May 032014
 
At the museum, from above…And opinions

I posted this picture (taken from the blog posting that precedes this one) on an online forum — mostly to give the members a look at what a couple of new lenses could to.  More of a semi-technical posting than an art statement.

TN-140406-nasm-xt1-411

Click Image to Enlarge

Of course this invites comments on the aesthetics from both the well-intentioned and the clueless alike…Which is why I rarely post photos on forums.

I got this one: “I like the perspective on the 4th indoor shot, but I would tighten it up quite a lot. I’d crop away everything except mom, baby and the girder. I wouldn’t crop much from the bottom, don’t want to lose any of the stroller’s shadow. The round things at the ends of the girder would go though, as would the shadow coming in from the top.”

A follow-up post from the same person was a backtrack that decided not to backtrack:  “I didn’t say you had to tighten up the shot, I said ‘I would tighten up the shot.’ I just don’t see how the extra elements add anything to the sense of time or place. For me, the photograph is all about the baby and the mother. Everything else is a distraction.”  His would look something like this:

TN-140406-nasm-xt1-411-crop1

Click Image to Enlarge

And from a very superficial point of view he is correct:  It is about the woman and the baby.  But his framing leaves us with little else, and certainly not a hint of context.  To me, it ends up almost as a gimmick shot.

His concerns about not showing a “sense of time or place” should really be about his suggested cropping.  In my wider cropping you get a sense that this is probably a large public space.  His gives you non of that.  The sense of time is not absolute, but subjective or relative.  In the context of that larger public space, the connection between the woman and the child is even more apparent — a personal moment in the larger world.

The girder has an interesting look, but in his cropping it becomes a visual barrier:  There is nothing beyond.  There are some interesting shadows, but nothing that provides any context to the venue.  The girder constrains rather than expands.  Pretty much “Here it is”.  In the tradition of faux photojournalism.

140406-nasm-xt1-411-crop1-mark-w

I like the looser cropping of my original post.  For me, it works for two groups of viewers.

  1. For people familiar with the venue (granted, far less than 1% of the viewers), it illustrates the space.  You know what the shadows represent, at least in a general way.  And you also know how precious these moments are at a busy museum…In a minute or two, thirty people can be standing at this very spot.
  2. For those just looking at the photo afresh, there is a little more mystery.  Leaving the angle on the girder (to the left) gives the viewer a “way out”.  With the area left above the girder, the girder is no longer a visual barrier, but begins to define the “beyond”.  All of the area surrounding the woman and the baby becomes potential subject for speculation.

140406-nasm-xt1-411-mark-w

I often come across situations where I want to acknowledge people in my photos, but don’t want the viewer dwelling on the details.  There is room for debate on whether this is an effective approach, but it does reduce the emphasis on individual people — a sort of ephemeral objectification of the humans.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

The Louvre

The Louvre

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

But one last note on cropping the original image…Perhaps I could have cropped out a wee bit of the distracting stuff along the right edge…

Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

Apr 272014
 
Fujifilm X-Series Cameras

Normally I try not to focus too much on the nuts, bolts, and gear head aspects of photography.  But over the past year I’ve been transitioning into the Fujifilm X-series cameras.  The Fuji interchangeable lens bodies are “mirrorless”, which means that the sensor the captures the final image is also drives the electronic viewfinder and/or LCD display.  These bodies were designed from the ground up to use APS-C sensors (23.6 x 15.6 mm for Fuji) .  That’s not unique — Many digital single lens reflex cameras also use the APS-C sensor.  However, since almost all of them come from companies with legacies in 35mm photography (24 x 36mm) they have to accommodate larger lenses and a fairly large mirror box (behind the lens and containing a mirror for the optical viewfinder light path that swings up out of the way every time a picture is snapped).

Being designed from the start for APS-C, using an electronic viewfinder path (no mirror box), and not having to worry about decades of legacy 35mm full frame lenses, Fujifilm was free to start with a fairly clean slate.

Notes: (1)The blog software downsamples the images in a way that reduces the sharpness.  To see the photos more clearly click the image once with your mouse to fit it to the screen and a second time to bring it up to 100%. (2)All images were processed from in-camera JPEG files — which I normally don’t do but wanted to try out for this session.  The final images were “saved for web” to 50% of their original size in Photoshop.

Cameras and Lenses

This photo shows the X-T1 (the latest camera in the line, emulating in appearance a classic SLR and with direct physical control of major functions) with the new 10-24mm f/4 mounted, the X-Pro1 (the flagship model which was a groundbreaking* entry into the mirrorless camera world) with the 35mm f/1.4 lens mounted (one of the original three Fujifilm XF lenses), and the new 56mm f/1.2 lens.  I’ve had the X-Pro1 for a little over a year but the X-T1, 10-24mm, and 56mm are all very recent purchases.  To get a feel for the new equipment I made one of my Sunday morning trips to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy facility at Dulles airport.  To round out the kit, I also took the 35mm.

Fujifilm X-T1 with 10-24mm f/4; Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 35mm f/1.4; and 56mm f/1.2 lens.

Fujifilm X-T1 with 10-24mm f/4; Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 35mm f/1.4; and 56mm f/1.2 lens.

(* The groundbreaking X-Pro1 feature is the selectable optical/electronic viewfinder in addition to the LCD display.)

To The Museum…10-24mm f/4 Lens…

This was shot for Robert, a moderator on the Fuji-X Forum.  The camera is just a few inches away from the panel so the background just won’t make it into focus (see last photo in this post).  Lighting is difficult since the walkway runs east-west (we’re facing west) so almost as soon as the sun is up, the panels on the left are in shadow:

10-24mm lens @ 10mm; 1/1600 sec. @ f/8; ISO 400

10-24mm lens @ 10mm; 1/1600 sec. @ f/8; ISO 400

View from the observation tower facing north (right side of the tower in the photo above).  Extreme depth of field:

10-24mm @ 10mm | 1/170 sec. @ f/8.0 | ISO 400

10-24mm @ 10mm | 1/170 sec. @ f/8.0 | ISO 400

From the walkway along the east wall of the museum:

10-24mm @ 14.5mm | 1/40 sec. @ f/5.6 | ISO 1600

10-24mm @ 14.5mm | 1/40 sec. @ f/5.6 | ISO 1600

Under the east walkway/ramp…A gallery of engines that were never able to be displayed  before this facility was built:

10-24mm @ 10mm | 1/15 sec. @ f/8.0 | ISO 1600

10-24mm @ 10mm | 1/15 sec. @ f/8.0 | ISO 1600

From a point just to the left of the previous photo, looking across the facility:

10-24mm @ 13.2 mm | 1/10 sec. @ f/8.0 | ISO 1600

10-24mm @ 13.2 mm | 1/10 sec. @ f/8.0 | ISO 1600

From the floor of the museum with the Boeing 307 Stratoliner as centerpiece:

10-24mm @ 10mm | 1/30 sec. @ f/6.4 | ISO 1600

10-24mm @ 10mm | 1/30 sec. @ f/6.4 | ISO 1600

So the trick is to get the entire Concorde into a single frame:

10-24mm @ 10mm | 1/13 sec. @ f/5.6 | ISO 800

10-24mm @ 10mm | 1/13 sec. @ f/5.6 | ISO 800

An array of small satellites in the space hangar:

10-24mm @ 13.8mm | 1/18 sec. @ f/f/4.0 | ISO 1600

10-24mm @ 13.8mm | 1/18 sec. @ f/f/4.0 | ISO 1600

…56mm f/1.2 Lens…

Shallow depth of field for the jet engine in the “under walkway” shot above:

56mm | 1/90 sec. @ f/1.4 | ISO 800

56mm | 1/90 sec. @ f/1.4 | ISO 800

Detail of the Curtiss Helldiver (newly on the floor) using shallow depth of field for “subject isolation” — blurring the background:

56mm | 1/80 sec. @ f/2.0 | ISO 800

56mm | 1/80 sec. @ f/2.0 | ISO 800

The tailhook of the Helldiver.  You can see how narrow the in-focus zone is at this f-stop and distance:

56mm | 1/140 sec. @ f/1.4 | ISO 400

56mm | 1/140 sec. @ f/1.4 | ISO 400

…the Venerable 35mm f/1.4 Lens…

An overhead shot of a P-47:

35mm | 1/105 sec. @ f/2.0 | ISO 1600

35mm | 1/105 sec. @ f/2.0 | ISO 1600

Museum visitors:

 

35mm | 1/160 sec. @ f/2.0 | ISO 1600

35mm | 1/160 sec. @ f/2.0 | ISO 1600

The Helldiver from across the museum (cropped a little):

35mm | 1/105 sec. @ f/2.0 | ISO 800

35mm | 1/105 sec. @ f/2.0 | ISO 800

…And the Nokia Smart Phone…

The setup for the first of the museum photos.  That’s a Benbo Mini-Trekker tripod — perfect for odd shots like this:

Nokia Windows Phone | 1/1050 sec. @ f/2.2 | ISO 100

Nokia Windows Phone | 1/1050 sec. @ f/2.2 | ISO 100

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