Through a photographer’s eye is the first in a series of interviews featuring Australian photographers. In each interview, we learn about the person behind the camera and how they use Fujifilm X Series cameras to photograph the world around them. Our fourth interview is with Phillip Island based photographer, Dale Rogers.
Dale, having viewed your images via your website and Facebook page can you tell us more about yourself and why you started an adventure based photography business with your partner?
Cecilia, my wife, and I been using cameras since the old film days. I began when I was around 10 years old using my Dad’s Canon AE-1 Program camera. I have shot full frame digital until a couple of years ago when I bought my first Fujifilm as a ‘mirrorless experiment’. Since that time, I have sold all my full frame Canon gear and use the X-T1, X-T10 and X-T2 cameras and a wide selection of lenses.
We both work other jobs alongside Photo Rangers until the business model is more self-sustainable. Cecilia is an academic and teaches literature at Deacon University to students studying education and I manage a government human services program.
Fujifilm X-T1 – XF18mmF2 R – ISO 200 – F2.8 – 1/4000 second
We are passionate about photography, educating others and the environment. We decided our passion could be combined in a unique mix. With our adventure based workshop business Photo Rangers we thought we could teach photography skills in the natural environment and not only teach camera skills, composition and photography techniques but we could also teach about the unique ecosystem on Phillip Island/Wilson’s Prom – the geology, flora, fauna and the delicate balance of sustainability required.
We believe that a person takes a better photo when they clearly identify the subject and understand the ‘story’ around that subject. This serves two purposes for us – workshop participants learn to use their gear and take better photos and they have a better understanding of the environment and eco-system. We call our mix of adventure based workshops and environmental education eco-photography.
Finally, we do what we do because we love to have fun. On all of our workshops, we ensure a supportive and fun approach allowing participants to easily remember the lessons from the adventure.
What sort of feeling do you get when you find yourself outdoors photographing with Fujifilm X Series equipment?
Easy. The equipment is not a burden to carry the 9 or 10 kilometres we sometimes travel on a trail. So I feel less burdened, more free with my Fujifilm gear. I’m able to enjoy the hike, the sight, sounds, smells and the experience of being outdoors. It allows me to enjoy the hike and focus on seeing the light and compositions that appear as I walk.
Fujifilm X-T10 – XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – ISO 200 – F7.1 – 1/30 second
The Fujifilm viewfinder looks amazing and when I peer through the camera, I can quickly change my shutter speed or aperture to find just the right exposure instantly. That means I miss very few shots and I am not frequently chimping down on the back screen of the camera to see if I got it. I get more keepers with less effort with my Fujifilm cameras.
And finally, I know that the Fujifilm camera will take as good a shot as can be taken. I never worry about having a better camera because I am confident I have everything I need to get the perfect photo.
Fujifilm X-T10 – XF18mmF2 R – ISO 200 – F9 – 1/30 second
Can you elaborate on how you use Fujifilm equipment out in the field to connect with the rest of world?
Since moving to Fujifilm, I have slowly moved away from the epic, ND filtered landscapes. Epic landscapes put you out of the picture as if you are viewing from a window or viewing a painting. They are epic in scale and the viewer feels small in comparison to the scene portrayed. Epic landscape photos are taken in breathtaking beautiful places. Places where cars pull over, people stop and marvel at the view and are destinations to visit.
An intimate landscape is rarely noticed by a passerby. They are not marked on a map, hiked to, driven past, camped at or explored. They just exist. They exist right under our feet or right in front of our eyes. They are there for the finding if one slows down and really looks.
Fujifilm X-T2 – XC50-230mmF4.5-6.7 OIS – ISO 800 – F6.7 – 1/30 second
An intimate landscape encompasses the viewer and pulls them into a special secret moment of time, place and space. The viewer is not outside of, but rather, included within the intimate landscape. Using my Fujifilm equipment, I can slow down enough and find these intimate landscapes.
I push my gear pretty hard and frequently drop lenses, have tripods blow over, bang cameras along rocks or cliffsides and get the camera and myself very wet. My gear gets caked in salt grime, sand and mud regularly. I have not had any misfortune with the X Series so far!
Fujifilm X-T2 – XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – ISO 200 – F9 – 1/1000 second
When you are out by yourself photographing the landscapes of Phillip Island and surrounds what do you tend to take with you in terms of camera equipment? For someone starting out in this field, what Fujifilm gear would you recommend?
I always carry two cameras at hand. I clip the Fujifilm X-T10 with a XF10-24mmF4 lens to my backpack strap with a Peak Capture Plate. I carry the Fujifilm X-T2 with a XF50-140mmF2.8 lens. This gives me the ability to get the intimate landscape and wildlife shots with the X-T2 and the wide beautiful landscapes with the X-T10 without having to change lenses or dig around in my pack.
For astro photography, I use the X-T2 with the XF18mmF2 lens and set up the X-T10 with a XF14mmF2.8 lens some distance away. I use the X-T10’s built in intervalometer to take consecutive shots to build star trails or a time-lapse sequence.
Fujifilm X-T2 – XF14mmF2.8 R – ISO 320 – F2.8 – 25 seconds
For the beginning photographer, I recommend buying to your budget. If the budget fits the X-T2 and XF16-55mmF2.8 then I recommend that as the initial setup. However, often I see photographers just starting on their discovery of the craft and not able to invest in the top end gear. I recommend the X-T10/X-T20 with XF18-55mmF2.8-4 combo as a starting kit.
If you have some advice for someone starting out in photography what would it be?
If you are just starting out in photography, I recommend you follow and watch other photographers on social media especially those who are shooting similar things to yourself. By watching others, you see perspectives or ideas for shooting that you would not have thought of or you start analysing the images trying to determine how the shot was achieved.
Fujifilm X-T1 – XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – ISO 400 – F7.1 – 1/250 second
Have a look at some of the old masters (or current masters) of photography and see their images. My inspiration for intimate landscapes came from Eliot Porter, one of the first professionals to use colour film, and Jai Maisel who currently shoots street photography in New York City. Have a look at their work and see if you can see the connection I made between them.
I also encourage photographers to try one of the 52-week challenges that exist. On our Photo Rangers Community Facebook page, we host a 52-week challenge. This is a personal challenge and not a contest or competitive event. The purpose is to get photographers creating photos and shooting subjects they would not have done otherwise. If you want to join along in this supportive community, come on over to http://facebook.com/groups/photorangerscommunity
Do you have a favourite setting or film simulation you use when photographing in outdoor locations, and what about editing, does this form a part of your workflow?
I sometimes enjoy shooting with the Acros film simulation. By looking through the viewfinder at a black and white image, light is seen differently and my composition and exposure will be slightly different than if I were not using Acros.
I customise and change up my camera’s Q Menu to shoot in several different film simulations and styles on a regular basis.
Fujifilm X-T10 – XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – ISO 200 – F9 – 1/1000 second
I import both the JPG and RAW files into Lightroom CC. There are times where the JPG files look great and no real editing is required. But, if there are big differences in the dynamic range of light, I’ll do a thorough edit of the RAW file. The only time I will use Photoshop is to create star trails for multiple images.
I export completed images in a 2048px longest edge JPG with a water mark and a full resolution JPG without. The 2048px file is used for social media and the full resolution to be used for print.
What sort of wildlife do you photograph and is there a particular time of year when someone should visit Phillip Island?
There are seasonal changes to the wildlife on Phillip Island and I adjust my shooting based on what’s available as well as the position of the sun and Milky Way relevant to my favourite shooting locations.
Summer is my favourite time of year because, on the narrow Cape Woolamai Peninsula, wallabies move from the forested East side to the rugged cliffs of the West near sunset each day. I can always count on finding a few wallabies grazing on a cliff side with the ocean and setting sun as backgrounds creating a perfect shot.
Fujifilm X-T2 – XC50-230mmF4.5-6.7 OIS – ISO 200 – F4.5 – 1/125 second
Summer is also when Cape Woolamai is home to almost two million Short Tailed Shearwater birds. They venture out before sunrise each morning to feed on ocean krill and return just after sunset each night in a massive flock to their burrows. The return of the Shearwaters each evening is a magical experience and I’m out there on a regular basis with our adventure based workshops to see and photograph them.
The Shearwaters leave the island in the fall but we experience the migration of Humpback and Southern Right whales to warmer waters in the winter.
The Milky Way is also very prominent in the night sky during winter and conditions for astrophotography are perfect.
Fujifilm X-T2 – XF18mmF2 R – ISO 1600 – F2 – 20 seconds
Based on your experience, what advice can you give to someone thinking about upgrading their current digital SLR to a Fujifilm mirrorless system?
What are you waiting for? Having shot both full frame DSLR and Fujifilm mirrorless simultaneously, I saw no reason to maintain the heavy DSLRs and inferior lenses. Seriously, I recommend people to go hold the Fujifilm or try one out. That’s usually all it takes. Once a photographer spends a few minutes with the Fujifilm, they are hooked. Just the ability to shoot off the histogram makes getting the right shot much easier than you can ever do with the exposure meter on a DSLR.
Fujifilm X-T1 – XC50-230mmF4.5-6.7 OIS – ISO 200 – F7.1 – 1/2000 second
I do recommend that photographers seriously look at the X-T2, XF10-24mmF4, XF16-55mmF2.8 and XF50-140mmF2.8 as the basic starter kit covering most focal lengths. From there they can pick up a few primes to suit their shooting style or preference.
Other interviews in this series