Seeing in Monochrome & the Strength of Tools

It seems obvious to all of us who are X-Series shooters, but the ability to actually see what the final image will look like before taking a picture is still a novelty for many photographers. This is where the EVF shines and it's one of the many reasons I couldn't go back to a traditional DSLR camera.

I don't shoot directly in monochrome as a rule: I prefer keeping my options open. Using Raw+Fine would give me the best of both worlds but I like the speed and slightly dangerous nature of JPEG, knowing that I need to expose properly and get it right in camera—no safety net. For some reason it adds an edge to photography that I've become fond of over the years. It also makes for a simpler workflow.

But a month ago I was in Toronto on assignment. I had the first evening to myself and decided to take a walk to the Vistek store to pick up a speedring. The weather was terrible—just gray and dreary and...more gray. The month of March in most of Canada is a very bleak and dirty affair, as melting snow reveals all of winter's accumulated crap. So I was walking down Queen street and nothing...nothing felt right. I had the X-Pro2 and 35mm f/2 around my neck, I was in a city I hadn't visited in years and felt utterly uninspired. I took a few shots along the way, picked up my speedring and turned back towards the hotel, ready for another slightly boring walkabout. And then I thought wait a minute here...I hit the Q menu button, flicked to my C2 setting: Acros, Shadow +3, Highlight +1. I set my ISO to Auto 3: minimum 800, maximum 3200.

And the world suddenly lit up. All that gray made sense now. I was seeing lines, contrast, shapes. Nothing felt bland anymore and my blood had begun to stir. The excitement was back.

Creativity and inspiration are fragile beasts that we don't usually associate with technology. Even Steve Jobs spoke of an intersection between technology and the liberal arts—implying two very distinct paths. But I believe we're at a point where both are merging much more often than they used to. The roads criss-cross. And it's not just photography...most of the tools I use now inspire me to work, they make me want to work. It's the reason I'd shoot Fujis regardless of my association with them. It's also the reason I write with Ulysses and organize with 2Do. As Ben Brooks said: I want to love my tools.

I walked back to the hotel but didn't go in. I spent another half-hour just taking pictures, completely immersed in what I was seeing around me, by the world inside my viewfinder. 

Acros had somehow pushed all the dreariness away.

Shot with the X-Pro2 and XF 35mm f/2 R WR