Creative: Digital Photograph (Super Dynamite Update)

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For those of you who have been reading my site for any length of time you will know about “Super Dynamite,” my soon to be twelve-year-old nephew.(More of him here and here.) I haven’t posted about him in a long while as he’s at the age when my photography isn’t high on his list of priorities and he’s too smart for me to trick him into anything.(God I miss those days.)

But early this morning I was able to trap the elusive beast. Just for a moment. Chalk it up to his being blinded by a screen, whatever, I’ll take it. But there is more to this photograph than just the subject. This is a digital photograph I actually like.

Yesterday I had a meeting with two friends, both photographers. One was carrying a Pentax ME Super and the other an ancient Contax SLR of some sort that must have weighed eight pounds. Both of these people know me as more of a Leica film guy because our history goes back many years. But yesterday I brought my Fuji, and for the first time in my adult life I didn’t feel like my “real” camera was at home. The XT2 probably isn’t perfect, but it’s damn close to perfect for me and my current set of needs. Light, small, relatively fast. A solid viewfinder, sensible layout and menus that even I can understand.(I’ve only looked at maybe 5% of the menus.) I also like the lens selection which feels very similar to my old days of using the f/2 Leica lenses which are mimicked nicely by my f/2 Fujicrons. And I have a fast 85mm for portraits.

Beyond the hardware there is the look of the file. My post production method is as painfully basic as you could possible imagine. Import, apply one star if I like, apply preset, export. THIS IS ALL I WILL EVER DO. I hate post and will never sit and tweak my files beyond this little sequence. My heart just isn’t there. But I have to say, this is enough. The color out of the camera is superb. I’m sure there are a hundred million thousand reviews out there that will give you all the tech juice about this camera but I’m not concerned about that stuff. It just f^%$%$# works.

A few folks have said “Oh, I have to have full frame.” I used to think that way too. Okay. I get it. But most of the time I don’t. I’m guessing I can do a 24×36 easily with this camera and probably a 30×40 if I wanted to. What the Hell else could I possible want, and frankly my fav print size is 16×20 which would be cake with this baby. And the reality is I make more 4×6’s than anything else, and by a long shot, and I surely don’t need to archive massive files.

I guess my only issue is that I only have one body, and the few times I’ve been in real shooting situations I’ve felt like I was missing things due to not having the second machine ready to go. But oh well. Life is a neverending, intensely cruel suckfest and then I get a disease and walk into the swift current of death. Or something like that. But, in the meantime I’ll be snapping away. Happily once again.

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  1. I’m 52 and my heart has been in film since I shot my dad’s Argus back in high school. My girlfriend at the time was a Nikon shooter, so I would borrow her stuff as well. I got into medium format back in 2012…bought a Contax 645, Contax RTS, Rollie 2.8e, Yashica 635, and someone gave me a Canon AE-1. I attended a well-known film workshop (learned a TON) and pored over the internet picking up tips along the way. I had friends and acquaintances giving me boxes of expired film. Shooting film professionally has taught me to look for the great light. It’s a skill that I am grateful to have worked on.

    I’m kinda tired of it all. I look at my film and all I see is the expense of it all. Developing, processing….blah, blah. Over the past few months, I’ve sold everything but the Yashica 635. I’ve got the proceeds sitting in my Paypal account while I consider digital options. Daniel, you can I have been emailing back and forth re: the X-T2…and I rented one for the weekend. I appreciate your thoughts and help. Borrowed a few Fuji lenses from a buddy…and taking the rig for a test ride over the next couple of days. I’m already finding that this camera may be all I need. Both professionally and personally. Want quick and simple? Shoot the 35m f/2. Want that Contax 645 look…shoot the Mitakon and crank it down to f/.95. Print straight from the camera. Upload to your phone and text to the wife. Built like a tank.

    As you say, no camera is perfect. I also feel that no one piece of gear of any kind will make us happy. I used to think if I only shot a Contax 645 I would be happy. I did some of my best work with that camera. But I learned that it’s my relationships that mean more. And if capturing those relationships comes at too high a price…then it doesn’t happen. I’m a case of the “cobbler’s children have no shoes.” Each year I have fewer and fewer photos of my family and friends. I want to change that.

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      I’ve done the same thing over the years. Sold things off. I have my two main systems left, and won’t sell them. The digital stuff isn’t the same. Nor will it ever be, but depending on lifestyle and need it could be the only thing. You have to learn to make the pictures the camera is capable of making, something that took me a long while to learn.

  2. Daniel, I hate to see you step away from film, but, then again I don’t. The photographs you make are compelling and moving, no matter what camera you use. Please, just keep doing what you do and know it means so much to so many of us.

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      I’ve still got my main film systems and hundreds of rolls of film, which aren’t going anywhere.

  3. Nice one Daniel. I’m working on my first trade book (Thanks for the kick in the uhhhh….inspiration), reviewing images after first writing several pages of text. I shot everything with my X cameras and find as I go along, that I’m post processing less and embracing the simple approach – culling to select whatever images helming to tell the story. No worries about perfection, just impact – do they support the story or not. Many are just the jpegs – not processed raws because they work for the story as the came out of the camera. Recently I added the X-100F as a second body – love it. Two bodies and the F2 Fujicrons fill my gear needs, … its empowering. Anxious to wrap this Trade book up and start on the next 4 in the queue. Thanks again for the A** kicking’ you give us to just do it.

    1. I imagine that when the Fuji RAW Studio software comes out, Daniel’s post processing will get even more streamlined. 🙂

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      Nice. Glad you are getting your book done. FINALLY. GEEZ. Just kidding. I don’t even know how to post process like a lot of people. I’d rather take apart the crank in office window than Photoshop my images. And I don’t know how to fix the crank either. I’d love a second body but for now I’m going to buy a supercharger for my truck.

  4. “Life is a neverending, intensely cruel suckfest and then I get a disease and walk into the swift current of death.”

    Wow, I want to declare this the best description of life I read in long,long time.

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