This morning, my Paris photo workshop participants and I enjoyed a walk down rue Mouffetard. Parisians are so friendly. If you take the time, they love to engage in lively conversations. This is especially true of dog owners. They can talk about their beloved canine friend tirelessly for as long as you are willing to listen to them. Here are some of the pictures I snapped this morning.
I arrived in Paris this morning on a beautiful Spring day. I spent the afternoon wandering the streets with my new Fuji x100s. I had some wonderful encounters with so many friendly compatriots. Here are some of my favorite shots of the day. Which one is your favorite?
This is not meant to be an indepth review. It’s an account of my first impressions of the new Fuji X100s. After just a couple of dates with it, I think I’m in love!
I’ve been a Canon shooter for many years. I love my gear, it is my bread and butter and it has never failed me. As I am spending less time on commercial shoots and more time teaching workshops, I’ve been thinking of adopting a smaller camera for the days when I want to spend hours roaming the streets of a large city or going on photo walks with local friends. As a matter of fact, I even started using my iPhone a lot more this year and found it a great creative tool when I didn’t feel like logging heavy gear around. I considered purchasing one of the many micro 3/4 systems now available on the market but that meant a smaller version of what I was already using. I have great glass, I’m not getting rid of it, so why duplicate in a smaller system? My main goal with a smaller camera is to look less conspicuous when I do street photography while producing the highest quality of images.
That’s when the first reviews of the new Fuji X100s started coming out. I’m not a gear junkie, but it didn’t take me too long to press the ‘Add to cart’ button on Amazon.
The expected wait was 1 to 2 months but it arrived after 2 weeks! I was very anxious to get a feel for it. I’ve been shooting with a heavy DSLR for so long, anything smaller and lighter feels awkward. The first impressions were great. Nice weight, very solid and well built. And how can you resist its retro look? It’s considerably smaller than my 5DMarkII but it feels right.
If you haven’t heard of the X100s please read detailed technical specs here. Basically, it is a rangefinder style camera with a fixed focal length lens. You cannot change lenses! A 23mm (equivalent to 35mm) is what you’re stuck with. If you are not used to shooting with a fixed lens, it may be quite an adjustment to get used to it. As far as I’m concerned, I love to shoot with a 50mm or a 40mm when I’m not on a client assignment. I’m a gear minimalist when it comes to personal projects: One camera, one lens on every photo walk. I like simple. I don’t want the camera to come in the way, it should only serve as an extension to my vision. I believe in the power of limitations, shooting with a fixed focal length lens will get the creative juices flowing! A few more things about this little camera: 16MP, Fujinon 23mm F2 fixed focal length lens (35mm equiv.) It has the new APS-C 16M X-Trans CMOS II Sensor & EXR Processor II. You have the choice of Optical Viewfinder (OVF), Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) or LCD display. Super fast auto focus, full HD Movie (1920 x 1080) mode at 60fps and so much more!
So far, I’ve used it in its most basic form and mostly in aperture priority mode. I haven’t used any of its many filters yet. It offers several monochrome filters (Pro Neg, Yellow, red, green, sepia), film simulation (Velvia, Provia, Astia), as well as some fun filter effects. It also has a panorama function. All these will be the subjects of new blog posts as I continue to play it.
During my first week with the Fuji I took it out on a couple of photo walks and photographed random things mostly to get used to the new dials and buttons. Some of those subjects may look familiar as I visited a favorite antique store where I’ve shot several times with my 5DII.
The following selection of random images was minimally processed in Lightroom 4.4. No noise reduction was used on any of them, either in camera or in post.
I haven’t even scratched the surface of what this little camera can do yet. I am more than impressed with it for far!
Street photography is about immortalizing a slice of life, a moment in time that will never happen again.
It was recently brought to my attention that a few things are ‘imperfect’ in a street photograph. A foot may be cut off or the horizon line is not straight. I thought that it was a valid observation from someone who doesn’t shoot street photography. The more I thought of it, the more I realized that this is probably one of the few genres of photography where the standard of success can be very subtle and often emotional. Because we work with such a fleeting moment that will never reoccur, we often need to compromise on the details. If you are a landscape photographer you have some latitude to work with, you can spend minutes or hours working on your composition, even come back at a different time if needed. In many genres of photography, the quest for so-called perfection is attainable with vision, skills and patience.
For those who are not familiar with street photography, it’s all about the gesture, the expression that tells a story. The moment will usually only last one frame, a fraction of a second. The success of the photograph will depend on the viewer’s reaction to it, not so much the technical merit of the shot. It’s about the ability to anticipate and see the story. Of course technical skills are also necessary to get the shot exposed properly and sharp.
I’m as seduced by a beautiful landscape as the next photographer, but when I shoot street I readjust my standards automatically. You could not enjoy the experience if you expected every element to come perfectly together in every image. I always scan the edges of my frame in the fraction of a second that I have to compose my shot. This prevents from including any major distraction, such as an antenna sticking out of someone’s head. You cannot control everything and some elements in the background will often add interest to the image, even if you where not aware of them at the time you pressed the shutter.
Since you have no control of a candid street situation, there is always a compromise. More often than not, you have the choice between a perfect composition or an interesting image. If you are a street photographer, you know exactly what I’m talking about! It’s the moment that matters.
I selected a few images to illustrate my point. Let your eye be drawn to the subject before you read the caption.
As always, I’d love to get your thoughts on this!
I made another visit to Architectural Antiques in Minneapolis this week. This time my focus was more on textures and colors. I even find their walls interesting! There is beauty all around us, you just have to see it…
As some of you already know, I taught a photography workshop in San Diego, California earlier this month. It was a weekend about story telling! The workshop included an ‘Introduction To Street Photography’ and teaching about ‘Learning to See Photographically’. Day 1 started in the classroom with a presentation followed by a photo walk for the rest of the day. Day 2 started early on location and ended in the classroom with post processing and critique.
My students kindly shared some of their images. First you will see a few action shots followed by some of the participants’ work. Enjoy!
“Attending the workshop with Valerie was an inspiring event. She was friendly, kind, and encouraging as we toured some of San Diego’s most scenic spots during this workshop. The most valuable activities of the weekend were the photo walks with personal instruction from Valerie in framing the shots, looking for the right perspective and eliminating unnecessary details from the shot. She taught us so many things, but one of my favorite bits of instruction from her was, “Learn to see the light.” This was truly an experience worth having.” ~ Susan Padilla
“Once again, I was fortunate to attend another of Valerie’s workshops, this time in San Diego, the first in Paris. As usual, Valerie was helpful and full of information, opening our eyes to potentially great shots. I came home with a multitude of wonderful memories and images, and would highly recommend Valerie’s workshops to anyone wanting to improve their photography and have a great time.” ~ Denise Lawry ~ Melbourne, Australia
“The San Diego Photo Workshop was my second Valerie Jardin workshop, and once again, it was time well spent. Valerie’s love for photography is evident, as is her ability as a teacher. The classroom sessions and the photo walks will allow you to put into practice both new skills and a new way of viewing what is around you, and you will also have time to post-edit your work and get feedback. The atmosphere is casual and fun-filled, and provides a warm environment for learning and improvement. After having experienced the Paris and San Diego workshops, I look forward to joining Valerie in another location and continuing to grow as a photographer.” ~ Susan Goudge ~ Tennessee
Find out more about my photography workshop by visiting my website.
People ask me all the time what camera strap I use, which is my favorite bag, etc. So I had the idea to post links to the gear I use and love. I also included a list of books that should be on every photographer’s bookshelf. I hope you find this list useful. I will be adding to it periodically as I discover new exciting products and books. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments and share with your photographer friends!
To go to the product page, simply click on its name!
When I’m not out with my new toy, I shoot mostly with a Canon 5D MarkII and I LOVE my Canon 40mm Pancake lens. It makes my DSLR look compact and inconspicuous, it’s sharp and comfortable to carry all day! I beleive that fixed focal length lenses are a powerful learning tool for photographers of all levels and I wrote about it in this article. My other go-to lens, and the one I use the most on commercial shoots, is the Canon 24-70mm F/2.8.
For my DSLR I use the BlackRapid camera strap for women. This one is made for women. It takes the neck pain away and doesn’t advertise that you are carrying an expensive camera! The same comfortable strap also comes in a men’s version.
My favorite photo-walk bag is the Think Tank Retrospective 5, it’s perfect for a micro 4/3 camera systems or a DSLR with a short lens such as a 50mm. My 5DMarkII with the 24-70mm attached fits sideways. It also comes in a larger sizes 7, 10 and larger. The best part, it doesn’t look like a camera bag!
I also really like the Lowerpro Passport Sling, it has an expandable feature which makes it a perfect photo walk bag.
My favorite backpack is the Think Tank Street Walker.
To carry my gear overseas, I use the Lowepro Roller X100. My laptop computer also fits in a separate front compartment.
My favorite travel tripod is the Joby GorillaPod. Although I must admit that having used a heavy duty tripod for work for many years, I tend to skip the tripod altogether when I travel. I rarely shoot long exposure or night time but when I do, there is always a wall nearby where I can set my camera!
I never travel anywhere without by Giottos Rocket Air Blaster, I use it when I change lenses and before I wipe my lenses. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s never been an issue during airport security checks!
I’ve owned the 32″ Photogenic Chameleon 5 in 1 collapsible reflector for 10 years and for all kinds of applications and it still looks like new!
I use the Canon RS-80N3 remote trigger and it’s never failed me.
David duChemin’s Within The Frame
Steve Simon’s The Passionate Photographer
Ibarionex Perello’s Chasing The Light
Vincent Laforet’s Visual Stories
Jerod Foster’s Storytellers
James Maher’s The Essentials of Street Photography
Kenneth Kobre’s Photojournalism: The professional’s Approach
A must-have if you are in the business of photography: Ed Greenberg’s A Photographer’s Survival Manual
Everything you need to know about digital photography in a fun and easy approach: Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Book Set
Mark Jenkinson’s The Portrait Photography Course
I don’t print, but if I did, I would ask the expert. I highly recommend Martin Bailey’s Making The Print
A great book about Black & White photography: John Batdorff’s Black & White: From Snapshots To Great Shots
If you enjoy food photography, Nicole Young’s Food Photography From Snapshots to Great Shots is pretty awesome!
And for more inspiration:
William Allard’s Five Decades
Cartier-Bresson’s The Modern Century
John Maloof’s Vivian Maier: Street Photographer
I cannot recommend them enough! I’ve learned so much by listening to photography podcasts over the past few years. I am quite addicted to them. I listen while I’m working, exercising, or driving. Here are some of my favorite podcasts to date:
This Week in Photo (aka. TWiP), I guest host regularly and it’s a blast!
I also enjoy listening to Chris Marquardt on Tips For The Top Floor
I recently discovered On Taking Pictures, very informative and those guys are fun to listen to!
If you enjoy nature and landscape photography I would recommend The Digital Photo Experience
Please add your favorite podcasts in the comments below!
I’m an Apple computer user. They don’t need any introduction!
My favorite card reader is the Anker USB 3.0. It’s incredibly small, perfect for travel!
My touch and pen tablet is the Wacom Bamboo.
The best part of my job, besides taking pictures, is to teach others to see photographically. When you find yourself in a place with iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower or the US Capitol (pictured below), try to think outside the postcard shot. Create your own iconic images of famous places. Why would you want to go on the trip of a life-time and return home with clichés that you could have purchased from the postcard stand at the airport?
I was in Washington DC last weekend and, although my goal was to do street photography, I still wanted to capture a few shots of the famous landmarks. As I walked by the massive US Capitol, I instantly saw its reflection on a black shiny marble surface. I like to include people in the frame, especially when I travel. Even as secondary subjects, people add life and movement to your images. Here they certainly add a sense of scale.
Next time you find yourself in front of a landmark that has been photographed by millions of people before you, try something new and grow as a photographer.