X-Pro1 Diaries: Good Friday in Little India
3 weeks after I first got the Fuji X-Pro1 and my initial test shoot in Little India, I found myself there again, with an hour of evening light left in the sky.
Being a public holiday, and an off-day for the many Indian and Bangladeshi migrant workers in the construction industry in Singapore, Little India was packed with off duty workers homesick for familiar food, groups catching up with news and gossip, and crowds gathered in front of stores with an outward facing television set, not unlike some sort of a standing-room-only public cinema. Exotic smells of spices and food cooking came from every direction, as well as blaring Tamil and Hindi pop tunes from shabby speakers not designed to handle such volumes, crackling and distorting as a result.
The sense of energy in the air was palpable.
Once I turned off the main thoroughfare and into the back lanes and narrow back alleys of Little India, a different pace and mood immediately pervaded, the blaring music was still audible, but seemed to be ‘somewhere else’, the clamour of the crowds now reduced to a dull drone. Waiters taking a break lost in their cigarette breaks, the smell of tobacco drifting further down the narrow lane. A man, his dinner of naan and curry propped on his lap, enjoying his meal sat on a crate, and yet others, simply standing around, perhaps taking a break from the near pandemonium just a street away.
Reaching the end of the alleyway, I was prompted ejected back into the roar of the thronging crowds.
Things happen fast in Little India, moments and juxtapositions appear and disappear quickly and unpredictably. This calls for a fast and fluid way of shooting. Since getting the camera and initially struggling with the AF on my first Little India outing with the X-Pro1, I’ve made the following changes to the settings: turned off the image review (as I have found it to reduce lag between shots), set the AF to ‘continuous’ for such fluid situations, turned off macro mode and shot exclusively with the EVF. I also picked my shutter speed (normally around 1/125) and aperture (usually wide open), leaving the camera to sort out the ISO.
This gives the fastest response time, and the AF is usably fast in this setup. Zone focussing and stopping down can be another strategy but is incompatible with my style of shooting as I like shooting wide open and the depth of field is too shallow to employ this technique.
I’m also finding that the camera at 0EV tends to overexpose in many scenes, I’m still shooting jpeg at the moment so I’m a little bit paranoid about blowing my highlights. My camera is normally set to -2/3EV.
The unintimidating styling and ‘low fi’ look of the X-Pro1 usually results in obliging subjects, no one seems to pay it much heed, which is perfect for blending into the background.