Dec 3, 2016

Time for Changes?

I can tell it must be getting close to winter,  suddenly I find myself with time on my hands and it seems I get myself into trouble when that happens :-) cause I start thinking too much.

My first thought is what to do about my camera equipment.   I love my Fuji's but I'm questioning if I need to keep my X-T1 and it's lenses.   Recently I went to the UK and only took my X100S and did great with it - and I did the same a few years back in Bermuda.   I walked for hours with it in the little Peak Design Field Pouch Bag with the slide sling and never felt it on my shoulder.  Pulled out the X100S when a picture grabbed my attention.  If I wanted to zoom, I walked closer and when I wanted wider I would walk backwards or use Pano mode.   When I use a fixed lens I find myself working on composition and bending and stretching to get that interesting angle instead of zooming in and out.   Thanks to the EVF I never need to "check the screen" to see if I got the shot.  I put the camera up, take the picture and keep walking.  

The other advantage, it is rare that people flinch out of a photo when I put the X100S up to take a picture.  They see a point and shoot and never bat an eyelash where if your carrying anything that looks like an SLR or a zoom, panic!

That said, I love the feel of the X-T1 in my hands when compared to the X100s.   I prefer the SLR feel to the rangefinder.  My switching to Fuji was because of hauling my big Nikon gear around Bermuda and being covered in sweat .  The Fuji gear is so much lighter and smaller.   But now I find myself thinking that maybe I should go even smaller and just focus on the X100 series.

Some of this stems from my researching the Fuji 50-400mm lens.   Next June I'm going back to Bermuda to see the America's Cup.  (a sailboat race for those who don't know) and during this past trip to Bermuda I had the opportunity to take a few pictures of the boats and quickly realized that I would need a bigger lens to really capture these boats when they are racing.  

That 400mm here in Canada is around $2300 + tax.   Holy shit that is a lot of money.   I got thinking about it and is it worth spending that kind of money for a single 2 week trip?  My mind tries to justify it "well you want to move into street work, just image the candid shots you can get from far away with a 400mm lens."   No no no, that is the wrong thinking for street work.   Small and close should be used for street, don't be a stalker be bold and get close.  I know by Fuji standards that 400mm is much smaller then a Nikon/Canon 400mm but do I really want a big heavy lens?   And the same goes for the 50-140mm, oh my I would love to have that lens.  Again, around 2k as a final price - ouch.   If I were to focus on the X100 with no zooms, my trip to America's Cup will have no racing photos, instead I would focus on the docked boats and the people - is that really a bad thing when everyone else will be focused on the boats and racing?  Stepping out of the that really a bad thing.  This should probably be my new thinking.

Fuji rumours has the new X100F being announced in Jan 2017.  I'm sure the price range will be getting close to that 2k level but that is a full camera with an outstanding fixed lens vice the same money for a single lens that will only be used for the odd thing.   I suspect that the upgrade from my older S model will be worth the upgrade.  The X100T wasn't quite enough to upgrade but this will be 2 generations of upgrades.   Get an X100F and use the X100S as a backup?

Second thought, time to focus completely primarily on Black and White?  I have always had a love of black and white but have only dabbled in it since digital.   I have always gravitate to the big landscapes with big vivid colours.  Fuji colours just make this so easy to move towards.  My comfort zone that I am known for.

But what do I find myself looking at online?   Yup, black and white.  Street work, real life, gritty stuff.  Rarely do you see a good landscape guy who does black and white (they exist and they do great work but it's rare when compared to colour).  And no, I'm not a fan of Ansel Adams.   I love the work done by guys like  Donald McCullin and other artists who don't worry about what gear they are carrying.  Many carry small fixed lens rangefinders.  The images are raw and capture the feeling.  They don't worry about pixels, noise or sharpness.

Which leads to the third thought, how do I stop gravitating to landscape work?   I go to Bermuda at least once a year, I dare any one to try and ignore the amazing scenery and colour down there.  How do I stop doing that?   But looking at this years picture, any that were landscapes I can go back and find the exact same shot at least 3 times in my library.   I'm just repeating myself over and over.  Yes the newer versions are usually visually nicer (in colour, contrast, pixels, etc) due to technology and my own increased editing ability.  But nothing new or original.  I took this shot in Bath, on the fly and it's one of my favorites of the trip.  I want more of this in my library.

This was a nice little catch in London.

From a few years ago in Bermuda.

To recap;

Thought 1.  Should I sell my X-T1 and lenses (or keep them status quo and on the shelf) and become a fulltime X100 man?

Thought 2.  Time to really focus on black and white?  Switch the camera to black and white but save the raw's for those few pictures that look better in colour (and yes, those will exist).

Thought 3.  Get out of the landscape comfort zone and get onto the streets of Ottawa and do street work which I love to look at so much.

Right now my thoughts for 2017 is to switch my X100S to black+white and raw.  Either sell the X-T1 or put it in a drawer for when it's really needed.  Bundle up for winter and get out on the streets of Ottawa and start shooting.  After 10 years of colour digital landscapes it's time to go back to my passions of black and white and learn to shoot what I love to see and stop going deep into my comfort zone of landscapes.   Wish me luck :-)

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