, for a last time; well we hope so! Cold and windy though it was, I cycled over to Mils Gallery at Central to check out Paul Hay's installation of sculptures made from found and modified objects and stuff... and some well placed touches of red paint.  It's a cool show worth checking out while you can. And while I was there I spotted some art student style - the boots - and a lovely spotted 'Blue and Green' Spring dress, lightly layered for the change in the weather. So glad I dropped by as I get to add to my collection of RM Williams Boots in the Art-School-Style which is of course, as a former art student myself, one of my very Fav of Favs! You know you can't buy them like that. You have to wear them in. It all takes time but then that's one thing you learn at Art School, the business of  'process', something a friend in the fashion business was  telling me only the other day that is something they get in Melbourne but not in Sydney! And there are ramifications for that too! But I will save that for a warmer drowsier day.

Go see the show, enjoy Paul's Art.

Red winter coat, worn RM Williams Boots, Black leggings grey marl long sleeve tee, art student style.

Blue Dress with Green Spots, matching mustard/green tights and jacket..

Cord fluffy fawn Levis Jacket broewn skirt and black 'Roo' boots, Art Student Style

Boots, Mils Gallery Sydney

Installation Pieces, Mils Gallery

Shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro1

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Bicycle Commute - Martin Place Sydney.

Respectfully dismounted and making way up Martin Place, ready to make the commute home wherever that may be.. I love the Union Jack helmet, great coordination with the bike and a bit of British style; I suppose I can still support a bit of Brit especially when worn with such confidence. Might make the drivers think twice too - looking good for the evening ride home.

Bicycle commuter with red and white road bike, black tights, union jack cycling helmet.  Street Style Sydney, Martin Place Sydney. Fujifilm X-Pro1

Shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro1

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Newtown Style - Pink iPhone - American College Blend

Seeing as its going to be a lovely warm day in Sydney today I had better fess up and admit I took this shot a few weeks ago, worked it up and.. having lots of other material to work on - forgot to post it! Never mind, better late than never. This is fabulous American college style meets South Newton Post-Punk. I spotted this lovely young woman taking a shot of a full and beautiful rainbow with her PINK iPhone; while I was cycling between art shows on a Saturday afternoon. I jumped off the bike, said hello, pulled out the
XPro-1, snapped a few quick frames, and never though to take the rainbow too! Next time, I promise. Love the hair, love the layering and love the black Docs with fluro green laces; its all so on trend colour wise, Fantastic! If only I came across such great Street Style in Sydney every day and in such a perfect location.

South Newtown Street Style Fashion, Pink iPhone, College Varsity Jacket, NFL Football Jersey, Black Doc Martin Boots, Cropped Hair with Pink Dreadlocks,

Monday, October 1, 2012

Lives of the Artists - Career Points - Ruark Lewis & Lexi Land

It's only been in thinking about how I was to write a post or posts about these two artists, Ruark & Lexi; that I realised I can curate, in a real, not the hipster sense a relationship between an artist having their mid career Survey exhibition, which is something quite momentous in the life of an artist - and I could this week at least share & show another artist experiencing that other landmark art moment, the first, the tricky second solo show. And while it might be very nice for these two artists to meet in person and I think that can probably be arranged; I also think its very nice to have these two shows together here; both artists I have know for more than a few years and although they produce very different work; I think in her own way Lexi is as much a gifted student and practitioner of the avant garde as Ruark is master of the same; and both have words, words/poems as a significant part of their oeuvre. The Ruark Lewis Survey show requires a pleasant train ride and very short walk, or (perhaps less pleasant drive) to the Hazelhurst Gallery in Gymea. Lexi Land's 'Pieces of Me' is on show at Leonard Mattis Studio in Surry Hills - go see, enjoy the art, and maybe help Lexi on her way with a carefully timed art purchase.

Artist portrait, Khadim Ali and Ruark Lewis at Hazelhurst Gallery for the Ruark Lewis 'Survey' opening 2012

Ruark Lewis giving a speech at Hazelhurst Gallery for the Ruark Lewis 'Survey' opening 2012

Artist portrait, Ruark Lewis with installation at Hazelhurst Gallery for the Ruark Lewis 'Survey' opening 2012

Ruark Lewis 'Survey' show 2012 - Hazelhurst Gallery - gallery view.

Lexi Land ' Pieces of Me' opening night. 

Not just the art, Lexi's and her art loving friends turned on their own fashion tour de force.
Lexi Land, Artist portrait at her 'Pieces of Me' art opening 2012, Leonard Mattis Studio

Mirror view, Lexi Land 'Pieces of Me' art opening 2012, Leonard Mattis Studio

Mens Style, Black Bomber Jacket,  White shirt and black bow tie. Art opening.

 Lexi Land & Friends,  'Pieces of Me' art opening 2012, Leonard Mattis Studio

Pink tights with geometric pattern, blue linen skirt and black leather jacket, brown ankle boots

Men's groover style; leopard print cap, pinstripe jacket and funky 'tribal' print shirt.

Black biker jacket pink sun dress and post pack bag, colour sparkle shoulder bag.

Mod Style - Multi coloured Swallow print men's shirt, black jeans and kaki parka

Two groovers grooving - Pink tights, cowboy boots, blue skinny jeans, boat neck sailor tee and crochet sleeveless cardi.

Men's style, combat boots, black jeans & belt, coarse weave grey shirt and waxed cotton outdoors jacket.

Ruark Lewis
Hazelhurst Gallery

Lexi Land

All images made with the Fujifilm X-Pro1.