Fuji X100S - Story Telling Device

Let's get the secondary things out of the way upfront. My X100S with my typical caveman-esque settings. Processed using Lightroom 5 with VSCO 400H on import. A quick run through to flag the ones I like, an exposure adjustment within +/- one third stop. A check of the Fuji auto white balance (always wrong - well almost always wrong) and that's pretty much it as far as post processing.

I did make an adjustment to the default VSCO 400H. I hit contrast+ and highlight save from the tool kit and applied the same WB along with those tweaks to everything. I also shot in full manual due to the variations in framing causing the intelligent metering to be all over the map. Moving on to the more primary discussion from my point of view. The X100/X100S as a story telling device.

If we bottom-line this whole photography endeavor the entire exercise boils down to telling a story. With all the pigeon-holed genres the one thing in common is that inside each an images success or failure is ultimately based on how effectively it tells a story or maybe part of a story. It's true of photo journalism, street photography, commercial photography of any kind, advertising, portraiture, landscape, architecture, etc. etc. The difference is what kind of stories are told.

For individual photographers it's all about the kind of stories they want to tell and choices on how they might want to tell a particular story. After all the noise about technical things fades away the how part becomes hard. I am not talking about the how part of using a camera, or using the associated peripheral ephemera to make a picture pop out at the end of it all. Those are necessary of course and all of them become more and more refined with experience, practice, and learning. Every once in a while everyone needs a bit of freshening up or even learning something new to help produce some end result they are after. As long as those techniques are always subservient to the how part of telling your story you are fine. The moment they begin to be an ends unto themselves you are probably partaking in a completely different sort of activity that's not really photography. Much like people that mess around with cars who's sole purpose is to win ribbons in car shows but are never driven. You wouldn't really consider into driving, they are into tools, and cars, and things.

Me? I like to tell stories about people. Always have. That's evolved over the years. I have taken some twists and turns on what sort of stories I want to tell as much as how I want to tell them. This brings us to the Fuji X100 and it's younger sibling the X100S. The more time I spend with that camera the more it's growing on me as a device that helps me with my particular how. I like intimacy, I like to be very close to my subjects physically and emotionally one way or another. I am slowly learning and refining how I compose with the 35mm. It's not as if I haven't used that particular field of view extensively - I have. It's more about situationally. I am starting to use it in situations where my usual preference would be a 50mm.

Those two fields of view used as close as I shoot are very very different compositionally. This is probably one of the subconscious reasons I haven't done more serious work on a couple of personal projects I have on the docket. I have determined that my Fuji is the device for many reasons after a few experiments. I just have to come to grips with using it compositionally to a point where I feel on top of my game. It's a psychological thing for me more than a technical thing for the most part. I must must must feel fluid - If I don't it's just not going to work.

For the kind of stories I want to tell and how I want to tell them on these particular personal projects I need to be fluid. I just need the camera to get out of my way. Just as importantly I need the camera to get out of the subject's way as well and very quickly get out of the way. The little X100's do this perfectly for me - the controls are simple and direct if you want them to be. More importantly I have proved to myself that this little device get's out of my subject's way as quickly or more quickly than a cellphone or a point and shoot.

I have tested this on a large number of subjects and the time between when I start shooting and when there is that point where you transcend the "we are making pictures" part of the exercise is much shorter than when I use a DSLR. To be a bit more specific I am talking about when the subject just let's go and the interaction becomes more spontaneous. The point at which the camera disappears. Don't get me wrong - it still takes some amount of time that varies with any given subject it's just shorter when I use the X100. That's the primary reason for my choice of using the X100 on projects that are burning inside my brain at the moment.

Let's wrap this up with how I know that I am at a point with the X100 now where I feel more fluid along with a couple of questions to ponder. Well maybe not anything as serious as ponder - maybe just ruminate on for your own particular photographic activities. Let's start with the image at the top. All images good or bad are unbelievably good at telling stories. The are amazing at how much information is transferred to the viewer instantaneously.

  • What's going on here at the image at the top?
  • Girl or boy?
  • How old?
  • What's the time of day?
  • Time of year?
  • Hot or cold?
  • Modern or antique?
  • Sunny or cloudy?
  • Indoors or out?

You can probably answer all of those questions and be pretty close to dead accurate even without scrolling back up to look at it. This is the magic - how you choose to use that magic is the hard part. How can I tell I am at the point of being fluid from my particular strange perspective? Well - when I am not feeling that way I don't make the kinds of pictures at the top. They are far far more pedantic with everything lined up and usually far far more included than is necessary. My head is in the camera instead of into my subject.

Even the second image down. Nothing spectacular for sure but it tells me something about myself and my relationship with the X100 that's changed because I carry it around all the time. I use it whenever it strikes me as well as on purpose - as with the three serious project outings so far since I made some decisions back at the beginning of the year. Same goes for the third image. Can you answer these after seeing them for a half a second?

  • Is she serious?
  • Is this play or work?
  • Is it fun?

I won't bore you with another couple of dozen I shot of this scene that are of similar intent or various treatments/framing/composition. Here's one more with a slightly more traditional crop and point of view. Even this one tells me I am at a point of being more fluid with the 35mm contextually that I was due to the crop.

Serious photographic work - not really. Worthwhile, healthy, and necessary for me - someone that aspires to use the Fuji X100 on somewhat more serious projects - absolutely. Am I glad that I carry the Fuji around all the time and made this particular set of images along with the rest of them of my granddaughter. A big yes. I am sure I will even feel more strongly 5 or 10 years from now.


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