A Portrait assignment at Yarada Beach with Fujifilm x100s

Sheetal & Josiah. Yarada Beach, Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. February 2014.

Sheetal & Josiah. Yarada Beach, Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. February 2014.

While packing my camera bag for an assignment at Vishakhapatnam (Vizag), I was contemplating whether to carry my Fujifilm x100s mirror-less camera along with my regular assignment gear. It was a split second decision to consider it as a possible second camera and include it in the kit. And I am glad I did that, as on one fine evening at the beautiful Yarada beach in Vizag, the x100s turned out to be the main camera that I used to execute a portrait assignment.

Early this month, I flew down to the coastal city of Vizag in Andhra Pradesh for the third time on a commissioned wedding photography assignment. This destination is turning out to be one of my favorite places in the South East coast of India. I am getting a lot of queries for assignments from this region. This time, my clients and hosts were Sheetal and Josiah. Their love story started in the United States of America when Sheetal moved there for higher study and work. They decided to get married in India at Sheetal’s hometown (Vizag) where her parents lived. It was a culturally diverse atmosphere at their wedding, and I thoroughly enjoyed shooting it. As part of the wedding assignment, we had scheduled a Pre-wedding Portrait shoot for the couple at Yarada beach.

My main camera in all the wedding assignments has been my trusted old Canon 5D mark II DSLR. Off late, the Fujifilm x100s has become a preferred carry-along camera during my travels and personal projects. It was the sole camera that I had used during my entire trip in Sri Lanka, and I had fallen in love with its results. And I saw its strength as camera for environmental portraits when used with strobes, during lighting experiments done at Parkala in my hometown. The real beauty of this camera with leaf shutter is the ability to sync the strobe light and camera at almost any shutter speed. This means I could kill the ambient light at high shutter speeds to create portraits with dramatic or surreal lighting. On a recent portrait assignment done at a garage in Bangalore, the x100s had turned out to be a good second camera.

We reached Yarada beach two hours before the sun set. And I slowly worked my way to create some ambient lighting portraits of Sheetal and Josiah using my 5D mark II and 24-70mm F2.8 lens. But something was missing in creating a mood that I had visualized to be in the images. That’s when I brought my LumoPro 180 (LP180) Quad-synch Manual flash. Using the wireless triggers to sync camera and flash, and LP180 fired through a white umbrella, I began to work towards balancing ambient and strobe lights. The sun light was still very bright, and it meant cutting down the aperture a lot to get it to work with the maximum sync shutter speed of the 5D. That’s when I decided to swap the 5D with the x100s. And then, something happened…

I found a sweet spot with x100s at F2 aperture, 1/500 sec shutter speed, ISO 200. I loved the mood in the photograph. I made some variations in the lighting angle (Sheetal’s car driver became the lighting assistant. And he was of great help. Thanks Vikram! ), posture, composition, and then I got another image that I loved. Rest of the evening proceeded in this way. The sun had set and we had that golden hour of lighting. I realized that it was x100s all the way with 5D mark II taking a nap in the camera bag. But, when the available light reduced further, I did bring out the 5D to create some close-up portraits which otherwise was not possible on x100s due to latter’s fixed focal length (effective 35mm focal length on a 35 mm camera). The wide-angle distortions in close-up shots would be the only hurdle to execute a complete portrait shoot with only the x100s. You will need a second camera with a telephoto lens for those close-up portraits.

A Fuji X series camera like XE-2 or X-Pro1 (or the new XT-1) attached with the Fuji’s 56mm or 60mm lens would complement the Fujifilm x100s on a portrait assignment, with x100s handling portraits with its wide-angle lens and the X-E2/X-Pro1 for portraits with the telephoto lens. But, till I get my hand on a second Fuji body (hope Fuji is reading this 😉 ), my canon 5D Mark II will continue to team up with my Fujifilm x100s during my environmental portrait assignments.

Below is a gallery of few portraits done using x100s during this assignment. All the images shot in RAW and were post processed on Adobe Lightroom 5.3 . And I have used my favorite VSCO Film presets (Pack 01) for processing these images.

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Nishant Ratnakar
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