Ibarionex Perello’s bare scenes evoke a sense of quiet wonderment, comprised of no more than shape, texture, color, and light – all rendered in exquisite detail by FUJIFILM X-T5
Certain moments resonate as unreal. Off guard, or caught in a fleeting glimpse, the backdrop of our daily existence can shift, leaving us enraptured and dreamlike in all its layered simplicity. A trick of the light, a particular textural pairing, or a leading of lines. Through Ibarionex Perello’s lens, it’s art.
“When I started photography, I immediately took to the streets,” he recalls. “It came very naturally to me. As a member of the Boys Club of Hollywood – which is where I learned the fundamentals of photography – the most convenient subjects were either other club members or the streets of Hollywood themselves. I didn’t consider wildlife or architecture. None of those things appealed to me. I looked for images that, when I saw them, surprised me in some way – because I would see the potential of this seeming chaos all around me, and I’d be able to consolidate it into a frame that was pleasing to me.
“When I go out to make photographs, I don’t have an intent in mind. I simply see what I can discover. For me, I’ve always found the greatest joy of photography is finding things other people would likely never notice walking by, and creating art from them.”
Through the years, Ibarionex has seen more life on the streets than most – all of which has served as valuable creative potential. Fellow city-goers are frequent subjects of his photographs, but on the streets of San Francisco, he turned an eye towards more abstract interests. Devoid of direct human interference, but rich with signs of life, the vignettes conjure an unusual mood.
“The way I build a photograph is, if I come upon a spot, I determine its potential,” Ibarionex continues. “I look for light, lines, shapes, color, and so on. Usually, the first indicator is contrast. The brightest area of the frame, and the area of most contrast, is where people’s eyes tend to look. I work based on that knowledge. Slowly, I start considering, what do I include in this frame, and what do I exclude, so that I can make an interesting photograph? Sometimes, it’s all about small details, sometimes it’s more of an expansive view, but it’s all based on the same set of principles. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. I’m not making an image of the entire world in that moment. I’m picking something specific to focus on for a very short period of time.”
Beyond choice of subject matter, this was no usual outing for the artist. Replacing his usual daily carry of FUJIFILM X-Pro3, Ibarionex was in possession of FUJIFILM X-T5. It’s 40.2-megapixel sensor immediately presented a unique imaging opportunity.
“I usually don’t do much cropping, but I started, because I had enough resolution that I could – even aggressively,” he explains. “I like that latitude, when I realize the photograph I created in the moment isn’t exactly what I want. With 40-megapixels, I can also choose a square aspect ratio, or make a panorama with a single frame.”
Of course, these were all distinct possibilities at lower resolutions, if digital showcasing or standard prints were the end goal. Those with the most demanding of workflows, like Ibarionex, have always had to be a little more considered.
“I do a lot of very large printing. Even when I’m making a 30x40in print, the quality looks exactly as good as it did on the screen. For me, resolution is a question of, how large can I make a photograph without calling attention to the fact that it’s digital? I’ve seen the limitations of lower-resolution sensors. Look at the small details. With X-T5, the image is just that much more precise and detailed.
“For a long time, I felt like 26-megapixels was enough for a great majority of the images I make. I never wanted more. Now, having this much resolution in such a small form factor incentivizes me to see what else can I do with it, beyond cropping or producing a bigger print,” he enthuses.
Ibarionex is faultless in his acknowledgement of a smaller body size. Despite such technological advancements, X-T5 is more compact even than its predecessor. On the streets or within any other genre, the result is a stripped-back approach to the image-making process, though with more contemporary results than ever before.
“For me, the smaller camera helps me be less obvious. It’s amazing, given the size, that so much has gone into the camera,” Ibarionex muses. “If I put FUJINON XF27mmF2.8 R WR on there, it’s a compact enough system to slip into a coat pocket very easily.
“I also like that it’s kept its controls,” the photographer adds, following the route of physical design. “It allows me to see and change my settings without looking at a screen. You may use Auto ISO often in street photography, but I like the fact that all I need to do is turn a dial to set it to ISO 400 or whatever else I want. Exposure compensation is also right there.
“From my early years of photography, it was about the tactile experience. I like the feel of it. But I also like to know exactly what parameters I’m working with, and how my image will look, at a glance – especially when I want things consistent.”
Featuring the latest X Series sensor, FUJIFILM X-T5 contains a revolutionary processing chip. Overall, speed is significantly increased, serving a variety of photographers differently. For Ibarionex, rapid, accurate autofocus came above all else.
“This was one of the first times I relied on face detection for some of the images I made outside of this series,” he says. “It was fascinating to see it tracking subjects. I was really impressed by its immediacy and responsiveness.
“That’s a big plus, because with street photography, things are constantly changing from second to second. I don’t need a camera giving me focusing difficulty. Being able to trust X-T5 to this degree frees me up to continue paying attention to the scene in front of me, especially as it’s evolving.”
The camera’s powerful IBIS system served an equally valuable purpose, lessening potential challenges and unlocking broader creative potential.
“I made a couple of photographs at night, which before would have been a little more difficult,” Ibarionex notes. “I wouldn’t have been able to drop below 1/60 sec without a tripod. Now, I feel comfortable enough to be able to increase the ISO, use a wide aperture and keep working at shutter speeds down to 1/8 sec. The photographs are still perfectly sharp. It really inspires me to do more nighttime street photography.
“Even during the day, stabilization is a godsend. If I’m reacting quickly, sometimes I’m just jittery enough to ruin a photograph. That can happen raising the camera to your eye even at 1/100 sec. When I saw the stabilized pictures, I was truly astounded. That ability ensures I’ll have more keepers.”
A limitlessly creative mind deserves a camera that doesn’t inhibit the process. With his first X-T5 street session scarcely behind him, Ibarionex Perello’s thoughts are already directed towards the future.
“I can’t wait to do more,” he effuses. “The camera simply makes beautiful photographs. I always work with Raw files, but only created JPEGs during this series. They were spot on. I had to do very little to make them feel like mine. Seeing them only confirmed my belief that the camera could give me exactly what I wanted.
“During use, a camera should be an extension of your eye and hand. When you’re distracted by the image-making tool, you can’t focus entirely on the moment in front of you. The only thing I want to be conscious of is pressing the shutter button. FUJIFILM X-T5 is a camera that gets out of your way, and that’s extremely important.”
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