Forgive me for not writing much on here in a while – I have been shooting, a lot, and becoming more intimately involved with the X-Pro 2. I shall write up my additional findings at a later date – and thanks, so much, for the kind words on my original review – but in the meantime, I have discovered a new way (for me) to shoot street. I call it ‘chestshooting’….let me explain.
Ever since the dawn of street photography, people have been looking for more and more discrete ways to attain true candid and intimate shots of individuals who don’t know they’re being shot. This is, I believe, the essence of genuine street photography. Of course, if you’re Bruce Gilden (or aspire to be), and you don’t have a problem with shoving your camera in someone’s face and firing a flash from 2ft away – well, fill your boots. I happen to appreciate Bruce’s work (as I do Eric Kim’s and Charlie Kirk’s) but I also know that this confrontational style is not for me. I have no wish in imparting a negative impact on somebody’s day via the trivial act of taking their photograph. It just doesn’t seem cool.
I have no problem asking to take an image of someone either. Sometimes it works better to have your subject pose a little if their look lends itself to that kind of posture, but mostly, to me, street photography is a dark art of deception. It is one of the few forms of original camera craft left – lets face it, every view, every building, every attraction, in every country is shot to death, daily, millions and millions of times (seriously, why watermark them?). I shoot those images too – but with good street photography, you are capturing a unique moment. It will never be repeated, and it belongs to only you. And that is the attraction. Stuff like this:
(you can see my reflection 🙂 )
With my old X-Pro 1 (gloriously clunky though it is) it was very much ‘shoot and hope’ when it came to street. It was slow to focus, and would often miss the point of subject if it was off centre, so it was either set hyperfocus (which gives me no subject separation, which I dont like) or sheer bravery/stupidity/invisible cloak/telephoto lens. The latter worked most of the time, but when it didn’t? Well, let me just say it made China Town really unpleasant…
The point is, I had to face my subject, eye to camera, and shoot. I was quick, and got away with it 90% of the time, even in China Town:
But simply put, my camera’s limitations did not allow me to shoot street how I wanted to shoot street.
Cartier-Bresson, probably the best of all, was full of tricks. He would hold his Leica flat against his palm, the lens peaking over his cuff – or better still, have the camera around his neck, lens pushing through his overcoat with one button un-done and pushing a cable release in his pocket. Nice one, Henri…
The arrival of the XE-2 certainly did help matters, especially after the last round of firmware. Face detect worked ‘OK’ but only really when the subject was facing the camera. Wide tracking focus too, combine the two and you definitely had potential…but shooting from the hip, still, was way too hit and miss for me:
Cut to February 2016 – and I am now a proud owner of this:
As mentioned in my review, pretty much every issue I had with the X-Pro 1 and XE-2 has been ironed out with the X-Pro 2…taking out the total ballsup Lightroom does to my files, this is pretty much my perfect camera. I bloody love this thing…
Biggest improvement? AF. No question – and THIS is what has allowed me to up my game when shooting on the streets. Still finding shooting from the hip somewhat limiting and too speculative, I have taken to shooting from the chest – what I now call ‘Chestshooting’…its very simple:
Set camera to – ‘Wide Tracking AF’ (although, honestly, Im not that sure it makes a difference when combined with – )
‘Auto Face/Eye Detect’
Other settings are dictated by your shooting conditions, but I try to get as fast a speed as possible shooting at F2 or F2.8. Do not set electronic shutter though…1/8000 is surely fast enough, no? E/S makes stuff look ‘bendy’ if your shooting on the move….
Lastly, position your camera. Lets say, you’re a right handed shooter like me – place the camera in the centre of your chest, about 10 inches below your chin, with the lens facing left. Just make sure any items of clothing aren’t flapping in the way of the front element.
Coverage is WAY better shooting from chest height, you capture much more emotion and expression, and if you wear dark clothing on your top half – no one notices. And even if they do, make no eye contact and keep walking. They’ll probably think you’re shooting video….
In no way will I be shooting 100% this way – not everything I want to capture will be to my left – but this has sure been a fun way to street shoot and end up with more keepers.
The exciting thing is, X-Pro 2 will only get better. I cant wait – firmware days are like Christmas for me…. 🙂
Happy Shooting, and as always, thanks for reading.
Added 01/06/16 0r if your American 🙂 06/01/16….
Just to elaborate on the new AF capabilities on the X-Pro 2, I shot these in a similar style on the XE-2 (+ the snappy 18mm F2) this morning on my way in to work. As I was dealing with an 18 instead of 23 this time, I rested the camera on my left collarbone, again lens pointing leftwards also. Here’s what I got:
Valiantly though the XE-2 tried, it clearly missed focus point and face detect when set to ‘wide tracking’…however, it got it spot on with the one below:
This is not taking anything away from the XE-2, its a terrific camera and still a huge step up in AF from the 1st generation cameras, but I feel way more confident shooting with the X-Pro 2.
Again, thanks for reading. Cheers!