fujinon

COMPOSE THE SCENE, THEN WAIT

1/1800 @f4.0, ISO 200.

1/1800 @f4.0, ISO 200.

The title of this blog comes from something Sam Abell* said during his presentation, The Life of the Photograph, at OPTIC 2017. I have watched and rewatched that presentation several times now and there is no doubt that I will watch it again.

During the presentation, Sam takes us through his thought process when making a photograph. But this idea of finding a scene, composing the image and then waiting, really stuck with me. I struggle sometimes with the patience that is required when photographing on the street. Why can I sit for hours waiting for just the right light when photographing landscapes, but while walking the streets of a city, I move as fast as the pedestrians around me.

1/1600 @f4.0, ISO 200.

1/1600 @f4.0, ISO 200.

As I set out to photograph the 187th Indepence Day Parade of Churches and Sunday Schools in Roxborough, Philadelphia, I decided to test out the idea of just staying in one place, with one lens and let the parade pass me by. Not a real stretch I know, but it was the idea of finding the right background and light and then waiting for the uncontrolled action to pass in front of my camera.

I walked most of the parade route and finally settled on background that was fairly uncluttered and in the shade. There was also shade on my side of the street which meant the foreground would be in shadow as well. That provided natural framing if I exposed for the light that would fall on the parade goers. 

1/2200 @f4.0, ISO 200.

1/2200 @f4.0, ISO 200.

With the background picked, I finished off the composition by selecting the Fujinon 50mm (75mm equivalent) f2.0 lens attached to my Fujifilm X-Pro2. This focal length meant I had only one or two shots before the subjects passed by. The benefit of a parade, of course, is that you can see what's coming and know they are not going to change their course. The downside is that you can't control who will plant themselves on the opposite side of the street to watch the parade. Or that it would be the one July 4th parade-goer who wore bright orange instead of red, white, or blue.

In deciding what to photograph, I looked for color, flags, and enthusiasm. I did choose to present all the photographs in black and white, and not just because of the previously mentioned, man in orange, but I liked how the contrast of light and shadow, put all the emphasis on the subject. 

1/3000 @f4.0, ISO 200.

1/3000 @f4.0, ISO 200.

This parade is not like a typical parade made up of marching bands, fire trucks, and floats, but consists of parishioners from all the churches located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, 15 participated this year. There are a few classic cars or perhaps a band made up of from the congregation, but it is really just a way to start Independence day before they head to their church for a picnic.

I'm happy with my results although I keep wondering if I should have chosen an alternative spot as a backup or would it have been better to pick an interesting group and follow them along the parade route, however, I think as an experiment it was best that I just stayed put.

* Sam Abell is an American photographer who has worked for the National Geographic Society since 1970 photographing more than 20 articles on cultural and wilderness subjects. In addition to numerous books, he lectures on photography and has exhibited his images to audiences around the world.

DOES THE FUJINON XF50 LENS COMPLETE MY KIT?

Cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., taken with the Fuji X-Pro2 and a Fujinon XF50mm F2 R WR lens at 1/80 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

Cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., taken with the Fuji X-Pro2 and a Fujinon XF50mm F2 R WR lens at 1/80 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

I recently purchased the Fujinon XF50 F2 R WR lens, my fourth Fuji lens since I purchased the Fujifilm X-Pro2 mirrorless camera in March of 2016. Why should you care?

First a little history of my Fuji lens purchases. I initially purchased the Fujinon XF35mm F2 R WR lens at the same time as I purchased the X-Pro2. That lens decision was mostly based on using the 35mm f/1.4 for seven days with an X-Pro1 in New York City which I wrote about here. I liked the 53mm equivalent focal length and on this f/2 version, I was drawn to the smaller form factor and weather resistant features. 

Well, it didn't take long for me to realize that I wanted something a little wider. I was leaning towards the Fujinon XF16mm F1.4 R WR lens but at the price, it wasn't going to be an impulse buy. However, when I received an offer for $300.00 off, I couldn't resist. I wrote about the 16mm (24mm equivalent) here, and while this a super lens, it is just too big for everyday carry. It does get used as my primary landscape lens, however.

Fujinon XF50mm F2 R WR lens at 1/500 @ f3.6, ISO 400.

Fujinon XF50mm F2 R WR lens at 1/500 @ f3.6, ISO 400.

You may see where this is going. After a year shooting with these two lenses, something was still missing and I couldn't put my finger on it. I really liked the X-Pro2 but just didn't seem as satisfied with my photos as I when I was using the Fujifilm X100s. Could it be as simple as the focal length of the lens? The X100s has a fixed 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens and I just never missed having another focal length when carrying that camera.

In August of 2016, Fuji released the Fujinon XF23mm F2 R WR lens and I thought that would finally be the answer. In fact in my previous blog post, 'Did I Finally Find the Perfect Fuji X Lens?', I attempted to answer that very question. And I think I did a pretty good job of justifying that purchase. And if that lens had been available when I initially purchased the X-Pro2, I probably wouldn't be writing this blog post now.

In January Fuji released the aforementioned 50mm (70mm equivalent). This is a focal length I didn't think I would need or want. However, after several outings with it, I'm convinced that it will get used second only to the 23mm.

Fujinon XF50mm F2 R WR lens at 1/17 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

Fujinon XF50mm F2 R WR lens at 1/17 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

It also completes what I'm calling the trifecta of lenses, the 23, 35 and 50mm. Others refer to these lenses as the 'Fujicron' line-up, a play on Summicron, a term Leica uses to designate lenses that have a maximum aperture of f/2. Whether you refer to them as the trifecta or 'Fujicron', they are all f/2; lightweight, but solidly built; small and compact; weather resistant; sharp and all match perfectly with the X-Pro2.

Another real bonus is you can own this trifecta for around $1200.00 total and that makes a real nice set of glass to couple with whichever Fuji camera system you shoot with.   

My only complaint is the lens shades that Fuji ships with the 23 and 35. The 50mm lens hood is acceptable, but I did break down and buy the Fujifilm Lens Hood for XF35 from B&H. At $59.99 it is a little pricey, but the good news is that it also fits the XF 35.

So, why should you care? Don't make the mistake and impulse buy lenses. Take the time to think about the type of photography you do and what a new lens will add. I would be perfectly happy with just the 23mm and the 50mm if I could do it over again.