Patterns, Gear, Simplifying, Etc Part I

Let me start this out with a warning regarding what will almost definitely turn out to be thirty-two disjointed thoughts on the surface. Entirely due to my inability to quickly articulate how all the dots are connected. I'm making an assumption this will need a Part II at some point since I've not been able to wrestle a lot of what I'll embark on here to the ground myself.

Gear, Control, Etc.

I started down the Fuji X System road due to my frustration with the size and conspicuous nature of modern digital photo gear of the DLSR variety. Bodies and most certainly lenses. Loud, obtrusive, big, all of these things get in the way of things I value so much in photography, especially for personal work in keeping it simple, light, and to a large degree freeform. I'm ecstatic with the camera and lens end of the equation and the choices I've made there.

The lack of formality and obtrusiveness of the X-system fit beautifully with a few things I wanted to explore in the context of this group of personal projects in the sense that I wanted to give up a large degree of controlled outcome and as much as one could just be there capturing whatever interested me at the instant in time it happened. More like say street photography. I wanted to influence the outcome as little as possible within the confines of a few broad boundaries.

Then entire reason for the props I chuck in for a lot of these projects and sub-projects is exactly for the purpose of giving up a ton of influence over my collaborators. Those props are the broad boundaries. I knew I'd be working with a a range of people some of which never really have been on camera before, and some which spend a lot of time in front of a camera. Just so happens I don't need to do much to influence mood, expression, gesture, attitude or anything else with these boundaries.

Contrast this to the idiotic amount of influence I need to exert on all those things to get where I want to do, or the session needs to go for a client or a portrait of someone that doesn't spend a lot of time in front of the camera. In many ways it's all up to me and I need to predetermine that up front.

The Camera Is The Least Of It

When discussing the size, weight, and obtrusiveness of gear the camera and even the lenses are in many cases the least of it. I've talked about taking some degree of lighting on the road in a few recent posts. I've shied away from using anything in terms of lighting gear and what goes along with it for %99.99 of any of the stuff I've goofed around with remotely associated with these projects.

The glaring exception is the Fragments sub-project. Heck, I even call it a sub-project and I'm done with it now anyway. Even in that case I used strobe by accident. It just happened that the big 8' octa was already sitting there ready to go where I happened to be making pictures at the time and it was dark outside. I didn't move a god damn thing let alone lug anything with me on a train or a plane. In fact, when using it on that sub-project I didn't ad anything so much as a reflector and also didn't do a thing in terms of directing collaborators to look this way or that way or optimize for any of the lighting setup.

When you start talking about lighting, as in making your own, things mushroom pretty quickly. They expand the same way your gear does if going on a trip and somehow you want to be ready for anything. Wide, Tele, super tele, normal, crazy wide, macro, tripod, etc, etc. You thing camera gear gets out of control it's moronic if when it comes to strobes if you dont want to be "limited" by time of day, what you might feel like making, etc. The amount of grip/stands alone becomes preposterous.


The Unholy Marriage

The other day I mentioned that I brought a tiny amount of lighting gear with me on a mini-sebatical to Providence, RI. I had no real plans beyond hosting a window light workshop for half a day. I really didn't plan on working on any of these projects, I had no idea what I was going to make pictures of, if anything. I guess that's why I brought it in the first place. Guess what happened. I actually had some fun working very informally with an extremely meager setup. I also made a couple of pictures I really like. None for this project but it did give me a few ideas that I have an itch to pursue now. Those happen to require a bit of lighting.

A few of those ideas related to this project along with other completely unrelated projects are causing me to consider a location lighting kit for personal work I want to play with this spring and summer. Here's the rub, I'm on the verge of an anxiety attack every time I go down the road of what does that kit look like. That then leads to what's going to happen if I poison the entire reason I do any personal project be it for this group of stuff or anything else? Can I really do it, can I shift gears and bring some degree of additional control both to the lighting conditions as well as my "intended outcome" <---- there's the key point, and still keep working the way I have to a degree that matters to me or will it become "work work".


Oh Yea, The Included Photos

I went back thru raw material I've got filed under raw material or experiments for this group of project just to see how many times I happened to use strobes. The answer is exactly twice excluding the little foray into the Fragments side-project. The random smattering of photos here was the first time. A complete accident as I mentioned the only other time I brought it up. Funny I brought up the conundrum of drawing lines about using two people vs solo.

What I didn't mention but should be obvious is that I used strobe. Why? Well it was dark out and the space we all happened to be in is completely useless after the sun goes down. In fact the room is only lit by flicking on one or more cleverly (or not) positioned strobe modeling lights. Seriously, that's how the place is lit even when we would hold little socials and such. Turns out the handy-est light ready to go was a monolight with a 1x3 strip box on the front. So that's what I used along with two 4x8 foamcore flats to shape it a bit and keep the back wall really dark.

Anyone else have these kinds of conundrums. I'll let you know where this ends up in terms of what ultimately ends up being by to-go kit or insanity or…

End Notes

All photos made with the Fuji XT-1 and 18-55mm XF. Processing via Lightroom CC with some B/W preset concoction of my own. Just as a foot note regarding my other-other conundrum as to go with a second XPro-2 and the small 23mm f/2 or an X100F. I've been looking at the breakdown of where I use the 18-55mm when I use it instead of primes. On this occasion it turns out 50/50 (or close enough) 18mm and 23mm, again surprisingly only 4 frames made at 35mm.