Saturday, August 10, 2013

Learning to "see"

I have mentioned several times in my posts about being able to "see" in the focal lengths I am restricting myself to. I find there is no way better to teach myself this than to just keep on shooting. In addition to just keeping on shooting, I study other people's images both on flickr and individual websites and look at some of the great early photojournalists like Cartier-Breeson, Capa, and the like.
Earlier this week, I got a chance to challenge myself with this effort by doing a little pro-bono work for a local non-profit that is putting on a theater production to raise money for their mission. I took both the X100S and the X-E1 w/35mm. I shot almost the same number of images with each camera which surprised me a little bit. I thought I would favor the longer focal length (yeah, I know, it ain't much difference between the two) but that was really not the case.
I have actually enjoyed shooting with the single focal length of the X100S and the image quality, IMO, is excellent. I am not a  pixel peeper so my judgment is probably suspect. I shot both cameras at ISO3200 with various apertures. I usually shoot in aperture preferred mode and that is what I did here. I did use my lightmeter to check the lighting when I arrived but, even in the wings. I saw that I could handhold without a problem.
The two images here were taken less than a minute apart and from about the same distance. I was probably a little closer with the X-E1 but not much. As I said the IQ of the X100S is excellent and the X-E1 is on par with it for my work and enjoyment.
But I really don't know which composition I like better. I like the tighter shot from the X-E1 in some ways better than the X100S's shot. However, the extra elements in the X100S composition add to the story-telling ability of the wider image. I probably will crop the wider image to bring the actress position slightly right for a rule of thirds composition but not enough to lose the set/curtain ropes on the right.
In the end, this was a good exercise and I really do like both images. Next week, I have a couple of lens adapters arriving and will be trying out my one remaining Nikkor lens - a 1,8/85mm AF-D for a little longer focal length.

Here is the X-E1 shot:

and the X-100S shot:

Any preferences?

And, as always, make a comment!! Let me know what you think! Until next time, keep on shooting.....


  1. Initially I liked the tighter composition, but after a short reflection I prefer the wider shot which, as you say, have greater story-telling. I think the cropping to bring the subject closer to a third will work as long as you don't lose too much of those things on the right (not sure what they are - some sort of stage scenery pulley mechanism?) which help to provide context.

  2. Right there with you, David. In my DSLR days, I would picked the tighter shot as well for the paper/publication. BUT after shooting only the X100S for a couple of months I am starting to like its capabilities more and more as far as challenging me to really look at an image before I press the shutter. For work, I would use both the X-E1 and the X100S but, on the road, the X100S might be my workhorse. After a decade of working for a newspaper and looking to "fill the frame", I am really enjoying a wider view. It really is a tossup as to which camera I prefer. But both are soooooo much lighter than my workhorses for the newspaper.
    Oh, and the ropes on the right are for shifting scenery sets and the several rows of curtains that the stage had.