NYC. I love you.
Over the last couple years I’ve had the chance to do quite a bit of travel in and around North America, the thing is, it’s usually for work or attending events, which means little to no time to walk around with my camera and explore. So when my wife and I decided to slip over to New York City from Toronto (attending Contessa Awards) earlier this month I was super excited, having travelled to many major cosmopolitan centres around North America and Europe, this would be my first time in NYC. Like any photographer, the first thing you do is stress out about what gear you can bring and how the hell am I going to fit it all in my carry on. But that was the old me, the huge DSLR carrying me. With my Fujifilm system it was pretty damn simple to fit a couple bodies and 4 lenses into a small bag. Although, as we had planned to squeeze in a shoot at the beautiful Wella Professionals Studio at the Rockefeller Center, I still had to lug my Canon and 85mm along, I would have just used my X-E1 or X-E2 for the studio shoot but (ahem..) alas no tethering capability. Just before I left for this trip I got my hands on a couple of lenses I knew were going to work nicely in the city, the Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 and the Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4, as I knew the sun would be down by 5pm and I would need that sweet large aperture to suck up any light to make photographs. As we got off the plane and took a taxi in to our hotel in Manhattan, I made what turned out to be one of my favourite photographs of the trip, with the sun almost completely down, from the window of the taxi I saw the Manhattan skyline for the first time, *click. Hello New York City, I love you already.
Now, here is where as a photographer the greedy, selfish side of me comes out. I find now more than ever that when I travel some place new, I go in to almost a trance in the street where I’m not really taking part in what’s going on around me, I’m immersed yet on the outside of everything going on around me, it’s a liberating and intoxicating feeling that I think only other photographers can understand. But as I was on vacation with my wife I really had to fight the urge to spend the entire trip with my camera up to my face. Another difficult part of visiting a new city is that you want to try and cover as much ground is possible, see all the sites, eat at good restaurants, visit museums, etc. etc., so inevitably you end up at 9pm with blown out feet and zero energy left to hit the streets to take photographs. In my mind the only way to over come all these difficulties is to find a great new city and move there, which is why my wife and I are currently going through the heavy process of attaining visas and if all works as planned will be New Yorkers sometime mid to late in 2014. So when I got home and realized I only took about 200 photographs while in New York City, which in this digital age seems like nothing, but I know that each time I took a photograph it was with care and attention.
Fujifilm X-E2 Is here ! – Improving on an already amazing camera – My first impressions
When I first heard that there would be an X-E2 coming out this year, I have to say the gear nerd inside of me did a tiny fist pump. I’ve been shooting on my X-E1 for almost a year and I really can’t imagine not having this camera in my life, so I figured with the X-E2 things could only get better, and as I had hoped, I was correct. The design, well no surprise here, no real major changes from the body shape and design of the X-E1, which I don’t mind one bit, I’m a ‘don’t mess with a good thing’ guy, and the bonus ? my grip from my X-E1 fits perfectly, one less accessory to purchase. The couple changes you will find are; the Q button has moved, there is no longer a View Mode button and there’s now a F2 button to give you another button to program, making 4 in total. For you photographers that like to do a lot of button pressing on your camera this should be a welcomed edition as well you can now set the exposure compensation dial now goes to 3 stops.
I think the biggest and best changes to the X-E2 happened on the inside. They’ve upgraded the guts to the 16MP X-Trans CMOS II & EXR Processor II and the Intelligent Hybrid AF (Phase & Contrast Detection) which promises a great improvement to the AF function of the camera as proved by the X100S. There is a list at the bottom with a break down of all the features of the X-E2, but for me this camera is all about taking a very well designed camera and making it take better photographs, simple as that. You’re probably asking yourself, what about manual focus ? No huge changes here, you’ll find the two different options available for a highlight or split screen, of which I’ve found I prefer the highlight option as it’s less obtrusive in the frame, I noticed as well that the improved processor means the EVF reacts noticeably smoother and quicker in manual focus mode . I only had a few days with the X-E2 so this isn’t as much as review but a ‘First Impression’ but the good news is I will be taking an X-E2 with me to New York City in November to put it through it’s paces on the street and on some fashion shoots for one week, so I’ll be able to update this post with more of an in depth analysis and a huge pile of photos !
As in all things in life, nothing is perfect, so let me get my one bugaboo out of the way now. I shoot with the EVF or OVF on any camera I use, I never have image preview turned on, never shoot from the LCD and for the most part I don’t chimp, my issue is that on the new X-E2 it’s not possible to shoot through the EVF with the LCD turned off and then hit the play button to preview a photo or use the menu, you have to look through the EVF which I’ve found to be dangerous and down right clumsy if you are out in the street shooting, the new options are LCD only, EVF with eye sensor or EVF only, I undestand the idea of having the eye sensor is to save on battery power while you walk around with your camera on all day, but if you are like me, my camera lives on a strap over my shoulder, so the fact that the camera is laying against my body means the sensor is on anyway, as I mentioned earlier in general I don’t chimp but there are some moments where you want to take the time to check your photograph and make sure you got what you were intending, as well sometimes you just want to scroll through the menu on the LCD. DISCLAIMER; The version of the X-E2 I received was a pre-production model so the good people at Fujifilm will be ironing out some quirks before they hit the shelves, so it’s my hope that this simple oddity can be fixed on the production models in the form of a firmware update, and bring back the same preview system as the X-E1, other than that I really can’t think of anything I don’t love about this camera.
Well, to the meat and potatoes. What’s new ! Here’s a list of some of the most important updates and features found on the new X-E2 and below some sample images I shot on the camera.
• 16MP X-Trans CMOS II & EXR Processor II
• Intelligent Hybrid AF (Phase & Contrast Detection)
• Focus Peaking & Split Image Focusing
• Lens Modulation Optimizer technology
• Face Detection (Stills and Movies)
• Super Intelligent Flash (Super i-Flash)
• 8 Advanced Filters
• 1.04M Dot LCD
• 4 Customizable Buttons: Fn1, Fn2, AE, Down Direction Pad
• Full HD 1080p with choice of 60/30fps
Here are some photos I shot over the couple days I had with the X-E2. As there wasn’t any software out there that could work with the pre production RAFs, I had to convert them to JPGs in camera and import, but I’m excited for some updates that will allow me to work with the RAFs to work with photographs in all there uncompressed glory. All images straight from camera JPGs with slight adjustments to White Balance and exposure in Adobe Lightroom.
Well I hoped you enjoyed my first impression of the brand new Fujifilm X-E2, now get out there and take some photographs !
Some other blog posts by my fellow Canadian X-Photographers on the new X-E2
Riley Joseph http://rileyjoseph.com/
Head over to Fujifilm Canada for more details and the official announcement ! http://www.fujifilm.ca/products/digital_cameras/index.html
Fujinon XF 23mm (35mm) f1.4 Lens will help you take beautiful photographs
In a previous post, I spoke about how the Fujinon XF 18mm f2 lens was my favourite lens of all time, well… I may have spoken too soon. Don’t get me wrong I still think the Fujinon 18mm f2 lens will always have a near and dear place in my heart, but change can also be a good thing.
When I began taking photographs, the work that inspired me the most was all taken on a 50mm lens, so being young an impressionable I thought this would be all I’d ever need to take my best photographs, slowly over time, and hundreds of thousands of photographs later, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I think the truth for me is I have focal lengths that I’m more comfortable with than others and that speak to my minds eye when it composes a photograph. Enter one of the most classic focal lengths 35mm, in all honesty, I’ve never owned a 35mm lens in my entire life, but I knew many of my favourite photos were shot with this focal and length, so I figured there must be a reason why, and finally I can safely say ” I get it”.
As I mentioned earlier, focal lengths are a matter of comfort for me and I guess one thing that I really like about the 23mm (35mm) lens is that it fits snugly between my classic 50mm focal length and my other favourite 18mm, the field of view is wide enough to get a lot in the frame, but not wide enough to distort the image and at f1.4 you can get beautiful separation of subject and background, allowing you to shoot a street scene as well as a portrait.
Upon first receiving the Fujinon XF 23mm(35mm) f1.4 lens, the build quality speaks for itself, metal, solid, lots of glass. Aperture is adjusted right on the lens body like other XF lenses, which I prefer, I like that I can glance at the body and see what shutter speed and aperture I’m at, ISO is pretty much always 100 or 400 so nothing else I need to know. Manual focus is achieved by pulling back the collar on the front of the lens body, similar to the XF 14mm f2.4 lens, the feel of the focus ring is resistant enough that you can smoothly and quickly pull focus and coupled with the highlighting system you can confidently shoot this lens in full manual. The weight on the lens adds a great balance to my X-E1 but for me personally it’s at the limit of a comfortable size lens on this body size, one little detail, would love to see a round lens hood, or one similar to the one that comes with the XF 18mm lens. I’ve been trying, but there’s not really anything bad to say about this lens. Really.
For my professional work which is beauty and fashion photography I could see this lens working amazing in any location shoot situations where I need to bring outside elements in to the composition and not distort the features of my subject too much, and with another lens around 85mm I am very confident that I could shoot pretty much anything from studio to location.
For my personal photography, which includes lots of family, friend portraits and street photography this lens is the true jack of all trades. Solid build and fast aperture of f1.4 mean I can confidently walk around all day shooting in the street and still take some beautiful photographs of my wife or family at dinner.
If you have the chance I highly recommend putting this lens on the front of your Fujifilm camera and trying it out, you won’t be disappointed.
Portrait of my wife Alina with the Fujifilm X-E1 and the Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 lens
Family portraits shot on the Fujifilm X-E1 with the Fujinon XF 23mm(35mm) f1.4 lens. ISO 400 1/80th at f1.4 processed in Lightroom with a Fuji Superia 400+ VSCO preset
Budding flowers in October, Vancouver BC. Shot on the Fujifilm X-E1 with the Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4
Beautiful photographs are happening everywhere, so don’t forget your camera !
One of the absolute best parts about being a photographers is that you can do almost any activity you enjoy from skateboarding to a walk in the park and you can create art while you are doing it, the same can’t be said about painting, right ?. Well, thinking back, the last time I visited a fair was probably around 15 years ago, I’ve always loved the idea of them, but don’t consider it a must do activity in the summer. Needless to say I had an amazing time with my wife, riding the ferris wheel, old wooden roller coaster and many others at the Vancouver PNE and Playland. Wonderful thing was I had my camera along to capture this rare and nostalgic moment. You can almost smell the popcorn and hear the dinging bells of the games !
No, thanks. hahaha.
Fujinon XF 18mm f2 lens and why it spends 95% of it’s life on my camera
Disclaimer: I am part of the Fujifilm X-Photographers but am not being bribed or paid by Fujifilm to talk about their cameras, I do it cause I am genuinely a fan of their camera system.
I receive a lot of questions by email and DMs on my Facebook page about which lens for what from other Fujifilm fans. I try my best to give my insight but often it comes down to personal preference, that being said, I wanted to share why the Fujinon XF 18mm f2 lens spends so much time on my Fujifilm X-E1. I thought about making this a ‘review’ but realized that there are a million reviews out there floating around the interwebs, with boat loads of technical information and facts so instead I’m going to tell you why I love it so much.
Size: The XF 18mm lens is considered a pancake for how flat it sits on the camera body and it’s true, I’ve often tucked it in to my jacket pocket (without lens hood). Along with the lens you get a full metal lens hood, that not only looks pretty rad it also will help to protect your lens, as you can see mine has gotten it’s fair share of bangs and scratches, and is even large enough to keep light rain off the front lens.
Build: Metal. Lightweight. Quality. Not much to say here, aperture is controlled on the lens body, the aperture ring is firm enough you know you are turning something and are met with a nice click sound when adjusting aperture. I haven’t had many issues with accidentally changing the aperture which I have encountered with the Fujinon XF 14mm f2.8. This lens is built with the same quality that would be expected from any Fujinon lens.
MF/AF: In manual mode this lens has been improved by firmware updates, meaning less spinning to move from closest to furthest focus, in addition the focus confirmation works nicely with this lens. Again, autofocus has been greatly improved through firmware updates to the point that I rarely miss a shot in AF mode even in low light. Again nothing fancy and crazy here, this lens will work well in either focus mode for you.
Image quality and ‘look’: The Fujinon XF 18mm f2 lens gives in my opinion a sharp but not TOO sharp photograph with my X-E1. I am the type of photographer that doesn’t mind a little (sometimes a lot) of softness in an image, and I can say honestly that I never sharpen my photos in post, not saying there’s anything wrong with sharpening, it’s just a matter of personal preference. I tend to dodge and burn to bring a sharpness back in a photograph. It sounds a bit tacky but I think this lens produces a ‘natural’ looking
What I shoot with the XF 18mm: Everything. Streetphotography, nice environmental portraits with shallow depth of field, clear stunning landscapes, my nieces birthday, moon landing, etc., this lens can do it all. If I had to choose I’d say the Fujnon XF 18mm is my favourite for shooting street photography, I spent years shooting solely with a 50mm lens, and there is a special place deep down inside me that will always love this focal length, but nowadays I just crave a little more in the frame. And that’s what the XF 18mm is going to give you. These days I’m finding myself carrying my camera in hand and shooting from the hip 50% of the time when I’m in the street. There is something interesting in shooting from below, which naturally emotes a feeling of strength and nobility to your subject, which is often seen in renaissance paintings of royal and noble figures. After this long ramble, my point is that even when walking down the street and swinging my camera around to take a photograph, this lens rarely misses the mark.
Final thought: As glowing as this all sounds, this may not be the lens for you and it certainly isn’t going to magically transform you or I in to a great photographer, it’s just a tool, and it’s my hope that my thoughts will help you decide if it’s the right lens to stick on to the front of your Fujifilm.
Street photography sample images from my Fujifilm X-E1 with the Fujinon XF 18mm f2 lens.
All images property of Kale JF Photography. 2013
2013 Contessa Hairstylist Awards
This past weekend my wife Alina and I hoped a plan at YVR, headed for Canada’s most prestigious hairsylist awards, The Contessas, held each year in Toronto, Ontario. This was my first time attending the awards so I was very excited to meet so many of the people that I’ve gotten to know via the internet and seeing their work in Salon Magazine. The event was held at the Sheraton Hotel down town Toronto and upon pulling up to the entrance it was more than apparent that this was going to be a great evening. This year I shot 13 collections for stylists in and around Vancouver, after the finalist announcements came in some 3 months after shooting, 7 of the collections I shot made finalist for Contessa 24, including; Canadian Stylist of the Year – Alina Friesen of A Michael Levine Salon Group, BC Hairstylist of the Year – Alina Friesen, Avant Garde Hairstylist of the Year – Alina Friesen, Salon Team of the Year – A Michael Levine Salon Group, Salon Team of the Year – The Cutting Room, Canadian Colourist of the Year – Amber Turcotte of A Michael Levine Salon Group, Student/Apprentice of the Year – Nathalie Litynsky of A Michael Levine Salon Group.
After a delicious dinner and drinks, the show began with awards being handed out to Canada’s most talented hairstylists, mixed with presentations from Schwarzkopf Professional, Sebastian and Redken, and a wonderful ode to the late Vidal Sasson. The galas MC, Bill Rowley kept the show energetic and never too serious (as hairstylist are known to be…).
As we approached the end of the event, the big awards were handed out, notably Elite Master of the Year to Edwin Johnston of The Cutting Room, Session Hairstylist of the Year to Timothy Switzer of Timothy & Co Salon, Master Colourist to Michelle Pargee of Milica Salon and lastly my insanely talented wife, Alina Friesen, at the tender age of 24, accepted the Canadian Hairstylist of the Year award. After a very heartfelt speech Alina and I joined the rest of the stylists at Brassaii for the after party to bask in the glory of this wonderful evening, then… 5 hours later back on a plane headed back to Vancouver.
Special thank you to Laura Dunphy. Melissa Hill and the entire team from Salon Magazine that worked so hard to put on such an incredible evening and a huge congratulations to all the entrants, semi-finalists, finalists and winners from Contessa 24.
Don’t forget to visit the Hair section on my site to see the rest of the collections I shot this year.
2o13 Contessa Awards Canadian Hairstylist of the Year Collection by Alina Friesen
Hairvolution 2012 in Richmond, BC
I was lucky enough a couple weeks ago to attend the Hairvolution event in Richmond, B.C. featuring Creative Stylists from Goldwell, KMS California and Arrojo. Here are some images I captured backstage, the likes of Nick Arrojo, Edwin Johnston and Michelle Pargee let me sneak around and shoot their amazing work.
iPhone street photography
In this day and age I think it’s harder and harder for photographers to capture street images that aren’t forced” or influenced by the presence of a camera. It’s for this reason that I love shooting with my iPhone, I’m able to walk down the street with it in my hand and shoot from the hip without eliciting reactions from people because of a huge DSLR camera in my hand. Here are some images I captured on a short walk down East Hastings Street in Vancouver. These images are meant to “shock” or pass judgement, just a record of images and emotions I saw on the street.
Victorian Era Inspired Hair by Award Winning Hairstylist Alina Friesen
Here is a collection I shot for Award winning hairstylist, Alina Friesen. The images were inspired by Victorian period stuffy portraiture, and juxtaposed by the bondage wardrobe and ethereal pastel hair colour.
Hairstyling: Alina Friesen, Wardrobe: Wendy Cook, MUA: Jena Jacquot-Boisvenu, Models: Brittany, Kyla and Annika.
Lensbaby Composer Pro and Edge 80 Optic a dream come true
About 2 weeks ago I received my Lensbaby Composer Pro, Sweet 35 Optic and the brand new Edge 80 Optic. And to say I was excited to get them onto my 5D mark ii would be a horrendous understatement. I’ve been following the lenses and optics from Lenbaby for quite a few years, but never dropped in and purchased, but then came along the all new Edge 80 Optic and I was intrigued. A majority of my work is of beauty and fashion and the Edge 80 optic looked so damn cool, I had to have one and planned a specific shoot ( Red Spring, series) just for the arrival of this lens. Having only 1 night to mess around before the shoot, I was pretty unsure what exactly would happen on the day of the shoot and thought I’d leave it up to providence.
Lensbaby Composer Pro Lens with the Edge 80 Optic and the Sweet 35 Optic