Thinking & Then Shooting With A Fuji X-E1
Today, August 21, 2016 is the second anniversary of my first and still only digital camera, the wonderous Fuji X-E1.
For some years now I had been teaching photography at Focal Point and my wife Rosemary kept asking me how I could teach without my owning a digital camera. Since most of my students were not beginners my classes were not about the hardware they picked up with their hands but about lighting and the approach to the photography of people draped and undraped. I knew enough about things digital to point my students into ascertaining their white balance and the setting of other camera functions. None of my students suspected I did not own one of their own until I would make it a point to tell them so.
Since I have shot film all my life I have always been frugal in my approach to the use of film. I try to shoot the least amount of possible, crop in the camera and used what used to be an immensely sophisticated light/flashmeter to measure all my exposures. For magazine assignments I have always shot everything vertical and then horizontal so I can help the art director fit my pictures without the need of cropping the good stuff.
Only in my early youth was I ever interested in walking the streets with my cameras. Perhaps it was because I was in many places in Mexico or Buenos Aires. I could have spent days if not weeks just shooting in the Mexico City cemeteries. I really do not have that exotic option here in Vancouver. But I do know, without the shadow of the doubt that if I found myself living in Venice I would damn myself for not taking the opportunities I had right there when I was living in Beautiful British Columbia. The exotic is always what we do not have in the place that we are not.
But it seems to me that the moment you have a digital camera in front of you, you snap at everything that moves or does not move. I took my share of falling modern building (falling because of uncorrected wide-angle distortion) when I was in my late teens. It would bore me to shoot all that all over again. In plain English I am not going to walk the streets of Vancouver (or dark back alleys) and press the shutter a multiple of times with my new Fuji X-E1.
That is why it has taken me since Thursday afternoon when Jeff Gin handed me that Fuji until today Wednesday afternoon to take my first picture.
I chose to use the camera as if it were my old and still viable film cameras in a studio situation with my 11 year-old Lauren Stewart and Pancho el Esqueleto.
Jeff Gin helped me in the process by setting my camera on its handy Quick Menu to three modes of my preference (I could have chosen up to 7). Mode one was to shoot jpgs (a format I am able to open and handle without Adobe Lightroom 5) at 100 IS0 and to simulate Fuji Provia transparency film. The second setting was for 800 ISO colour negative film ( I love the Fuji 800 Superia). The third setting was at 3200 ISO and in b+w to mimic my Fuji FP-3000B instant b+w film.
I was determined to take three shots, one in each mode on a manual setting where my Minolta Autometer V would give me the accurate exposure settings. The only allowance I would give to the cameras prodigious automation was its centre autofocus.
Alas I had to take four pictures! This happened because Lauren closed her eyes on that first one. You can see here those three other exposures in the correct order: One hundred ISO transparency, 800 ISO colour negative and 3200 ISO b+w. Just for laughs I am also including two Fuji instant film shots I took after.
While it is irrelevant for me to show anybody these pictures to prove the point that I am going to resist to the temptation of shoot and think, I just had to prove to myself that even with a digital camera I can still think and shoot.
The matter would have been ever more difficult except that Lauren knew which buttons to press to show the four pictures I had taken. She then told me, “You have to connect a USB cable from the camera to your computer to download the pictures.” I followed her advice to the letter.
To celebrate we went to Mario’s Gelato. I asked the very pretty but hard to understand (she could have been Russian or Ukrainian) young woman behind the counter for the following, “I want that tall coffee paper cup and one spoon. In the cup put two scoops of strawberry ice-cream. Please give me that little bottle of San Pellegrino.” The young woman was perplexed as I sat with Lauren and enjoyed a wonderful ice-cream soda, an item not usually served at Mario’s.
Lauren told me as we were enjoying our cold treats, “Papi you can use that first picture. Just write, “Lauren asleep with Pancho el Esqueleto.”
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.