Urban Exploration with Cassy and the Fuji X-E1: A Natural Light Photoshoot



Urban Exploration with Cassy and the Fuji X-E1: A Natural Light Photoshoot

Last November I received an Instagram message from Cassy, a model who was looking to expand her portfolio and collaborate with local Phoenix artists. She just moved to Arizona from Florida and was eager to meet creative people from the local scene. It had been months since my last serious shoot and I was still without my go-to gear. I did everything I could to say no, but Cassy was persistent; after several messages back and forth, she had me excited to shoot without all my “normal” gear. My friend Natasha (a brilliant photographer and retoucher) has been encouraging me to explore shooting more natural light portraits; this shoot was a great opportunity to explore natural light in my photography.


Courtesy of Google Images

Cassy's  great “alt” look...

Cassy wanted to do something she described as “weird, mermaid punk”  and had specific ideas about the location. After a couple days of location scouting (via google), we decided to give the abandoned dog track in Black Canyon city a go. Shooting contemporary Arizona photographer, I shoot portraits mainly in the Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, and Scottsdale area; it's always fun to sneak out of the valley.

We met at a Tempe Starbucks... she hopped in my car, and off we went. This hour drive could have been the definition of awkward, but we immediately connected and time flew... before we knew it, we were there.





After some quick exploration of the location...

We started shooting and all of a sudden a different Cassy appeared… She was frenetic… I couldn’t keep up. She wanted to climb on and into everything showing no fear what so ever. Cassy was unbelievable creative and contributed amazing ideas throughout the entire shoot. While I was there to shoot groovy images, I also became the safety advisor armed with wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and the spirt of openminded skepticism. As grimy as the location was, it was a photographer’s dream. It was unique and diverse. I can’t wait to get back and explore more.


A test of creativity...

I'm always amazed at the variety of images one can create in a single shoot, single location, single model, with a single wardrobe set. Using the available light, perspective, composition, and available camera gear there are countless possibilities.... the only limit is what your eye can imagine.



Technical Challenges

I didn’t have my DSLR and was stuck using my travel camera, the Fuji X-E1. This little guy produces amazing  images. Add the 56mm f1.2 lens and it can compete with any other cropped sensor on the market. However, after a year with this camera I feel I can comfortable say, the handling and focus system is awful! I have missed more great moments with this camera and I’m confident my Nikon would have captured them all. I know this is an “older” fuji model, so I’m not knocking the amazing stuff Fuji is coming out with… however, my Fuji system is giving me grey hairs along with the occasional GREAT image.



Shooting in the Afternoon Sun

Changing the color temp in camera offers so many creative possibilities. While this was nice, warm, late-afternoon Arizona sunlight, the cool color temp make it feel like we we're exploring this eery location under a full moon.


Great Experience, Great Images, ...Great New Friend

While this was a frustrating experience due to the technical challenges with the camera, We walked away with some great images and I found a great new collaborative colleague. Can't wait for what's coming next.

...to be continued.