Street Photography Hong Kong: 36 hours with the Fuji X-T2
In November 2016 I travelled over to Cambodia and logistics allowed me to stop over in Hong Kong for 36 hours, which was far too good an opportunity to pass up. I’d always wanted to visit this great city to experience the massive mix of culture, great food and vast structures that loom over the city in all their glory.
I travelled out with my Fuji XT2 which I think is a near perfect piece of kit for street photography – it’s light, super quick to focus when paired with the 23mm f2 and great in most conditions, including low light and rain. I’ve only been shooting a Fuji system since October and so far it has been a brilliant camera to shoot with and a joy to carry around.
Along with the 23mm I also own the 35mm f1.4, which is a beautiful piece of glass but needs a little more precision when shooting street. I find that the 35mm f1.4 lens is fairly slow to focus and the fact that it’s a little noisey means it can get more attention than I’d often like to attract when shooting candid portraits. But the pictures you can make with this lens are beautiful and I love the isolation shooting wide open, as most of my work is shot this way.
Though I’ll often shoot landscapes and cityscapes between f5.6-f8 especially when shooting towards the sunlight. So I’m a little more selective about when I’ll shoot with the 35mm and tend to keep my 23mm f2 attached for 75% of my street and travel work as it seems to just nail focus pretty much every time and in turn I’m less distracted by the technicalities of the camera.
I think it’s so important to allow the camera to do as much work as possible so you can focus your mind on documenting creatively and worrying less about adjusting settings.
In truth I never bothered reading the manual for the XT2 and found this camera to be incredibly intuitive and so customisable. The thing that makes my shooting experience feel so discreet is setting the shutter to ES and switching the focus assist bulb off, so I can get really close to people and capture moments without them becoming aware.
The flip out screen is really useful in these situations too as it means I can compose a shot from my waist and then wait for the moment I want to capture and snap away. However in other situations I’ll keep the shutter on MS as I love the “clack” of the shutter on the XT2.
My favourite customisable feature on the XT2 is setting the AE-Lock to the button on the front of the camera as it’s ergonomically perfect for my hands; whether I’m triggering with my forefinger or my thumb it’s so easy to reach and makes exposing so fast.
The XT2 handles noise beautifully too so I keep the camera on A-ISO pretty much all the time and bracket the shutter speed at 1/125 so to avoid blur in most scenarios, unless it’s intentional of course in which case I’ll over-ride appropriately. I’ve shot up to 12,800 and been pretty happy with the results.
Many people shoot JPEG with the Fuji system and I can totally understand why; they do look great SOOC. However I always shoot compressed RAW and use lightroom to customise my final images using Classic Chrome picture profile as the starting point.
I have a very specific look I like to go for and having the ability to fine tune in LR is something I really enjoy as part of my workflow. I do however capture medium JPEGS too as I’ll want these available if I’d like to send the image to my phone to share on social media ahead of getting the studio.
Hong Kong is a well oiled machine that welcomes people to travel all over the city to eat, drink and explore. Between every cityscape there’s a story to capture and connections to be made and in reality, 36 hours was never going to be enough to see this all. But I’ll be back no doubt, ready to take in the bold beauty of this city as soon as I get the chance.
“Hi, I’m Tarik Ahmet, a London based documentary portrait photographer. I photograph people mainly because they amaze me. The way people react and interact with one another is fascinating and I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of trying to understand what people are thinking at any given time. A photograph gives you that split second to look deep into their eyes and intercept their expression to create a story of what may or may not be. It’s a privilege to capture a moment or a person to have that moment linger for as long as you want it to. A smile, a tear, a hug, all moments that mean so much.”