First X100S Urbex Test: Life Amid the Ruins

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by entropic remnants, Sep 13, 2013.

  1. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
    Made a deal with Luke to get his X100S and he my X100. I decided to do a test to get some shots for my "Life Amid the Ruins" series in which I shoot urbex handheld in dark places. The X100S should improve the quality of the shots even without stabilization.

    This was a quick lunchtime trip so I didn't get a lot and some things simply didn't work out. I was able to get some shots at slow speeds but unlike Zack Arias, I couldn't get down to a 1/4 second hand held, lol. Two of these are ISO 6400, one is ISO 1600 and one is an ISO 12800 shot. One is ISO 800 but it's from an HDR bracket.

    Here's what I got.

    ISO 6400 first

    9736511841_ccb1d315b0_b.
    Life Amid the Ruins: Wheeless Chair by Entropic Remnants, on Flickr

    ISO 800 HDR bracket.

    9736511429_c8208fa630_b.
    Life Amid the Ruins: Seeing the Now from the Then by Entropic Remnants, on Flickr

    ISO 6400 again

    9736511113_038d3f5348_b.
    Life Amid the Ruins: Larkspur #414 by Entropic Remnants, on Flickr

    This next one is the ISO 12800

    9736511029_b3b5301628_b.
    Life Amid the Ruins: Yazoo by Entropic Remnants, on Flickr

    Next is ISO 1600

    9736510855_6b058e1d8f_b.
    Life Amid the Ruins: Couple of Hosers by Entropic Remnants, on Flickr

    Overall I'm quite impressed. Everything was shot JPG but I did post process. I only had to manual focus a couple of times the whole day though I had to pick my point to focus on carefully. Still, I don't think the X100 would have focused at all in many of these situations.
     
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  2. bartjeej

    bartjeej FujiXspot Regular

    139
    Mar 31, 2013
    Very nice shots! Love how the HDR worked out, by the way! I think there's quite a noticeable difference between 6400 and 12800, with 6400 still being very usable and 12800 starting to look coarse, particularly in the OOF areas.
     
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  3. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
    First, thanks!

    As to ISO 12800 I agree. It's okay for documentary shots, but I wouldn't print from it. It looks worse full size, lol -- but not as bad as I thought it would. I might print 12x18 or maybe try a 16x20 from ISO 6400 if it was a good exposure and I didn't have to lighten anything. I don't have any ISO 3200 shots here but they are amazingly clean and I could print 24x36" from them I think with good processing.

    Quite a system the X-Trans. I kind of thought it was a gimmick kind of thing at first -- but Fuji has some serious things going on in the combination of lens, sensor, and processing.
     
  4. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
  5. jloden

    jloden FujiXspot Top Veteran

    708
    Mar 9, 2013
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Ok, I looooove that second shot "Life Amid the Ruins: Seeing the Now from the Then" - the way you processed that gives it this insane surreal look, like the window is a painting. I bet that'd make a really cool print!

    And from a technical side: I really didn't notice any [objectionable/distracting] noise in the web size photos except in the ISO 12,800 and given that's a 3 stop push from the sensor I'd say that's pretty understandable (and even impressive).
     
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  6. bartjeej

    bartjeej FujiXspot Regular

    139
    Mar 31, 2013
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  7. Luke

    Luke FujiXspot Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    855
    Jan 31, 2013
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I gotta say, I'm totally flummoxed about the giant rolling carts labeled CAKE COVER. What was this place when it was still active?
     
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  8. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
    This place was part of the first man-made fibers plant in the United States, built in 1910. It was called (among other names) "American Viscose" and named for the viscose process of creating man-made polymers (not synthetic though) from naturally occuring cellulose in wood chips. The viscose process was a very toxic one that started with using carbon disulphide to separate the lignin from the cellulose in the wood chips. The cellulose was then processed and dried into "cakes" which could then be chopped, dissolved in other chemicals, then drawn through an acid bath through "spinnerettes" to form micro-thin fibers which could be spun into thread.

    The product was sold as a type of artificial silk in the days where transportation costs made real silk unaffordable to the average person. This opened up a whole new range of premium fabrics to the general population at a more affordable cost. In addition, industrial uses were rapidly spun off for tire cord, parachutes, etc. and it became a vital material during World War I and the company expanded operations and built another plant in Virginia.

    The plant was funded and owned by Cortaulds of the UK who have been a big player in textiles and remain so to this day. They bought the patent from the French who couldn't make a practical go of the process. Cortaulds in turn licensed it to an ex-pat Brit name Samuel Salvage who was one of their salesman in the USA and who had the idea to make viscose manufacturing work in the US.

    Ownership passed to USA interests in World War II as part of the "Lend-Lease Act" where the USA gave strategic materials, ships, etc. to the Brits while slyly maintaining that we weren't supporting their war effort but instead were simply lending or leasing them to them. Under pressure from the British government, and as part of a "lease payment" Cortaulds agreed to simply sign over the operation to American interests.

    After this it was simply known as the "The Viscose Company" and later a more "modern" handle "Avisco" was coined.

    They pretty much dominated the man-made fibers business for 50 years. According to the "official history" they stopped making fiber there and made cellophane from about 1958 until they were purchased by FMC (Food and Machinery Corporation) in 1963 after protracted anti-trust opposition by the Kennedy Administration. After the FMC acquistion the "history" says they made cellophane only. But I've found evidence there for fiber production after the FMC acquistion. In my collector case I have some of those thread sample cards like the one in "Larkspur #414" that say "FMC Avicolor" instead of "Avisco Avicolor" -- indicating that likely FMC continued to do some fiber production there.

    The photo "The Now from the Then" is ironic because the industry in the background is refineries -- which completely surround the old American Viscose site. Ironic because petrochemistry and the synthetic fibers it enabled made Rayon (as it was called late in the heyday of artificial silk) obsolete, expensive and too dangerous to produce.

    So anyway, that's a very capsule history. I've studied this place a bit, lol -- that was right out of my head. I'm thinking about writing a small book, along with photos from my explorations. I did one to use as a "brag book" at Adorama but it's not what I'd do for a "real book". You can see it here: American Viscose: Inside a Once Great American Dream

    So "cake covers" were things used to cover the big cakes of cellulose material. The building you're seeing here is one of the oldest and at one time contained an experimental fiber production section and 5 small scale textile mills! It was used to develop processes to use the existing textile manufacturing systems of the time to use artificial silk in their weaving or spinning processes. The shot "A Couple of Hosers" shows some turn-of-the century tube-knitters that were used primarily to make hosiery. It took me YEARS to figure out what those machines were without any textile background. I found ads for those very machines in a circa 1920 textile machinery catalog and since found even older references to the same design. American Viscose modified them to be motor driven and more automatic though they were originally designed for hand use I think.

    I know that's a long answer, but I figured I'd throw in a bit of history.
     
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  9. jloden

    jloden FujiXspot Top Veteran

    708
    Mar 9, 2013
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Interesting! The only reason I've ever even heard of this is I have a travel blanket (recently purchased) that lists the material as "viscose" to which I said "what?" and had to research it. I eventually figured out it basically means Rayon but I'd never heard of it called that before, and for that matter you don't run into Rayon all that often anymore either.

    I was really wondering what "Cake Cover" was too so I'm glad you explained :D
     
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  10. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
    Thanks! It's probably more than anyone needed to know, but maybe it heads off other questions, lol.
     
  11. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 8, 2013
    NW corner of CT
    BB
    Love that "cake cover" one, John.
     
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  12. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013