X-Thusiast Featured Photographer Simone Cheung

This month, our featured X-Thusiast photographer is bringing social responsibility to the forefront. Her photos from locations around the world incorporate nostalgia and people’s interactions with one another, and are both intriguing and inspiring works of art.

 

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

 

My name is Simone Cheung and I live in Sydney. Largely self-taught, I’ve always had an interest in photography since I was young when I used to take my parents film camera around and take endless photos.

 

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

 

I love travelling and street photography, and I hated lugging around my heavy, bulky SLR. I wanted to downsize my kit without compromising quality and the Fujifilm X-T1 did just that. And let’s be honest, it also makes me look less like a dork photographer!

 


Barber Shop: Split, Croatia. Fujifilm X-T1 + XF14mmF2.8

 

How would you describe your photography style and strategy?

 

Photography has always been a way for me to combine my big passions in life — travel and promoting social responsibility, human rights and social equality. As a result, I do a lot of street photography to show that every single person regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion or social status has that magical moment just waiting to be captured.

 

I enjoy photo documentary and bringing out those social issues through my photography. I have been a volunteer photographer with various not-for-profit organisations including Oxfam, Global Sisters, Women’s March on Sydney and others.

 

What inspires your photography?

 

“Goya” in Urdu means the suspension of disbelief that occurs in good storytelling. That is what my photography is all about — capturing those simple, ordinary moments in a special way where goya occurs; where the “as if” feels like reality.

 

Night Swim: Sydney, Australia. Fujifilm X-T1 + XF23mmF1.4

 

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

 

The beauty of street photography and photo documentary is that you can find a stunning image anywhere, at any time, in any light. The premise of a lot of my images is that even though they are taken in different places at different times around the world, people’s interaction with light is the same, highlighting that we are in fact “more alike than unalike,” in the words of Maya Angelou.

 

Looking through my own photos, I tend to be drawn toward scenes of nostalgia, of places past, lives lived and the glories that used to be. I tend to love photographing in abandoned sites and old shopfronts, and also shooting at night.

 

What is your favourite memory from a photography session?

 

I was recently lucky enough to do a workshop with Andrew Quilty, who is one of my favourite photo journalists. We spent the afternoon on the Manly ferry and the Corso where I was able to watch Andrew in his element and learn from him.

 


Set Fire to the Rain: Port Vila, Vanuatu. Fujifilm X-T1 + XF23mmF1.4

 

Can you tell us what your favourite Fujifilm camera to use is and why?

 

I have only tried my XT-1 and I love it. It fits snugly in my hands and I love the manual dials and just the overall feel of it. Because it is so compact, I take it with me everywhere and my husband no longer has to carry my camera gear anymore when we travel!

 

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

 

I love all of them! I have the XF14mmF2.8, XF23mmF1.4 and XF56mmF1.2 and they are all fantastic. I particularly love the XF56mmF1.2 as it gives nice creamy portraits and is also great for low light.

 

 


Instant Photos: Budapest, Hungary. Fujifilm X-T1 + XF14mmF2.8

 

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

 

I shoot in RAW and I process everything in Lightroom. I am not very good at editing, so I usually only make minor adjustments such as contrast, exposure, etc. I also love the Wi-Fi function of the X-T1 so I can upload straight onto my phone and share on social media. This is particularly handy when I’m travelling.

 

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

 

The main advice is that there is no one magic setting. The more you shoot, the more you will understand what each function does and the impact on your image. Eventually, you will know what settings to use in what environment with only minor tweaking. I tend to shoot very wide apertures to isolate my subjects, which is particularly important in street photography.

 

Schlafwagen: Budapest, Hungary. Fujifilm X-T1 + XF14mmF2.8

 

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

 

I spent many years taking photos (some good, some bad) until I found what my style was. I still experiment a lot with techniques and try to learn and draw inspiration from others. Your gear is only one part of being a photographer; your eyes are the other part.

 

In the shadow: Tumbarumba, Australia. Fujifilm X-T1 + XF23mmF1.4

 

Anything else?

 

I think we need to raise the visibility of women street photographers. When I try to look for inspirational women street photographers, I notice that there are significantly fewer women in street photography than men. Maybe there are less, or maybe they are less visible in the sense that they don’t submit to collectives as much or they don’t receive as much exposure, but we should definitely start celebrating them more.

To view more of Simone’s work visit her website or follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

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

Through a Photographer’s Eye: 10 Photographers Share Their Advice

Over the last 10 weeks you would have seen ten interviews forming series two of Through a Photographer’s Eye. In each interview, we heard from a handful of Australian photographers and how they use Fujifilm X Series cameras to photograph the world around them.

Before Series Three of Through a Photographer’s Eye begins next week, let us take a look back at what advice was shared when each photographer was asked the question:

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

 

Rhys Tattersall

Don’t get caught up on the gear side of things. I learned using film and an old analogue camera. Photography being an art in a sense means there is no wrong way of doing things, only how you perceive it and portray it. Don’t be a copycat, find your own style.

 

Jared Morgan

My advice for someone starting out in photography would be to really learn the basic stuff like composition, colour, exposure, etc. Once you have the basics really sorted, you will be able to make the creative ideas you have in your head.

 

Vision and creativity are of course important, but if you don’t understand how to make it happen, it’s not of much use. I think being good at one will often make you better at the other. Secondly, don’t try and force a particular style. Your own style will develop naturally over time. Don’t follow the latest trends just because something may be popular right now. Develop YOUR photography style.

 

Don’t think the journey ends, never stop learning. Study other photographers, try new techniques and explore your ideas. Remember you will fail, learn from your failures. Lastly, always remember you make your images not the latest gadget!

 

Tony Gardiner

Persistence, keep shooting. Shoot as often as you can and learn from every shot you take. I have been working on professional sets since I was 16 and almost every day I still learn new tricks or techniques that I can store in my bag of tricks.

 

Greg Cromie

A lot of people seem to have a fear about how to use their new gear. I see a lot of questions appear on forums from new photographers saying that they have camera X and lens Y and they want advice on the best settings to shoot something straight forward. This is so unnecessary as unlike in the film days, digital cameras give us limitless opportunity for trial and error. Your only real obstacle is how long your battery will last or how much your SD card can hold.

Be brave and take lots and lots of photos. If you are using a camera like one from the Fujifilm X Series, then set the Aperture and ISO to A (Auto) and just experiment with the Shutter Speed manually for a day or two. At the end of your shoot review your images and take note of the ones that you love and the ones you hate. What settings did you use? The next day, just use ISO on manual to see how this changes your images. Carry your camera everywhere and shoot everything. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your camera. As long as there is a hint of light, you can make an image.

 

Clèment Breuille

The great thing about photography is that you have a lot of different genres to explore. For example, someone who is an excellent portrait photographer might find a new challenge in landscape photography. That’s why I love photography. You always have news technique and things to learn, it never stops.

My first piece of advice would be to not invest too much money in your gear. The most important aspect of your gear is to understand how it works. For that, you should bring it with you daily, take it to work for instance. Shoot as many different subjects as possible, until you learn what settings are best. There’s no need to have a professional camera body to start off with. I’ve seen a lot of people investing in professional cameras without even understanding it.

My second piece of advice would be not to limit yourself and your creativity. Recently I’ve participated in a creative meetup at the Vivid festival in Sydney. The purpose of the event was to produce an image based on the particular brief. By participating in meetups like this, you will find your creativity. As a designer, I’ll never be able to produce something if I didn’t have direction from the client. The same should be said when it comes to your photography. Try and push your ideas so that they develop into photos.

My final advice would be to stay aware and connected. With the chance to live in a connected world, where it’s easy to share and learn from other people it’s a great place to learn. I have watched a lot of tutorials on YouTube and other social media platforms to understand how to achieve things in my photography journey.

Share your work and ask for feedback. Even if the feedback is negative, remember people are judging an image not you. By listening and exploring your creativity, you will only improve your work.

 

Bhagiraj Sivagnanasundaram

Learn how to be a tough critic of your images. You can book a trip for a few thousand, buy the most expensive photography gear to take to your exotic location, but at the end of the day in the hotel room; you should be brave enough to delete most of those images which you think are not the best. You shouldn’t reflect on the amount of effort you put in to get those shots.

There is a difference between ‘creating’ images and ‘taking/capturing’ images. Photography is an art; we have to be the creators of the art. Perfection needs experience, and even with the best experience, it’s highly doubtful that anyone would become just perfect in image making, but keep fighting for it. Cherish the better pictures that you make today and compare these to the ones you shot last week and keep going. Keep connecting well with fellow photographers and share knowledge. Remember, it is not about the destination, but more about the journey. Good Luck!

 

Joe Allam

The best advice I can give to anyone starting out is to always have a camera with you. Sometimes you never know when you may come across a shot, but more importantly, it’s about knowing your camera inside out, so that when you do come across the right shot, you’re prepared for it, with a camera you know how to use.

On too many occasions I see beginner photographers get frustrated in a situation because they can’t get a look or style they have in mind, or the camera is “acting weird”. Take the time to truly get to know your equipment by shooting often, and you’ll soon find that your creative side will start to improve as you try to find better ways of shooting your everyday life!

 

Chelsey Elliott

When I dusted off the old Canon DSLR, I took a couple of intensive online courses to brush up on the basics and just started to take shots of everything. The more I practised, the easier it was to remember what the best aperture was for a certain light, what the ISO was for, white balance, metering and all those things that slip the mind.

 

Then once I was comfortable with the basics – I picked a decent camera system (X Series) that I knew I would use ALL THE TIME. So choose a camera that you will have on you, as the best camera to buy is the one you will use. The X Series cameras fit in my jogging backpack, so I take one with me every day I go for a run. That way it’s there for a quick snap if the light looks good, or if something interesting pops around the corner.

 

I encourage everyone to get an Instagram account… even if it’s just for inspiration from the thousands of talented artists sharing their knowledge. It’s a fantastic media channel to review different styles, research your next shoot location or to build a connection with other like-minded photographers. It’s extremely satisfying when one of your favourite photographers leaves a positive comment on your photo; it encourages me to get back out there and create another beautiful image.

 

And finally I recommend taking up a daily photo challenge for a month, it will force you to take chances, put yourself out there and be creative.

 

Athol Hill

Don’t become despondent about the number of good photographs you get when you start out. Novices often have a flawed perception about photography because they’ll see the 50 perfect wedding photographs in an album, not the 400 that didn’t make the cut. They aren’t aware that a studio photographer might take 100 photographs to get that one perfect shot. There are very few perfect first shot photographs, that is reality of photography. In time, your success rates will improve and you’ll have a higher percentage of keepers, but it’s a journey fraught with learnings and failure.

It’s also important to find a medium that allows you to get constructive criticism. It’s great to post a photo on Facebook or Instagram and get 50 likes, and don’t stop that because the endorphins help keep your enthusiasm going. The challenge is 50 likes on Facebook won’t teach you how to make a good photo into a great photo, or a great photo into a spectacular photo and that’s the key to your progression. Don’t be scared of constructive criticism; we all started somewhere and making mistakes is a natural part of learning. Every mistake is an opportunity to do it better next time.

 

Thomas Brown

I grew up on the beautiful mid-north coast of New South Wales. My interest in photography evolved through my interest in cinematography and video editing. I picked up my first real digital still camera in 2011 for the purpose of creating high-resolution time-lapse sequences for a personal short film project.

 

Around 2014 things started to change, and my photography interest overtook my filmmaking interest. Since then I have been in the constant pursuit of making pictures and have really enjoyed the journey so far. Career wise, up until a year and a half ago I had worked as a camera operator and video editor in TV commercial production. I am currently undergoing a bachelor degree in Creative Arts & Graphic Design.

Light and Land: A Tour of Scotland’s West Coast

By Ben Osborne

My Fujifilm adventure began six months ago when I borrowed a FUJIFILM X-T2 and a couple of lenses for an expedition to Antarctica. This was an introduction to an unfamiliar camera system that I had never used before but which I immediately had to use under some of the most challenging conditions on earth. It was a baptism by fire but it was also love at first sight. Continue reading Light and Land: A Tour of Scotland’s West Coast

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Thomas Brown

Welcome to the Second 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 last interview in Series Two is with New South Wales based photographer, Thomas Brown.

Thomas, your landscape and contemporary work is unique, can you tell us a bit about yourself and when you first picked up a camera?

I grew up on the beautiful mid-north coast of New South Wales. My interest in photography evolved through my interest in cinematography and video editing. I picked up my first real digital still camera in 2011 for the purpose of creating high-resolution time-lapse sequences for a personal short film project.

 

Around 2014 things started to change, and my photography interest overtook my filmmaking interest. Since then I have been in the constant pursuit of making pictures and have really enjoyed the journey so far. Career wise, up until a year and a half ago I had worked as a camera operator and video editor in TV commercial production. I am currently undergoing a bachelor degree in Creative Arts & Graphic Design.

 

 

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

My advice would be just to start shooting and creating. It’s all time spent experimenting and doing, that’s where all the learning happens. I would tell anyone starting out just to hang a camera around your neck and go for a walk; you will most likely be drawn to certain scenes that will naturally appeal to your creative eye.

 

Study different photographic genres, you will probably find that you are interested in more than one, and that is totally fine. Consider it all a personal, evolving journey of learning and experimentation. Most of all it is important to have fun.

 

 

When using your X-Pro2 is there any particular settings you use for night shots?

I use the X-Pro2 mostly handheld at night. The benefit of shooting this way allows me to quickly visualise the idea, frame the image, take the exposure and continue on. That’s what I love about the X Series cameras they perform very well in situations like this.

For my handheld contemporary/night work my settings hover around low shutter speeds, which are just high enough not to introduce handheld motion blur. My ISO is normally around 800 to 1600, and the aperture usually sits between F2 and F4, which is all dependent on the scene’s brightness. Similar settings are used when I’m shooting with a tripod too.

 

 

You said you currently use a Medium Format camera, what was your reaction when Fujifilm’s GFX 50S medium format was released based on your experience with APS-C sized X Series cameras?

Yes, I had been shooting on a Pentax 50MP medium format camera for over two years. The problem was that once I got my Fujifilm X100T and X-Pro2, I noticed that I stopped reaching for the 645Z. The X Series cameras were too much fun!

 

When I heard about the GFX 50S, I couldn’t help but think how special it would be, especially if it had the same magic in it that I first felt when introduced to the X100T. I decided to move away from the Pentax medium format camera and have gone all in with Fujifilm X Series cameras.

 

For the work, I create they really allow me to be more mobile and discrete. X Series cameras get out of your way and let you focus on creating work, and I love that aspect of shooting with them.

 

 

What Fujifilm gear do you take with you on the road when capturing your travels? Do you have any storage tips you could share?

In my kit, I have two camera bodies, the X-Pro2 and X-T2, as well as four lenses; a 12mmF2, XF23mmF2 R WR, XF35mmF2 R WR and the XF56mmF1.2 R. Generally, I reach for the X-Pro2 mounted with either the XF23mmF2 or XF35mmF2, that’s my go to setup.

 

I keep all my gear safe in a craft-wright hard case while at home, and in a Vanguard Sedona 45 Backpack while out and about. I’m paranoid about dampness and mould, so I would advise having some form of a dehumidifier in your camera bag or case.

 

 

 

You have recently published a book which includes images captured using the Fujifilm X Series system. What was the biggest challenge you faced in this project?

I spent the majority of the 2016 working on a series of images I named “Regional Moments”. Capturing regional scenes and presenting them is cinematic ways. The hardest part of the project was trying to work out when to complete the series.

 

Right when I thought I was finished, another idea or location would present itself. Although the first book has been published, the series continues, so a sequel is on the cards. I made well over half of the images in the book with the X100T and X-Pro2, the ability to have a small yet very capable package proved to be invaluable to the project.

 

 

Can you provide some insight into your workflow process from capture to the final result?

I always capture my images in RAW, and they go straight into Adobe Camera Raw for initial adjustments and then into Adobe Photoshop for masking and further colour work. Depending on the image and idea the workflow can vary quite a bit.

For the contemporary and night images, I usually start off with either Provia Standard or Classic Chrome profiles in camera raw. I generally process quite dark for most of my images, so tweaking the exposure is the next step. I usually utilise a tonal curves adjustment to slightly lift the blacks, and even introduce some blue into the shadows. Depending on the image I may add some subtle film grain to give the image some life. A key ingredient to my workflow is the use of one of my many custom created LUT’s (Colour Look Up Tables).

For landscape post-processing, I like to capture at least 3-5 images with the focus at varying distances in the scene. I then will use these frames to merge them into one razor sharp image. Then the rest is usually tonal curves, blending, colour balance and sometimes dodging and burning.

 

 

 

If you could add a feature on a future Fujifilm X Series camera what would it be and why?

I had to really think about this question. It’s hard to fault the Fujifilm X Series cameras especially with the regular firmware updates we get. I’m pretty happy with everything but if I were to ask for something extra it would be to enable 4K video on the X-Pro2.

 

To view more Thomas’s work visit his website or follow him on Instagram or Facebook.

 

Other interviews in this series

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Rhys Tattersall

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Jared Morgan

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Tony Gardiner

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Greg Cromie

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Clèment Breuille

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Bhagiraj Sivagnanasundaram

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Joe Allam

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Chelsey Elliott

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Athol Hill

 

Capturing Dance Choreography in Cuba

By Mickael Marso Riviere

Mickael Marso Riviere is a Bboy (break dancer), creative director and choreographer. Being a keen photographer, Mickael enjoys shooting his choreography work, as well as travel photography in locations where his work takes him. In this article he shares his images and experiences using his Fujifilm kit on a recent trip to Cuba. Continue reading Capturing Dance Choreography in Cuba

Sports Photography as a Spectator – Eventing

By Jeff Carter

In a series of articles X Photographer Jeff Carter will be shooting at sports events in the UK and showing how to capture great images with the Fujifilm X Series without the need for a media pass. Continue reading Sports Photography as a Spectator – Eventing

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Athol Hill

Welcome to the Second 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 Two is with Melbourne based photographer, Athol Hill.

 

Athol, you go by the name of ‘The Overrated Photographer’ online, can you tell us why and how you got started in photography?

 

I picked the name because of the keyboard warriors on the internet. I wanted a website where I could document my photographic journey and calling myself “The Overrated Photographer” seemed like a humorous way to eliminate the trolls.

 

Photography was a lazy start for me. I did most people did; I bought a DSLR and left it on auto or used the scene modes. I thought that photography was a talent you were born with. I’d hear people say a photographer had a good eye and I assumed I didn’t have it.

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR – 1/1400 second – F4 – ISO 200

 

My real introduction to photography came when I was kitesurfing regularly, and there weren’t many people taking photos of kitesurfers. I went through the process of learning the manual settings of my camera and over time, I started to realise that the “photography eye” was something you developed through experience and skill.

With the arrival of my children, my extreme sports photography opportunities dried up. This forced me to extend out to unfamiliar genres to keep myself taking photos, namely environmental portraits, family and street/abstract.

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF35mmF2 R WR – 1/4700 second – F2 – ISO 200

 

 

What do you most enjoy about photography and how have Fujifilm X Series cameras impacted the way you shoot?

 

Photography is my artistic and creative release. I’ve used to feel I had the artistic capacity of a brick because I lacked the ability to do the conventional arts (painting, drawing and sculpting). When I discovered photography it was the realisation that I found my creative art.

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR – 1/5800 second – F2.8 – ISO 200

 

Prior to moving to Fujifilm, I had bought into the propaganda machine that told us we “need” full frame cameras to create good photos. Fujifilm has given me an appreciation for how small my gear is and yet, I have lost absolutely nothing from an image quality perspective. My photographs look better than they did before and my bag weighs half of what it did.

 

I also think that photography is an ongoing learning process and EVF’s offer more opportunity for improvement because we’ve gone from imagining the photo to seeing them immediately.

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF35mmF2 R WR – 1/250 second – F8 – ISO 200

 

 

If we were to look into your camera bag what Fujifilm X Series equipment would we find?

 

I have a broad set of gear that I choose from depending on type of photography I am doing. That includes:

X-T2

X-E2S

X100T

XF23mmF2

XF35mmF2

XF60mmF2.4

XF90mmF2

XF16-55mmF2.8

XF50-140mmF2.8

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR – 1/250 second – F3.6 – ISO 400

 

What’s your favourite photo you’ve captured using the XF90mmF2, can you tell us the story behind the image?

 

My favourites will always come out of family due to the emotional attachment. My favourite is the one of my youngest daughter in a superhero mask, not because of the technical merit of the photograph or the composition, but simply because it epitomises the way children are. They’re about imagination, having fun and enjoying the moment. We forget that as adults and children help remind us.

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR – 1/900 second – F2.8 – ISO 1600

 

 

What photography genre do you prefer to shoot and why do you enjoy it?

 

Some people find a single genre and stay with it. I found this challenging because I appreciate different sides from each genres.

 

I’ve always loved extreme sports because the athletes inspire me. I enjoy watching people push their boundaries further and when people see a camera out, the “show off” side of their ego makes an appearance. The challenge with a family is finding the time to get out regularly, so more recently my preference now is environmental/child portraits and street/abstract, simply because of the accessibility.

Environmental/child portraits offer more opportunity to convey emotion whilst street, offers a broad variety of subjects and forces you to think outside the box.

 

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF90mmF2 R LM WR – 1/1000 second – F2 – ISO 1250

 

 

Can you mention where you might find your inspiration on any given day before you go out and shoot?

 

Finding inspiration with extreme sports is easier (when you have time) because I actively participate. I can look out the window and if there is wind, I’ll head to the beach for kitesurfing and take some photos before or after the session.

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF90mmF2 R LM WR – 1/110 second – F2 – ISO 200

 

For other genres it’s a little harder, and you have to push yourself outside your comfort zone. I try to carry a camera everywhere with me. That was part of the reason for getting the X100T, it offers accessibility and small size without compromising quality.

 

 

How do you find the Fujifilm X-T2 performs when reacting to something happening quickly before you? Does it get the job done and what’s the image quality like?

 

Pre-children, I used to think photographing sports was the peak of AF challenges, but I’d say photographing kids is far more challenging to AF system. With most sports, you have a defined path the object or person is moving in so that makes it predictable to large degree. A skater goes up in the air, does a trick and you know where he is going to go and when he will do it. Kids on the other hand will do what they want, when they want, and how they want, and there is no warning. The challenge becomes two-fold, keeping the lens on them and having the AF keep up. For these scenarios, I find the AF system in the X-T2 is remarkable. There are very few photos where the AF hasn’t done its job, it’s normally my inability to move the camera quickly enough that’s the problem.

 

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF90mmF2 R LM WR – 1/320 second – F2.8 – ISO 2000

 

I also think having full AF capability on the rear tilt screen is an advantage because it allows you to get low without having to lie down. There are no DSLR’s that offer comparable AF in liveview and in some situations, like a skate park, you can’t lie down or you are in the path of skaters. You must be on the move, getting out of the way quickly.

 

 

If you could see Fujifilm develop a future XF lens that doesn’t exist what would it be and what would you photograph with it?

 

A part of me that is still tied to extreme sports and for that reason, it happens to be one of lenses on the roadmap for 2018, namely the wide angle zoom. The wide angle zoom is something I’ve been waiting for. It’s not because I don’t like the 10-24mmF4, but primarily for weather resistance. When you shoot wide in water sports, you are generally close enough to be hit by the spray. I typically use a rain hood, but if something does happen, you want the environmental sealing for peace of mind.

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR – 1/1250 second – F2.8 – ISO 6400

 

 

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

 

Don’t become despondent about the number of good photographs you get when you start out. Novices often have a flawed perception about photography because they’ll see the 50 perfect wedding photographs in an album, not the 400 that didn’t make the cut. They aren’t aware that a studio photographer might take 100 photographs to get that one perfect shot. There are very few perfect first shot photographs, that is reality of photography. In time, your success rates will improve and you’ll have a higher percentage of keepers, but it’s a journey fraught with learnings and failure.

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF35mmF2 R WR – 1/250 second – F8 – ISO 200

 

It’s also important to find a medium that allows you to get constructive criticism. It’s great to post a photo on Facebook or Instagram and get 50 likes, and don’t stop that because the endorphins help keep your enthusiasm going. The challenge is 50 likes on Facebook won’t teach you how to make a good photo into a great photo, or a great photo into a spectacular photo and that’s the key to your progression. Don’t be scared of constructive criticism; we all started somewhere and making mistakes is a natural part of learning. Every mistake is an opportunity to do it better next time.

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF35mmF2 R WR – 1/350 second – F16 – ISO 200

 

To view more Athol’s work visit his website or follow him on Instagram, Twitter or Flickr.

Other interviews in this series

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Rhys Tattersall

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Jared Morgan

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Tony Gardiner

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Greg Cromie

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Clèment Breuille

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Bhagiraj Sivagnanasundaram

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Joe Allam

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Chelsey Elliott

 

 

Travel Adventures with the FUJIFILM X-T20

04. DarrenBrogan-DBGN0761-Swiss

By Darren Brogan

Headshot-DarrenBrogan

Darren is a keen traveler and photography enthusiast from the town of Dunfermline in Fife, Scotland. For Darren, photography has always been a bit of a hobby and is closely intertwined with his passion for travel. As often as he can, Darren likes to get out and explore the world around him. Whether he is hiking the rural highlands of Scotland or roaming the sprawling cities of Asia, he will undoubtedly have his camera at his side. The goal of his photography has always been to visually document his adventures and to share them with others in attempt to inspire. Instagram is his preferred platform to share his work and to engage with fellow travelers from around the world, you can follow him at instagram.com/poetic_mouse.

He has been shooting with the Fujifilm X Series since late 2015. Continue reading Travel Adventures with the FUJIFILM X-T20

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Chelsey Elliott

Welcome to the Second 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 Two is with Manly based photographer, Chelsey Elliott.

Chelsey, tell us about yourself and what made you choose Fujifilm X Series equipment to express your vision?

 

I started my photography passion in the SLR film days when I was taking more bad shots than good and spending all my money on film processing. When DSLRs appeared I bought a Canon like most people and took a million shots for a few years before I landed in a corporate career that took up my time and energy – so the camera was put aside.

 

Living in Manly, on Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches I met a great photojournalist Bradley Hunter, who really encouraged me to pick up the camera again and asked me to help him with his project of shooting a photo a day of local life in Manly. It was Bradley that introduced me to the Fujifilm X Series and the amazing X-T1. I instantly loved the compact, light feel, and the mirrorless feature of ‘what you see is what you get’ in the images.

 

The X-T1 gave me the ability to carry a discrete small camera everywhere, and the confidence to experiment with settings that were right at my finger tips – it was quite freeing. Then there is the weather sealing on the Fujifilm X-T1 and X-T2! I love to travel, heading to snow fields annually and spending many weekends shooting seascape/ocean shots, so my gear is usually getting splashed, rained on or frozen. I’m glad to say I’ve never had an issue or a worry with my cameras or lenses, even in an igloo in the Arctic Circle…in winter!

 

Seagull to the Rescue – Manly Beach, NSW

Fujifilm X-T1 – XF18-55mmF2.8-4 – 27.7mm – 1/400 second – F8 – ISO 200   

 

 

Your portfolio is quite diverse, how do you challenge yourself to keep taking interesting photos?

 

I guess, coming back into photography only a few years ago, I am still trying to find my preferred niche – so I’m trying out a range of ideas and styles to keep myself versatile. I am inspired by the beautiful place I live, so you will see a lot of landscape/seascape, and I am influenced greatly by the amazing artists on Instagram like Warren Keelan, Andy Mann and Kahn Ficarra. Shooting for a daily project also really forced me to take a different angle or find a new idea to keep the audience interested and coming back every day. I completely recommend a project like that for anyone stuck in a rut or wanting to be challenged.

 

When shooting a scene that has been done by the masses, like the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Manly Beach, I do try to find that different angle or odd composition to keep the picture appealing to the eye. So you will see me often lying down to find a reflection, or hiding behind trees to find some good framing.

 

Foam Dances – Manly Beach, NSW

Fujifilm X-T1 – XC50-230mmF4.5-6.7 – 95.4mm – 1/400 second –  F7.1 – ISO 400   

 

Bridge Reflections – Kirribilli, NSW

Fujifilm X-T1 – XF10-24mmF4 – 12.6mm – 1 second – F22 – ISO 200   

 

You recently made the upgrade to a Fujifilm X-T2 after starting with the X-T1. In your opinion was the upgrade in megapixels and features worth it and how has your photography improved since then?

 

Once I started to pick up some freelance work, I invested in a second body for on-location travel jobs. Luckily the X-T2 had just been released, and I’ve found it to be a really amazing camera. I can see the difference in image quality when I print beyond A2 size images for sale, and that quality definition is so important as I move into higher paid contracts. With the confidence of a ‘pro’ level camera producing money worthy shots, I have been able to put my name out there more for commercial jobs knowing that the end product is worthy of international marketing material. Not to forget to mention the Fujinon lenses – no one can argue that Fujifilm makes some of the best lenses in the world.

 

I’d really like to use the video features more on the X-T2 as the quality is outstanding and today’s digital-minded audience has come to expect great videos to keep them engaged. That visual medium is certainly my weak point, and I find it very challenging to compose a story correctly, it’s not something that comes naturally or comfortably to me. With some time and patience, I hope to greatly improve my videography skills using the X-T2.

 

Sunrise Ripples – Lake Macquarie, NSW

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF10-24mmF4 – 10mm – 1/60 second –  F4 – ISO 320   

 

 

Smoking Pipe – Manly Beach, NSW

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF10-24mmF4 – 10mm – 1/250 second –  F4.5 – ISO 800   

 

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

 

When I dusted off the old Canon DSLR, I took a couple of intensive online courses to brush up on the basics and just started to take shots of everything. The more I practised, the easier it was to remember what the best aperture was for a certain light, what the ISO was for, white balance, metering and all those things that slip the mind.

 

Then once I was comfortable with the basics – I picked a decent camera system (X Series) that I knew I would use ALL THE TIME. So choose a camera that you will have on you, as the best camera to buy is the one you will use. The X Series cameras fit in my jogging backpack, so I take one with me every day I go for a run. That way it’s there for a quick snap if the light looks good, or if something interesting pops around the corner.

 

I encourage everyone to get an Instagram account… even if it’s just for inspiration from the thousands of talented artists sharing their knowledge. It’s a fantastic media channel to review different styles, research your next shoot location or to build a connection with other like-minded photographers. It’s extremely satisfying when one of your favourite photographers leaves a positive comment on your photo; it encourages me to get back out there and create another beautiful image.

 

And finally I recommend taking up a daily photo challenge for a month, it will force you to take chances, put yourself out there and be creative.

 

Cloud Mountain – Curl Curl Beach, NSW

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF18-55mmF2.8-4 – 18mm – 1/1600 second – F8 – ISO 200   

 

 

 

What is your favourite beach image you have taken with the X-T2 and XF10-24mmF4 lens? Can you tell us the story behind the photo and how you captured it?

 

This one – I call it “Molten Cream” – was taken on Easter Sunday at sunset on my favourite beach in the whole world – North Curl Curl, NSW. The gold colours being reflected off the wet sand were intense, so I wanted to give it some contrast, or relief to the eye by adding in the swirling white foam water. I had to wade in with my gear and turn my back to the waves which is usually not the best idea if you want to stay mostly dry. I have fallen in love with the shapes that ocean foam creates which you only can appreciate when frozen in a photo – the swirl in the bottom left corner really grabs the eye.

It’s not the best composition as I feel it needs a figure in the centre to give it a proper focal point, but the magic of this beach is how unpopulated it always is, so this image (to me) highlights that feeling of a secluded untouched location.

 

The XF10-24mmF4 is my go to lens for all my landscapes. I purchased it for my Scandinavian trip last year, knowing I’d have some expansive mountain and waterfall scenery to capture. Even at the ultra-wide focal length of 10mm, the distortion is so minimal, and the sharpness is unbeatable. It has also functioned without missing a beat in minus 15-degree chilly temperatures!

 

Molten Cream – North Curl Curl Beach, NSW

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF10-24mmF4 – 10mm – 1/75 second – F5.6 –  ISO 200   

 

Do you have any tips on how to best photograph pets? Is there a best time to photograph them or a particular lens you would recommend?

 

Pet photography is certainly something I’d love to do more of. It’s a growing market as our cute fur-babies are more and more treated as a member of the family. As a devoted animal lover, what better way to spend time than playing with a puppy!

It’s a funny thing about animals, but they really find the lens an uncomfortable thing to look into, most dogs will look away like it’s a big eye staring at them. For close ups, I’ll have a stick, a favourite toy or a treat either just under or above the lens. The photo comes back like they are looking straight into the camera, but really they are waiting for their reward for being so patient. Time of day really depends on the type of animal but generally mornings and evenings when everyone’s a bit more active and playful.

 

For lenses, I like to use the XF35mmF2 lens for more ‘profile’ static type shots. It’s really versatile in a range of lighting conditions and picking up highlights, textures and being small is not so off-putting to the shy ones. Have the lens wide open at F2 really allows the image to be all about the face, or eyes, and less about the background. The incredible sharpness of the picture produced by the XF35mmF2 will really surprise you.

 

For more action shots you need a zoom like XF18-55mmF2.8-4 as a dog will run in and out of frame catching their toy.   The best thing about shooting dogs in action is they are more than happy to keep repeating the same shot until you get it right… just keep throwing the ball!

 

 

Freedom – Queenscliff, NSW

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF18-55mmF2.8-4 – 18mm – 1/350 second – F7.1 – ISO 200

 

What amount of time do you spend capturing photos versus being in front of the computer editing them? Do you find Fujifilm X Series equipment helps you be more creative?

 

You can easily get lost in the editing process, and over time the photo gets further away from the true picture, and you can lose hours heading down the rabbit hole of minute adjustments. So I have some of my own rules for the RAF/RAW images that I want to prepare for sale/print.

 

  1. Start editing the next day, or at least ½ a day later. It helps you to see the photo subjectively as opposed to the emotional connection you had when you took it. Sometimes your emotion can subconsciously lead you to over edit as you try to find the point of perfection that your mind remembers.

 

  1. Edit in a 3 phased approach – moving between photos each phase. First time to fix up the obvious (crop, dust, etc.). Second to adjust contrast, highlights, etc. The final step is to dial back what you did in the second phase, and then you have the perfect amount of adjustment.

 

These rules help me spend a lot more time behind the camera; I can happily sit and shoot at waves for hours on end, then editing the best one up in 10-15mins. Having now learnt NOT to take 100’s of shots of the same thing, my culling process is a lot faster than it used to be.

 

For the many photos that I don’t need to edit from RAF/RAW – the JPEGs that are produced by the X Series are incredible. I love the different film options available in camera, with Astia/Soft being a favourite. I also use the Bracketing functionality for my landscapes to give a HDR feel, the exposure options are perfect.

 

 

Shadow Puppet – Lowe Head, Tasmania

Fujifilm X-T1 – XF 18-55mmF2.8-4 – 18.8mm – 1.3 seconds – F5 – ISO5000   

 

We noticed you travelled to Iceland, what advice would you give someone who is planning on going and what Fujifilm X Series equipment would you recommend they take?

 

I have been fortunate to have travelled to many amazing countries all over the globe, and I have to say that Iceland is the most extraordinary place in the world. It should be on every landscape photographers bucket list. I visited Iceland for New Year’s Eve, so it was a white winter wonderland with quite low light and very short days. Having a week there, we only managed to cover the south coast from Reykjavik to the iceberg fields of Jokulsarlon. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t helping us view the Aurora Borealis. I have put Iceland back on my bucket list to visit in summer time when the land is completely green and the waterfalls at full flowing force.

 

If travelling there in winter, I recommend a good sturdy tripod that will stand up to the cold temperatures. The one I took from Australia pretty much shattered in the below 10-degree temperatures so now I have a replacement bought locally that is carbon fibre. For cameras, I can only recommend either the X-T1 or X-T2. The weather sealing was so important as it was often icy, snowing or raining and windy. The easy access settings dials were a huge help when you didn’t want to take your warm gloves off!

 

As for lenses, take an ultra-wide or wide angle, the vistas were immense, the waterfalls so tall that you virtually needed to take a panorama just to capture the full scene. I also recommend a prime lens with large aperture, like a F2 or F1.4 to assist with the low light conditions. Don’t forget your remote trigger, plenty of batteries and memory cards in case you are lucky enough to witness the elusive Northern Lights.

 

Skogafoss, Iceland

X-T1 XF10-24mmF4 – 10mm – 1 second – F22 – ISO 200

 

To view more Chelsey’s work visit her website, 500px gallery or follow her growing Instagram account.

Other interviews in this series

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Rhys Tattersall

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Jared Morgan

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Tony Gardiner

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Greg Cromie

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Clèment Breuille

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Bhagiraj Sivagnanasundaram

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Joe Allam