X-Thusiast Featured Photographer Grant Ashford

Street photographer Grant Ashford shares his unique photography methods and what inspires him to capture ordinary people doing everyday things. We caught up with Grant and learned about his experience with the X-Pro2.

 

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

 

I live in Sydney but grew up in Darwin, Northern Territory. I became interested in photography when given a Kodak pocket Instamatic film camera for my 13th birthday. Many years later I took some shots of a dark, thunderous storm front rolling in off the sea and decided then I’d love to be a professional photographer.

 

I began submitting articles to some popular Australian magazines by photographing and interviewing some of the unique characters living in the territory. The stories often veered to the far end of poetic license to fit the magazine’s criteria — I spun some good old Aussie yarns, to be honest. But all of my articles were accepted, and it wasn’t long before editors from the U.K. and U.S. were calling to buy second publishing rights.

 

After working in the glamour-shot industry for ten years, I packed away my cameras and decided to get out of photography altogether.

 

A few years later I was in Tijuana being a tourist wandering the back streets and wound up in a dodgy area. Oblivious, I was snapping away with my SLR when a little lady came over to me and said, “Señor! Put that camera away. You will be robbed.” As I turned the corner, I saw an American tourist being chased by a gang of locals. I immediately tucked the camera under my shirt.

 

This place intrigued me, so I remained on the street and started shooting from the hip with the camera lens peeking out from under my shirt. When I processed the film, I loved the prints. I had captured the naturalness of people doing their everyday things without being aware they were being photographed. It felt like a spiritual awakening. I found something I loved, and I seemed to know where to point instinctively. Every corner I turned was a scene unfolding before me, and I was in street photographers’ paradise.

“Cant Stop Cool” – Fujifilm X-PRo2 with XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR – 1/200 second – F4 – ISO 1250

 

 

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

 

Two years ago, I noticed a lot of Instagram street photographers were singing the praises of Fujifilm cameras and after a bit of research, I bought a Fujifilm X100T. I loved the feel and compactness of the rangefinder but felt a little constrained with the 23mm fixed lens. Luckily, the new Fujifilm X-Pro2 just came on the market, so I sold the X100T and bought the X-Pro2 and a zoom lens. I carry the camera everywhere now and absolutely love it.

 

 

 

How would you describe your photography style and strategy?

 

I like to photograph everyday people doing everyday things. However, I’m always on the lookout for funny or unusual juxtapositions people unwittingly place themselves in.

 

My technique is somewhat different. I hold the camera upside down with a wrist strap, and shoot one-handed from all different angles without looking in the viewfinder. I like to keep eye contact with the subject while I’m shooting. So I may be speaking with someone while getting very close and wide shots. They’re usually aware they’re being photographed but because I keep them engaged it stays unposed. Years of shooting like this enable me to know what I’m getting composure-wise. It keeps people at ease as they’re expecting me to look through the camera and say “cheese.” I don’t shoot hipshot much either these days. My technique is more like a gunslinger — grab the shot fast.

 

I walk all over the place searching for opportunities. The city’s like a theater brimming with wonderful sets and scenes and amazing actors and I’m like the inconspicuous scrap of newspaper scurrying on the breeze un-noticed through the crowd.

“Life at the Cross Roads” – Fujifilm X-PRo2 with XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR – 1/400 second – F14 – ISO 1000

 

What inspires your photography?

 

Always at the back of my mind, I’m thinking about chronicling our current fashions, trends, and technologies for future generations to see how we lived.

 

When I was starting out, I would spend hours at the library browsing books by photographers W. Eugene Smith and Robert Capa and many others. I dissected the photos that interested me, analyzing composure, lighting and mood. I particularly liked the intimacy of Eugene Smith’s “Country Doctor” photo essay.

“Selfie Help” – Fujifilm X-PRo2 with XF18mmF2 R – 1/320 second – F5.6 – ISO 3200

 

 

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

 

Wherever there’s a crowd is where I want to be. I like old architecture and try to include that as background in portraits if possible; it gives a nice feel to an image. The CBD always has beautiful reflected light bouncing off the buildings.

“Smooth Operator” – Fujifilm X-PRo2 with XF18mmF2 R – 1/210 second – F2.8 – ISO 1000

 

 

What is your favourite memory from a photography session?

 

I assisted legendary landscape photographer Peter Jarver on an expedition into the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia a couple of years before he died. Peter taught me so much about photography. The light was foremost to Peter, and there were many pre-dawn treks by torchlight into the canyons. He used a Horseman large-format 4×5 camera and taught me some very valuable techniques — such as simply keeping horizons level — that I see many budding landscape photographers fail to do.

“Time Never Waits” – Fujifilm X-PRo2 with XF18mmF2 R – 1/210 second – F5 – ISO 1000

 

 

Can you tell us your favourite Fujifilm camera and why?

 

I can only speak on the Fujifilm X-Pro2, and it is a wonderful camera that goes everywhere with me. I love the old-school appearance, yet the technology inside is far from old. The quality of the images is excellent, and those Fujinon lenses are superb pieces of glass. I rarely use my other professional cameras anymore; the Fujifilm is the golden child.

 

 

 

Which Fujinon lens or lenses do you prefer to use with your Fujifilm X-Pro2 and why?

 

I’m using the Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 lens all the time. It provides good range from the wide 16mm street work or 55mm portrait lens, and the fast F2.8 gathers light well in darker locations. I’ve heard good reviews on the Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 but haven’t used one yet. I think that will be the next lens I try.

“Chilled to the Bone”- Fujifilm X-PRo2 with XF18mmF2 R – 1/220 second – F3.2 – ISO 1250

 

 

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

 

I now use both Affinity Photo and Snapseed on the iPad Pro for my processing. I transfer JPEG files from the camera via Wi-Fi through the Fujifilm Camera Remote App. I make a few tweaks in Affinity, then upload to Instagram and Facebook. For safekeeping, I back up images to an external hard drive.

 

 

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?

 

When I’m shooting on the street I like to make things easy for myself and with the X-Pro2 I can -the camera does all the work. I use AWB and set aperture, shutter and focus all to auto and I make manual adjustments with ISO dial. The daylight between buildings is quite balanced and the camera performs well in this environment. Any tricky lighting situations I switch to manual, and I’m not shy to push the ISO toward 10,000+.

 

I was lucky to begin photography before digital because the cost of film and processing made me think about what I was doing and to make each shot count you had to get things right. That’s why I don’t feel guilty using the camera on full auto — it’s a luxury I allow myself.

 

 

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

 

I’m often asked by many photographers how I get so close to my subjects. The simple answer you’ve got to be bold, be alert and be ready. It’s usually fear of rejection that stops us from approaching someone, but to be good at anything you have to get out of the comfort zone. It won’t stay uncomfortable for long. I try to strike up a conversation; people generally like to talk about themselves.

 

To see more photography from Stephen follow him on Instagram, Facebook or Google+

 

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: Matt Murray

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 ninth interview in Series Three is with Brisbane based photographer, Matt Murray.

 

Matt, tell us about yourself and what your photographic journey has been?

When I was twenty, I travelled around Europe for two years with a Pentax 35mm film camera. A few months in I got the photos developed – they were terrible! I resolved to learn more about photography so I could do justice to all the amazing places I was visiting.

In the mid-90s I mostly shot 35mm prints and slides with Canon SLRs. I bought my first digital camera when I was living in the UK in 2001 – it was the Fujifilm FinePix 6800Z. It was such a novelty seeing images instantly on the back of a screen! I missed the manual controls of an SLR but really loved this camera. Over the next decade, I had various Canon and Nikon DSLRs and also bought a Rolleiflex T and started to shoot some 120 film. I purchased the original Fujifilm X100 in 2011. Compared to the Nikon and Canon images, the JPEGs straight out of camera (SOOC) were just beautiful, and I fell in love with them. In 2015 I sold my Nikon kit and bought into the Fujifilm X series system, initially with a Fujifilm X-T1 and five lenses.

In recent years I’ve become a huge instant film fan. I have a small collection of instant cameras including a couple that take peel-apart pack film – I wish Fujifilm would continue production of FP-100C! My daughter and I both have Instax Mini 8 cameras, and I have the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 printer, which is fantastic when travelling. I’ve also just bought the Fujifilm SQ10 hybrid camera, which takes the new Instax Square film format – very exciting!

Fujifilm X-T10 with XF35mmF1.4 R

 

Looking through your Instagram account we noticed your photos are very colourful, can you tell us what process your images go through and do you use any of the Fujifilm Film Simulations?

 

Ever since I shot my first roll of Velvia, I’ve always loved bright, vibrant punchy colours. I love shooting travel, landscape and nature photos, so not surprisingly the film simulation I’m drawn to most is Velvia. I try to get things right in camera, as I don’t enjoy spending hours upon hours on a single image in Lightroom or Photoshop. I shoot JPEG+RAW, but I rarely use the RAW files. I work on most images only for 2-3 minutes in Lightroom. A lot of the images on my @mattloves Instagram account are straight out of camera JPEGs with only slight tweaks in Lightroom or on my iPhone.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS.

 

You mentioned you in a blog post you currently use 10 Fujinon lenses. What is your favourite lens out of these and do you have a prized photo you have captured using the lens? Can you tell us the story behind the image?

 

Usually, the lens I’ve just bought is my favourite – in this case, it’s the XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR. I love using telephoto lenses for travel photography, although I do see the irony of buying a smaller mirrorless kit and loving the larger lenses most!

My favourite image taken this year is of a galah in the sunflower fields in southern Queensland early in the morning. Most of the other parrots flew off when I approached, but this cheeky galah sat there looking at me. I captured this image with my Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens. The image has been published in the latest Rough Guides travel photo book “You Are Here.” One of the judges was legendary Magnum photographer Martin Parr.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

 

When traveling in Australia, what Fujifilm X Series gear do you tend to take with you and do you find it restricts you in any way?

 

It depends on where I’m going and what I’ll be photographing. The XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS always gets packed: a large percentage of my favourite ever images have been taken with this lens. Next up is a telephoto: I used to pack the XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, but I suspect the XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR will take its place for a while now. If I’m going anywhere to photograph wildlife, I’ll also pack the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.

As well as zooms, I also take a couple of fast primes, usually the XF16mmF1.4 R WR, the XF35mmF1.4 R or the XF60mmF2.4 R Macro. I’m really looking forward to the release of the Fujifilm XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens but I’ve run out of money for now so may have to sell some kit to buy it!

Fujifilm X-T10 with XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS

 

 

 

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

 

Learn as much as you can about your camera: read the manual, watch YouTube videos, go to photography meets, ask lots of questions. Although many photographers – including myself – always want the latest and greatest camera gear, some of my favourite photos were taken with my least expensive Fujifilm kit: an X-T10 and either the XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS or the XF35mmF1.4 R lenses (approximately $1200 worth of gear).

Learn as much as you can about photography. There are so many good free websites and resources out there these days. Follow photographers on Instagram and study their photos. Join photography related Facebook groups – I’m a member of about a dozen. Post your work in there and ask for constructive criticism. One excellent group I recommend is Fuji X Australia where a dedicated group of admins encourage and support Australian and New Zealand Fujifilm photographers.

Fujifilm X-T10 with XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS

 

Do you use the Fujifilm Remote Camera App to transfer images to your smartphone? If so, can you recommend any future improvements you would like to see included within the app and lastly, how do you find Instagram has helped your exposure?

 

I sure do, it’s convenient, but can be frustrating to use. Sometimes it connects no problem at all, other times it says it’s connected, but it’s not. I’ve no idea if this is possible, but in a future version of the app, it would be amazing if you could transfer RAW files to the app and then see previews of the image with different film simulations, with the ability to export JPGs from there.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Instagram since I first heard about it in a photography podcast in 2010. The first account I started in 2011 was solely iPhone photos. I started my @mattloves account in 2016 as a kind of homage to Fujifilm cameras, and it’s been wonderful discovering so many fantastic photographers and being featured by large accounts such as @Queensland, @VisitBrisbane and @FujiCamerasAus.

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

 

As a XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 owner, how do you find the auto focusing speed when mounted on the Fujifilm X-T2? Does the focus keep up with fast-moving subjects? What’s your overall experience with the lens?

 

I’ve only used the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens once with fast-moving subjects – that was at a local speedway on a sunny day. The Fujifilm X-T2 and lens kept up well with the action and I was happy with the results given. It was my first time photographing cars. I love using the lens for wildlife – especially the array of colourful parrots we have here in Australia. I would’ve liked to have taken it with me to the Faroe Islands in June 2017, but the XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR was a better fit overall for my trip to Europe and I’m very happy with the puffin shots I took with it.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR

 

If you could list three stand out features of the Fujifilm X Series system, what would they be and why are the features important to you?

 

Fujifilm makes photography fun again! I’d fallen out of love with photography somewhat until I picked up the Fujifilm X100 in 2011. Since switching to Fujifilm, I am obsessed with photography again!

Image quality – the quality of the images from Fujifilm equipment is incredible.

The compact size of the equipment – unfortunately, this doesn’t mean I have a lighter bag, it just means I can pack more gear in my bag now!

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS

 

To see more of Matt’s photography visit his blog, 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

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Harrison Candlin

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Geoff Marshall

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Myles Kalus

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Myles Kalus

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 eighth interview in Series Three is with photographer, Myles Kalus.

Myles, tell us a bit about yourself and how you relate to Fujifilm X Series cameras?

 

I originally intended to pursue an engineering career and studied mechanical engineering at university. Towards the end of my degree, I realised that engineering wasn’t really for me. By some stroke of luck, I picked up a camera in my last semester and realised that photography was what I wanted to do. I finished my degree, and immediately immersed myself into photography. I spent some time looking for the right camera to work with as I grew as a photographer, bouncing between different brands and different types of cameras.

 

I eventually picked up a first Fujifilm camera, the X100S, and knew from using it that what I needed for my “perfect” camera was one that had the modern advancements of digital camera technology in the shape and feel of a traditional camera. Having the aperture, and shutter speed dials right there to see just felt right to me. So, when the Fujifilm X-T1 was announced, I sold all the gear I had and made sure I was the first one in line at my local camera store to get my hands on it. I’ve exclusively used Fujifilm cameras ever since for both work and leisure.

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF23mmF1.4 R – 1/500 second – F5.6 – ISO 320

 

As someone who photographs a lot of portraits, do you have any recommendations for XF lenses to use? For instance, based on your experience which lens do you think is better, the XF56mmF1.2 or XF90mmF2?

 

It’s hard to pick between both as they have different qualities but I’d have to go with the XF56mmF1.2. While the XF90mmF2 is technically the perfect lens for portrait work, the XF56mmF1.2 allows me to get physically closer to the subject, allowing me to interact, and connect better with the person I’m photographing. It’s also a smaller lens, so it’s less intimidating for my subject.

 

I’ve always found the smaller more retro your gear looks; the more relaxed and natural people will be when photographing them. Alternatively, I’ve also used the XF23mmF1.4 to shoot portraits to provide a little more context to the picture and involve the environment to show where the portrait is captured. This lens has been instrumental when doing backstage work.

 

 

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

 

Looking into gear, I would say to buy a camera that is straightforward to use. A lot of cameras these days have added functionalities that sometimes become a distraction. I’ve personally found that the fewer choices I have, the more concentrated I’ve been with learning and studying the camera and photography. If possible, I’d highly recommend a camera with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) as it allows you to immediately see how the settings affect exposure and depth-of-field. All these factors taken into consideration will speed up your learning process significantly, and improve your technical mastery within a short span.

 

From a photography perspective, I’ve always advised newcomers to find a few photographers of which their works you like, go through their work obsessively, learn what is it about their work that you admire, and try to replicate their work. This forces you to experiment with your camera and pushes your eye to see what and how they saw and why they photographed it.

 

You have worked with many international clients, do you think the Fujifilm X Series system delivers the image quality they are after and what are your thoughts on the new Fujifilm GFX 50S medium format camera for fashion photography?

 

Yes. I can confidently say that the Fujifilm X Series fulfills what my clients need. I’ve never heard back from a client questioning me about the quality or questioning about the gear I used. Whatever does the job as per client requirements. That’s all that matters when working with a client.

 

I feel the Fujifilm GFX 50S is a great addition to the Fujifilm lineup, and see it as an ideal camera for those requiring the benefits of medium format when working within fashion photography; higher resolution for detail, reduced vibration from the lack of a mirror and expanded dynamic range. It also opens the doors to medium format that would otherwise be closed to many photographers due to how expensive other medium format cameras are in general.

 

 

What is Street Style Australia and how has it helped you establish yourself?

 

Street Style Australia is a documentary project I started some years ago with the goal of documenting how Australians express themselves through what they wear. No one was doing it properly back then. So, I decided to take it upon myself to do it. Doing the project has opened many doors for me, regarding meeting and working with people within the industry, and allowing me to create work and fulfil a niche for an international audience. It’s also allowed me to further delve into the inner-workings of the fashion world documenting backstage and behind-the-scenes for runways, fashion events, etc.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF56mmF1.2 R – 1/1000 second – F1.2 – ISO 640

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF56mmF1.2 R – 1/500 second – F1.4 – ISO 200

 

 

Aside from fashion, what elements of the photo do you think are important to make a portfolio-worthy fashion shot?

 

For me, the first step is understanding the purpose of the photo and working out how to deliver that goal through the photo. Great portfolio-worthy fashion photographs have always put feeling, mood, and story-telling before technicalities and aesthetics. An aesthetically pleasing photograph doesn’t cut it. Great fashion photographs also make the audience immediately look straight into and embrace the content within the frame as if it is a window, and see what the photographer is seeing. The presence of the photograph as an object to the viewer is invisible or non-existent.

 

So, giving an example from landscape photography, when I look at Ansel Adams’ photographs of Yosemite, I don’t think about how beautiful the photograph is. I think about how beautiful Yosemite is, feel how amazing it is to see the view. His photos make me feel like I’m there witnessing or at least, make me want to go there to witness Yosemite myself. I forget that the photo is a photo.

 

How important is it to work in a team in your field? Do you find stylists; makeup artists and models are all easy to work with? How does a general shoot form?

 

A good team is vital because you can’t-do everything yourself in general. How easy others are to work with is usually based on the individual and their capabilities. Most of the time, everyone’s down-to-earth and professional. Occasionally, you do get less than ideal team member, but that doesn’t often happen, thankfully.

 

Ideally, you’d work with those who understand what you’re trying to create in the photographs. A lot of discussion happens before shoots, to discuss how to execute the shoot, and to find the right people who can do what you need in the shoot.

 

Generally, a shoot forms when someone (client, creative director, stylist, or even the photographer) has an idea or a brief that they want executed. A team that they feel is right for the task is then assembled, pre-production for the shoot that involves location-scouting, pulling garments or accessories from brands/labels, identifying the right gear (camera, lighting, etc.) for the job. Then, once all the pre-production is hopefully done, then the shoot happens.

 

 

Can you share some insight into what it’s like to cover an event like Paris Fashion Week on the street? What gear would you recommend someone have to help capture stunning images?

 

Looking at the photos that usually come out from any fashion week, you can’t really tell but shooting street style at fashion week is quite a physically straining job; a lot of running, a lot of rushing from one venue to the other, staying outdoors regardless of how bad the weather is, barely any resting or eating from the deadlines and number of photographs you take in a day. I take about 5000 photos per day and go through them all at night to send them off to the client by morning.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF56mmF1.2 R – 1/2000 second – F1.4 – ISO 200

 

This goes on for each day of fashion week. I usually only get time to have a couple of small meals and about 4 hours of sleep each day during fashion week if I’m lucky. Also, the environment you photograph in is best described as chaos; there are so many unpredictable elements to juggle with, and you have to make quick judgment with what you see in front of you.

 

You’re dealing with trying to find the best angle to photograph the best-looking outfit or garment after finding it among a mass of people moving in an environment that is full of distracting elements, traffic, and at times, unforgiving weather. Think too much and you might lose your only opportunity to photograph a look.

 

Camera body-wise, the X-T2 with the grip was perfect. I bought it before flying off to Europe, and its upgrades over the X-T1 made my life much easier while shooting. The 11 FPS and high refresh rate in the EVF provided in Boost mode, and the customisable autofocus system the X-T2 has were a joy to have while shooting in the erratic shooting environment. For lenses, I predominantly used the XF56mmF1.2. Ideally, I would have preferred using the XF90mmF2 because I prefer the look produced by the lens, is weather-sealed, and is quicker at autofocusing, but ultimately chose not to use it as forced me to step too far back from the subject to photograph them. I did use the XF23mmF1.4 when I wanted to capture more of the environment. Though, I mainly use that lens backstage due to there being limited space.

 

To see more of Myles photography follow Street Style Australia on Instagram or mylekalus.

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

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Geoff Marshall

 

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

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

Street Smart: Photographer Craig Whitehead hits the streets with the X100F

By Craig Whitehead

Photographer Craig Whitehead has been using FUJIFILM X Series for his street photography for many years, most recently having purchased the X100F. In this interview he talks about his experience with the X Series and shares some of his images from the X-T1, X-Pro2 and X100F. Continue reading Street Smart: Photographer Craig Whitehead hits the streets with the X100F

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