Cubanitas with the Fujifilm X-T20

The Cayo Largo island has been (and still is) a frequent destination for recharging your frozen batteries affected by our long Canadian winter season.

Located south of the main island of Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico, this idealistic place is share by people in search of calm, of nice long white sandy beaches and of friendly Cuban people.

Although many hotels installations are now more on the rustic side because the buildings are suffering a lot into the southern weather since the island seems not to have a lot of material resources to refresh them properly, vacationers from Canada and other countries are coming back year after year and some are paying visits for even a more frequent pace over the year!

We know now that there is very few probabilities that the island of Cayo Largo will be ever “americanized” in any ways in the near future. The Italian travel agencies seem to be the only ones really interested to invest on the island and have created a group of specific resorts strictly controlled and only available for their clientele.

I am particularly fascinated by the architectural point of view of many earlier buildings since they represent a kind of merging of the hispanic heritage blended into the Cuban modern way of building back in the 1980s and 1990s. And because it has not been reproduced in the last twenty years, it may be important to preserve some image temoignages of what may disappear in mid-term.

All the pictures of this articles have been taken with the Fujifilm X-T20 camera and the Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS lens.

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The Mind and Photography: an ongoing process.

Yes I know I am repeating myself in saying that photography is a more precise medium than video. We sincerely love video because it is live, it is colorful, it is soundly, it is cinematographic. It is fiery tail on our animated visual and earring senses. All those things that photography cannot compete in terms of modern popularity. But strangely still images seem to last longer in our memory and be more informative than a stream of pictures.

Glimpses of selected reality (as perceive by their auteur) photography offer a full view of an instant visual memory. Just think about the multiple aspects of a face expression photography is may be the best way to freeze those fugitive moment of great signification.

Behind and beyond the image are always part of the mental process that a picture can trigger in our mind. There is the pictural story on the paper (or on the screen) but there is this other story that our brain is developing about the picture itself. It is self-information added to the strict imagery of the picture. The complexity of the train of thinking triggered by a photo can be infinite as for the multiple personal interpretations we can give to it and this is the beauty of it.

We have to not forget that photography is in fact an instant glimpse of the past since it is already a selective past moment. Every time we look to a photograph we see an imperfect repetition of a subject or a context.

Unstatic Memories

Is there a learning curve about imagery? Because photography is segmenting our timeline almost on an infinitive base every single picture got the glimpse of eternal history into our mind memory. So it happens that picture became a reference you can remember under every circonstances you wish to do so. With time passing by all those pictures are stacking at a point difficult to apprehend and many picture frames of our distant past experiences seem to vanish of our voluntary recollection but time to time they appear without notice.

Mind is complex because it memorize not only pictures, odors, tastes, sensations but also impressions even interpretations. With age we sometimes experiment warp return of past moments to our astonishment. It demonstrate how the process of our mind is ongoing continually.

I have once said that persistence is an important creative factor in photography because the subject of it is in continuous dynamic of change. Light, position, context, etc are in constant evolution and the photographer as an observer should take all the opportunities to note and memorize the movement of life surrounding us. Training yourself to translate your impressions on a 2-D support is a perpetual task to accomplish with curiosity and will to repeat.

So photography is an expression of learning life through a mind process of apprehending selecting instants moments.

Hors-Propos: Le déclin de l’intelligence Internet

Avec la nouvelle explosion de la tendance populiste, il fallait s’y attendre: le déclin de l’intelligence “Internet”. Et plus étonnamment encore à une vitesse croissante exponentielle. Si bien qu’aujourd’hui nous avons l’impression d’une caricature de ce qu’était le Web il y a quatre ou cinq ans., i.e. avant 2015. Car le point est là où plusieurs esprits plus retords ont vite compris la grande faiblesse d’Internet, de ses réseaux et de son auditoire participant, c’est-à-dire sa grande naïveté ou plutôt en langage plus correct, son ouverture d’esprit qui était d’abord sa force.

Comme au judo (“utiliser la force de l’adversaire à son avantage”), ces grands malveillants manipulateurs que ce soient des personnes, des groupes, des corporations ou des institutions, tous ces “e-déviants” ont profité du formidable outil de communication que constitue le Web et ses composantes pour propager leur vision d’une pseudo-réalité non avérée, non-vérifiable et totalement belligérante. En faisant cette description je suis déjà convaincu que vous avez une multiple d’exemples en tête.

Le même phénomène s’est propagé sur toutes les plates-formes et a envahi tous nos secteurs socio-culturels y incluant celui consacré à la photographie. Bref tout a été politisé dans son sens le plus petit, le moins constructif et le plus réducteur.

Dans cette nouvelle perspective ce n’est plus l’intelligence de l’auditeur qui est sollicitée mais plutôt sa réactivité primaire face à l’interprétation profondément biaisée et non-démontrée d’une réalité dont on prétend qu’elle est à plusieurs facettes d’abord pour ensuite la réduire à celle qu’on veut bien nous imposer. C’est au point où tous les participants du Web ont compris que seuls l’image et le contenant sont prioritaires au delà du contenu. Le message lui est implicite car on ne veut pas vraiment qu’il s’affiche ouvertement par crainte de sa réprobation.

Bref de plus en plus les agenda de chacun sont devenus stratégiquement cachés. Sincérité, intégrité et spontanéité sont bannis des qualités requises pour réussir et ne sont évoqués que pour servir de facade rassurante, de cassette redondante de diffusion.

Alors qu’est-ce que l’avenir nous réserve à propos d’internet? Certainement l’avénement, déjà amorcée, de plusieurs petits réseaux underground avec leurs faiblesses et leurs dérives certes mais aussi leur aptitude à déjouer les grands ensembles régulateurs biaisés. L’éclosion de banque d’information disponible sur l’Internet, les bibliothèques Web, qui tentent de préserver l’information  de façon accessible même si le tri, le classement et l’interprétation de leur contenu ne sont pas par définition totalement objectifs. Le retour à la communication interpersonnelle sous toutes ses formes qui propose lien direct entre interlocuteur via la discussion, la causerie, la conférence, l’animation, la formation académique ou autres, etc.

Toute cette micro-communication sera évidemment confrontée au méga-canaux utilisés par les groupes socio-politiques et économiques manipulateurs légitimés par l’organisation humaine des grands ensembles. Le défi premier en sera donc un d’espace de diffusion qui deviendra lui la nouvelle définition de la démocratie des mots et des idées.

Il en est ainsi de la nature humaine, imparfaite en soi mais aussi parfois mais pas assez souvent évolutive.

 

Toutes les photographies de cet article sont prises avec un Fujifilm X-T20 et l’objectif Fujinon XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS / All pictures taken with a Fujifilm X-T20 and a Fujinon XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.

The Fujinon XF23mm F2.0: the everyday observing lens

Let us rewind to the analog film days of photography. The 35-50mm taking lenses were kings of their era and were present to almost every manufacturer systems offered. Their maximum aperture were ranging from a modest F3.5 to an astounding F1.2 if you were able to afford it.

With the introduction of electronic autofocus and motorized cameras  they were replaced by a plethora of different trans-standard zoom lenses from the cheapest ones to the expensive “pro” such as the 24-70mm F2.8. And that tendency has been replicated right from the start of the digital cameras era.

With an angle of view of 63 degrees the Fujinon XF23mm F2 R WR can be assimilated as a “eye-normal” standard lens although for some their opinion is that this Fujinon model is a bit too wide to be classified easily in that category. Its close focusing ability is good and this caracteristic contribute largely to its versatility. It is not a (head) portrait optic but surely you can work full body view portrait with confidence and proximity of your main subject.

The Fujinon XF23mm F2 R WR lens is a useful “interior” lens providing you are not looking for a very wide view (the Fujinon XF16mm F2.8 or XF10-24mm F4 R OIS lenses for example should be more interesting choices in that case). For sure in some narrow contexts you will need to contorsion yourself to embrass the whole subject.

Because of its reduced size, this Fujinon XF23mm f2 R WR is a discrete optic and more if it is coupled with a Fujifilm X-E or X-M series camera body. This particular nature will be fully appreciated if you doing street, travel or casual photography in giving you the possibility to be more spontaneous in your activity.

We cannot escape the (Leica) Summicron lens series analogy even if we are speaking of two very different lines of optics especially considering the electronic involvement into the Fujinon X-series.

The two control rings of the Fujinon XF23mm F2 R WR allow you to select your aperture and adjust your focus manually if needed or hoped. In the case of the aperture it is handy to be able to better control the deep of field of your subject and also with the focusing ring have the capacity to choose the optimal focus point. The Fujifilm lens hood furnished with the lens is small and none-protuberant (You can leave on almost permanently except if you intend to use optional 43mm screw-in filters).

What about the optical quality image output of the Fujinon XF23mm F2 R WR lens? Suffice to say that I cannot see any noticeable (for me!) between this optic compare to the others Fujifilm XF series lenses. To be more reassured you can consult the numerous technical tests over the web. But in my sens the best way of evaluating a lens for your specific needs is to take pictures with it. It can fit or not your style of photography and respond accordingly to your specific technical way of taking pictures. In some countries Fujifilm offers “try and test” session or even loan programs to do so.

So the Fujinon XF23mm F2 R WR lens is it for you or not? That is the big question. Focal fixed lenses are optics that are asking a photographer adaptability to be ensure their complete useful. So your mobility is a key point of success when you intend to select that category of optics.  If you feel better and confortable to work from a fixed point of view and reframe with a variable focal zoom lens that can be a big issue. On the contrary if you are a kind of “active” photo takers this Fujinon XF23mm F2 R WR can be be an creative and easy manageable answer (as for all the others focal fix Fujinon lenses).

A few years ago I was discussing with Billy Luong of Fujifilm Canada about the possibility of creating a king of “bridge” new lens between the existing XF27mm F2.8 and the expensive XF23mm F1.4 R model and I have noticed his smiling facial expression at the moment. Less than one year after this conversation the new Fujinon XF23mm F2 R WR was introduced on the market. Additionaly the Fujinon XF 23mm F2 R WR is now offered as a complementary (“kit”) lens combined with various camera body models at a very competitive price point. For many photographers it could a very wise and rewarding choice…

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