Randi and I just got back from India, and what a trip! We were on and off a plane 10 times in 12 days. We covered New Delhi, Old Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Varanasi. Here are just some of the shots we took throughout the trip, I hope you enjoy them!
Last week I had the opportunity of testing out Fuji's brand spanking new XF 35 f2 R WR lens, and I have been aching to share my first impressions ever since. This lens is awesome!
At a first glance I was unimpressed. It just isn't aesthetically appealing and not as impressive looking as other XF lenses. Furthermore, I felt sacrificing one full stop to shave off a few grams was a bad idea, but Billy from the Fuji Guys insisted I give it a chance. Well I am so happy I did! I spent the next couple hours running around downtown Ottawa shooting everything I thought would be too challenging for an X series lens to handle and the new 35mm blazed through it all.
My first shot gave me a feel of how it can handle difficult lighting. I shot my buddy Mink Williams in a patch of light that was coming through a couple buildings in a parking lot, and was casting dark shadows. The lens snapped into focus instantly and caught Mink half way through a glance and delivered a beautiful image.
Next I tried focusing on Mink while being back lit by a very bright rising sun. The old 35mm did not handle glare very well, and would also hunt when trying to focus while pointing directly at the sun. This new version snapped into focus time and time again, and to my surprise maintained so much detail that I can publish a (practically) unedited JPEG.
Finally just for the hell of it, I shot directly at the sun shining off a highly reflective building at f2 to get a chuckle, but instead was blown away by the fact that there was hardly any glare and no ghosting at all.
It has been a while since a lens has blown me away. Although I barely used the new 35 for a couple hours, I can confidently say that it is worth purchasing for $499. That is merely $100 more than a used 35mm f1.4. Don't get me wrong, I am and always will be a fan of the XF 35 f1.4 R, but this new addition to the X line just might dethrone it. Plus for all you pros shooting with X-T1s and X-T10s, this lens is weather resistant and lighter than the old 35. If you have the extra cash, it is worth tossing into your kit.
I recently purchased a used Fuji X100S. The camera is still very relevant although they have since upgraded to the X100T. I am still not convinced that I could confidently shoot a whole wedding and event with a mirrorless system. I mean I could, but don't feel comfortable charging clients thousands of dollars and limiting myself to mirrorless. So for now, I tote my X100S around my neck along with my bulky heavy DSLRs. Every opportunity I get, I snap a few shots with the Fuji.
So far, my first impression with the Fuji is that it is hard to capture every moment with it. I am a fast shooter in a fast paced environment. My D3 along with my 70-200 f2.8 VRII snaps into focus instantly and results are consistent and sharp. In order to get the same results with the Fuji I have to really boost my ISOs, otherwise I won't get perfectly sharp images. This may sound like bad news, but depending on what your style is, it could work for you. The X100S yields great results at high ISOs. The photos are noisy when shooting in low light, but the grain simulates film very well. This is a popular look lately, and the couple I shot was very happy with the results. They found the look was retro, artsy and told a story much better than my crisp, sharp and clean D3 results.
Here are some samples at 6400 ISO with no flash...
Another quirk you have to work around is the autofocus. Unless you are very good at manual focusing, you may find that the autofocus is a little laggy or slow. In low light situations I found that the camera struggled just enough to sometimes cost me a good shot. This concern however may have been addressed with Fuji's X-T1, which I hear has a much better autofocus.
Here are a couple shots that I took in manual focus that were in the moment...
If I were to switch to the mirrorless system, I would consider carrying around the X-T1 with a couple lenses and the X100T. The thought of carrying a system so light really gets me excited, but at the same time I feel angst when I think about some of the crucial moments you cannot miss. I would be really scared that the cameras could not capture every moment. At this point I have not used the X series enough during paid gigs to make a decision, but I have every intention of testing the XT-1 in the field to see how it performs.
The 35mm provides a beautiful point of view into peoples lives and lifetime events. The optical viewfinder was also a lot of fun to work with. I love that it allows you to see the whole scene unfold before you and you can compose your shots accordingly. My counterparts' concern was that the small size of the camera would make clients nervous because they would expect a photographer to show up with large bulky "pro" cameras, but if anything people were very curious about my little camera and getting inches from people's faces with a tiny little silent camera is so much easier than sticking my machine gun barrel on someones shoulder. It allowed me to get right in the action.
Overall, the X100S provided photos that are very memorable, and they look like they froze time forever. I don't know if it was the novelty, but my favorite shots from the wedding were shot on the Fuji X100S. It changed my pace, and gave a new style to my work.
The ongoing debate the past few years has been: Can mirrorless cameras replace coveted DSLRs? Recently, innovation and technical advances with the mirrorless systems have come a very long way. Image quality and ergonomics have become so good that it is almost easier to shoot with a small and light mirrorless camera, but does that make them better? In my opinion it doesn't. As a matter of fact, I don't think you can even compare the two. Both systems in my opinion are very good and also flawed at the same time.
I have been considering buying a whole new system for separate jobs. I have grown tired and sore from lugging around DSLRs with their large and heavy pro glass. Especially when covering weddings and special events that go on for hours. It seems by the 8th hour, I am so drained that I lose focus and I wish I could just walk around with half the weight and half the bulk. But I'm not going to take the leap quite yet. First I need to put these through rigorous tests.
A couple years ago I bought myself a couple X-Pro 1s and some nice primes and took them with me to India and Thailand. Although I packed my DSLRs with me, I didn't end up using them at all. I was even confident enough to leave the DSLRs packed up in India when I went to Thailand. Boy was I impressed! The best part about the Fuji X system is that there is no more debate. I didn't wake up in the hotel and wonder: Do I bring my cameras with me today? I wasn't worried that my five thousand dollar camera and my two thousand dollar lens might get swiped, damaged or become too bulky and heavy half way through the adventure. I could finally do what I love with no restraints. I simply threw the X-Pro 1 armed with the XF35mm f1.4 over my shoulder and left.
A good portion of my trip took place on a motorcycle, and I was able to ride with the X-Pro 1 around my neck. Most Fuji systems offer several shooting modes. Some have an OVF, others an EVF or you can use them as a point and shoot and shoot from the screen. I know these are all things found on most DSLRs, but you can get this for half the weight and a third of the price without sacrificing image quality. This came in handy when trying to take photos without removing my helmet and goggles.
Like when we were dodging cows while driving through Gurgaon...
The XF35mm f1.4 is an excellent lens and compliments the camera very well. I love portraiture, and my biggest concern was whether or not the camera would keep up when taking portraits. Portraits of strangers on trips can sometimes be challenging. There are often language barriers, and if you manage to get someone to agree to pose for you, you really don't want to tie their time up dealing with camera settings and slow focusing. Surprisingly, the X-Pro 1 even kept up in that department.
Until this point, I had been blessed with perfect lighting and the New Delhi haze provided such soft light that I felt that I wasn't really putting the camera in challenging situations. So to challenge myself, I packed up just the Fujis and hopped on a plane to Thailand where I would be forced to use nothing but a mirrorless system to capture every moment. First stop: Bangla Boxing Stadium in Phuket. If there is anything that will put a camera to the test, it's a boxing match in a semi-lit stadium in Thailand.
Or a group of people partying...
Or even this overjoyed son waiting for his "MAMA" at the airport...
After returning from my trip the Fujis collected dust. Although they performed very well, they just weren't good enough yet...
Welch LLP approached me a few weeks ago asking for stock images of their office and employees. I pride myself on being honest, (which isn't always a profitable tactic) and told them it would probably be much cheaper to purchase Getty images than to pay me to take photos. I don't know if it was the honesty paying off, or good karma, but they insisted they wanted me to take photos and that they would rather use photos of their new office space and employees. So armed with my trusty Nikons and Canon loving right hand man Tony Dib, we went in and did the best we could. Here are some of the results...
This is Tony
Last weekend I had the opportunity to work with May Milly from DM Stylist. It was such a good experience to work with a fashion oriented stylist for a change. Lately I have been so caught up with all the corporate shoots and events that I felt like I was losing touch with my creativity. That's when I decided to reach out to May so we could collaborate on a fun shoot. I can't show you all the shots yet because we aren't done the series, but here is a teaser I can share that was unrelated to our theme. Stay tuned!
It's here, it's finally here! Waller St. Brewing has finally opened their doors and will be selling beer out of their basement at 14 Waller Street in the Byward Market. What a fun party, filled with all kinds of surprises. There was even an awesome 1930 Model T Ford there for the occasion!
Estrelita and Elias from Sizzle with Decor have been dear friends for many years now, and have watched me grow with my business from the start. They have always been supportive and never cease to amaze with their incredible decors! Check them out if you are looking for the perfect decor for your wedding or party!
Torches, fire, drills, masks, props and vibrant colours were all in the studio this week as we shot a new ad campaign for Kebbek Skateboards' new line of wheels! I finally got to shoot something a little more creative than my usual portraits and events/concerts. It was fun to get back into the studio in a more controlled environment.
Here are some samples of the ads that will be floating around all the skate social media for the next few weeks.
Here’s the thing with corporate headshots; they’re boring. Hair lights, rim lights, back lights, fill lights, main light. Guy sitting on stool, shoulders tilted, plastic smile, so…”BLAH”. This is why I wanted to give my client something a little different than your standard corporate photo. Eliminate all that gear, untangle those cables, and don’t break your back (or your valued assistant’s) lugging it up four flights of stairs. All you need is one flash, a Chimera Maxi Bank, a 5 in 1 reflector and a backdrop, and you have the ultimate setup for fun and modern looking corporate headshots.
This year I had the privilege to work with Heineken at Escapade, and what a great experience! Having total creative control on how to shoot their #livelegendary slogan gave me a whole new perspective on concert photography. It also made for some of the most dramatic backdrops I have worked with so far. Heineken's mission at this year's Escapade Music Festival was to give lucky fans a unique point of view by allowing select winners to go up on stage with some of the world's most renowned DJs!
A good friend recently opened a Nacho/Taco food truck at 200 Wilbrod St near the uOttawa campus. The food is great, and so is the friendly service! They even have tables and chairs in the shade for you to enjoy on a hot summer day with one of their signature homemade milkshakes. Nachoooooooo!
Now, I know I keep telling everyone that I do not shoot weddings, and honestly, I have avoided them like the plague. The undertaking is overwhelming. It is more than an endeavor in my opinion and I just never thought I would make the cut. But with high stress comes high rewards. Being a part of someone's special day and immortalizing that moment forever is an indescribable feeling. Kevin and Geneviève sure are a happy couple, and I wish them all the best. This shot was caught moments before a torrential downpour!
Here are a few more moments from Kevin and Gen's special day.