The X100S As Art Camera

Warning NSFW

You know I don't like to use that A word up there in the title right? I decided I would throw it around a bit today given I am in a pretty decent given that it's winter time. I actually completed the first two Window Light mini-workshops with some degree of success this past Saturday. Each session was 2 hours on the same topic - creative use of window light. I covered a lot of the same material in both from a lighting point of view but each was completely different which is what I was hoping for. The same light in the same spaces was used in a very different manner with very different motivations.

In the first session I shot the D600 sometimes tethered other times not. The focus was on portraiture and a lot of the asides and commentary on my part were directed towards that endeavor. The second session was focused on figure - specifically the female figure. In that session I shot the little Fuji X100S exclusively just to change it up a bit. I thought I would share a few things from that session that I found interesting and a bit of a departure from the usual way that you might see that camera used.

I only made a few images myself. I was trying to maximize shooting time for the participants. Not a shoot fest. Instead each participant could spend 5 to 10 minutes for each setup to play and direct the subject themselves. I covered a concept from a lighting perspective. Made some suggestions on variations in use and exposure. Then proceeded to make two or three quick exposures as a demonstration. All of these demonstration shots were typical, strait-up, sharp, "well exposed", images that you could consider high IQ. Isn't that what get's illustrated ad nauseam when discussing the properties of any camera. Especially the Fuji X-TRANS cameras and lenses. Ohhh look how sharp it is. Ooooh my god - no noise at ISO 25 million. etc etc.

While I felt compelled to shooting sharp and giving participants starting points for exposures that were typical I did make a few exposures from the sidelines that were a bit more creative - artsy - atypical, whatever term you might want to use. In fact I did things that one would typically try to avoid. One of those things was putting the X100S on manual focus and racking the lens to varying degrees of OOF. Usually focusing super close manually and shooting a relatively distant subject. I have mentioned that I'm just enamored with the way the little 23mm Fujinon looks when out of focus haven't I?

All of these are sub-optimal as I didn't want to get in the way or distract the model etc. I found all of them interesting and definitely not a waste of card space. Contrast the demo image at the top to the same setup I shot discretely while remaining out of the way here. The shot at the top as well as this one were at the same high ISO, same wide open f/2 but I engaged the builtin ND and lowered the shutter to an ultra slow 1/4 second and racked the lens out of focus.

Of course I used two different post processing treatments here as well. One more of a pristine larger format kind of look and one more appropriate to super high speed black and white film with all the associated grain etc. Here's something similar - OOF and handheld super slow shutter. The out of focus actually overwhelms the motion blur. I gave it a funky color treatment and massive grain as well.

I won't bother with the demo shots for this setup. I shot those both high key and low key and gave some general tips on the fine line between the universal and the specific when exploring this type of subject. I don't do a lot of this type of thing anymore but on the odd occasion I do that's the fun part of it for me. That universal/personal border and also the balance of the literal and the specific. I also played around from the sidelines a bit with jerking the camera at slow shutter speeds in lower key types of images.

If I were shooting this for me I probably would have played a lot more with this effect and this scene but I only shot one like this. Good fodder for experimenting down the road. I did mention I am kind of feeling the motion thing for the last year. Usually not this extreme though. I also made a bunch of shots at more reasonable shutter speeds but with the lens racked out of focus. Most of them are interesting or at least give me some ideas for use another day. I didn't go super crazy with the color on this one but I do think the huge softish grain looks appropriate with the in-camera treatment.


Here's a similar one that I shot sharp. Well mostly sharp as I was shooting wide open at ISO 6400. I did add a bit of large soft grain to this. Just felt right for this image. What I really wanted now that I see both of these is this next one shot with the Fuji racked out of focus with this composition and subject position. I just love the hand in this frame. Oh well, this thing wasn't for me to make pictures. I'm actually surprised I made as many as I did.

Of course the X100S is capable of producing a more pristine look at ISO 6400 if desired. Here's one I made as a demo shot for playing with various fabrics as props. I shot this one as more of a figure arts-y thing but my discussion was things you could do from a more boudoir kind of usage for private clients.

The point I kinda remember discussing is playing with the folds to hide/show and the marked difference between a black sheer fabric in this kind of lighting setup as opposed to a white sheer fabric in a backlit high key setup we did earlier. I think I described that setup as magic sauce to render just about anything and any shape however you wish. Mess about with it from an artsy fartsy perspective as well as use it for some quite discrete boudoir work while giving your client potentially less intimidating working conditions.

I happened to put two layers together right on a window for that setup. One to avoid scaring the unsuspecting public outside for life and one to use as a prop. In reality I would set that up for use a bit differently if this was not a two hour quick fly-by on lighting and focused more on the subject genre etc.

Okay - enough. Just some food for thought and a few things that might be a bit off the beaten bath of sharpness and noise demonstrations for the X100S. Anyone in the mid-atlantic is welcome to join us. After this somewhat experimental first two hour window light mini-workshop we've decided to do a few of these on a regular basis in varied locations with different models each time so that I can change up the execution and some of the asides every time while covering the same principles. Should be enjoyable both for me as well as a few people that expressed interest in doing the same exact lighting subject in different locations with differing refinements and challenges.

RB

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