Jupiter 9, Smokebombs, and the Fuji XT-1
A few days ago a friend of mine, Chris Murphy, shot me a message that was, more or less, "Model. Smoke bombs. You in?" Being new to Toronto and just itching to shoot I just had to jump at the chance. I packed a few lenses, but for these shots I ended up sticking with the Jupiter 9, and 85mm F2 beauty of a lens. To adapt these to the XT-1 I used the Mitakon Turbo booster II, basically giving a full frame field of view and DOF and, more importantly to me, allowing to to really use every ounce of character that these vintage lenses have. I wanted to keep that vignietting and corner softness and the focal reducer allowed me to do that.
Since the Jupiter 9 is manual focus something like a DSLR, with its optical viewfinder, would not be the best tool for the task, the XT-1's focus peaking really came in handy for getting my focus. Focus wasn't too difficult since I ended up using Zone focusing- keeping equidistant from our incredible model The Ka so she stayed in focus was key
The talented Natalie Peterbaugh did our makeup and knocked it out of the park with some beautiful eyes and a BOLD blue galaxy-coloured lip
I shot almost exclusively on the Jupiter 9, between F2 and F4 and at the bottom of the post I've attached a gallery of the full shoot but this post will be talking about the challenges I faced, and what I learned, when shooting with the XT-1 at night with smoke.
I only used a single flash (NW670 - a dirt cheap, super effective, speedlight) which I had Natalie hold onto and basically point at the model, from up and to the right. I want this blog to be extremely honest and... Well... I underexposed almost this entire shoot by a stop and a half. My bad. Thankfully the XT-1's sensor is ISO invariant so, even though I SHOULD have been shooting at ISO ~3200, the fact that I was shooting at 1250 meant that I wouldn't really lose any detail/gain any noise in comparison (Well, a little bit, but not REALLY)
Not to sound like a fanboy, but the ISO invariance on the fuji system really came in handy on this shoot. Now, if only it was cleaner at higher ISO's (At least XTrans II, I don't know about XTrans III in the Xpro 2 and the XT2. If Fuji wants to send me one I'll test it for them ;) )
These smoke bombs, from Enola Gaye have their plus' and their minus'. On the plus side, they give a LOT of smoke, and the colours are nice. On the downside, the yellow looks kind of like a fart cloud without colour correction. The red can really POP, sadly we didn't have the blue which would have been nice - but... next time!
Some things to note about the smoke which I've had people ask me - it tastes bad, smells like gun powder, and stings if you get it in your eyes. Now, the manufacturer says it's totally safe, but definitely stay up wind of it. And, on that note, it really doesn't take long for the wind to take the smoke away. You only have about 30 seconds to get your shot, get your burst mode ready, friends!
Now, with the double-barelled smoke grenade we had the same amount of 'fuel', but twice the smoke - so we had to work even faster, having only around 15 seconds to get the shot.
On top of that, however, we were lucky that we had a very still night, this smoke really goes with the breeze, and there was almost no wind. Almost. Even the slight breeze meant that once the smoke bomb was done, it was basically immediately time to regroup so we would take advantage of every last second of that smoke bomb
The smoke is THICK, and if we were in, say, a big bunker, it would really hang in the air - but since we were doing this just in a park at night we just used what we had, which wasn't much - so it went out and into the air.
It was a huge blast to shoot with some great, talented, friends - and the response has been fantastic. Can't wait to do another shoot like this again.
I may do a shoot more specific to focal reducer's and what they do in the future if I can think of an interesting way to frame it