48 hours. New York Stories.


BRONX


Its 10:15 AM when we land at Laguardia — wait… I shouldn’t start like that. 
Hic et nunc, here and now; My french lit teacher used to hate this: too obvious, an “expected stratagem” he’d say. Good 'ole Monsieur Godart… He’d repeat it over and over, sometimes taking a shoe off and banging it on someone’s desk to make his point. Crazy mofo… Good crazy — the kind that makes an impression.

Still, it IS 10:15 AM.

The last time I was in New York the towers were standing. That’s a whole other reality right there, a whole other reality away from this one. Sometimes life isn’t linear. Sometimes it jumps sideways and we’re left struggling in its wake.

There’s a new theory out, something published and serious. According to this article our entire universe could be a holographic projection. Apparently it explains a whole big bunch of discrepancies in our understanding of the laws of physics at the quantum level. I guess Plato was right all along: we’re just the shadows projected by some far away world. Everything we know is a mirage. Makes you think doesn’t it? That science is now slowly proving the chemically induced fantasies of a million teenage kids, or every bad Hollywood ending ever shot — turns out it was allll aaaa dreeeaaammmm
Damn. If this is the reflection, you have to wonder what the hell kind of insane reality is out there.

Meanwhile, out here in the shadows we’re headed to the Bronx, an entire day of discussions ahead with Fujifilm engineers. And David Hobby, Chris Weeks... Fuji US and Fuji Canada.
I feel extremely privileged.
Extremely. 


TIMES SQUARE


The night wraps itself around this city like another disguise. Fresh makeup with shiny, shiny lipstick. Dinner is over and we’ve said our goodbyes. We drop our bags at the hotel and head out. I’m with fellow Canadian photographer Bryan Caporicci, talking up a storm and walking up 39th street. Times Square is unnavoidable, as absolute as an equation, gigantic and freakishly garrish.

I should've shaken the hands of Captain America…


13TH FLOOR


I’m booked on the 13th floor. When did that happen? Wasn’t there a time when they'd skip it altogether? Maybe I can find a black cat somewhere; give that holographic projection a run for its money, just for kicks. I sleep alright, in spite of the sirens and the noise and the sirens. At some point it must’ve stopped because the morning is almost quiet, the sun like an arrow through the streets below. It’s all incredibly beautiful.


Fifth & CoLOUR


Bryan has an ealier flight so he leaves right after breakfast. I’m on my own. I’ve got a few hours to kill so I check out of the room and strap the camera around my neck — I’m travelling light so it’s no big deal. The air is chilly, but crisp and bright. I won’t stop walking until I need to, until the clocks scream Laguardia! Montreal! Now! Now! Now!

A guy tries to hand me a flyer somewhere along Fifth Avenue.. I keep walking and say: “Thanks but I’m flying back in a few hours!” “That’s too bad!” he replies with a smile. I slow my pace a little and smile back: “Yeah man, it is… It really, really is”.


EMPIRE


I've sat beneath the crux of the empire, dwarfed by the giant and drowned in masses, overflowed. I've felt the dark pulsing of a backbeat on the subway, the Don Pardo-like voice of reason ringing in my ears, telling me to be safe; telling me to denounce the suspicious and the odd. Give me your tired, your poor... 

I've felt the arms of Colossus and its almighty gaze. The hopes of the Old century —
and the doubts of the New. 


All images shot with the X-T1 and XF 23mm f/1.4 R


An off day

LAROQUE-off-day-16.jpg

Sometimes it all feels like you've been here already. You look around, you see your life moving along its quiet way and everyone doing their usual thing... You figure "I've done this before. I've done this a thousand times...". And the camera just sits there because... What's the point. The point is that infinite chance of the old looking new again. The point is that not a single second truly mimics the one before  — and their eyes change and their voices dissolve into the cries of different creatures. If you don't get it know, it's gone.

i need to remind myself of this. Always.


Shot with the X-T1 and XF 56mm f/1.2 R. Processed from raw in LR5 using Classic Chrome.


Announcements galore and a fix of Classic Chrome

We knew firmware updates to our Fuji cameras were coming in December and we also knew most of the details… But today Fujifilm revealed the extent of what we can expect on the — now official — December 18th release date. If you havent yet seen the press release, I suggest you read the whole thing; there’s quite a lot of goodies to digest. Here’s a quick list:

  1. AF (Auto Focus) Area direct selection – Users can select the focus area with the 4-way controller, without pressing the Fn Button.
  2. Function replacement for the AE-L/AF-L buttons – The currently locked AE-L/AF-L button function will now be interchangeable, depending on the user’s preference.
  3. Focus Area size variability during MF (Manual Focus) – Users will be able to change the focus area in Manual mode during One Push AF with the AF-L button.
  4. Macro Mode direct selection – Users will be able to directly turn ON or OFF the Macro function in Auto Focus mode to expand the distance measurement range to the short-distance range. This will be possible without accessing the pop-up menu screen.
  5. Q Menu customization – The update will render the items and layout of the Q Menu, used for quick access of frequently-used items, changeable to the user’s preference.
  6. Video frame rate selection – In addition to the existing 60fps and 30fps selections, 50fps and 25fps, as well as a 24fps selection will become available to users. 50fps and 25fps allow video editing in the PAL region, such as Europe and elsewhere, without converting the frame rate. The 24fps will offer movie-like video capture and play back.
  7. Video manual shooting – Users will be able to select ISO sensitivity prior to shooting videos, as well as adjusting the aperture and shutter speed during video shooting.
  8. Phase Detection AF support for One Push AF – With One Push AF, operated by pressing the AF-L button during manual focusing, the update will enable Phase Detection AF with quicker focusing speeds.
  9. Metering area focus area interlocking – The update will enable users to interlock the AF area position with the metering area when spot metering is selected.
  10. Expansion of the Program Shift setting area – The update will enable the current Program Shift, in which the low-speed side is 1/4 second, to be shifted to a maximum of 4 seconds.
  11. Electronic Shutter – Adds electronic shutter function to original X-T1 Black bodies with a maximum shutter speed of 1/32000 second.
  12. New “Classic Chrome” Film Simulation – Film simulation that delivers muted tones and deep color reproduction.
  13. Support for INSTAX Share Printer – Photos can be sent directly to the INSTAX Share Printer for instant prints.
  14. Lock Function – Users can lock the camera to prevent unexpected dial and button operations.
  15. AF+MF Setting – Users can half press the shutter to autofocus, and then make fine adjustments using the manual focus ring.
  16. Three Custom White Balance options – Expands number of white balance users can store.
  17. Expanded EVF/LCD display types in Manual Exposure Mode – Users can now customize the way the image is displayed on the EVF or LCD.
  18. LCD Brightness and EVF/LCD Adjustment Control – Users can customize display brightness based on environment.
  19. Flash Compensation in Fn Button Setting – Users can now add Flash Compensation to any of the six custom function buttons.

That’s just for the X-T1. Other cameras are also getting improvements as well — less extensive but still. And although there are major features listed here, some of the smaller stuff like AF+MF or three custom white balance presets has me extremely excited. A lot of these are going to be game changers in terms of how we use our gear day in and day out. So yay, a thousand times yay. Except... 

I have one HUMONGOUS gripe: tethering. Yes, good and honest tethered shooting is finally coming to our cameras. How? Why with the upcoming HS-V5 for Windows® Ver. 1.0 that’s how. Yup, let’s just party like it’s 1995 guys. Honestly I can’t remember seeing any sort of software I needed being Windows-only in ten years and I can only hope a Mac solution is seriously in the works as we speak. I knew the beta was PC-only because it’s what we used at Photokina back in September (question answered for those who were there… I’m looking at you René) but I never imagined it would be released as such.

The software is scheduled for next January. That’s 2015 for those of us who are counting… Cross-platform should be par for the course. Fingers crossed.

CHROME, meet LR 5.7

The other feature I’ve been itching to get my hands on might seem almost silly to some: Classic Chrome. I should finally be getting to shoot the X100T next week and I’ll most likely be using that film simulation pretty much exclusively. I’ll talk more about film simulations in general in that review but for the time being, if you’re interested in using this today and you’re a raw shooter… Get Lightroom 5.7. I downloaded the update yesterday and I’m at long last getting my fix of Chrome.

A few updates ago Adobe introduced Fujifilm Camera Calibration profiles that emulate the film simulations available in-camera. I first reviewed these here. I’m still not entirely sold on how LR5 decodes raf files but I do think they’re doing a great job on this particular feature. With yesterday’s update, they’ve added Classic Chrome to cameras that support it — in my case, the X-T1. I can’t wait to use the in-camera engine but in the meantime I can already predict this is going to become my default preset on raw files.

When these profiles were added I immediately created some base presets for each film simulation. All these do is apply the individual simulation and add a very slight tone curve to the image. I use them as starting points when I begin working on an image (unless I choose one of my VSCO-based presets). Obviously these can only work on raw files since Camera Calibration is disabled on anything else, but I thought it would be interesting to look at the difference between Provia and the new Classic Chrome on a couple of images from last summer. 

In each case I adjusted images for contrast and exposure at exactly the same values, so the only difference here is the profile being applied. The most important takeaway in my opinion, when looking at these side by side, is the difference in blue, green and magenta. Blues are rendered very differently and greens are much less saturated, making Classic Chrome immediately feel more natural to my eye. Of course it's subtle and it can easily be achieved in post, but we’re talking one click here: one click that gets me pretty much exactly where I want to be. Multiply this by x-amount of images and it becomes a big deal as far as I’m concerned. 

It’ll be interesting to compare this to “the real thing” on the X100T jpeg files and even more so when the December 18th X-T1 update finally comes around. But this addition to Lightroom is both an interesting first look and a great new tool in our arsenal.

Now repeat after me: Tethering. OS X. Tethering. OS X….
Later

This European Diary | Rome #1


Shot with the X100S


Catching-up, truth, Montreal...

I haven’t been around a lot lately have I? It happens. And besides I hate to post just for the sake of posting. I know my European Diary schedule has gone off track… I did have the best of intentions but life tends to get in the way and priorities need to be adjusted. Next stop is Rome… Probably next week.

There’s actually a lot of very exciting stuff happening right now but nothing I can share just yet — hence the radio silence. One thing I did want to share in case you guys missed it: a new essay on the Kage Collective Chronicle blog entitled On Visual Truth. It’s basically personal thoughts on documentary photography and the perception of truth. A lot of ideas I’d been meaning to share for awhile without ever getting around to it. Nothing earth shattering but I think it explains some of the reasoning behind our ongoing Kage project.

On Visual Truth...

On Visual Truth...

Halloween has come and gone, the leaves are on the ground and I’ve got my snow tires on — man, it all sorta rhymes doesn’t it? I’m flying to New York city tomorrow for what i suspect will be a very productive and interesting day. I’m seriously looking forward to it. That and the evening of course... ;)

I leave you with a few Montreal images taken during a recent Shadow Workshop. More action on the blog soon...

Later

P.S Huge congrats to my buddy Derek Clark who is now (finally) an official Fujifilm X-Photographer!


Shot with the X-T1 and XF 35mm f/1.4R