Welcome to the Third Series of Through a Photographer’s Eye. In this series, we continue to learn about Australian photographers and how they use X Series Cameras to photograph their world around them. Our fourth interview in Series Three is with Adelaide based photographer, Ryan Cantwell.
Ryan, what do you most enjoy about photography and how did you get started in this creative field of work?
I enjoy the practical side of photography. Being able to be in different environments, places, spaces and the travel side of it.
It all started with a video camera I bought in my early high school days to film friends skateboarding and the ruckus you get up to in between it all to make movies for fun and school projects, but that camera packed up and called it a day just over two years from getting it.
After that, I went and purchased a $150 compact digital camera from Harvey Norman, and from there I just took that little camera everywhere with me in my pocket. I didn’t have the funds to get an SLR and lenses, so holding a wide angle lens for my retired video camera at the front of the camera was my way to get fish eye photos of friends skateboarding when I needed to.
My parents at the time didn’t notice I was taking a lot of pics since I was running a compact digital camera and I also wasn’t running to them to get me a kit camera since I was happy using what I had. Outside of that the photo classes in the darkroom throughout my high school years got me into photography. It’s quite the common cliché, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. To put this answer in one word it would be – skateboarding.
You recently used the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X-T2 to capture images around the state of South Australia. Out of the two cameras, which one did you prefer to use the most? Can you tell us why?
The X-Pro2… Hands down. Shooting range finder style cameras like the X-Pro2 is such a relief after using a digital SLR.
The X-Pro2 is an ideal travel camera (if you want to take lenses) that will hold up in quality against full frame bodies. Using a smaller retro looking camera lets you get away with a lot more than when carrying a DSLR; people tend not to notice you. It’s like a versatile pocket knife compared to a sword.
How did you find the colours produced by the X-Trans CMOS sensor appeared when compared to previous cameras you may have used in the past? Did you notice any differences?
Good as basic as that sounds the colours Fujifilm punch out are something that’s noticeable compared to other RAW files I’ve shot. There’s something in the images that make skin tones look better; even the blue channels do something that’s fun. It’s hard to explain, but it’s noticeable when you start ‘nerding’ out on the computer.
Your style of photography portrays a unique view. What are you looking for when taking a photo of a person or subject and do you prefer to shoot in a particular sort of light?
It depends on the environment the person is in. The subjects face is normally the key attraction in portrait photography, but there’s something more with the motion and shape the person you are photographing can make. It’s even better if they are wearing something that just pops in the surroundings they are in.
I feel it is a cross over between a super candid movement and an observation of shape and colour all co-existing between each other.
The preferred lighting I like to shoot in is a tricky question since various light produces different scenarios. I like harsh mid to late afternoon light. When cloud cover appears I know that it will slightly diffuse and when that happens perfect golden light results in my subjects. This light doesn’t happen often, but six out of ten times it does, Murphy’s Law says I won’t have a camera with me!
How did the XF50-140mmF2.8 perform for surf photography when coupled with the Fujifilm X-T2? Was the focal length long enough or would you recommend the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6?
It was just long enough for the surf spots I went to. The stretch of beach I shot at has different ranges of sand height to work with but if you go to the back where the dunes roll in that lens wouldn’t have the reach you would need to do the wave(s) justice. I would prefer the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 as that range can give you more placement on land with out letting mother nature get close to you such as the tide getting closer when you’re too zoned in looking through the viewfinder.
If you have some advice for someone starting out in photography what would it be?
Don’t worry about the fancy technical side of the gear. Get a cheap camera and work with that. Don’t rely on editing so much. If you’re growing up in a ‘boring’ town that offers a lot of mundane surroundings and you feel like there’s nothing pretty to take photos of then you’re not paying enough attention.
You will learn to find ‘beauty’ and oddities in places rather than just visiting the regular postcard scenes and look outs. Look at art paintings and how they applied technique and composition. Paintings have been around a lot longer than the camera. Be forward with yourself and the people you approach it can be awkward, but your results will be more to the point you have in mind. Sometimes don’t take photos, so you can live in semi regret you didn’t take a photo of a wonderful thing, move on and remind yourself to be more mindful next time.
You also used the XF56mmF1.2. After taking photos using this lens, did you find there was any need to edit them on a computer and how would you rate the bokeh?
That lens is ridiculous. It’s sharp and if you’re a person that likes cranking the sharpness slider when post processing then you’re image is going to be over done. The size of its build and the results it provides indeed live up to its hype. I didn’t play with the lens too much, but the results it gave me in low light conditions were a no brainer. I would definitely want this lens in my kit.
If a photographer was visiting South Australia for the first time, can you recommend two locations to visit?
A day trip down the Fleurieu coast. From midday onwards, as the sun sets on the water the area glows in the afternoon light, and there is an array of coastal and inland textures to play with in the right light. I haven’t been there in a while but the Flinders Rangers and beyond in the winter time gives a lot of wild scenery if you want to see how barren things can get in this state.
Previous interviews from Series Three of Through a Photographer’s Eye: