Untethered: 7000 – Adventure to another world with the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X100S

Maya Sugiharto and Aviva Minc are Visual Storytellers. Photographers and Short Filmmakers based in Melbourne, Australia.  They are the Co-Founders and Creative Directors behind Agent Morphe.  They love to travel (with their cameras) on adventures and road trips, off the beaten tracks. To see more of their photos, visit them on Facebook and Twitter or on their personal Instagram accounts.

Maya Sugiharto –@mayasugihartophotography  and Aviva Minc –@photographersassistant.


Untethered: 7000 – Adventure to another world with the Fujifilm X-Pro2

Photography Road Trip Fact Sheet:

– 1,449km travelled
– 7 days
– Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF35mmF2 R WR + XF23mmF2 R WR
– Fujifilm X100S


Part 1: City Forest Cave

From the sand storms in the isolated deserts in Broken Hill Northern Territory, to the ice blizzards in the most southern state of the nation, Tasmania, we are putting ourselves, and our Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X100S cameras to the test.

We set ourselves the goal of seeing and photographing the circumference of Tasmania over a seven-day period, by road in winter – to document the landscape and to test how well our Fujifilm digital appendages would cope in the extreme conditions.

We jumped on a plane from Melbourne to Hobart – first stop our Hotel – top recommendation Ibis Styles (only a few month old) for views as we stayed on Level 9, great photography ops and clean, modern facilities.

As soon as we landed and had our car hire sorted, our first day goals were to get as far South as we could drive in Australia. We travelled down to Kettering, Middleton, Charlotte Cove, Huonville, Southport and all the way down to the most southern point in Australia – Cockle Creek.

The best way to describe this part of Tasmania would be quant and serene. There were fishing villages dotted along the journey, a wooden boat shed and builder, apple cider cellars and caves with thermal springs (Hastings) which we didn’t get time to see. There are heaps of photo opportunities as you can see below are just a few.

On our second day, our goal was to scout and find the filming locations of the Kettering Incident created by Vicky Madden and staring Elizabeth Debicki (Porchlight and Sweet Potato Films). The show was filmed at various locations around Kettering and Bruny Island itself, however it was apparently also filmed around Myrtle Forest – where you get the awesome green, mossy lush forest scenes. The film is about two women who go missing – not necessarily the best premise to head into the woods on our own, but we really wanted those beautiful lush photographs that many of us know Tasmania to show off.

We collected all of our gear and were about to head off onto the Myrtle Forest trail up to the waterfall, which was dark, wet and slippery. However were greeted by an odd man and his barking pit bull who seemed to appear again at various parts of the track. We had flashbacks to Wolf Creek crossed with the Kettering Incident itself, and to be honest were actually a little concerned about our safety.

In retrospect, we probably should’ve turned around – however the determination to get what we came for, out won our logic and we headed up the track. It was spooky, but beautiful.

After surviving the forest and its inhabitants, we drove east towards Dunalley, where you find a fish and chip shop that is on Tasmania’s top eats, and then we drove down to the Tessellated Pavement where our plan was to get some shots at sunset but things don’t always go to plan – however when we arrived, two guys told us about three whales that were playing in the bay at Remarkable Cave; so we took their word, jumped in the car and headed down there pronto! We didn’t have the zoom lens to be able to capture the whales but we certainly heard them talking all the way past sunset, which was pretty amazing.

Next up: to the mountains.

“The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.” Arthur C Clarke


Part 2: Mountain[s]

Otherworldly.

It was time to go north. We were heading to Cradle Mountain to photograph, hopefully, a snowstorm that was due to arrive overnight and possibly the Southern Aurora if the clouds/snow passed.

There’s two ways to get to Cradle Mountain from Hobart – via the West or straight up. The more picturesque route is via Georgetown to the West, where you go through some pretty amazing terrain, however because of an incoming storm warning for snow thunderstorms that night, we decided to play this one safe.

You pass by some beautiful jagged mountains, such as Mount Roland, on the way. So Jurassic, other worldly, and powerful. As we were driving, our GPS announced “ turn right, and you will arrive in Paradise (photograph below) – that it certainly was. To top it off we were driving through this whole area during golden hour! As you’re approaching Cradle, the landscape changes significantly. It is surreal, and ethereal – eerie and another dimension perhaps.

We arrived safely after a long 5 hours drive to our lodge at Cradle Mountain. The closest supermarket is 45 minutes away, so be prepared – bring supplies! You have limited choices for places to eat, and those available are pricey, so be ready for that. Once we re-fueled our body, charged our cameras, it was time to rest our souls and get ready for the next adventure the following day.

The next morning, sure enough we woke up to -1 degree temperatures and a covering of snow and continuous snowfalls and blizzards – beautiful and breathtaking! Now we had the day to explore Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair with a big dose of snow, and an opportunity to really test the Fujifilm X-Pro2 (which is promoted as being weather resistant) and the Fujifilm X100S!

The mountain pass costs $20 per adult for the day, but in fact is for 24hrs, so if you enter at 1pm as we did, it lasts until 1pm the following day, which is fantastic. We were fortunate to be there whilst it was snowing very heavily, and got the chance to throw the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and the WR lenses into the snow, to test them for their durability. We can honestly say that they live up to our expectation and their reputation. Even the X100S performed awesomely in the snow. Fujifilm does not recommend using it in a snowstorm, but we found the casing and the design made it really easy to use in those conditions.

Timing is everything, and again, we were at Lake St Clair during the golden hour for sunset, which was gorgeous. Highly recommend, especially when it’s snowing. The park gate counts the cars and only allows a certain amount of cars in at once, mainly due to the road only being a single lane but also to stop it getting too crowded there. A brilliant idea because we really got to experience it without the huge crowds you might see at the Twelve Apostles for example. Although it might have been because it was snowing so much too, that the traffic was low.

The next morning, we went back into Cradle Mountain Park to see the Waldheims Cabins – there was talk from the locals of wombats hanging around the area, so we were very keen to get up close and personal with them.

We only had a few hours before we needed to begin our long drive back to Hobart, but our wish did come true and we got to meet a wonderful friendly wombat whom was very willing to have their photograph taken.

Sadly, we had to leave Cradle Mountain without any opportunity to see or photograph the Southern Aurora and her dancing lights. The cloud cover just never passed, as we had snow the whole time we were there, but according to the readings and reports we had, if the clouds had passed, there was meant to be some pretty amazing lights.

We have to say, it was pretty difficult to leave Cradle Mountain, and a definite highlight to the trip. Such a surreal and majestic place to spend time in, and the snow just added to the whole mystique. We wished we had planned a longer visit there, a chance to go on the many walk trails around Lake St Clair in the park that would have been beautiful with the snow covering (and very cold!).

We were meant to spend the last two days of the road trip driving down the east coast, but fell ill with the flu, and had to skip it and headed to Hobart instead.

Hobart is a great base to work from, especially when travelling to the lower parts of Tasmania. We decided to go back to the Tessellated Pavement at Eaglehawk Neck (because we had missed it when we went chasing the whales on our second day) and get some shots of the gorgeous rocks on the beach.

That was followed by a drive up to snow covered Mt Wellington, with the plan of getting some great shots of Hobart, and some footage of more snow. Whilst driving up the mountain, we came to a Whippet that was running scared on its own on the road in front of our car, and instead spent the rest of our day helping a local couple find that same dog that ran into the forest in the cold past sunset. So we never reached the top, or got any photographs, and as it turns out, the road to the top of Mt Wellington was blocked (which can happen on the spur of the moment) due to ice and snow. So it’s best to call the City of Hobart and the rangers to get updates before you go!

This was an incredible trip. Definitely not enough time in many of the places we visited, and not enough time to get to all the places we had hoped to see. We missed a lot. In researching the places to visit, other people had said that a week was not enough to drive around and see all of Tasmania. And we have to agree. You can rush it, but you’d be doing yourself an injustice because Tasmania is a good-looking place to photograph and you deserve to see it all. One way to do that would be to break the trip into three parts: the east coast; the south and the west.

Our heart breaks that we missed the Aurora Australis. However there are awesome opportunities to get some incredible shots from what I’ve heard and seen from others, in fact just a few days after we left, there was a peak in activity and a beautiful show in the sky, that could even be seen over Hobart. As they say, next time, in Tasmania, with our Fujifilm cameras!

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Henry Miller

 

 

9 Ways to Develop Your Own Photography Style

You are getting serious about photography and want to develop your reputation. You feel like establishing a look so that each photo fits into a greater catalogue of work.

 

Develop a recognisable and genuine photography style by following a few tips.

 

Exercise patience and dabble in many styles.

 

Take time to become comfortable as a photographer. Master fundamentals of composition, angles and lighting. Experiment with every photo style you can imagine. Expand your creative eye and learn what shots you take best.

Image by Clément Breuille

 

Study the work of others.

 

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. So review the work of other photographers, past and present. Learn what inspires you and what resonates with you emotionally.

 

Imagine beyond your current equipment.

 

You might have too much gear but be best suited as a nimble photographer who carries one camera and one lens in order to move freely around a subject. You might have a savvy eye for wildlife photography but lack the zoom to capture animals quickly from afar. Borrow or rent and experiment with photo equipment to delve into any style that intrigues you. Make your creative path more about your passion than today’s possessions.

 

Express yourself.

 

All creative work is, in some sense, biographical. Even in picturing other people and sites, you give the world a sense of yourself. Be in touch with your own hopes, desires and fears so you convey a sense of sincere yearning through your art.

Image by Chelsey Elliott

 

Separate subject from style.

 

Saying you shoot portraits, cityscapes or sports is not enough. True style is not just what you photograph but how you photograph it. The perspective you offer to stage, frame and light your shots defines you. Think about the smallest details as you create your portfolio.

 

Contemplate your business model and your market.

 

Think of how genres of photography follow different economic models. Portrait photographers acquire clients and guarantee pay by booking sessions, whereas landscape photographers often sell shots long after shooting. Consider your market. It is easier to do portraits in a bustling city where many people need headshots. If a genre appeals to you, decide whether relocation increases opportunities.

Image by Nadeesha Rathayake

 

Find the moments when people compel you.

 

When your style involves people, think about the instant when you see their true essence. It could be when they talk about difficult times, have a drink or belt out a laugh. Determine when people seem to you their true selves, capture them in it and make that an element of your signature style.

 

Create recurring elements using aperture, light and colour.

 

Many photographers are known for their use of lighting, whether natural, interior or DIY. Others are known for revisiting a colour or two in many shots. Set at least a few attributes of lighting, colour palette or depth of field to coalesce your photos into a grouped look.

 

Harness post-production to mark your style.

 

Refine images with photo-editing software to further establish your aesthetic. Subtle but persistent changes to contrast, highlights, shadows and other elements give photos a unified look and set your aesthetic.

Image by Scott Grant

 

As you learn how you view the world and what elements you bring to each shot, you make recognisable work with a photography style that wows.

 

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Geoff Marshall

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 seventh interview in Series Three is with hobbyist photographer, Geoff Marshall.

Geoff, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in photography?

 

I am a hobbyist photographer and have been since 1979, back in the days of 35mm film and before digital. I enjoy photography very much and rather than shooting one genre I tend to shoot anything and everything. I started out with a Zenit 35mm film SLR but quickly moved onto the Olympus OM system. In 2000, I ditched all the Olympus gear to get into digital and purchased, of all things, a Sony Cybershot. I fortunately saw the error of my ways and in 2005 bought into the Nikon DSLR system. I always hankered after a smaller camera and tried out a number of compact cameras but none really did it for me. In January 2012 I purchased a Fujifilm X- E1 with the XF18-55mmF2.8-4 kit lens to see if this system was a viable option for me. I was blown away by the output of the files and that little kit lens attached to such a small body.

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS – 1/60 – F4.8 – ISO 320

 

On your website, you showcase a selection of images taken from a range of Fujinon lenses. What’s your favourite photo you have taken and can you tell us the story behind the image?

 

That’s not a fair question! With getting on for 40K images shot with the Fujifilm X Series how can one choose a favourite photo?

 

Fujifilm X-E1 with XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS – 1/60 – F5 – ISO 800

 

I guess this image, it was taken during a trip back home to the UK. The photo has meaning for me as it was a great holiday albeit in mid-winter, and includes my youngest daughter (foreground) doing ‘touristy’ things in the big smoke of London.

 

What is it that you most like about Fujifilm X Series equipment?

 

I enjoy everything about the Fujifilm X Series equipment. It suits me very well because of its compact size and of course the file output. I have invested heavily into the X Series and my go-to combination is the X-T1 and the wonderful XF56mmF1.2, my most often used lens. Since switching to the Fujifilm X Series 4 years ago, I am primarily a prime lens shooter, my zooms seldom see the light of day but they should be shown more love for they perform very well.

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF56mmF1.2 R – 1/850 – F2.5 – ISO 400

 

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

 

Learn the basics of exposure such as aperture, shutter, ISO and how to use them in combination to achieve desired outcomes. Consider your composition and just get out there and shoot. Analyse your photos, be self-critical and learn from your mistakes (we all make them) and develop a technique that you are happy with and produces results that you like. Don’t try and please everybody with your photographs, that’s an impossible task to achieve, we are all different, what one person likes the next will not.

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF90mmF2 R LM WR – 1/75 – F8 – ISO 200

Fujifilm X-Pro1 with XF35mmF1.4 R – 1/900 – F5.6 – ISO 800

 

 

You unfortunately recently experienced an issue with your Fujifilm X- T1. How did you find the repair process in Australia and do you have any thoughts on how Fujifilm can improve this process?

 

The fault with my X -T1 was frustrating, isn’t it always the same with any product we may purchase be it a camera or a car? The fault with the X- T1 occurred while under warranty and was dealt with promptly and professionally by Fujifilm Australia. From my initial enquiry to report the fault with the service team, to the safe return of my camera, the service was second to none. That said I hope I never need to use the service again.

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF23mmF1.4 R – 1/80 – F11 – ISO 200

 

Not many photographers may have used the XF60mmF2.4 with an Extension Tube to take macro photos of insects. Do you have any tips you could share that would help someone getting started with Fujifilm equipment for macro photography?

 

I purchased the MCEX 11 extension tube so that I could get closer to 1:1 reproduction with my macro work. Although this can be achieved, the depth of field is reduced significantly and therefore you need to be careful with your point of focus or the impact of the shot will be lost. When photographing insects (crawling or flying bugs) I don’t use a tripod as they move too quickly (apart from snails, but they aren’t insects!). However, I do use a tripod for static subjects such as fungi. The number one attribute needed for macro photography, in my opinion, is patience. You also need to learn to slow down, a bush walk that would normally take an hour to complete could easily take me 4 hours as I’m looking for the small details. Oh yeah, one last thing, be prepared to get dirty and to have passers-by look at you strangely as you crawl around on the floor to get the shot!

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF60mmF2.4 R Macro – 1/125 – F4 – ISO 200

Have you ever experience a lull in your creative passion? How did you overcome it to keep taking photos?

I think all photographers go through a creativity block from time to time. It’s a challenge to make your images different, to stand out from the plethora of other images being produced by other photographers, after all most people have a convenient camera with them at all times due to the mobile phone technology we have available to us, collectively we must be taking millions of images on a daily basis. Recently I have purchased two books for moments when I get a creativity block, both provide challenges and ideas to kick start the creativity process, ‘The Photographers Play book’ (Fulford & Halpern) and ‘Use This If You Want To Take Great Photographs, A photo journal’ (Carroll).

Fujifilm X-E1 with XF27mmF2.8 – 1/60 – F8 – ISO3200

 

What sort of processing workflow do your photos experience and do you prefer to shoot in RAW or Jpeg?

 

I shoot exclusively in RAW, legacy from DSLR days I suppose. Many users of the Fujifilm X system rave about the JPEG output and I have used JPEG + RAW settings but I always gravitate toward the RAW files. I use Adobe Lightroom CC for all my processing needs (and cataloguing) and occasionally use the NIK Silver Effex program for processing to monochrome.

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF56mmF1.2 R – 1/550 – F8 – ISO 200

 

To see more of Geoff’s photography visit his blog and website.

Previous interviews from Series Three of Through a Photographer’s Eye:

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Johny Spencer

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Gavin Host

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Mike Bell

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Ryan Cantwell

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Sarp Soysal

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Harrison Candlin

11 Ways to Shoot Stunning Astrophotography

If you want a new challenge in your photography, take shots that are out of this world. Astrophotography, the art of recording objects beyond Earth, seems much like other time-lapse photography styles, but its dark skies and distant, moving lights present unique challenges to push you creatively.

Take stunning astrophotography shots by getting your physical setup and camera settings right for this genre.

 

Before you shoot, know your stars.

 

Study what you are capturing. By learning about star constellations, you can decide which stars you want to include and where in your composition you want them displayed.

Stake your spot to study the sky.

 

Determine where you want to shoot your astrophotography images. Get away from big cities and their light pollution. Go toward less-settled regions and their visible skies.

Photo by Bryan Minear

 

Fine-tune your whitest whites.

 

Astrophotography relies on stars’ luminosity, so make sure their whiteness is stark. Adjust your white balance, either through one of your camera’s preset or by manual alteration.

 

Increase your ISO.

 

Your camera’s ISO setting determines the light sensitivity of your camera’s image sensor, and astrophotography requires high sensitivity. Expect to shoot at ISO 400 or more.

Rely on manual settings.

 

Your camera’s autofocus mode is unlikely to stay locked onto a moving star. Use manual focus and if your camera enables focus peaking ensure it is turned on.

Photo by Photo Rangers

Stay steady for an unwavering shot.

 

Everything you know about camera sturdiness applies to astrophotography. Set up your most trusted tripod and, if you have one, use your remote shutter release. If you don’t have a remote turn on your camera’s self timer for two or ten seconds.

 

Place your focus on a single star.

 

With your manual settings, select a star or moon to test and improve your focus. For larger stars or the moon, locate their very edge and make sure it is optimally clear.

 

Embrace star trails.

 

As you shoot from the rotating Earth, your long-exposure photos show the path of stars in the sky. To highlight star trails, choose a wide-angle lens, which keeps a broader range of the paths in your focal region.

 

Or, alternately, eliminate star trails.

 

If you want to focus on the sky’s stillness, you can reduce star trails, though you may want to stash a calculator in your camera bag. Astro photographers follow the Rule of 600, or the Rule of 500, depending on whom you ask, to determine their maximum exposure before star trail becomes visible. Divide the rule’s number by the focal length of your lens. If you have a 28mm lens, divide 500 by 28 to get 17.85. This means you can shoot at an exposure of 17 or 18 seconds before star trail appears.

 

Do not forsake the foreground.

 

Astrophotography shots can still have earthly elements. Frame your shots with trees or hilltops to give your composition added dimension.

 

Utilise editing software for finishing touches.

 

Astrophotography benefits greatly from post-production edits. Alter your contrast, exposure and white balance until the sky tells the story you want.

 

Consider yourself an astrophotography expert, or at least more than a novice. Minding these principles of camera settings and general composition, you are ready to stun with your space shots.

Photo by Josselin Cornou

 

Want to purchase a Fujifilm camera, but not sure which one is right for you? Our Buying Guide can help you narrow down the list to find the best camera for your photography style.

 

 

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Harrison Candlin

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 sixth interview in Series Three is with Brisbane based photographer, Harrison Candlin.

Harrison, your travel, adventure and landscape photography is spectacular. Why do you think you were drawn to photography and how will it impact your future career?

 

I think the reason I became so fond of photography is because of my father. I would like to say I followed in his footsteps. As a retired professional landscape and wildlife photographer, he always inspired me by his landscape imagery and how a person could capture and convey a scene with a camera. The ability to document the world around us; specifically, the natural world, opened my eyes to the possibilities of photography and how it could lead me to places and see things a bit differently to everyone else. As a travel, adventure and landscape photographer, I attempt to capture the true surroundings and emotional feelings of a scene. To me, that’s something that cannot be replaced, and this is how my style has evolved. Travelling around Australia and Europe has broadened my horizons immensely. Only four years ago I hadn’t travelled anywhere. I think the more of the world I get to see, the more landscape I can walk, and the more culture I experience, the deeper my perspective of the world will become. I’ll be a graduate Industrial Designer in a month, so having knowledge of the world is fundamental for design.

 

 

You mentioned on social media you used the Fujifilm X-E2S and Fujifilm X-Pro1. Can you provide some insight into why you choose a rangefinder over a Digital SLR?

 

They are both excellent cameras that have performed exceptionally well. Having previously owned DSLR’s, I never felt overly comfortable with using them and just never felt at home. The Fujifilm system is incredibly discreet and compact, and the light weight factor was a major selling point. The unique conservative design was different to the regular camera shape, and that caught my attention dramatically. Back in 2013 when I saw Fujifilm release the interchangeable lens system of the X-Pro1, I was captivated by its size, retro style, and image quality. Since then, Fujifilm and mirrorless cameras in general, have taken a huge leap forward in competition with DSLR’s. I think the major reason for wanting to own a rangefinder is its direct correlation to its old film predecessors. It makes me feel connected to photography, not just part of it.

 

 

Based on your experience, how would you describe Fujifilm’s quality when talking about image quality and the design of X Series cameras?

 

The image quality is superb. The colour rendition is phenomenal, and editing capability in the RAW files is outstanding for an APS-C sensor. Regarding design, Fujifilm to me has led the way in beautiful classic, refined cameras. The materials are solid, well-constructed and I feel the sense of true craftsmanship and dedication when using them.

 

 

Do you have a favourite location to photograph? How did you stumble upon it?

 

For me when I photograph in nature, I pursue the feeling of reflection and the escape that comes with it. The disconnect from the modern world when entering the natural, untampered world is a feeling I will always chase. Mount Barney National Park in the Gold Coast area and lately the New England National Park in the Northern NSW Tablelands has become a favourite place of mine. These places are relatively close to home and leave me with a greater sense of appreciation every time I go. I’m drawn to wild places where I can enjoy the surreal feeling of standing high on a mountain overlooking valleys, gorges, and lush rainforest. I’m very lucky to have such raw beauty and rugged mountains so close to home. I find most of my locations from word of mouth, books or Instagram.

 

 

How do you find the natural environment impacts your photography?

 

I’m lured by light and moved by the characteristic of the changing landscape. I feel a sense of security and embeddedness in the natural environment while I’m hiking and climbing, alone or with friends. It brings me to life. I feel freedom in the wild and can truly slowdown from the fast paced world. This is the basis for my photography. Enjoying the moment and slowing down, capturing what I can and leaving with a sense of accomplishment whether or not I took a great shot.

 

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

 

Just pick up a camera and have a go. A lot of learning comes from mistakes I have realised. Dedication is something you will need to develop over time. It’s a fundamental key in developing your style, your photography quality and most importantly, being there to capture it. I have driven numerous six-hour drives to the same places just to get the shot I want, only to find out I couldn’t get it. However, if you’re dedicated enough, you’ll always want to go back and pursue it. The beauty of photography though is you might not always get your intended shot, but something else will always pop up. To be honest, most of my work has happened this way. Capture it, work the scene, change your angles, get down low or up high and fire away. Improvise and be spontaneous.

 

 

Lenses obviously play an important part of overall quality, so with this in mind what lenses do you prefer to use and why?

 

In my field, the classic 24-70mm range out performs any other lens in versatility, and with that in mind, I use the Fujinon XF16-55mm (equivalent in 35mm). This lens is fantastic; weather sealed, durable, and exceptionally fast and well performing. In the travel, adventure, and landscape field, I always have a need to go wide and to go tight depending on the scene and landscape. Therefore, this lens covers the focal lengths I use most often while keeping a constant F2.8 aperture which is imperative for low light and shallow depth of field. Before I bought my Fujinon XF16-55mm, the majority of my landscape shots were shot on the Fujinon XC50-230mm. This lens is versatile because of its mid-telephoto to long telephoto length. It’s a great, light weight and cost effective lens that has served me for three years now, allowing me to take some of my best work in over five countries.

 

An expensive and fast lens doesn’t always make your photos any better. For city traveling purposes, I tend to use my Fujinon XF18mm, because of its small form factor, great width, and fast aperture. These are my go to lenses that cover nearly all of my photography and give the versatility to work scenes and make something brilliant. I have recently bought the Fujinon XF55-200mm.

 

 

What does traveling to new places mean to you and do you partake in any location research before you go?

 

I research a lot before I go anywhere, more so the access, facilities, and tracks instead of the photos. I like to be open minded when visiting new places so my images don’t sub consciously conform around other photographer’s work that I’ve seen.

 

 

To see more of Harrison’s photography visit his website or follow him on Instagram.

Previous interviews from Series Three of Through a Photographer’s Eye:

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Johny Spencer

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Gavin Host

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Mike Bell

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Ryan Cantwell

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Sarp Soysal

 

X-Thusiast Featured Photographer Stephen Hobbs

This month’s photographer is Stephen Hobbs, who hails from England. He brings a unique perspective to photography with a natural approach. He enjoys working with manual cameras, so check out our interview with him to learn how he is developing his photography style.

 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you are from?

My name is Stephen Hobbs, originally from a small town in England on the South Coast called Lee-on-the-Solent. I migrated to Australia 14 years ago, living initially on the northern beaches of Sydney but now on a vineyard in the Hunter Valley. I have several hobbies, which include sailing, motorbike riding, touring and, of course, photography.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF10-24mmF4 – 1/60 second – F4 – ISO 6400

 

How did you develop an interest in photography using Fujifilm equipment?

 

My interest in photography developed while at college. I had a spare college unit and photography fit in the time I had. I was very lucky in having access to a darkroom and some very basic equipment. We used Zenit-Es — about as manual as you can get! Even had to manually stop down the aperture after focusing before taking an image. It’s maybe this history I have with a fully manual camera that first attracted me to the Fujifilm X Series range. I love the fact that I have access to these manual controls through dials rather than hunting through menu structures. It brings back memories of feeling in control of the image-making process rather than being reliant on auto this and auto that.

 

How would you describe your photography style and strategy?

 

It just keeps developing! I started off only printing black and white in a darkroom so I tend to be pulled back in that direction. I also love the SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) jpegs using the Fujifilm simulations. ACROS is just amazing! I have recently been drawn to a more documentary style; I’m uncomfortable with getting people to pose, so I prefer a more natural approach to shooting images of people. I would love to try to convey emotion rather than just imagery, and it is an aspect I try to focus on more as my photography style develops. Over the years, I have been more a point-and-shoot person; it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve tried to focus on the emotion. Sometimes I feel like it’s only me who can see the emotion in a photograph, which is fine. Photography can be quite a selfish medium with most people taking photographs that only have meaning for the photographer.

 

What inspires your photography?

People doing everyday things. I love to try to capture people interacting with each other or their surroundings.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 – 1/18 second – F5 – ISO 6400

 

Where are your favourite places to take photos and do you prefer a certain type of light to photograph in?

 

I generally prefer early mornings to any other time of day, empty streets, great tonal variations that don’t mess with dynamic range too much. My aim is to try to capture what I’m feeling when walking through empty streets. Whether that be local or while away on vacation. I also like to combine my love of motorcycle touring and photography. This is where the small-form factor of the Fujifilm system is a real bonus. That combined with having access to all the major controls externally.

What is your favourite memory from a photography session?

 

This is pretty easy, if you can count a two-week motorcycling tour in America as a single session. The landscapes through the mountains and deserts of the Western Seaboard of America are just amazing. The early morning light, while riding into Monument Valley is just perfect. Spine-tingling moments just made for the adventurous photographer.

 

Can you tell us what’s your favourite Fujifilm camera and why?

 

This would have to be the last one. I have owned the Fujifilm X-E1, X-E2, X-T1 and now the X-T2. The X-T2 is just amazing, the new simulations with the new sensor just delivers. Each camera has improved over the last while still keeping true to the heritage of maintaining and improving image quality. As a bonus, the usability of each camera has improved over the years, too.

 

Which Fujinon lens or lenses do you prefer to use with your Fujifilm camera and why?

 

I thought I would do the geeky thing and check which lens is used by looking up the metadata on the lenses used in Lightroom. I was surprised to find it was XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6, however, when I did the same after filtering on the rating it turns out that I consistently rate the XF10-24mmF4 based images highest of all. I’m not too surprised, as I just love this lens.

 

Fujifilm X-E2 with XF10-24mmF4 – 1/400 second – F7.1 – ISO 200. Converted in to Black and White in Silver Efex Pro.

 

What sort of workflow do you use in your photography? Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG?

I always shoot both RAW and JPEG, however I only used the RAW file when there is a really good JPEG image that I want to spend more time on. The vast majority of the time the SOOC JPEGS are perfect for my needs. All post processing is done in Lightroom, with ample use of the Silver Efex Pro plug-in when needed.

 

Do you have any technical tips you’d like to share? Perhaps suggestions on the best lighting, shutter speed, white balance, aperture, ISO, etc.? Other preferences?

 

I really am an amateur so don’t necessarily feel qualified to provide technical tips on how best to set up the camera. The only advice I would give would be to try to carry the camera with you as much as possible. You can’t capture that one in a million shot if the camera is in a bag at home.

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF10-24mmF4 – 1/420 second – F10 – ISO 400

 

Do you have advice for new photographers or the next potential X-Thusiast?

 

Don’t be afraid to take the shot and remember that another person’s criticism is just their opinion. Remember, someone paid a lot of money for a pile of bricks at the Tate Modern and we are still talking about it today, maybe that was the artist’s aim? If that was the artist’s goal then surely it succeeded beyond the artist’s wildest dreams.

 

Are you interested in becoming our next featured X-Thusiast photographer? Check out our full X-Thusiast Gallery and submission details.

 

 

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Sarp Soysal

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 fifth interview in Series Three is with Melbourne based photographer, Sarp Soysal.

 

Sarp, your story about how you started photographing with the X100 is quite interesting. Can you share it with us?

 

Ah yes, it is actually a pretty interesting story but a little tragic at the same time. I was travelling around Europe a few years ago on a personal photography project with a fair bit of gear: a Nikon body and a bunch of lenses and even speedlights. I also had a tiny little backup camera buried somewhere deep in my backpack that I never touched and had barely even used before.

 

One day when I was shooting in Paris, my Nikon was set up on my tripod, and for some strange reason that I still haven’t figured out, the camera fell off and shattered. As a broke backpacker, I wasn’t at all in a position to buy any new gear, so I had to reach into my bag for that tiny backup camera which was, as it turns out, a Fujifilm X100.

 

I didn’t have much experience with this camera, but it was all I had to finish my project. I remember sitting in my hotel room and trying to figure out how I was going to finish working with this one small point and shoot and its fixed lens. It wasn’t even a full frame camera, and this was around five years ago when full frame cameras were seen as the only professional cameras. But when I actually started walking around with the Fujifilm X100, something quite strange happened.

 

Through its optical viewfinder, the world looked different. It reminded me of being a teenager and using my dad’s analogue rangefinders. I didn’t have my bag of lenses for every possible shot, but through Fujifilm X100’s fixed lens, the streets started to look more romantic to me almost. I would say this was the beginning of a very important, almost spiritual, transformation for me.

 

In the way, I shoot, see the world and travel. While I felt pretty lost after I broke my Nikon, in the end, I managed to complete my project with some pretty special images thanks to my little Fujifilm camera. Needless to say, when I arrived back in Melbourne, I sold all of Nikon gear including that ridiculous backpack. And I have never looked back.

 

 

After moving from the Fujifilm X100 to the Fujifilm X-Pro2 what sort of advantages have you found the newer camera offers?

 

I think the biggest advantage of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 over X100 for me is its weather-sealed body. Already, while travelling, my X-Pro2 has withstood thunderstorms, unexpected torrential rain, bumpy bus rides, the ridiculous dust of Kathmandu and you name what else. The X-Pro2 feels tough in my hands, with its brick-like body. Secondly, obviously, the X-Pro2 is a much faster camera than the X100, which is very important for my photography style, mostly being snapshots on the street. Despite these things though, I still have my original X100 and from time to time, shoot with it, for old time’s sake. It will always have a special place in my heart.

 

 

If you could explain X Series cameras to someone who had never heard of them before what would you say?

 

Well, that’s quite a difficult question to answer. Let me put it this way: I wouldn’t explain X Series cameras from a technical perspective but more an emotional one. Pretty much every camera brand on the market at the moment, many of which I’ve shot with in the past, is almost like shooting with a computer rather than a camera. Most of their mechanical or software features that help sell them don’t really add much to your shooting experience and in my opinion, don’t serve a lot of purpose in the actual field.

 

X Series cameras, however, are so thoughtfully designed, with the photographer’s experience in mind, they feel to me like an extended eye, or like an additional organ. The dials, the viewfinder and even their compact size and grip really create a very organic shooting experience that doesn’t distract you from creating images with technical functionality or settings. So if you ask me to explain X Series cameras, I’d say they are cameras for creativity and for storytelling. They are cameras with soul.

 

 

 

Travelling is obviously high on your agenda, where have you been recently and can you share your favourite photo and tell us the story behind the image?

 

Most recently, I did a 100 days project, beginning with a road trip from Melbourne to Queensland and then three months travelling across Asia. I visited Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and finally Nepal, where I am at the moment. I challenged myself to post a photograph everyday on Instagram that represented that day which turned out to be harder than I thought but I did it only skipping maybe 2 or 3 days. If I look back on my Instagram feed now, I’d say that my favourite image would be from day 40 of the journey, not necessarily because it is the best photograph but because of the story behind it.

 

I took this photograph in the south of Cebu Island (Philippines) on a modest fishing beach called Santander where all along the sand, there are tiny homes housing the families that collect seaweed and fish every morning. On one of my walks down to the beach, I found myself in the home of about 7 or 8 little hooligan kids who welcomed me with excited screams, dancing, playing and just general tomfoolery. These kids had next to nothing. Their clothes were ripped and dirty, their shoes didn’t match, and their play equipment consisted of some rope, a tree and a few planks of wood. I have honestly never seen happier, more energetic kids.

 

I ended up visiting these kids a few times during my stay on the island and got to know the family a little. I couldn’t stop taking their photographs because they got so adorably excited about having their picture taken and when they’d see their own faces on my LCD screen, they’d go crazy. I think I was the first person to ever take their photograph.

 

While portraiture isn’t my forte, I had to capture the kids’ faces which just beamed with spirit and hope. To me, this photograph is both a story and a lesson. It tells of hope and need and happiness and most importantly, of how much you actually need in order to be happy.

 

 

 

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

 

I’d say the biggest piece of advice I’d like to share with young photographers is not to get trapped in the technical side of photography or with camera reviews, equipment choices and stuff.

 

In my opinion, the most important first step is to get to know the gear that you have, whatever it might be, and understand everything about it so you can learn how to work with it and how to make it work for you. Because at the end of the day, when someone is looking at your photographs, no one cares really about what settings you used or what camera you have. It’s about the story you tell.

 

As any skill or art form, it requires a lot of practice. So take your camera with you everywhere and use every outing as a learning opportunity. Devote 20 hours a week, every week to making photographs. Get yourself a good pair of walking shoes and hit the streets or parks of your town or city and just shoot. Eventually, you’ll find your voice, and then you can focus on developing your own photographic style to tell your own stories.

 

 

 

You said the following statement after photographing with Fujifilm equipment over the last five years:

“My style has evolved to be a kind of poetry: subtle metaphoric images that tell stories through layers and light, shadows and figures”.

Can you provide a photographic example and explain the romance behind the image based on this statement?

 

Like I said before, X series cameras aren’t technically distracting so when I’m shooting on the street, I’m able to enter a kind of zone in which I am completely tunnel-visioned: all I see are light and shapes. Over time my photographs have moved more and more away from obvious compositions and stories and more towards combining elements under interesting light.

 

Most of the time, I take scenes that are seemingly nondescript but that through my lens I know will become something quite interesting. This image, for example, is one I took in Kathmandu, Nepal this month. While to my partner, it was nothing more than an ordinary Nepalese house front, to me, the shadows created a mysterious story: to whom does the hand belong? What is the child looking at? And why is he dressed so smartly while living in such an apparently poor house?

 

I like to make people wonder, and I think that my favourite kind of photographic story is not the one that I tell myself but the one that someone who looks at my photograph will imagine.

 

We noticed in your portfolio you have a number of portraits, can you give any tips on how to best approach people on the street to take their photo?

 

It’s funny that you say that because to be perfectly honest, I never feel that portraiture is my strong point. But I do like to include people and faces in my street scenes. I don’t really have any specific approach per se, but I do feel that if you’re a shy person, you will struggle as a street photographer. It is largely about engagement, with the elements around you and most importantly, the people you intend to photograph.

 

I suppose my photography reflects my personality in general as someone that tends to engage with strangers quite a bit, especially while travelling. To take someone’s portrait, is a kind of unspoken negotiation a lot of the time, relying on body language and your ability to read the situation. That said, a lot of the time, I usually avoid any kind of engagement before I’ve taken the shot.

 

My photography focuses a lot on candid, organic moments and so I like to be invisible. I even avoid eye contact because once the person is aware of the camera, the scene is shattered. Afterwards, I like to engage, chat with them or ask them questions depending on how open they are. And mostly people don’t have a problem with their photograph being taken.

 

 

The Melbourne streets are far from your travels, what do you like most about returning to the ‘Most Livable City in the world?

 

I love shooting on Melbourne’s streets. I guess it’s where I feel most comfortable. I have been living in St Kilda East specifically for almost seven years, and I’d say that the surrounding suburbs like Balaclava, St Kilda and Chapel Street are my usual photographic battlefields.

 

I know the culture and city very well, so I know how people usually react to my camera on the street which is important for the kind of work that I do. There isn’t the same chaos or exotic situations that you’ll find in Asia, but there is a very distinctive light that belongs to Melbourne that I think is almost recognisable. It helps to create its own kind of mysterious and dramatic images in an otherwise very orderly city.

 

To see more of Sarp’s photography follow him on Instagram.

Previous interviews from Series Three of Through a Photographer’s Eye:

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Johny Spencer

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Gavin Host

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Mike Bell

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Ryan Cantwell

The Difference Between Lens Focal Lengths

You may notice camera lenses are described by one or two numbers, most often in millimetres, like 14mm or 18-55mm. As a new photographer, you may have no idea what these figures mean because photo websites and product descriptions often list them without explanation. These numbers are essential to know. Once you understand what they are and what they mean for your shots, you can better choose the right lens for the variety of scenes you tend to shoot.

 

These numbers you see on every lens represent that lens’ focal length. It is the measurement between your lens and your camera’s image sensor. If your lens is fixed-length, or prime, then it always rests at the same distance from your sensor, so its length is just one number. If your lens has the capacity to zoom, then it has two stats for both the minimum and maximum distance it sits from your camera’s sensor.

This distance tells you not only about the physical attributes of the lens but also the type of shots it creates. A lower focal length means a wider field of view, or a greater angle of what the lens can perceive in focus. The Fujifilm XF14mmF2.8, for example, is a prime lens that shoots at an 89-degree angle, with high resolution from the centre to the periphery of the frame. Compare that with the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6, a super telephoto lens that ranges from 16 to 4 degrees in its field of view. With that latter type of lens, you abandon the wide angle to highlight a closer, more specific segment of what the unaided eye can see.

If you are a new photographer, then you are likely shooting with just one or two lenses. There are great mid-range lenses that work for several situations, including personal use moments, like candid shots of family or friends. The XF18-55mmF2.8-4 is one such option with a broad focal range that spans 79 to 28 degrees, depending on the zoom. That type of mid-length lens with zoom is a great choice for starting your creative endeavour and for shooting as you travel with light cargo.

As you develop your craft, you may wish to utilise lenses designed for specific photo opportunities. If you shoot landscape and architecture photos, then you want a lens with a low focal length, between 14 and 18mm, for its wide angle. For your full-body portraits, you should look at a lens with a mid-range focal length between 23mm and 50mm. When dealing with moving or distant photo subjects, you should choose a zoom lens with a focal length of 200mm or more.

By knowing the difference between lens focal lengths, you can experiment with more lenses and be confident that you know which lens to grab in every situation.

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Ryan Cantwell

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.

 

To see more of Ryan’s photography visit his website or follow him on Instagram or Facebook.

Previous interviews from Series Three of Through a Photographer’s Eye:

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Johny Spencer

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Gavin Host

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Mike Bell