Fuji X Hair & 82 Other Questions Answered

I exaggerate, I'm not answering 82 questions with this post. I am emulsifying a bunch of similar ones though. There's also one from way, way back (sorry, I've been busy with making money kind of work) regarding Fuji X-Trans, the lenses, whatever and hair.


Okay so let's get to the Q&A. I'll cover three topics as quickly as I can.

  1. Why do I think X-Trans (most likely) and maybe Fujinon X lenses are somehow good for hair. WTF? (That's paraphrased of course).
  2. What the hell am I talking about with the Fuji X lenses and rendering of halation like effects that are somehow different than what I've observed with Nikon lenses.
  3. Oh, boy this will be a disaster but I'll try to explain the "how" and "why" of people in front of cameras in a way that I hope will address the myriad of questions (some reasonable, and some a bit not to my taste).

Fuji X-Trans & Hair

Sorry, this one is one I've been meaning to answer the couple of emails I've received but forgot (my bad). This one is easy, I think…

I rambled on about taking the good with the bad when it comes to Fuji's bizzaro color filter array a long time ago and talked about my theory on why so many folks have a giant problem with foliage when I look at is as a solution to my own leaves/hair issue that's plagued digital for a long time. You can go take a look if you forget my whacked out non-science.

Truth be told the reason I remembered that a few people asked for examples is that I saw what I was talking about in an earlier post I just put up. Two different Nikon cameras, two different lenses, one from 1971, and one brand new. Go ahead, take a look at Melissa's hair at the top where I cropped a small horizontal slice out of a vertical on that post. Take a look at various portions of the hair that are in the in-focus/out-of-focus transition zones. Notice anything? I certainly do, a bunch of zig-zaggy natural horror shows. My theory is certain frequency of detail interacts with digital in a very unnatural looking way. I've seen this all the time on Digi with hair and foliage in the distance. Doesn't happen on X-Trans. Pick your poison, nuf said?

Really NSFW Turn Away Now.

I do really mean it. I am about to put a bunch of pictures in that are pretty explicit so if that's not your thing please stop now. On the other hand I am about to explain as best I can in a short way the "secret" portraits and people photographs no matter what particular thing you want to make.

My intent with the photos I am going to share is not to be shocking (as if, for god's sake it's the internet, you don't have to come here for shocking). It's to illustrate a point and it just so happens I can do that based on a couple of questions I got regarding that same exact post I put up with Melissa.

What's the secret answer to all the questions about how, why, etc, etc? Here' goes as succinctly as possible:

  • Trust
  • Communication
  • Respect
  • Control
  • Trust

That last post was the very first time M. and I ever made pictures. Here are a few from a few months later that follow. I happened to be in town and M. was not doing antying so…


Why? I'm a curios person so I am always asking that. In some cases where I feel okay with actually asking it out loud I get an answer. So I asked, of course I was curious. M. didn't have some magic answer other than she liked it and liked the pictures. She liked the struggle and how it felt but hated that high chair hence a newly acquired waiting room bench we put to creative use. Why hate the chair? Surprisingly enough, the chair was the most uncomfortable thing. Really? The chair? Turns out there's a good uncomfortable and a bad uncomfortable for M. (as with most people). Are you getting the communication part yet?


I've mentioned before the amazing amount of power the person behind the camera wields. The person on the other side feels this even if they can't articulate why or how. Do you respect that? They can sense it one way or another. Let's talk about trust. Trust is so connected to respect I cannot emphasis this enough. You can't fake this unless you are a psychopath. So what does that mean? Well for one don't make pictures if you even have a hint the person on the other end is not okay with it. Even if they are don't make pictures you don't want to. Have respect for the ultimate power you hold being the one pressing that shutter.


I knew going in M. like the struggle of it and wanted to see if she could break that plastic thing with a bit of leverage. The image above is one I made after I said "Umm you're showing me a lot of stuff you may not want to", or something similar to that. It's fine?, Let me show you… Which I did breaking the whole flow for a bit. Communication, respect, trust. Now what about the control part? Of course the person operating the camera exerts amazing amounts of power but take a look at the photo below and ask yourself about who is in control?


You really need to read people and the situation kind of real-time, there is no magic answer but there's a reason I absolutely hate the word subject when it comes to people in front of your camera. It's a collaboration and if it doesn't feel like one, if there's no sharing of that power it doesn't work. It doesn't take extreme circumstances as illustrated, the same thing goes with "simple' headshots and everything else.

I hear a lot of discussion between photographers about "breaking down" the person in front of the camera. Mostly male photographers. The part that's left out is you're breaking yourself down to. If you aren't you'll never develop trust and rapport beyond anything but a very surface level that anyone can get with some casual chit chat about the weather. IE the same thing everyone, all the time gets. Making pictures of other people is one of the most intimate experience there is. If you don't feel that there's a good chance the person on the other end doesn't either, if you do and that's why you have a difficult time believe it or not you are on the right road and are probably capable of making pictures that those that don't find it scary can never make. Forget the window dressing or the wow factor with all the post, and production, etc. That's forgotten about two tenths of a second after the smash in the face fad of the moment and has very little to do with what cameras do extremely well.

The Lens Rendering Thing

Okay, you'll have to trust me on this. Again another different occasion with Melissa. By the way, of course she couldn't break the plastic pillory even with more leverage. She does like to struggle with things as long is it's the right kind of thing from M.'s point of view. The 82 questions thing came up just because of proximity and a few recent questions today along with a few from a while ago.

Above is the least clinical rendering I could find out of a bunch with both the Pre-AI Nikkor 28, single coated lens as well as the new 50/1.4G. In other words the best case for how Nikon glass renders backlit way over exposed highlights. Below is something close to the same exposure conditions.

Above is a random picture I chose because at first gland it might appear completely different but it's extremely similar in many ways based on exposure condtitions and clearly illustrates something I see all the time. Note that the Fuij spreads flare more than even the single coated Nikkor out over an area far greater than the actual light source but it does so in what I happen to consider a pleasing way. It also holds contrast internally within the window area itself even though it lowers overall contrast throughout the frame. To me that's what I mean by less clinical but still modern performance. I have hundreds if not thousands of frames that exhibit this effect. Honestly you don't need some measurement of microscopic detail you just need to figure out which particular look you like the best.

End Notes

No end notes this time. This is the end notes for my last post.