Python Close Up – Story Behind the Photo

I have been lucky enough to be using a prototype of the XF16mm F1.4 since March and I have to say it is brilliant. I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d end up using it for, but as it turns out it is an extremely flexible lens and helped to produce some shots that would otherwise have not been possible.

This particular story has a bit of an unusual beginning. The location is the Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysia, I was in this region with another photographer, Christian Loader from Scubazoo who I’m currently doing some work with. I have to thank Christian for some of the photos of me here. One morning, we headed up river briefly as our guide Osmon wanted to show us something he had spotted the previous night. We slowed underneath some low lying branches. Before I knew what had happened we had come across a relatively young python and… it fell in the boat! At which point I almost jumped out, much to the amusement of the other two who have handled snakes extensively before. The snake then decided to snuggle up to my Millican Dave camera bag! They calmly caught it and we relocated it inside the forest on a nice tree branch, in return it kindly sat still allowing us to take some pictures.

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The close focusing capabilities of this lens really impressed me and allowed me to get some really close wide-angle shots, allowing me to fill the frame with the python and to also capture the environment.

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I used the X-T1 with the XF16mm F1.4 attached as well as a Nissin i40 flash I used a rogue flash bender. But because this would involve getting very close to the snake I decided to put the camera on a monopod and used a wireless trigger set up to keep me working at a safe distance. To stress, the snake was absolutely fine and did not once try and strike the set up. The angled screen on the X-T1 was very helpful here as it meant that I could see exactly what was in the frame, regardless of slight angle changes to composition.

Ben shooting in Sabah - Christian Loader - Scubazoo Images-15
Here is the set up. Please excuse the ‘jungle hat’!

Because I was using the i40 flash in TTL mode, I couldn’t shoot above 1/180sec so I had to stop down to F8 for much of the photos. The location was very dark and flat as the vast majority of the tropical sunlight is absorbed by the canopy above. Thankfully the XF16mm seems to have very quick and accurate autofocus, even in these less than ideal conditions.

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In an up and coming blog I’ll show the benefit of the F1.4 aperture when photographing Pygmy Elephants.

You can find more of my work via the following links: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Embracing the Abstract by Simon Weir

09_a_Abstract_SWDXT19084-Editby Simon Weir

This February I was once again in Yellowstone National Park running MagicIs photographic workshops with some really extraordinary people.  Over the two weeks I learned a little about nuclear physics, banking, metallurgy, reconstructive surgery, hitech roof construction, information technology, farming and how a 12 year old boy sees the world through a camera…

In return I showed them some of the most extraordinary sights on earth and endeavoured to give them some of the skills to translate what they saw before them into images – be they wildlife, landscape, or something more abstract.

At the beginning of each course there was much talk of aperture, shutter speed, ISO and autofocus modes – the core building blocks behind understanding how your camera works.  Then came the understanding of how the technology in your camera sees the world and makes judgement on the camera’s settings – I like to think of this as “The Small Man from Japan” who lives inside our cameras and tries to guess what it is we are photographing and how it should be exposed.

Then gradually as a group we talked more about composition and in particular about understanding how we, as cognitive human beings, see the world around us.  We have our familiar tools of depth, time, framing and tone, but before we can use these we have to learn to “see”.

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“Homage to the Small Man from Japan” – Fujifilm X-T1 – XF14mm – 1/15s at f/22 ISO200 with vertical panning

Every time we pick up a camera and look through the viewfinder we create an abstract – by framing our subject and capturing it in an intrinsically two dimensional device we move away from external reality and instead seek to achieve its effect using shapes, colours and textures.  Some of these abstractions can be literal and immediately recognisable for what they are, others are more ephemeral and create an impression or a feeling of what is before us that may or may not be understood by the viewer.

But there is a huge difference between “looking” and “seeing”.

When we “look” at something we think that we are taking it all in at one instant.  In fact our eyes and brains form a complex image by scanning and storing small parts at a time and assembling them into a whole.  Some parts of this are borrowed from memory and used as a stopgap until that part of the image can be scanned.  I am sure many of you will have experienced that feeling, when glimpsing at a wristwatch, that the second hand takes a few moments before it appears to move regularly – this is simply our brain applying the known static image of our watch, processing everything around it and then realising that something within the watch is moving and giving that some focus and detail. The phenomenon is called Chronostasis and gives us a fascinating glimpse into the way our visual perception actually works.

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“Gibbon Falls” – Fujifilm X-T1 – XF50-140 @ 75mm – 30sec at f/2.8 ISO400 – Firecrest IRND4.8 stopper

When we learn to “see” we bring many factors into play.  We can pre-visualise the way we want to represent a subject in terms of depth or time.  By understanding how the brain interprets shapes and forms we can compose our framing to help the mind’s journey through the photograph.  If we can reduce and simplify the image to tell a clearer story then we can strengthen the viewer’s emotional connection with the subject matter.

Seeing involves thought and time and is part of a process we call mindfulness – “the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”.  It comes from the Buddhist meditational practice anapanasati and is widely used in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorders, anxiety and drug addiction.  And mindfulness is a key building block in creative photography.

Let me show you an example using bison…  There are many thousands of bison in Yellowstone and they are rather wonderful animals to photograph.  No two are the same and as the weather conditions change they take on many different appearances.  For some time now I have been seeking a very specific image of a bison – one that tells as much about the animal’s habitat as it does about the animal itself, showing both the harsh environment and the creature’s strength.

By thinking about this conceptual image I now find that I see and photograph bison in a completely different way, using the camera’s tools to create abstractions that try to convey something more about the essence of bison…

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Fujifilm X-T1 – XF50-140 @ 140mm – 1/900s at f/2.8 ISO200

This image is as much about snow as it is bison – the falling snow (rendered pin sharp by the high shutter speed) is the subject in focus, shallow depth of field and a panoramic crop gives a sense of distance to these slow lumbering beasts.

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Fujifilm X-T1 – XF50-140 @ 70mm – 1/200s at f/5.6 ISO200

Here the focus is on the speed and power of the bison ploughing through deep snow.  The relatively slow shutter speed allows representation of movement through blur while the horizontal panning keeps just enough sharpness in the bison to show its purpose.

However neither image is the one I carry in my mind – the single image that combines everything that is “bison”.  Most likely I will never make this “perfect” image, but I will certainly keep looking for it and finding new ways to see this magnificent creature and its frozen habitat.

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“New Life from Old” – Fujifilm X-T1 – XF18-135 @ 135mm – 1/40s at f/11 ISO200

Abstraction and mindfulness together open the photographer’s eyes and allow us to see both the tiny detail and the wider environment – the microcosm and the macrocosm.  We become more aware of our surroundings and more attuned to our environment, and in doing so our images begin to connect with the viewer and tell a story – every photograph should tell a story…

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“Frozen” – Fujifilm X-Pro1 – XF55-200 @ 200mm – 1/500s at f/7.1 ISO400

For more information about MagicIs photographic workshops and safaris visit www.magicis.com

If you are interested in finding out more about the 2016 winter workshops in Yellowstone National Park then contact me via the MagicIs website at http://magicis.com/contact-us/


About Simon

Simon_Weir_1Fujifilm X-Photographer Simon Weir specialises in photographing live performance (particularly classical music), contextual portraiture and nature. To see more of his work, check out his website http://www.simonweir.com/

 

Story behind the photo – Sheepish sunrise

This story started out with a glance at the forecast the night before. With heavy fog and cold, mirky conditions on the table I had to at least try and get out in the early hours and capture these often photogenic conditions. Though Curbar Edge is very convenient for me to get to in the Peak District, I was beginning to feel like a one trick pony so decided to head over to a hill called Higgar Tor, which has lots of beautiful rock formations and a great view. Thankfully the main roads were well gritted and there is a car park very close to the hillside so my journey to the top of the hill was pretty straight forward, which is just as well as I arrived just the sun had come up, above the horizon… Funnily enough, there was hardly any fog and the sky was quickly clearing and it was turning into quite a spectacle.

Higgar Tor sheep-15

I was not alone at the top of this seemingly lonely mountain though, there were two other photographer’s who were already there and in the prime positions for the sunrise. To avoid breaking the unwritten code of standing in front of another photographers shot, I had a little think to myself on how to approach the situation. While scouting around I came across a small herd of sheep, which seemed to have adapted well to the wintery conditions, as if their white coats were designed for this all along! As soon as I saw them I decided to use them as my main subjects for the morning.

Higgar Tor sheep

Without a subject, I find it quite difficult to connect with landscape pictures, so having the sheep to focus on helped me focus on how to do the beautifully unravelling situation justice.

Higgar Tor sheep-10

Since I had the Nissin i40 flash in my bag I decided to give it a go in the challenging conditions with the X-T1 and the 18-135mm lens. It quickly turned very bright and made the little flash work hard, which did result in relatively slow refresh times, but this could have been due to some slightly older batteries in it. What I wanted to do was to use the flash to give the sheep a tiny bit of definition in the part shaded from the sun. I deliberately moved so sheep were initially between me and the rising sun.

Higgar Tor sheep-9

Now it may not look like the flash was used here, but if you look closely, particularly at the left front sheep’s eye then you can see a little glint. That was from the flash. I had the exposure compensation down a notch or two to try and retain a bit of the sky, otherwise it would have burnt out, as at that moment in time I wasn’t using any filters. The flash was on 0 exposure compensation and I attached the diffuser. Again, to reiterate I didn’t want the flash to be obvious in this picture, instead I wanted it to just give a little glint, to highlight the eye, which it did. What I liked about back lighting the sheep with the low sun is the wonderful warm glow given to their outlines.

The sheep then headed down the side of the hill to continue their grazing.

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I decided to use the Velvia film simulation for much of the morning as it really gave a punchy finish to the photos, though sometimes the contrast was a little too high so I would sometimes change it to Provia.

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Though the more I compare the above images, the more I lean towards the Velvia image as it is so attention grabbing. It is great having the options at your finger tips and being able to change the look of the image so easily and I haven’t even mentioned Classic Chrome yet!

As it was slippy under foot, I was very happy to have had the 18-135mm attached to the camera, as it gave me the versatility required to adapt to where I could move to and where the sheep moved! The first shot below was taken at 36.6mm, while the image after was at 135mm.

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Higgar Tor sheep-2

As the sun rose and the intensity of the colour faded I started using Classic Chrome more, to yet again change the look and feel of the pictures.

Higgar Tor sheep-13

Though the sheep were seemingly trying to hide on occasion..

Higgar Tor sheep-12

Using a longer focal length reduced the angle of view, which was helpful for this example as it gives focus on the sheep and the snow covered hill behind.

Higgar Tor sheep-11

Though freezing conditions (literally), the gear performed flawlessly, even if the batteries suffered a little due to the cold. Certainly something to consider if spending a long time in cold conditions, having multiple batteries will save you from frustration.

Leaving the sheep to graze, I decided to test out the i40 flash in another filler situation. Using the 10-24mm and a tripod I set up the exposure compensation to capture the surrounding area how I wanted it to look and then adjusted the TTL function on the i40 to fill in the shaded area of the rocks.

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This was the set up… The i40 looking the piece on top of the X-T1.

Higgar Tor sheep-14

To change up my photos again I decided to use the same techniques as discussed in the previous Story behind the photo blog, using filters for long exposures. On the other side of the adjacent valley was a factory/power station of some description and it looked like it could look pretty cool if slowed down. This was a 28 second exposure.

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What do you think to the photos? I hope it shows that the adaptability of the Fujifilm X-Series. Any questions please leave a comment below.

Until next time, go out, shoot and share your results with us!

 

 

 

 

Wildlife photographer Chris Weston puts the new XF16-55mm f/2.8 through its paces

Fujifilm’s new XF16-55mm f/2.8 weather-resistant lens lives up to expectation. With a new type of nano-coating that reduces flare, the optical excellence of the lens matches the supreme quality I have come to rely on in the very best Fujinon lenses.

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X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/4000th, f/4, ISO800

 

Photographing birds of prey at a local falconry, I was astounded by the depth of detail, sharpness and contrast of the pre-processed images. It feels great in the hand. The aperture and focus rings give me confidence when I need it most while the build quality exceeds my often-exacting need for equipment that can cope with the most extreme and harsh environments.

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X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/400th, f/5.6, ISO1600

 

And, even with the fast f/2.8 aperture, it’s still compact enough to travel with. This is a lens that lives up to the Fuji legend.

Chris Weston – Wildlife Photographer and Fujifilm X-Photographer

X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/4000th, f/4, ISO800
X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/4000th, f/4, ISO800
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X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/1250th, f/4, ISO800

 

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X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/1900th, f/8, ISO800

 

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X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/1700th, f/8, ISO800

 

HOW TO: Set up for Action Photography

Following on from the last blog that covered what gear to use for wildlife photography, I’m going to explain how I set up my X-Series cameras for capturing action. Though some cameras are better than others for this type of photography, there are little ways to help yourself help improve your chances of capturing action.

High burst rate

Though using a high burst rate will eat through your memory cards space, shooting at a high frame rate will hopefully get a good selection of action shots.

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Auto focus

First of all make your focus point as large as possible: do this by pressing the AF button and zooming out as far as you can. With a moving subject it will be very difficult to keep the subject in a small selection zone, so give yourself the best chance possible. Continuous focus (This applies to the X-T1 and X-E2 as they have vastly improved continuous AF functionality) is really helpful with certain subjects, especially if they are coming towards you. For those of you with models that are best in single focus mode, fear not! Generally the Fujifilm lenses are quick to auto focus so if you’re following a subject you can focus, take a shot and then focus again or alternatively prefocus if you know where the subject it going to go. Some photographers use cameras in MF mode and use the AFL/AEL button to focus. This is helpful because you can then use the manual focus ring on the lens and see what is in focus via focus peaking. Experiment and see what method works best for you.

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This sequences was taken using the X-T1’s tilting screen and the XF56mm at F2.8.

ISO

My standard ISO setting is 800. To some this might seem high but the output from this is so clean that it isn’t a concern for me. If it’s a bit cloudy and I’m wanting to freeze the action I’ll push my ‘ready’ ISO to 1600. My philosophy is that it is better to have a sharp image that might be slightly noisy as you get up to than an image that might have some motion but has less or no noise.

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A blue shark close up taken at ISO 1600

Shark close up100% close up – In my eyes the noise (or lack of it) is not a problem at ISO 1600

Aperture

For action photography you have to decide if you want to freeze a moment, capture the motion or something in the grey area. If you want to freeze the action you’ll generally want to use a wider aperture to get a sufficiently high shutter speed. The shutter speed required to freeze depends on the pace of the action, and your chosen aperture is determined by the light conditions and your ISO choice. The thing to remember is that shutter speed, aperture and ISO are all intertwined. If you want to read more on apertures then read this previous blog (it contains puppies!). If you want to focus on one, say a faster shutter speed, then this has an adverse affect on the other two factors. If you’re wanting to freeze the action with a fast shutter speed AND also have a large depth of field then you have to increase the ISO. It is also about prioritising the most important factor for you and then compromise with the others. When aiming to freeze the action I am generally in aperture priority mode, where I have set the ISO according to the conditions (usually over 800), and I then choose an aperture to obtain the shutter speed I want.

Frozen Kittiwake

Taken at 1/3800 sec, F5.6, ISO 800

If you want to capture motion blur, say through panning with your subject, then your shutter speed is having less of a constraint on your ISO and aperture so you can change these accordingly to reduce your shutter speed. One way to control this is through shutter speed priority, where you set shutter speed to what you want and then have the aperture in auto mode so it will change to keep the same low shutter speed (with the ISO previously set).

Panning moped

Taken at 1/13 sec, F16 ISO 200

Finally, another set up option for action is to set the aperture and shutter speed to what you want and then have the ISO in automatic mode. You could go fully manual but I find this can quickly lead to problems when trying to capture action, especially if there is a lot going on around you. This method can result in you missing fleeting moments.

Now that you know some action set ups go out and shoot! Let us know what your action set up is with the X-Series and share with us your action shots via our Fujifilm’s Facebook and Twitter. As ever, if you have any questions then please leave a comment below or contact me via:

Twitter – @benji_cherry

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BenCherryPhotography

The right gear for the job – Wildlife

I thought this could be a helpful blog series for individuals looking to invest in equipment with particular interests in mind. This blog series will hopefully cover gear and techniques to help those getting into photography, who want to develop their skill set and knowledge. Because one of my main subject matters is wildlife I thought I’d start off with this genre.

Wildlife photography is a genre that can massively benefit from having suitable equipment, in my eyes more so than many other photography genres (but I’m biased!). To that end it’s good to be prepared with the most suitable gear for the task.

Best Camera – X-T1

The X-T1 has a number of features that make it the most suitable camera for wildlife:

Dolphins
Knowing that my X-T1 and 18-135mm lens set up was weather sealed meant that I could stop worrying about splashes and focus on capturing the dolphins.

First of all it is a weather sealed camera, so when used with a weather sealed lens you have a completely sealed system which is important when outdoors if you’re having to counter water in wet conditions or dust in dry conditions.

Then there is the fast auto focus, which the X-T1 is definitely the best at in the X-Series at this moment in time. The auto focus is very quick in single focus mode with basically every lens available and the continuous focusing mode is also very reliable and quick once focus has locked.

Terns
Fast continuous focus and 8 frames per second meant that I could get the composition just right as these terns flew at me on the Farne Islands.

Being able to shoot at 8 frames per second and take advantage of the latest UHS-II SD cards for fast writing speeds means that this camera can cope with quickly evolving situations where you need fast bursts to capture the action and to be quickly ready to repeat the process.

As well as the camera being great, the accessories can be really helpful, namely the battery grip. Often with wildlife photography you are out and about for many hours and the last thing you want to happen is to be stuck changing batteries just as something exciting is happening (this has happened to me far too many times!). The battery grip holds an extra battery so doubles the time before you need to change your batteries.

Finally, the big thing about to come to the X-T1 (black version) is the electronic shutter. Being able to shoot at up to 1/32000 second is great but is generally not necessary for the lenses used with wildlife photography; but what will be very beneficial is the silent shutter. If you’re close to wildlife or in ear shot then even the slightest sound can set off a timid animal. The X-T1 shutter is by no means loud but certain animals have such finely tuned hearing that the mechanical shutter sound can be enough to scare off your subject.

Back up camera – X-E2

Having two cameras is a good idea for wildlife photography. It is often helpful to have two different lenses on the cameras so you can quickly capture images at different focal lengths, going from the close up headshot to the animal in environment shot. If an X-T1 is out of the question, let alone two of them, then the X-E2 is a brilliant compromise. It offers a more affordable option and though it may not have weather sealing and all the bells and whistles I mentioned above it is still a very capable camera. With 7 frames per second and a hybrid AF system that includes contrast and phase detection, this camera is able to capture fast paced action almost as well as the X-T1.

Lenses

Puffin
The 55-200mm in action.

The 55-200mm is currently the longest lens available for the X-Series until the 140-400mm comes out very soon. Covering a good range with a very useable widest aperture (F3.5-4.8), this lens is a super lightweight option for wildlife photography. The auto focus is fast and accurate plus the lens has OIS (optical image stabilisation) which is great to help you capture sharp shots if you’re handholding.

Moving into the weather sealed lenses, the 18-135mm lens is a brilliant all-in-one wildlife/nature lens to carry around if you’re wanting a one-lens solution. When used on the X-T1 this is a sealed system that has snappy auto focus and OIS to help make sure your shot comes out sharp. If you’re looking to have a more specialist lens(es) then the new 50-140mm is a good place to start, though not as long as the 55-200mm lens it offers a widest constant aperture of F2.8. This is brilliant for photography in darker conditions, such as golden hour at sunrise and sunset. This has been combined with OIS and the world’s first triple linear motor auto focus system to ensure you focus in on your subject quickly and get sharp results. This lens has internal focusing and zoom, helping ensure that no moisture or dust can get into this weather sealed lens.

Wildlife doesn’t always require the longest focal length possible. Often framing your subject within the environment can have a much more powerful effect than the classic headshot close up. The soon to be released 16-55mm lens will be the perfect partner for the 50-140mm lens, providing another weather sealed option with a fast widest aperture of F2.8.

Highland cattle
Highland cattle of the Isle of Skye at 18mm. Not the best ‘wild’life photograph but it helps emphasise the point of framing an animal in its environment.

If you’re interested in macro photography then you have two options, the Fujifilm XF60mm F2.4 or the Zeiss 50mm F2.8. I have used the Fujifilm version and love it, though if you want 1:1 scale then the Zeiss is the way to go. These lenses are also great general purpose lenses, the orang utan photo at the top was taken with the XF60mm.

Ants
Ants crawl over a vivid red plant in the heart of the rainforest in Borneo.
Beetle
An emerald green beetle’s shell glistens from my off camera flash. The XF60mm is a great lens to cover a wide variety of shots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope this has proved helpful to those of you that are looking to invest in the Fujifilm X-Series for wildlife photography. If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or contact me via:

Twitter – @benji_cherry

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BenCherryPhotography

Taking the X-T1 into the deep blue

Just to make it clear, I am not an underwater photographer. I have dabbled in it from time to time in locations of incredible marine life, such as snorkelling around coral reefs. The North Sea has a high abundance of marine life and the coast of Penzance is one of two places that you can consistently see blue sharks (the other is Cape Town). So when Danny Copeland, a fellow University of Sheffield Zoology graduate, spoke about his plan to go and see them with Charles Hood, a local charter skipper (http://charleshood.com), I jumped at the chance to join him.

Previously I have used DSLRs for underwater photography in a Ewa-Marine underwater housing. This time though I wanted to continue to push the X-T1 in difficult conditions so I put it in the same housing with the 10-24mm. Despite being dwarfed by the bag, the set up worked really well.

Thanks to Danny Copeland for this photo of me and the camera. Follow Danny on twitter to get the latest on underwater photography and marine conservation.

Ben Cherry XT1 underwater

Once we reached 10 miles out to sea we started chumming using mackerel heads (yum) to attract the sharks. Once they were in the area the four of us that went on the trip were able to slip into the water. Once I had checked the housing was sealed I swam around to find some subjects and came across this large jellyfish surrounded by lots of little fish. This example highlights the benefit of using a zoom lens underwater as I was able to get two very different perspectives using different focal lengths.

24mm

Blue Shark trip-6

10mmBlue Shark trip

Conditions were generally slightly overcast which actually meant there was a lovely soft light, which helped control the highlights that would have been a problem if it was a clear, sunny day. However this did mean that it was slightly dark in the water, even at the surface, so I shot at ISO 1600 to start and pushed this as the sediment levels rose throughout the day. Other settings I made sure I had set up on the boat were: continuous focus with focus priority, continuous high speed shooting (8fps), matrix metering and LCD only display. Generally I was using aperture f5.6 to strike a balance between a fast shutter speed and a good depth of field.

Because I was wearing a mask and the camera was in a housing I couldn’t utilise the wonderful EVF but instead found the LCD screen to be a great alternative. It allowed me to have a clear view of the shark(s) by not having my face to the camera and provided easy viewing of composition through the back of the camera. The advantage of the X-T1 is that I have not noticed any difference in focusing speeds between the EVF and LCD, which isn’t always the case. All of these factors meant that I could really take in this remarkable experience as one shark in particular became more and more inquisitive…

Rising out of the depth

Blue Shark trip-4

Coming in for a closer look

Blue Shark trip-8

Closer…

Blue Shark

Moments before bumping the lens!

Blue Shark trip-5

The camera only helped to make the experience more memorable, with the shark showing interest in it. With an animal like this it was so interesting to witness its intelligence and curiosity, the term ‘spaniels of the sea’ I feel is very apt. At one stage the shark photo-bombed a picture of Danny!

Shark photo-bomb

Blue Shark trip-7

Despite coming very close, it whole situation was very calm and meant that the interaction was an absolute joy. The shark even seemed to show a happy expression.

Playful shark

Blue Shark trip-2

Overall, the X-T1 and 10-24mm set up exceeded my expectations. I knew it would follow subjects well but I thought that shooting through water would probably lower the hit rate. However, the only factor that affected this was human error. With a specifically designed underwater housing, this camera and lens set up would be a brilliant choice for any underwater photographer, with its small size, clear controls and superb image quality.

Ben Cherry – Who am I?

Hi there, my name is Ben Cherry and I am a guest blogger for Fujifilm. My primary interests are wildlife and travel photography but I’ve previously covered events from motorsport and snowboarding films to fashion shoots and weddings.

I have been a Fujifilm X-Series user for a year now, ever since I used an X-Pro1 for a trip Malaysian Borneo.

Ben Cherry X-Pro1
This is me…

What I look for in a photograph is a moment, from a smile to unusual animal behaviour, I try to capture a photograph that encompasses a situation and can tell a story. To me, photography is a form of story telling, like writing and painting it is how the content is perceived by the viewer that is important. If someone experiences an image, feeling and/or viewing the subject the way the photographer did at the moment of clicking the shutter, then to me that is the ultimate prize in expressing your experience of a moment.

Why Fujifilm?

I use Fujifilm cameras because for me this is the best system for my work, offering superb image quality, a small compact size for travelling and a wonderful enjoyment factor through the manual controls. From the X100s to the X-T1, all of the products I use offer something different to my photography, whether it’s the low light capabilities of the 23mm f1.4, 35mm f1.4 and 56mm f1.2 or the pocket-ability, go nowhere without it, design of the X100s.

The clear purpose and design of each product gives me the clarity needed to choose the right gear for the job at hand. In future posts I will be discussing what the Fujifilm X-Series offers me and also explain some helpful hints and tips for those who are new to photography and to those who are new to the X-Series.

In the meantime you can check out some of my previous blogs here and check out my website and social media:

www.bencherryphotos.com
Facebook page
Twitter
Instagram

What to shoot now – spring into life

It won’t be long before the natural world starts showing signs of life, which will give photographers across the globe plenty of subjects to train their cameras on.

To start, look low to the ground where bulbs will soon start to break the surface of the soil. Getting down low is the key to success and those X-series cameras with an articulated rear LCD will come in handy to help you frame up shots without having to lie on the floor.

Don’t be afraid to crop in close on snowdrops and daffodils, selecting the macro mode to ensure you focus as close as possible. If you’re shooting on a sunny day, placing your camera flat on the ground and pointing the lens upwards will deliver a ‘worm’s eye view’ of the flowers, which works particularly well with yellow crocus, tulips and daffodils set against a deep blue sky. Consider using the Velvia Film Simulation mode to boost colours, or fit a polarising filter to really saturate primary hues.

Feeding time

If you don’t fancy scrabbling in the dirt, birds and wildlife get a little bolder in the springtime as they start searching for mates and building nests. Use a telephoto lens like the XF55-200mm or XC50-230mm to keep a safe distance and make sure you shoot against a clear, uncluttered background such as foliage or even the sky to be sure nothing distracts from the subject. With any wildlife subject you’ll need to be patient; the best shots will come to those who wait… or those who set up feeding stations in their gardens!

Window light portraits

The low sun at this time of year is perfect for people shots indoors. Carefully choose a window – you want sunlight to bathe your subject in, not to blind them. Position your subject nice and close, then switch your camera to aperture-priority mode, using a wide aperture to throw the background out of focus.

Window Light Portraits

A day in your life

If a 365 project is too daunting, perhaps you can manage 24 hours. Pick a typical day and document your life. It’s easy to do with the portable X cameras. Start with your breakfast and only put the camera down when you go to bed. Apply the usual rules though: think about your shots and compose carefully, don’t simply machine-gun it.

A day in your life

Striking silhouettes

Set aside the usual approach to exposing your subject and expose for the background to get a dark, striking silhouette of a person, tree or church – easily recognisable subjects work best. Switch to spot metering and take a reading from the bright background to ensure your subject is rendered as an outline.

Striking Silhouettes

Film fanatics

Emulate the look of yesteryear’s photos with one of the X-series Film Simulation modes. All the X-series cameras offer these magic modes; the X-Pro1 boasts a stunning selection of 10, including names you may remember from film boxes, such as Provia and Velvia. Find them in your camera’s Shooting menu or via the Q menu.

Film Fanatics

Carnival spirit

In countries around the world, Shrove Tuesday (4 March) is a day for celebration; in many, such as Germany and Italy, this means carnival, while in the UK, it’s the chance to flip pancakes. Whichever is happening near you, photograph it. For a carnival parade, try the Pop Color Advanced Filter (on the XQ1, X100S, X-M1, X20 and X10).

Carnival Spirit