Caitlyn and I wanted to get in one last 2017 vacation and thankfully we had some leftover airline points to score tickets to Cabo San Lucas. The weather was fantastic. Most days were partly cloudy and the town seemed like it was operating at 1/5 capacity. This offered some unique shooting opportunities.
As far as street photography goes, I’ve been pretty stealth in my outings. A lot of shooting from the hip, stealing a moment when someone isn’t looking, etc. That’s all well but what happens when you ask a stranger for a photograph? I decided that I needed to step it up and approach some beach vendors and ask them to take their photo. Right away one guy said sure and stood solemnly with his blankets. See that wasn’t so hard, now was it?
As far as my work as a photographer is going, I’m very excited where my work is headed. I feel inspired to create most nearly every single day. I’m pushing myself to bring my camera everywhere and just shoot life around me. That’s why I started this blog in the first place.
I was talking to my friend J.O. @yungnoodles93 about creating meaningful work and he sent me a quote by Ira Glass. Years ago I had read this quote, understood the power of the words and then allowed external forces to wedge themselves between me and my art. It’s a nice reminder that in order to get good at anything, one must push through years of hard work, many of them without public acknowledgement. You just gotta stay the course. Check out this animated typography video from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.
For those of you who would rather read, here’s the full quote:
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. – Ira Glass
Only keep reading this is you’re a total camera nerd.
Fun fact: The x100f has a leaf shutter.
What does that mean? Not much to most people. The gist of it is that 99% of today’s cameras have a focal plane shutter which exposes a photo using two curtains that slide down in tandem. The first curtain slides down to fully open the shutter and expose the sensor to light. To close the shutter, a second curtain slides down ending the exposure.
When using a fast shutter speed like 1/2000th of a second. The second curtain will begin to close the shutter before the first curtain has finished opening the shutter. This creates a moving slit on the sensor exposing the image very quickly from top to bottom.
In most cases, this doesn’t matter at all but if you use flash. It matters a lot.
The point right before this changes is known as “flash sync speed” which is in most cases, 1/200th of a second. Trying to use flash that is faster than the sync speed will result in a dark band on your image.
Why? Because flash happens once and very quickly during a photograph and since there isn’t a single moment for the flash to expose the entire image at once. Part of the image will not “see” the flash resulting in an improperly exposed image.
Imagine that the flash fires at the exact moment as seen here. The only part of the image that will “see” the flash is what is currently open to the world outside. The dark gray areas are blocking the sensor from the light. Thus only this section of the image will be lit by the flash.
As shutter speeds get faster and faster, the slit of exposure becomes smaller and smaller.
I’m telling you this because I don’t need to worry about this anymore since my camera has a leaf shutter.
Instead of opening up and down with curtains, a leaf shutter uses multiple leaf shaped blades to open and close the shutter from the outside in like 360° eyelids. This means that I can use any shutter speed I want with a flash and have no problems with dark areas showing up in the image.
Both of the above portraits were taken while the sun was out. The beach portrait was taken about 11:30am on a sunny day. While the street portrait was taken around 4:00pm while the sun was about two hours from setting. I was able to use a really fast shutter speed to take out a lot of the ambient light from the sun while using my flash to shape and fill in where I wanted it to.
In short, having a leaf shutter opens up a world of possibilities for using really fast shutter speeds and flash that creates a very unique look not commonly seen in daylight photography.