Impromptu Photo Shoot - Fuji X100S & Rogue Flashbender
One of the things about being halfway decent at photography is that people are always asking me to take pictures for them. I don't mind at all, to be honest. I find it flattering that people want me to bring my camera with me and take pictures at their party or events. However, I tend to do one of two things. Either I spend the entire time focusing on getting good pictures and largely ignore the party or I enjoy the party and don't take many shots at all.
Recently, I went to a Christmas party and I decided to intentionally limit my gear. The idea was: The less decisions I have to make, the easier it will be to focus on taking pictures.
2. The Gear
For the camera, I decided to use the Fujifilm X100s for a couple of reasons. The first of which is the Fujifilm's leaf shutter. This means that you can sync flash at a very high shutter speed. This completely kills the ambient light which means that the only light in the photograph is the light you put there.
The second thing I liked about the X100s is the fixed lens, a 23mm f2.0. This lens is great for this type of photography. It's wide enough to shoot portraits indoors, but not wide enough to cause distortion and other issues common with wide angle lenses. The fixed focal length is also great because it simplified my setup.
I used the Yongnuo 560 and some Yongnuo triggers for the flash. I don't have anything to compare the Yongnuo to, but I can tell you that it has worked great for me. It fires every time and seems to be very consistent.
Bare flash isn't the most flattering thing in the world for portraiture, so a light modifier was necessary. For the modifier, I chose the Rogue Flash Bender. It's incredibly simple to use and it folds up into the back pouch of my smallest camera bag.
There's a lot of different ways to use the Flash Bender, but I chose to use it in the softbox mode. This makes the light source quite a bit larger and softer for portraiture.
3. The Setup
The setup for this type of photography is really easy. Camera in one hand, flash with modifier in the other.
I'm 6'4" so I can get the flash very far away from the camera with just my arms. For these portraits, as I'm sure you can see, I had the camera in my right hand and the flash with modifier in my left. I held the flash sort of to the left and above my subject's face. The idea was to illuminate my subject's face but have a nice falloff to the other side, all while illuminating the background enough to provide some separation. All good in theory, let's see if it paid off.
4. The Pictures
All in all, I really like the look of these pictures. I'm colorblind so I like shooting in black and white whenever I can. I have a tough time color correcting my images, so black and white simplifies things for me.
I don't always think less is more, but in this situation it certainly is. If I would have brought my usual portraiture setup, I probably wouldn't have bothered setting it up. I think the pictures would have come out better with my usual lights, stands, modifiers, camera, and lenses, but sometimes you can sacrifice options for clarity. In this situation I'm happier that I got the pictures than I am with having options.
I also have to say, this setup is probably going to be my go to mobile portraiture rig from now on. The lens is wonderful wide open. Some people have said that it's soft wide open, but I don't see it. The lens combined with the unique Fujifilm sensor renders some beautiful images. They have a certain signature that I have found hard to match with other cameras. Combining a small camera with a portable flash and modifier can render some genuinely impressive portraits.