Through a Photographer’s Eye: Piyush Bedi

Welcome to the Fourth Series of Through a Photographer’s Eye. In this latest series, we continue to learn about Australian photographers and how they use FUJIFILM X Series Cameras to photograph their world around them. Our third featured photographer is Piyush Bedi.

 

Piyush please tell us about yourself, why you love photography and how you got started?

I love travelling and collecting things. I knew I needed to get a different kind of collectible, when the fridge was overcome with fridge magnets and I started sticking them onto the oven. I purchased my first DSLR impulsively. I was quickly overwhelmed with all the controls and carrying it everywhere became a chore. Before I knew it, the camera was gathering dust on my shelf. My photos never looked the way I wanted them to and I didn’t have the right lenses to make it happen. Then a friend told me a few things that stuck: Don’t take it for granted, I’m lucky to even have a camera and the first 10,000 photos I take will be rubbish. Maybe I listened to him. 230,000 photos later, I wish I had heard it earlier.

Photos became the new collectible for my travels. I love that operating a camera is a job that requires both sides of the brain, an understanding about the environment, planning to be at the right place at the right time and more than a few spare batteries. Travelling too often becomes a rush job of getting from place to place, but when I see a view that captivates me, I like to come back to it, with some planning, a coffee, tripod and my camera, early in the morning or late at night, when no one else is around and find ways to capture why I am so captivated by it. Those are my favourite photographs.

 

You mentioned on your social media you travelled with your FUJIFILM X-T1 to Iceland to capture the icebergs of Jökulsárlón. Did the camera survive and what was your best shot from the trip?

I travelled to Iceland with the hopes of seeing the Northern Lights. My research told me that the weather in Iceland would be diabolical: Cold, windy, icy, wet and during the month of October, also very dark, perfect for viewing the Northern Lights. While the clouds every night prevented me from seeing the Northern Lights, I made up for my disappointment with a visit to the amazing Vatnajökull glacier ice caves and the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon.

The ice cave was an amazing experience. Light came through the ice ceiling, but being a few metres thick and covered in snow, there wasn’t much. There was however a curved path on top of the cave entrance where the ice or snow was thinner, so it created a dazzling, shimmering light that stretched for the length of the cave. It was the part of the cave that captivated me most. It was approximately 2-3m high in height, so even with a wide angle lens I wouldn’t have been able to capture the entire length of that shimmering ceiling. I had to carefully position my camera on the wet ground and take a series of photos, carefully rotating the camera by a fixed angle between each shot. I would later stitch the photos together on my computer to form a panoramic image of the ceiling.

Later that day, I visited the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. It’s this magical area where a glacier meets a body of water. Blocks of ice fall off the glacier and very slowly drift through the lagoon, out to sea. You can walk up to huge blocks of ice sitting on a shore with black sand, glowing with refracted light. I spent the afternoon taking photos of these huge blocks of ice. While I captured many photos I liked, it was not until I was enjoying a celebratory coffee at a nearby cafe that the magic happened. The sun began to set and the sky turned to a fiery orange. The whole area began to glow. Promising the cafe owner I would pay him when I got back, I ran out the door to take photos along the enchanting sea shore.

The waves were a little rougher this time, so I set up the tripod and left the camera to take longer exposures, hoping to smooth out the water. After capturing this shot of an intricate block of ice, I set the shutter time to be a bit longer and stepped back to avoid shaking the tripod in any way. Unexpectedly, a powerful wave rushed in, and before I could rush to reach the camera, water hit the tripod. Miraculously, it didn’t topple, it just sunk further into the sand. I was so proud of my trusty, rusty tripod, “Go you good thing! when the going gets tough, you just ground yourself and keep at it!”. It was sitting in water that was ~50cm deep now. As I began to walk into the icy water to see what I had captured, a rogue chunk of glacial ice came straight for my trusty tripod. Riding a particularly strong wave, this glacial ice block hit the tripod and toppled my camera into the Atlantic ocean. While the camera never worked again, the SD card survived. While succumbing to the wild Atlantic ocean my X-T1 took one last photo which ended my being my best shot from the beach. I couldn’t be prouder of that last photo.

 

How do you feel FUJIFILM X Series equipment captures landscapes, is the quality okay from previous systems you may have used? Would you like to see any feature improvements on a future camera that might assist with capturing this genre?

My first camera was a Canon Rebel and it was great. It was durable, easy to use, budget-friendly and had a lightweight body. When travelling however, I found it hard to carry all day long (obviously I had tried ALL the cameras and lenses available). The debates around sensor noise were also a bigger issue back then. Not being able push the camera past ISO 800 without a lot of noticeable noise prompted me to begin searching for a better sensor, while retaining all the qualities that I liked about the Canon Rebel.

A few years later I was about to embark on a trip to Everest base camp in Nepal and at the same time started reading about the powerful X-Trans sensor in the X-E1. A lightweight mirrorless camera, with a sensor that not only provided exceptionally low noise, but also extreme sharpness. I bought the camera a day before my trip and read the manual on the flight. I wasn’t taking a laptop on this 3 week trip, so I would only be able to review the photos in detail on my return. I was nervous about my choice, but the feel of the lenses, electronic viewfinder and listening to my friends complain about the weight of their full frame DSLRs with telephoto lenses put a smile on my face. The only trouble was battery life. In the Himalayas there aren’t many charging points and the freezing cold temperatures drain the life out of the batteries. I had to ensure the electronic viewfinder was on strict power management as well as sleep with the batteries at night to keep them warm. The photos I got in the end could not have delighted me more. The sky looked as blue as I remembered it, noise free and boy were they SHARP! Taking a photo, looking back at the path I had walked across, I could see all the little towns underneath the mountain, many kilometres away. If you zoom into the photo of Mount Ama Dablam, you’ll be able to see the green and red roofs of the buildings.

When taking travel and landscapes, sharpness, dynamic range and low noise are incredibly important for image quality. The FUJIFILM X Series delivers all three in spades. Sharpness helps capture the fine details and textures of the environment. Dynamic range helps capture the varying tones of light, especially in unpredictable lighting conditions. Finally, the low sensor noise assists with keeping shutter speeds short, which both, help in avoiding camera shake and in capturing multiple sharp images to later stitch into panoramas.

Having a lightweight camera with weather resistance helps a great deal as well. After my X-E1 was damaged in a torrential rainfall, I immediately bought an X-T1 to replace it. It’s weather resistance helped it survive much longer on my travels in unpredictable environments.

Battery life hasn’t improved much over the FUJIFILM camera generations and is an area in which improvements would help travel and landscape photographers. Carrying fewer batteries would help lighten the load and require fewer pit stops for charging. While it counters the previous feature by being an energy drain, having an onboard GPS that geotags photos would be helpful for cataloging locations.

 

Can you take us through the process you use to stitch your photos together?

I love the effect of a good panoramic photograph. Sometimes one is lucky enough to witness a breath-taking vista and restricting the frame to only a small width just does not do the vista the justice it deserves. I take panoramic photos by taking multiple photos, each slightly apart from the other and then later stitching them together on a computer using the merge feature in Adobe Lightroom.

The first step of taking a panoramic photo begins with composition. Panoramic photos have to be stitched on a computer, so it’s difficult to visualise what the final composition will look like until you’re back on your computer. Fortunately, most smartphones have a pano photo mode on their camera these days, so I begin with taking a quick pano on my smartphone to work out the composition.

Next up, take a series of photos, where each photo has approximately a 30-50% overlap with the previous photo. Stitching software needs this overlap in order to know how to put the images together.

There are a few tips:

  • Don’t be too close to your subject otherwise it’ll result in unnatural distortion.
  • If you want a horizontal pano, shoot in portrait orientation. If you want a vertical pano, shoot in landscape orientation.
  • Ensure camera exposure and white balance settings are constant for all the photos otherwise you will have to spend time adjusting those settings in image editing software.
  • Stitching software is usually able to blend the photos together at the seams, but if the exposure settings are too far apart, you’ll see banding in your pano. X Series cameras come with an exposure lock button that helps with this.
  • Finally, ensure the focus doesn’t change between photos otherwise there will be very obvious differences across your pano. It’s best to switch to manual focus for the series of photos.

Finally, back on the computer, use the merge photos function in Adobe Lightroom (link). It does a great job of stitching photographs together while retaining editing abilities for post processing.

If you have some advice for someone starting out in photography what would it be?

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

The advice of this great photographer still holds true. So in order to quickly move towards taking photos you’re happy with, you want to make it as easy as possible to take photos.

There are a lot of camera and lens options out there. Don’t worry too much about which lens to take because, a little secret, most of them are fantastic. Just have one or two and go for it. I kept my collection to two lenses for five years and only worried myself about how many batteries to carry so I wouldn’t have to return home.

Buy what you can afford, make sure you like how it feels and most importantly make sure it is so convenient that you never have to think twice about taking it somewhere. The easier a camera is to carry, the more likely you will take photos with it.

One final thing, once you start taking a lot of photos, you’ll realise it’s much harder to pick the few that you like best. Always make the effort to pick a small subset of the photos that you have taken and think about why you like them. This will help you develop your style.

How would you best describe what it’s like to be on top of a mountain taking photos? Does a camera really capture what you feel or is there something more to the scene that we just can’t experience in a photo?

When I travelled to the Himalayas in Nepal, I was awed. The mountains reached a few kilometres straight up and were right in front of me. I had trouble capturing that feeling with a single shot. I thought stitching panoramas from multiple shots would help, but being up in the mountains without a computer I had no idea if the final result would capture that feeling. I trusted the camera and it’s sharpness enough to give it a go. When I returned to Sydney and stitched the photos, the results were better than I could’ve hoped. I was in love with taking stitched panos and obsessed with capturing the sense of awe that comes from nature. Cliched as it is, nothing captures the feeling of being there, but that won’t stop me from trying.

Maybe one day soon, with virtual reality headsets, we’ll be able to capture and enjoy the depth and awe of mountain photography.

What FUJINON X Series lens would you recommend people use if they were getting started with landscape photography? Do you have a photo taken with the lens and the story behind the image you can share with us?

I have used the XF18mmF2 R for almost all my landscape work. It’s small, light and sharp – great factors for getting started with landscape and travel photography. While not a landscape photo, I recently used the XF18mmF2 R in Kyoto, Japan. It was peak cherry blossom season in Kyoto, so there were thousands of people on these streets. Many were dressed in traditional garb and looking forward to taking traditional photos in this beautiful part of town.

Here’s a photo of what it looked like during normal hours. Much like taking landscape photos, I had to wait for the right time to take photos of the area. For this particular one, that time happened to be around 6am, which meant I was up and out of my accommodation at 4:30am. I had the cold weather and whole area to myself. I patiently waited for the sun to rise – with my can of hot BOSS coffee from the vending machine – and was able to take my time composing and capturing this photo. By 6:15am, the area was filled with tripods, models and even a young married couple having their wedding photos taken. Sometimes it’s those quiet work hours with you and your camera that are the best.

Thanks for reading this far.

To see more of Piyush’s photography visit his Instagram profile.

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Felix Mooneeram

Welcome to the Fourth Series of Through a Photographer’s Eye. In this latest series, we continue to learn about Australian photographers (or in this case a visiting photographer) and how they use FUJIFILM X Series Cameras to photograph their world around them. Our second featured photographer is Felix Mooneeram.

 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what drives you as a photographer to capture images?

I am a professional photographer from the UK, but these images were captured for FUJIFILM Australia whilst on holiday there at the start of 2018. I mostly shoot architecture back at home, but making travel images is one of my favourite things to do whilst I’m away. I find that experiencing a new place with my camera opens my eyes to it makes me take it in more than if I didn’t have my camera.

I think quite differently when shooting on holiday compared to my professional work. It’s a lot freer; a lot looser. Sometimes I shoot blind; sometimes I go to higher ISOs that I wouldn’t in my regular work. I don’t worry much about getting perfect exposures – the images are more about the moment or the feeling at the time, and I find that liberating.

 

You visited Australia to document the country, where did you travel within Australia and what gear did you decide to take with you?

We stayed in Melbourne, spent four nights on the Great Ocean Road in a van, and had a long weekend in Sydney. I took my full set minus one lens. This kit consists of the FUJIFILM X-T2, XF50-140mmF2.8, XF35mmF1.4, XF10-24mmF4 (listed in order of which I like to use most for anyone wondering). I often look ahead or try to isolate elements in my frame, so I love the F2.8 zoom. The range is so versatile for this kind of photography, but the size of the lens can be a little cumbersome for travelling, it has to be said. For me, it’s totally worth it, and if ever leave it at home, I always wish I’d bought it. These three lenses give me a vast range of focal lengths to work with and cover most situations that I want to shoot in.

 

Your photos look unique, what was your workflow? Did you use any advanced techniques like HDR to overcome Australia’s harsh light?

Thank you! I found the light in Australia an absolute joy to work with. In the UK it often feels like you are struggling to get enough light onto the sensor because the weather is usually pretty poor. In Australia, I was shooting at speeds my dial doesn’t get anywhere near back home which was fun. It meant I could quickly capture things that caught my eye, all handheld, and at the lowest ISOs. Because of the amount of editing, I do through my professional work [link to my https://felixmooneeram.co.uk/Recent-Commissions], I hardly shot any bracketed exposures. I wanted to keep the editing down to a minimum, so I created a preset in Lightroom that brought out the vibrant colours and the warm, sunny tones from the Australian summer and applied it to most of my edits. That usually involved dropping the highlights, bumping shadows, and a bit more yellow and green in the temperature/tint.

What was the story behind the photo featuring the Koalas?

For four days we had a van kindly lent to us by Awesome Campers to travel from Melbourne down the Great Ocean Road. This was probably our favourite part of the trip. I was so amazed by how you can be on beautiful beaches one minute and 15 – 20 minutes later in thick, super tall woodlands that felt like you’d be several hours inland.

We had always hoped to see some koalas in the wild, and as you drive down the Great Ocean Road, you can often tell where they are because other campervanners were parked up ahead aiming their cameras into the trees high above. With this shot, we got so so lucky as not only did we see some, but we saw them at ground level and up close.

My girlfriend spotted them out of the window on the roadside one morning, and we parked ahead so as not to disturb them. We got out of the van and walked back towards them and were so pleased when we saw it was actually a mother and her baby. It was a fantastic experience to see them like this in their natural habitat and was a real high point of the trip. They stayed by us for a few minutes as I made some images of them with the XF50-140mmF2.8 zoom lens (we didn’t want to cramp their style), and then they climbed away up a tree. We had smiles on our faces the entire day after that.

 

Do you have any tips for anyone who is thinking about visiting Australia to photograph Sydney and the surrounding suburbs?

We only had one weekend in Sydney, but we had a great time there. The Botanical Gardens are a must see. When you get through them to the viewpoint on the coastline and look back on the city in the background and beautiful, lush, gardens in the foreground – it’s hard to believe that it’s a real city.

That whole area around the harbour and the opera house is really photogenic. The city/business district itself is quite oppressive, and the architecture isn’t all that interesting. Stick near the water, and you’ll see the best of the views. The walk from Bondi to Coogee past all the small coves and beaches is a must do.

 

Can you share some insight into what you look for when photographing architectural design?

I love to play with geometry, symmetry and leading lines when shooting architecture. This is why I’m often drawn to more modern architecture. I sometimes like to use people in the frame to not only give a sense of scale to a building but to show how people interact with it. If you’d like to know more about how I shoot architecture, I have another FUJIFILM blog post here.

If you have some advice for someone starting out in photography what would it be?

Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot as much as possible. Take your camera everywhere. This is the beauty of FUJIFILM and their mirrorless systems. They’re small enough and light enough to carry around, and the rangefinder style design means you make really strong connections between the functions of the camera and what results come from changing them. This is one of the main reasons I switched to FUJIFILM in the first place. I feel that using these cameras deepens your understanding of aperture, shutter speed and ISO like no DSLR could.

Swapping my Canon gear for FUJIFILM also opened up a new world of focal ranges for me. I was able to afford three lenses for the price of one Canon lens, and this changed my photography for the better. I could start to capture spaces from the details right back to the wider, covering shots. It helps to tell comprehensive and rich stories of a place.

To see more of Felix’s photography visit him over on Instagram and his website.

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Jane Sheers

Welcome to the Fourth Series of Through a Photographer’s Eye. In this latest series, we continue to learn about Australian photographers and how they use FUJIFILM X Series Cameras to photograph their world around them. Our first featured photographer is Jane Sheers.

I have been shooting with FUJIFILM cameras for the last four years. When I am travelling, I usually take my two FUJIFILM X-T2 bodies and the FUJINON XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR, and one of the telephoto zooms. This time, as I was flying back to Cambodia for the 5th time, I wanted to challenge myself by taking prime lenses only. This decision lead to quite high levels of “but what if I miss a shot” and “which primes to take” anxiety. The former I told myself to forget as no matter what gear you have there will always be shots you miss, but the latter was a bit more of a dilemma. Should I go with the FUJINON XF90mmF2 LM WR R or the FUJINON XF56mmF1.2 R, or how about the FUJINON XF23mmFf1.2 R or the FUJINON XF35mmF2 R WR?

Every time I thought I had made my decision a siren named the FUJIFILM X100F called me day or night. She tempted and tormented me convincing me that all the things I preferred about the X-T2 over the rangefinders did not matter. She told me I needed her. I resisted the call with all my might. However, there was a universal conspiracy against my resistance in the form of the FUJIFILM Australia Cash Back, a timely ‘not to be missed sale’ and Tourist Refund Scheme. Being astute, I could read the signs, so off I went into the heat of early monsoon to Cambodia with the FUJIFILM X-T2 coupled with the FUJINON XF56mmF1.2 R lens and my very new sexy silver FUJIFILM X100F.

In Cambodia, I spent most of my time in Siem Reap. Siem Reap is the town well and indeed on the world tourist map due to the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple, the tree (way more famous than the Wanaka Tree) at Ta Phrom made famous by Lara Croft, and the 216 huge stone faces of the Bayon. Each temple is excellent in its way and presents different challenges when it comes to photography. Angkor Wat is vast and on the first visit can be overwhelming for no other reason than it is just that – huge. I would recommend anyone going for their first-ever trip to leave your camera in your bag and walk around the place to get a feel for it (unless of course, the light is just perfect at that very moment). Then come again and start working it photographically.

I’ve been in there at least 20 times over the years and always see something new or different. I prefer details over the whole scene, and my real love is the Apsaras (celestial dancers or musicians). While there are many throughout the temple it is up in the top of the central shrines you will find the best ones. When in the labyrinth of Angkor Wat there is every likelihood you will see a monk in their bright orange robes making a nice contrast against the dark stone.

The Bayon is famous for its much-photographed faces supposedly of the Avalokiteshvara (the Buddha of Compassion), yet they reportedly bear a close resemblance to King Jayavarman VII who built this temple. As big and vast as Angkor Wat is the Bayon is tight and somewhat compact. It offers photo opportunities galore with the most popular being one of the faces through a window frame. The selfie opportunities: it almost resembles taking a number and waiting in line. Despite the hordes that visit, it is effortless to get away and find your quiet little spot for reflection, like the main shrine in the central tower. It is in the quiet places that I am happiest.

If you want to get away from the crowds, head to some of the other temples such as Banteay Kdei or Preah Khan. Aside from not being as busy as the main three, the additional advantage is they are not tightly controlled meaning you can scramble around more and get in touch with your inner Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. I love both of these temples, but of the two, I find there something special about Banteay Kdei. Maybe it is the fabulous Apsaras that are covered in orange lichen or the main gate into the temple that is a smaller version of the very popular southern gate at Angkor Thom. I suspect these temples will become more popular as people want to get away from the crowds; in fact, this is now happening with Preah Khan.

One of the beauties of Siem Reap is that the countryside is readily accessible in a remork (the Cambodia version of a tuk-tuk: a quaint carriage attached to the back of a motorbike). In just a short time you can leave behind the hustle and bustle of the town or temples to catch a glimpse of rural Cambodian life. Between the small villages, you will come across rice fields. At the beginning of the monsoon, the hard work of ploughing and planting rice begins, and rain doesn’t mean down time. In the late afternoon on a bright day, you can catch a gorgeous late afternoon golden glow in one of the surrounding villages.

There is more to Cambodia than Siem Reap and its ancient temples. I arranged to spend a couple of days with a local photographer (Eric d Vries who incidentally happens to use a FUJIFILM X-Pro1 or the X100T), around the Battambang area. This offered an opportunity to visit places I wouldn’t have otherwise seen and also for some mentoring in ‘the art of seeing’. My creative flow changed, and I even experimented with in-camera double exposures. This added something extra to creating images, but the one thing I wish we could do is to use more than two images with the multiple exposure mode. It would be great not to have to shoot the photos consecutively too. Can we have this in a Kaizen firmware update, please?

It was out on this trip I was able to meet some of the people of Cambodia and take their portraits. Cambodia is not called the Land of Smiles for no reason. Nobody seemed to have an issue with us taking their pictures, instead, they would call out “Barang” (Khmer for foreigner), and they would laugh at us. Let’s say we were not hard to spot being the only three westerners in places where westerners seldom visit and even more so given Eric is well over six foot and very fair. But what beautiful, friendly people. And some of the kids LOVE having their photo taken.

During my travels, both cameras served me well. I must admit that it was difficult jumping between the two bodies due to the different ergonomics. Both had their benefits, and I was surprised that I used my X100F more than I thought I would. I have near equal numbers of images from each camera and maybe balance tips more to the X100F. If I was going for a walk, I intentionally pick up the X100F. Where I think the X100F shone was in markets as it was so unobtrusive. Obviously, the siren was calling me, and I did need her after all. I have no regrets in heeding that call.

As for travelling with primes rather than zooms, after a few hours, I was no longer trying to twist the barrel of the lens to get my shot. Instead, I thought about the shot more before taking it or moved around more to get what I wanted. Remember, one of my original dilemmas was missing the shot if I didn’t have my zooms? Yes, there were a few times where I did miss the image that was going to make me famous, but I quickly forgot about that lost opportunity as I was presented with an alternative one almost immediately.

FUJIFILM continues to allow my muse to create. The FUJIFILM X-T2 will always be my special love. However the X100F has turned out to be a great little mistress to have on the side as she offers me different opportunities, and in fact, she is sitting beside my left hand as I write. I know we will continue to have more adventures together in the future and I have reserved a place for her in my bag as she is coming on my next overseas trip later in the year to Hong Kong. I’m counting the sleeps!

To see more of Jane’s photography visit her Instagram, blog or gallery.

Introducing Stocksy Photographer Reece McMillan

Since the start of February, we are featuring eight Stocksy photographers who use Fujifilm X Series cameras to capture their images for commercial use. Discover what they like about their kit and how they utilise the equipment to obtain the best results.

 

Our last interview in the series is with Sydney based photographer, Reece McMillan.

 

Can you tell us about yourself and what you love most about photography?

 

I’m Reece, a (mostly) self-taught, medical school dropout, turned world traveller, turned photographer & videographer. Most of what I shoot falls into the realms of travel, outdoor lifestyle, and fitness. My perfect day is spent outdoors, in the fresh air, on some kind of adventure with a camera in my hand… preferably overseas. It’s hard to lock down what I love most about this career, but one thing would be the lack of a routine. I’m always meeting new people, having new conversations, seeing new places, and photographing new activities. I’ve got a curious mind, and I love to document experiences, so photography is a reasonably great fit.

 

 

You were selected to receive some loan equipment from Fujifilm Australia for a recent trip. Can you explain what you used and why?

 

I took the X-T2 body with Vertical Power Booster Grip, the XF23mmF1.4, XF16-55mmF2.8, XF50-140mmF2.8 and seven batteries. Moving from a DSLR camera, shooting travel, outdoor lifestyle, and adventure, I wanted something rugged, with good image quality, and lighter than my current kit. Shooting a lot more video now, I wanted to test the 4K abilities of the body also. The lenses I selected were direct crop factor equivalents of the lenses I mostly shoot with regularly.

 

 

After returning the loan equipment what did you most miss about the Fujifilm X-T2 after returning to your DSLR kit?

 

I absolutely missed the size and weight of the X-T2 and the quiet shutter. I definitely liked the images that came out of it, but moving back to my big DSLR kit, I felt weighed down by it. I was less inclined to carry it and take it out and much more self-conscious taking photos in intimate settings, due to that typical loud mirror slap. I missed the ease of being able to carry it in my hand on a 7-hour hike and shoot without disturbing people.

 

 

 

Was there anything you didn’t like about the Fujifilm X-T2 body that you would like to see improved?

 

I’ll never be a fan of mirrorless battery life unless it somehow rivals DSLR’s, but let’s face it, many of us have been spoiled in that regard. The ergonomics took a bit to get used to, and I wasn’t a fan at the start, but after a couple of weeks, they were a non-issue. Anything else was just teething problems from being set in my ways.

 

 

Do you have any tips for working with talent or working to a client brief?

 

The only hot tip I have for working with talent is to be genuine…If you show up with a good attitude, the right intentions, and a warm personality, it’ll get you a lot further than gear, skill, or access. Same can be said about many aspects of life, really.

 

 

Can you provide some insight into how Stocksy looks after their photographers when compared to other stock agencies?

 

I have no experience, and almost no interest in the more traditional stock agencies, where you have to sell hundreds of images to make something resembling a profit. For that reason, and for the aesthetic differences, I’ve only ever wanted to be with Stocksy. A side benefit of joining Stocksy has been the support they’ve given to help me direct my portfolio, and have always helped with content ideas for different locations I’ve travelled to. I don’t know if the ‘inner circle’ of many other agencies would know their photographers like the team at Stocksy.

 

 

What advice can you give someone who wishes to make their start as a photographer and why did you choose Stocky to represent your work?

Don’t expect it to be easy, and don’t lose yourself to the creativity gap (google ‘Ira Glass and that’). I chose Stocksy, because their representation and support of photographers seemed next level compared to other stock agencies, and the work I saw displayed on Stocksy didn’t feel like stock photography, it feels more raw, and honest. Honestly, it’s the only stock agency I’ve wanted to join.

Introducing Stocksy Photographer Natalie Jeffcott

Since the start of February, we are featuring eight Stocksy photographers who use Fujifilm X Series cameras to capture their images for commercial use. Discover what they like about their kit and how they utilise the equipment to obtain the best results.

 

Our seventh interview is with Melbourne based photographer, Natalie Jeffcott.

 

Can you tell us about yourself and what you most love about photography?

 

I fell in love with Photography back in the early 1990’s when studying Visual Merchandising and having Photography as a subject. Post diploma I travelled around the world with a 35mm Nikon SLR and Polaroid camera, returning home in 1999 to study Bachelor of Arts in Photography at RMIT.

 

Over the years I have worked as a freelance editorial, commercial, fine art and stock photographer.

 

I love the freedom of photography, it allows me to tune out of life, wander, observe, meet new people and no day is ever the same. I tried 9-5 when I first left school – it didn’t agree with me!

 

 

You had the opportunity to loan a Fujifilm X-T2 from Fujifilm Australia. Did the camera meet your expectations compared with your DSLR?

 

I loved having the X-T2 on loan; it was so much lighter and easier to carry around compared to my DSLR. As much as I love my DSLR, it’s too heavy to throw in a bag for normal day to day wanderings. As an example I had a meeting in Melbourne, so threw the X-T2 in my bag and captured a few images in the city that are now up on Stocksy.

 

 

Were there any settings or features on the Fujifilm X-T2 that you would like to see changed or improved?

 

Not that I can think of. I have always been a simple camera user. I stick it on manual and away I go. I don’t think you need a huge array of gear and fancy features to take a good photo.

 

 

Do you think stock photography requires a different point of view? If so, why do you think this is?

 

Stock is sometimes viewed as commercial photography’s second-rate cousin (if that’s a thing) that it’s for hobbyists etc. However often it can be a lot harder, especially if you actually want to make decent money out of it. You are creating images from an unknown brief for an unknown client. You need to be self-motivated and self-sufficient in your ideas. It’s a definite hurdle to spend your own money on shoots – for models/talent, locations, props etc. with no guarantee your images will sell.

Also, there are now so many stock agencies and so many “photographers” that you really need to create your own style or concepts to stand out.

 

 

From a photographer’s perspective, what do you think makes Stocksy different from other stock agencies?

 

Stocksy is definitely anti-stock. I am continually floored and inspired by the talent and images on there. The fact that it’s a co-op makes a difference too. The more you put in, the more you get out. We have a great community of Photographers worldwide and there’s always people travelling and meeting up like long lost friends. I know that I could turn up in almost any city, send a message and find someone to have a beer with.

 

 

You attended a Fujifilm Stocksy Photowalk in Sydney where you had the opportunity to test the Fujifilm GFX 50S. What were your initial thoughts of the camera considering you had previously used the Fujifilm X-T2?

 

I loved the GFX 50S and if money were no object 😉 The quality is so good. However it is pretty large and hefty like most medium format cameras and you certainly can’t be stealth with it. So to compare it back to the X-T2, I am sad to admit that I found the compact / lightweight X-T2 worked easier for me for those unplanned in my bag camera adventures.

 

 

After seeing the image quality, would you recommend the GFX 50S as a camera for stock photographers? Can you show us some image examples?

 

I think it definitely depends on the types of images you make and obviously your budget to spend on gear. I loved having some time using the GFX 50S – the quality and detail is amazing. It is a beast of a camera. However, in terms of affordability and stock potential, it is a lot to outlay on a camera when you have no guaranteed income coming in from stock photography month to month. You’d want to be a prolific shooter and have some good arm muscles using it out and about on locations!

 

 

What advice can you give for someone who wishes to make their start as a photographer and why did you choose Stocky to represent your work?

 

Oh that’s a hard one. I started out in the world of film, pre social media and Instagram photo stars. I think you need to make good connections with people and offer them something different. Don’t copy the latest style or trend. There really are so many genres and opportunities out there.

 

Funnily enough I came across Stocksy in 2013 on Instagram via one of their first photographers posting they had just joined. Back when I was studying at RMIT, my dream was to travel and shoot for Lonely Planet / stock libraries, however the logistics then were slide film and sending catalogues out to clients – it all seemed too hard. Fast forward 13 years to the digital world, I liked the idea of Stocksy’s co-op model. They curate the collection – so there is a definite style and quality to the images and video content. So you are not scrolling forever at same, same imagery. The biggest plus is that they pay the artists fairly. We receive between 50-75% of the license. I have images elsewhere and it’s so depressing to see what your work sells for at times.

 

 

 

Introducing Stocksy Photographer Skye Torossian

Since the start of February, we are featuring eight Stocksy photographers who use Fujifilm X Series cameras to capture their images for commercial use. Discover what they like about their kit and how they utilise the equipment to obtain the best results.

 

Our sixth interview is with Victorian based photographer, Skye Torossian.

 

Can you tell us about yourself and what you most love about photography?

 

I’m a Melbourne based photographer; I concentrate mostly on contributing to stock photography at Stocksy United. I specialise in children, lifestyle and capturing those quirky real-life moments hopefully with an aesthetic appeal. As a mum of three and also working with animals I run a hectic life and love most about photography the way it slows me down, helps me to stop and appreciate the beautiful little moments in life that might otherwise get lost amongst the daily chaos.

 

What Fujifilm camera have you shot with previously and can you tell us why you chose it?

 

I have shot with an X100 and then upgraded to the X100T. I chose this camera as I felt like I needed something a little smaller to be able to bring my camera with me when I’m on the go in my day to day activities. I loved the potential of having something a little less conspicuous – especially with teenage kids who don’t want to be seen in public with me shooting away. Also having something that has more range of options and quality than just a phone. I was also drawn to the WiFi capabilities and loved the retro look, so there were many reasons why I felt this might be a good fit for me.

 

 

As a DSLR user, how do you find the switch to a smaller camera body? Did you have any problems understanding the features and functionality of the X100T?

 

I found the switch to be fine; actually, I love the smaller body as it brings with it flexibility to take it almost anywhere. I saw that it was indeed straightforward to learn how to use this camera and was off and running with it from the start, although I do continue to discover and learn more as I go.

 

 

In your eyes, what makes a great photo?

 

There are so many different genres and styles of photography, and I find so much amazing and compelling work out there. I personally really enjoy a photo that is not just visually interesting but has some layers in the storytelling, an image that uses light or space as a way to convey more than only the subject matter within that image. I love using negative space and also everyday realism in my pictures.

 

 

How do you find the dynamic range of the Fujifilm X100T?

Do you find it performs well in harsh Australian daylight?

 

I find the dynamic range of the X100T to be pretty great, especially in our harsh daylight and there is simply no way of avoiding that light here sometimes! It seems to be able to record both highlight and shadow information well but importantly maintains really natural colours and contrast even in mixed lighting.

 

 

When working with children to produce a collection of images do you have any tips you can share?

 

I think its really important to not be too pushy with kids, especially with your own when shooting. I often find the best results really do come from capturing them doing something they love especially when they are really consumed in it or enjoying what they are doing. When you don’t want to ruin a mood, a moment or be too intrusive the X100T’s capacity to be completely silent is actually great for this.

 

 

What advice can you give to someone who wishes to make their start as a photographer and why did you choose Stocky to represent your work?

 

Anyone wishing to make their start I would just recommend going slowly, not trying to learn everything at once as it can be very overwhelming. I think to begin just capturing what you love or are passionate about is the best place to start. Don’t be too hard on yourself as improvement is a process, it does take time and practice.

 

I chose Stocksy to represent me as I just loved the look and style of images they promote. I love that they aren’t selling old-style posed, sterile stock photos, but instead real-life, dynamic, authentic imagery. They also have such amazing artists and editors; the community is great where everyone is open and approachable and ready to help – I really have to pinch myself most days that I get to be a part of it all.

 

Introducing Stocksy Photographer Gillian Vann

Since the start of February, we are featuring eight Stocksy photographers who use Fujifilm X Series cameras to capture their images for commercial use. Discover what they like about their kit and how they utilise the equipment to obtain the best results.

 

Our fifth interview is with Adelaide Hill’s based photographer, Gillian Vann.

 

Can you tell us about yourself and what you love about photography?

 

I’m a forty-something photographer, and I came into the industry later in life, after many years in hospitality, retail and small business. I’ve got a businesslike approach to photography as opposed to artistic. I feel a bit like people who collect bugs…. I see a beautiful moment and want to preserve it. I really love photography because it’s something you can do every day, anywhere, anytime. There are rules, but then there are no rules.

 

 

We noticed you have recently used a Fujifilm X100T to take some stock images. What was your experience like when using this camera considering you mainly have used a digital SLR?

The Fujifilm is a great camera to take in situations where you don’t want to lug a heavier kit or you only have a pocket in your jacket. For example at the Polling Booth where I took a photo of the ‘iconic’ sausage sizzle, it was so much easier to get that shot having the little Fujifilm with me. It’s great for wandering the streets when travelling, as well as having in my bag in everyday life.

 

I have shot so many cafe breakfast images with the Fujifilm; I like how unassuming it is. Being able to hand hold at a lower shutter speed is a significant advantage too. I took some fun blurry images while waiting at the airport that I really love. I also took the X100T out skiing, as I’m not quite a good enough skier to trust myself with my bigger DSLR, but the Fujifilm fit inside my jacket where it stayed warm and accessible.

 

 

 

As a photographer how do you best portray emotion in a photograph?

 

Well at the risk of sounding obvious, have your subject show genuine emotion. You have to put your subject at ease, which isn’t always easy in the case of a quick shoot where you don’t really know the person. A good trick to help achieve this is to shoot through the moment. Once you think you’ve got the shot, keep shooting while the subject recovers and becomes more relaxed and genuine. Sometimes I will act as though I’ve got the shot, look away but keep the camera where it was and take a few more shots. Usually, it’s the final few shots of any shoot that are the best. For me when I shoot my own teens they are already very relaxed with me, so I don’t have to distract them like this, but if I find they aren’t quite in the mood, I’ll get them talking about themselves. Involving other people to talk to your subject is a good trick, a little side banter creates some genuine emotion.

 

 

How do you go about choosing your still life subjects to photograph? Do you do any research into what is selling or do you capture whatever you feel?

Both! I usually shoot food that I’m going to eat, which is why I have more ingredient shots than final shots. My family are patient but only to a point. For non-food still life it happens in a variety of ways. I might see some fun props that will spark an idea, so I’ll buy them and ‘hopefully’ will get around to shooting with them. I know I’m not alone in having a large prop cupboard full of guilty purchases (like the gold salt & pepper and mustard I bought at a deli recently, the gold cutlery set I purchased to go with it, I’m still wondering how to pull it all together).

 

Sometimes I’ll notice a trend or concept and I’ll try to think of a way to shoot it that might be good for stock, but to be honest, I find these types of shots much more difficult and they can become a big formulaic. Of course, there are the seasonal things like bottlebrush at Christmas time or spring fruit tree blossoms and I know I only have a limited time frame in which to shoot something. My teenagers are also a big help. They are into every latest trend and have all sorts of trinkets in their rooms that inspire me, and they enjoy getting involved to help create a concept.

 

There’s all sorts of stuff in every home that can be photographed. And while apples, flowers, keyboards and keys have been done to death, there’s plenty of things that haven’t, so I research looking for gaps. I just bought charcoal bamboo toothbrushes and they are so pretty, so I’ll be playing around with that next.

 

 

Do you edit any of your images with post-processing to improve their look or do you find the image from the Fujifilm X100T is good enough?

 

I shoot in RAW, so I do have to do some editing. I do all my basics in Adobe Camera Raw (I make presets for each camera and lighting situation and it’s just one click to be 90% done) and then into Photoshop if there’s skin to fix or tricky clones (for logos etc). I am in love with the wifi transfer on the Fujifilm X100T though. I indeed find the in-camera jpeg conversion good enough to send images straight to social media.

 

 

Based on your style and experience what would you say is the best type of lighting for photos? Can you share the story behind one of your images taken with an X100T that portrays this light?

 

Every photographer loves early morning or late afternoon light, but also window light, or a shaded spot under an awning that still allows soft light onto the subject, these are all perfect. There’s an image I took on an early morning walk with my husband at Whale Beach, Sydney that I just love. Again, when we are just going for a walk in the mornings I don’t want to take my big camera, but I always like to have a camera with me (in case we see a unicorn), so the Fujifilm X100T is perfect, and I really loved the set of images I took that morning.

 

 

Do you have any tips on how to work with teens to obtain the best photographs?

 

Now on this, I think I could write a book! I have three teenage daughters with different personalities. Ask your teens to be involved in the creative process, from wardrobe to styling and to posing. They will have their ideas about what looks cool and it’s usually opposite to mine, so when we collaborate we get some interesting shots.

 

At some point, be it in the beginning or perhaps when you suspect they are getting bored, let them do what they want, no matter how silly. They are teens and usually quite egocentric, no point working against that. Some want direction, and some want to do their own thing, you have to be able to go with it, but also pull out your mum voice and get some control back. I teach them about light, where it is and how to stand in the light, how to pose their bodies (they all like that part!). I pay my daughters a % when an image sells, or of anything they helped create/assisted on, so they are usually really willing to be a model for me. Most teens have at least one social media account, and they love having heaps of fun photos to post, so that’s also a good motivator for them too. I often play music when shooting kids, including teens; it’s easier than trying to entertain them myself. So we pick a few songs, whatever they like, and it gets them happy and dancing.

 

 

What advice can you give someone who wishes to make their start as a photographer and why did you choose Stocky to represent your work?

It’s a tough industry, no one is handing out jobs, you have to go and find them yourself, and you have to be able to show up, on time, deal with the shooting conditions, edit and deliver work to the client. There’s no one available to teach you these things, so you really need to be a self-starter and be able to critique your work honestly. Nowadays everyone thinks they are a photographer, and while they may get plenty of likes and followers, that isn’t always a reflection of quality work.

 

We all now have access to fantastic gear and editing that help create great images, but there’s more to it than that, just as being able to put some paint onto a canvas doesn’t make you a painter, nor does nicely rearranging your living room make you an interior designer.

 

Buy gear you love (not just gear everyone is talking about), watch tutorials online, intern with professional photographers (just ask them, many will be more than happy to have an assistant, and even carrying gear, changing and cleaning lenses, holding the flash/reflector, watching models and stylists, are amazing skills to learn). Shoot what you love, then the work will never seem a chore. Stock is a great place to help improve your skills. Any of the stock agencies will critique your work and the rejections will be part of your learning process (more than client work ever will be).

 

I am incredibly grateful that Stocksy chose me. It’s such an amazing place full of mind-blowing talent from around a world. The nerd in me likes having my work critiqued by the editors, it’s humbling and I have improved so much as a photographer since joining Stocksy in 2013. Of course the co-op platform is unique to any stock agency, and the community is very supportive. I have direct access to talk with anyone, right up to the CEO. Add in the generous commissions and you’ve got the best agency to be with.

 

 

Introducing Stocksy Photographer Robert Lang

Since the start of February, we are featuring eight Stocksy photographers who use Fujifilm X Series cameras to capture their images for commercial use. Discover what they like about their kit and how they utilise the equipment to obtain the best results.

 

Our fourth interview is with South Australian based photographer, Robert Lang.

 

Can you tell us about yourself and what you most love about photography?

 

I’m from Port Lincoln, South Australia. I was originally a qualified carpenter building residential homes before changing my career to professional photography. It sort of just fell in my lap really, I never truly chased it. Starting on small jobs for friends and local businesses would somehow always create enough demand for that next job to roll in. Once I started freelancing, I was hooked completely. I work a lot on my own now; I love the flexibility of working to my own schedule and the more time it has given me at home with my family. For me, taking pictures borderlines addiction. You never know what that next shot will be like, so it’s become this constant pursuit of the unknown.

 

You currently use the Fujifilm X100T, how do you find the image quality stacks up against other brands?

 

I was immediately impressed how a much smaller camera in my hands could still give me such a high-quality image. I quite often find the SOOC (straight out of camera) jpegs are so on point that I would question myself if it was even worth post processing the image at all.

 

For the ones I did wish to play around with, I found the RAW files if ever needed could be pushed as hard as I would use my regular DSLR workhorse. Adding in the high ISO noise performance on the X100T alone, now meant on my everyday excursions I was successfully grabbing useable handheld shots from low light scenes you just would never expect from a camera that size.

 

How did you get your start as a stock photographer and do you find it to be rewarding?

 

I got my foot in the door after a friend of mine, noticed the style I was already shooting. He suggested I try and join a few different stock agencies that he was already in. At the time I didn’t have much photography gear, so I used the passive income to re-invest in new equipment, slowly replacing the second-hand gear I started on and setting myself up with everything I needed to move into a profession. Stock photography has given me an uncomplicated form of access to clients I would normally never have the opportunity to sell to and has given me a wonderful new group of extremely talented like-minded friends all around the world.

 

 

 

What do you most like about the Fujifilm X100T and has it changed you as a photographer?

 

It was the first time I ever held any camera that truly compelled me to go and take a picture, purely because of how it felt and looked in my hands, I didn’t just want to go photographing with it, I needed to. It was smaller, more lightweight than my normal chunky DSLR, something I would often leave at home. Now I finally had something that I could take with me everywhere, so straight up I was taking more pictures than I used to and without the somewhat intimidation of a larger camera.

 

A feature I frequently love using is customising the setting of the Fn (Function) button to the inbuilt neutral density filter. I also get a real kick out of using the OVF (Optical View Finder) and leaving my shot reviews until I get back to the computer later. Combined with the slick retro look and feel of the camera itself, it gave shooting that addictive old school feel. My all-time favourite focal length is already 35mm, so with its 23mmF2 lens (35mm full frame equivalent) it even has me covered there too. Overall, there is this seductive and confident freedom the X100T gives me from shooting on a smaller camera, yet still in no way, ever compromise on the quality. You feel unobtrusive in simple moments, which makes for some beautiful candid photographs.

 

 

When you shoot, do you use any particular settings like aperture priority, set on the X100T?

 

I’m a fan of the cameras Classic Chrome jpegs for sure. For actual shooting style, it’s got to be full manual control all the way for me, and I particularly love the focus peak highlight in manual focus with the AE & AF (Auto Exposure & Auto Focus) set to switch mode.

 

 

Do you have any tips when it comes to photographing children and animals?

 

Probably nothing that hasn’t been said before. Getting down to their eye level certainly, does help. I think it comes down more to the moment you choose to hit the shutter button instead. I do like my high-speed burst mode in the drive button settings to increase my chance of getting the right frame in the moment something is happening. I would then go back and delete the ones that I didn’t need. I have looked them over post shoot and found some pure gold this way. Just make sure you have an SD card with a fast write speed if you want to keep up with this camera though.

 

 

What has been your favourite image captured using the Fujifilm X100T? Can you tell us the story behind the photo?

 

It would have to be the one of my Border Collie called Reggie who was asleep on the shearing shed floor. I just got my hands on the WCL-X100 wide angle conversion lens and went for a walk at home to fire off some new shots. It was the first photograph I took with it, so yeah just a test shot that I fell in love with.

 

 

What advice can you give for someone who wishes to make their start as a photographer and why did you choose Stocksy to represent your work?

 

Always value your own work, if you don’t then neither will your clients and never waste an opportunity that knocks on your door either. My best advice though I was given starting out still rings true for me today “always shoot for fun and the rest will sort itself out”. I just love Stocksy, and I’m really proud to be a part of their team.

 

In my opinion, the photographers are quite simply world class; it’s high-quality premium content at every turn. This quality over quantity approach to their collection also means the submissions are stringent, so if I ever get a photo accepted I wear it like a badge. Money talks too, as Stocksy has the highest royalty rates in the industry, and as a Co-Op, it really bucks the trend that has seen artist’s rates declining over time by sharing the bottom line back to its own photographers.

 

 

How to Make Any Object Interesting Using Depth of Field

From great lighting to flashes, filters and other accessories, there are a myriad of ways to improve your photos. For anyone with a X Series camera, however, one of the most powerful ways to enhance your subject is to manipulate the depth of field.

 

What is Depth of Field?

 

Simply put, the depth of field is the amount of the picture the photographer keeps in focus. While laypeople may assume the entirety of a shot should be in focus, experienced photographers know that letting the background blur can actually draw more attention to the subject.

Image by Clèment Breuille via Instagram

 

How to Control Depth of Field

 

Like shutter speed and exposure, depth of field can be controlled by manipulating settings on your camera – specifically the aperture setting. The aperture is an opening in your camera’s lens, which opens and closes similarly to the dilation of the pupils in our eyes. As the aperture gets smaller, the depth of field grows, meaning more of your image comes into focus.

 

In addition to your aperture setting, your distance from the subject and the focal length of your lens will impact your depth of field. Since the depth of field is focused around the subject, the closer the subject is to your camera, the shallower that depth will be. Likewise, the longer your lens’s focal length (the more you zoom in), the shallower your depth of field, given any aperture setting and distance.

 

Overall, these three attributes – aperture setting, distance and focal length – are all crucial for achieving the exact depth of field you desire. Changing the aperture setting is the most common route, but don’t be afraid to back up, move in, and zoom in and out!

Image by @chandrasentosa via Instagram

 

Changing Settings

 

When it comes to changing the aperture setting, it’s important to understand that the aperture width and specification are inversely related. Wider settings are represented by smaller numbers, and vice versa.

 

The settings themselves are typically presented in F-numbers, often-called F-ratios or F-stops, which are a measure of lens speed. For instance, a lens with a 100mm focal length set to an F-stop of 10 has an aperture diameter of 10mm. Setting that same lens to F20 would give it an aperture diameter of 5mm, while setting it to F5 would result in an aperture diameter of 20mm.

 

Overall, the smaller the F-number, the wider the aperture – and the shallower your depth of field will be. If you really want to zero in on your subject, leaving the background blurry and obscured, you’ll need a small setting. If you want most or all of the picture to be in focus, you’ll need a high setting.

Image by @matt_ellis via Instagram

Choosing Your Aperture

 

Which depth of field is right for your next shoot? The answer will depend on your subject and goal. Portraits typically feature shallow depths of field, focusing primarily on subjects’ faces. The same is often true for weddings, parties and other events, where you’re trying to separate the subject from a bustling background.

 

On the other hand, you’ll need a deep depth of field to see details in both the background and foreground. Landscape shots are a perfect example.

 

Also important to note: depth of field is not evenly distributed in front of and behind your subject. Even with all the adjustments you can make to the aperture setting, distance and focal length, your field is usually about one third in front and two thirds behind your focal point. The field becomes more equal as your focal length increases, but as we discussed before, it also becomes shallower.

Image by @chels_e_buns via Instagram

 

The Right Tool for the Job

 

Photographers often refer to bokeh, the blurred, out-of-focus background quality that makes pictures incredibly lifelike and vivid. If you want your shots to have bokeh, you’ll need a lens capable of the widest aperture settings.

 

Fujinon’s XF series lenses are perfect for the job. Featuring aperture settings as low as F1.2, these lenses allow for beautiful close-ups that will stun your viewers. With a wide aperture range, they’re also versatile enough to be used for wide range of projects.

If you want to learn more about the range of Fujifilm products, check out our 2017 Buying Guide.