Sunday, February 21, 2016

Year Of The Monkey: Foster City, 2016

Photo #`
Another Chinese New Year in Foster City. Same location, and same exposure challenges. The window in the background faces the Foster City lagoon, and on a sunny day, creates a background that is almost impossible to expose properly. I was using forward and back bounce flash without the  benefit of a Black Foamie Thing. I was forced to use my hand instead. The photo was published on Page 1 of the February 17 issue.

Photo #1 was my favorite of the two photos I submitted. The young lady is playing a traditional Chinese Hammer Dulcimer. Behind her are the San Mateo/Foster City School Superintendent, two members of the SM/FC Board of Trustees, and the Mayor of Redwood City.

Photo #2
This second choice shot (Photo #2) is a bit crowded. The 28mm equivalent lens of the X-100 wasn't  wide enough lens to include more spectators on the left and all of the Lion's  rump on the right. I liked the contrast of the young lady's hand on the dark background, and while it appears she is trying to hypnotize the Lion, she's actually holding a cell phone camera.

Photo #3
The One That Got Away. This is the photo that I didn't submit because I forgot to ask the name of the teacher in the blue t-shirt. It has everything I could have asked for. The off-center composition is full of enthusiastic spectators, bringing the photo something none of my others had - the audience's involvement in the Lion Dance. The combination of window light from the left with my bounced flash fill gave the image more depth than the other two. Alas...

Photo #4
I rejected this photo (Photo #4) because the lion's black mane seemed to melt into the background, It didn't think it would reproduce well if accepted for publication.

Photo #5 - 1/500, F 5.6, ISO 800

Technical Notes: I used a Fuji X100S fitted with my newly acquired Fuji WCL-X100 adapter, believing that its 28mm equivalent view would be wide enough for use in these relatively tight quarters. I made all of these images with a Fuji X100S with the wide angle adapter except for Photo #1, which was made with an X-T1 with a 35mm 1.4 lens.

Lighting: I used forward and side directed bounce flash to boost the interior lighting levels. I used the Adorama Flashpoint Li-On speedlight in the manual mode, full output. The recessed skylight directly above the performers made it difficult to back-bounce, but when the speedlight was aimed camera left and bounced off of a wall, I was rewarded with soft lighting with a sense of direction, as you can see in Photo #5. One other point: You can actually see people beyond the back window.

Photo #6
This low-angle shot (Photo #6) was easily made by composing with the LCD instead of the eye-level finder. The composition has too much foreground for my taste, and was removed from consideration as soon as I saw it.

Photo #7
The finale for these young dancers was this circular formation. Forward bounce was used. I rejected it because it looked too much like last year's submission. And what's going on with the man in the window?

Photo #8
Here's a young man in a colorful costume (Photo #8). I wonder about the black and white jester's costumes, which look too Western to me.

Photo #9
Cute Kids (Photo #9).

Photo #10
Another Cute Kid (Photo #10).

Photo #11
This last flying leap (Photo #11) could have been used because I had the wherewithal to ask this young man his name. But there wasn't enough context to support the shot.

The X-100S with the wide angle adapter did well on this assignment. I particularly liked the leaf shutter's ability of sync at speeds faster than the 1/180th of a second in the T-1 body. Still, the mirrorless cameras seem to be missing something that the Single Lens Reflexes have, which is the sense that you are look through the lens and not at a computer-generate simulation. I'm not sure that I'll ever really get used to it, but I'll keep trying.