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Guest post by John ~ www.magnoski.com
Like most of us here in Minnesota, I was experiencing a bit of cabin fever a few weeks ago. We spend so much time indoors that any sunny and relatively warm day make us all want to put aside our duties and head outdoors. The fact that we had a record-breaking warm streak in February made focusing all the more difficult.
So I met up with my friend Jake to run around downtown Minneapolis to capture a variety of images with my favorite camera – the Fujifilm X100s – a wonderfully compact, large sensor camera with a great fixed lens and awesome image quality. What was at one point a “splurge” purchase 3 years ago, intended purely for fun, turned out to be a camera I use on every professional job I am assigned to.
The simple form factor of this camera gets out of my way so I can shoot freely. It is such a refreshing way to capture photographs – simple, intuitive, emotive. These days most digital cameras lack “soul”, but not the Fuji.
My approach to this photo-walk was a simple and casual one. The goal was all about enjoying the nice weather and speeding time with a friend. Since I rarely get to shoot for me these days I did not want any of it to feel like work. Instead I treated the day as nothing but play and considered it a bonus if I came away with any keepers.
Professionally, I am an architectural photographer (which is what my eye was trained to photograph on this outing), but I also shoot for industry and also do commercial portraits… so I thought I would try my hand at ‘street’ photography. Which honestly made me a bit nervous since I am not comfortable photographing strangers without their permission. After looking through my images, I realized that I photographed more folks from behind or looking away from the camera. Clearly I need a bit more courage to shoot real street photography. : )
However, I have learned that pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones helps us to ‘cross-pollinate’ in our creative life. Allowing us to ‘see’ differently when photographing our normal commissioned work.
Throughout our shooting time together, I would offer advice and explain to my friend Jake the concept of “thinking non-thinking” when doing anything creative. The premise is simple: Don’t force it.
Let your eyes and mind wander a bit but be aware of your surroundings and the light. Be ready when a moment, a photograph reveals itself to you. This way you will capture images you are personally happy with. Do not go out with the purpose of pleasing others or with capturing ‘winning’ images. You will never be happy with your work because it will all looked forced since it won’t come from deep inside you.
The other purpose of this walk was to try out a simpler approach to my post production. Normally I work with RAW files in Adobe Lightroom or Capture One Pro, season them to taste and then bring them into Photoshop for a somewhat heavy round of processing employing Luminosity masks, dodging and burning, etc.
For this set of photos I captured all of my images in RAW + JPG (because the Fuji jpg’s are so good), but the raw is there in case I needed the extra dynamic range – which I did for the majority of photos. Instead of Lightroom, I used Adobe Bridge and ACR (yes, I know, technically the same thing). But the difference was that I processed the RAW files lightly. All I did was match the JPG settings using the Astia film profile, applying default lens correction, tweaking white balance to match, and recovering highlights.
After this quick rinse through ACR I ran the photos through the NIK collection of filters. The color images all went through the Color Effects Pro filter and had ProContrast + Brilliance & Warmth applied subtly. The Black and White images were run through Silver Effects Pro and seasoned to taste – usually using the Fuji Acros film simulation with some additional contrast bumping done to my preferences.
After running the images through NIK, I would apply a subtle dodge/burn to further increase the contrast on the interesting bits of each image. Then a quick final smart sharpening pass and saved as a PSD. Once all images were done, I exported them all as web sized jpeg’s.
It was a very simple and quick process yeilding images that I would be very happy to deliver to a client.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable day and an even more enjoyable post production process.
This is what I love about shooting with the Fuji cameras, especially the X100 series. I have loved Fuji’s approach to imaging, not only when I shot film, but when I went fully digital back in early 2001 with the FujiFinepix S1Pro DSLR. Their stuff always has great color, dynamic range, and file malleability that allow me to get to a finished image much, much faster.
Thank you for taking the time to look through my post today. If you liked it, please comment and consider following me on Instagram.
Have a wonderful day!