Nice one, centurion

By Roger Payne

Is it just me, or have other people experienced a weird phenomenon when they start using Fujifilm X-series cameras? I’m not talking about aesthetics here, I’m talking more fundamental, cerebral kinda stuff.

Lately, thanks to the nice people at Fujifilm UK, I’ve been able to get my hands on some of the X-series models. I’ve tried the X100S (it’s very nice), the X-T1 (it’s very nice) and, most recently the X-E2 (it’s, erm, very nice). But when I’ve gone back and looked at some of the shots I’ve taken with this trio of models they all bear the hallmarks of me transforming into some wannabe reportage-come-street photographer. It’s really quite alarming.

To understand the full gravitas of this situation, it’s important for you to understand what sort of a photographer I was before I started using X-series cameras. The immediate word that springs to mind is ‘safe’. Technically adept, but safe. I photographed landscapes because they don’t move, buildings because they don’t talk back to you and my dog, because he’ll do pretty much anything with the promise of a treat. The idea of photographing a fellow human being filled me with fear while the very thought of photographing a fellow human being in a candid way would have me blowing into a paper bag to calm my nerves.

But Fujifilm cameras have changed all that.

I’d borrowed the X-E2 to go on a short city break to Rome. It was accompanied by an XF18-55mm and an XF10-24mm. Ordinarily on a trip of this type, I would have sought out the tourist hot-spots, documented them in my technically adept way and then gone home to bury them on an external hard drive, never to be seen again. But with the X-E2 in my hand, I became some kind of gung-ho street photographer, snapping pretty much anything that moved, and some things that didn’t. Within minutes, Rome went from a selection of photo locations carefully plotted on a tourist map to a photographer’s playground. My playground, to be precise.

The pictures I’ve brought home are unlike anything I’ve ever captured in a foreign city. They include people; people I’ve never met before, nor will I ever meet again. As you can see, they do also include a few shots where I lapsed into capturing subjects that didn’t have the ability to talk to me, but even these are a little different. They’re not hackneyed scenes photographed millions of times before by others, they’re my interpretations of the locations I visited; they communicate how I was feeling and how I viewed the area.

How was the X-E2? Well, it was excellent. Sure, it could do with an articulated rear screen, but I also enjoyed not having an optical viewfinder option to choose from; the finder in the X-T1 is fantastic, but I didn’t miss its functionality. In fact, I preferred the X-E2’s viewfinder simplicity (just don’t tell Fujifilm, OK?). The lenses were great, too – sharp, easy to use, no complaints.

So, am I alone, or have other experienced feeling of photographic invincibility with an X-series camera in their hands? Oh ok, just me then.

Couple. XF18-55mm, 1/80sec at f6/4, ISO 400.
Couple. XF18-55mm, 1/80sec at f6/4, ISO 400.

‘Coming round the mountain’ with Dale and his X-E2.

Who doesn’t love a little adventure from time to time? 

My adventure begins with simplest of texts: “Fancy coming to Wales for a week, for free?” sent from my Mum on a weekday morning. Well who could pass on an opportunity like that? I hadn’t done a great deal of landscape photography and knew that this was a great chance to up my skills in this area.

I mentioned my trip to a few colleagues and they suggested I grab some ND Graduated filters to give me more control over the exposure of sky and land. I had never used an ND Filter before, but was excited to give them a go. I knew I couldn’t afford anything decent so I simply bought some £15 (delivered) ND filters with holders on Ebay.

So a few weeks later, fully prepared with all the bits and bobs (tripod, batteries, etc) we set off. I had only been to Wales once as a kid and didn’t remember it that well. All I knew was that I would see LOTS of sheep. Here was a little snap I caught and loved of one of the first sheep I saw there.

Blowing raspberries?
Blowing raspberries?

After settling into our holiday home, we planned out the week ahead. This included going into the underground mines, climbing Snowdon, visiting Anglesey and other holiday-type locations.

Destination number one had to be Snowdon as the weather forecast was looking good and we wanted the best visability when we made it to the top. My Fiancée and I decided to take the Snowdon Ranger path as it was recommended as beautiful and not too difficult.

Here are some of the shots going up the mountainside.

WALE0712
ISO 200 – f/7.1 – 1/105 – XF10-24mm
WALE0724
ISO 200 – f/6.4 – 1/120 – XF10-24mm
WALE0788
ISO 200 – f/11 – 1/100 – XF10-24mm

You may notice that the sky has that slight layered darkness to it, that is the ND grad filters. They help darken the sky area so the whole picture can be exposed correctly. Without them the sky would have been bright white and the colours would’ve been washed out. One problem I did face with the ND filters was that because they were cheap, they had a tendency to give a magenta colour cast on the image. To combat the issue, I used Photoshop to target problem areas using a Solid fill layer set to overlay and then picked a more suitable colour.

Once we made it to the top we saw the train that runs alongside the Llanberis path. A beautiful train though it was, I am glad we walked up for the sense of achievement and also the train did seem rather old and clunky! Made for a great snap though.

WALE0744
ISO 200 – f/9 – 1/90 – XF10-24mm
WALE0769
ISO 200 – f/6.4 – 1/750 – XF10-24mm

Here is the view from the very top. I boosted the colours a bit in Photoshop but it really was that clear and that beautiful. I highly recommend taking a visit if you can.
WALE0737

Now I love visiting Castles, something about the history and the medieval era interest me somewhat. So it is not surprising that we had to take a trip to the recommended – Conwy Castle. Unfortunately I didn’t get many good shots of the castle itself as I would have wanted to take them from the sea as a landscape shot and we didn’t come in from that side. However, it did give me an excellent viewpoint to trial the ‘Miniature’ mode on the camera. Here are some of the shots taken from the top.

WALE0488
ISO 200 – f/5.6 – 1/125 – XF56mm
WALE0496
ISO 200 – f/2.5 – 1/750 – XF56mm
WALE0490
ISO 200 – f/4 – 1/180 – XF56mm

One of my favourite days out had to be travelling round Anglesey. It was my turn to drive out of the family and I must say it was truly excellent. The roads were full of interest with their twists & turns, cliff edges and mountainous surroundings and the views were simply picturesque – everywhere. I remember I kept saying “We will get a picture here on the way back”, I said that about 20 times as pretty much every corner I turned there was another shot waiting to be taken.

One of the first places we stopped was a little place on the coast that I cannot remember the name due to it being “Oh that looks nice, let’s stop here for a minute and take some snaps”. A couple of hours later we were still there enjoying the views and wandering along the coastline.

Here are a few shots from this ‘unknown’ location using the ND grad filters again.

WALE0613
ISO 200 – f/4 – 1/800 – XF10-24mm
WALE0637
ISO 200 – f/4 – 1/1800 – XF10-24mm
WALE0650
ISO 200 – f/9 – 1/120 – XF10-24mm
WALE0623
ISO 200 – f/5 – 1/600 – XF10-24mm
WALE0644
ISO 200 – f/6.4 – 1/90 – XF10-24mm

Once we had eaten some lunch here we knew it was time to move on to get the ‘necessary’ holiday ice-cream’ from a beach nearby, we chose the beautiful Beaumaris Pier in Anglesey (shot below).

WALE0559
Pier at Beaumaris – Anglesey

We also visited some other piers and beaches on the day. Here are two shots that I was really lucky to find. The first image is of a pier, my feet/shoes were pretty soaked after this one as the sea water was coming up from under the wooden beams! I have post-processed this image firstly into black and white and then colourised it with a blue tone to add to the drama of the shot.

WALE0841
ISO 200 – f/9 – 1/250 – XF10-24mm

The second image was shot on a pier that had this impressive looking building attached, I just loved the look in black and white with all the lines created in the flooring. Again using the ND grad filter to pull some contrast into the sky.

WALE0831
ISO 200 – f/4 – 1/550 – XF10-24mm

The final part of the day was to track down a good lighthouse image. I found the best one near to us to be South Stack Lighthouse. It was pretty difficult to find and quite a walk to it but it was well worth the effort. As mentioned previously in this blog the ND grad filters gave a magenta cast to all my images. With this particular image I didn’t filter much of it out as I loved the colour with this composition.

WALE0681

I have come to the end of my mini adventure and I hope you enjoyed being a part of it. Hopefully it will inspire you to go out and venture among these beautiful landscapes and just have fun.

Dale Young

 

Illumination Part 5 of 5 – Location Portraits using Flash and Natural Light

We’ve been working with professional portrait photographer Damien Lovegrove to bring you some videos that will inspire you to get more from your camera and help you take your photography to the next level.

Part 5 of 5

Damien finds that the available natural light in the garden is enough for close up portraits of Claire, but decides to use a flash system to brighten up some wider shots and provide some more “sun light”.

We hope you enjoy and please feel free to share with other people who might also like it.

About Damien

Damien Lovegrove is a renowned photographer and lighting guru. He specialises in portrait and beauty photography and teaches professional photographers his craft across the world.

Read more

Illumination Part 4 of 5 – Location Portraits using Flash and Natural Light

We’ve been working with professional portrait photographer Damien Lovegrove to bring you some videos that will inspire you to get more from your camera and help you take your photography to the next level.

Part 4 of 5

Damien goes down into a darker basement to make use of the ambient light to create some wonderful portraits.

We hope you enjoy and please feel free to share with other people who might also like it.

About Damien

Damien Lovegrove is a renowned photographer and lighting guru. He specialises in portrait and beauty photography and teaches professional photographers his craft across the world.

Read more

Illumination Part 3 of 5 – Location Portraits using Flash and Natural Light

We’ve been working with professional portrait photographer Damien Lovegrove to bring you some videos that will inspire you to get more from your camera and help you take your photography to the next level.

Part 3 of 5

Damien takes his model Claire to the edge of a field and tries different compositions and usage of the natural light to produce very different images.

We hope you enjoy and please feel free to share with other people who might also like it.

About Damien

Damien Lovegrove is a renowned photographer and lighting guru. He specialises in portrait and beauty photography and teaches professional photographers his craft across the world.

Read more

“10,001” – Mastering the art of photographic storytelling

logos

An evening seminar with Chris Weston, in association with Travel Photographer of the Year

The iconic French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once wrote, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” So what makes your 10,001st image that much better?

In this thought-provoking and inspirational evening seminar, wildlife photographer and Fujifilm X-T1 user Chris Weston shares his knowledge and experience of creating images that go beyond simple record shots and instead create a compelling visual story.

A 1-hour presentation, during which Chris will explain his “back-to-front” approach to photography and share the visual and technical creativity of many of his incredible photographs, is followed by an on-stage interview, hosted by TPOTY founder, Chris Coe, which will include questions from the audience. There is also a chance to “meet the speaker” at a Champagne reception when you buy our VIP Package.

Lively, informative, often humorous and always emotive, this seminar is crammed full of useful hints, tips and advice and is sure to educate, entertain and inspire you towards better, more creative photography.

DSCF2290 copy-Edit-2

Itinerary
Welcome and introduction
Mindful photography
The art of visualization
Capturing the moment
The stories behind the images
Interview with Chris Coe, incl. audience questions
Champagne reception and ‘Meet the speaker’*

What you’ll learn
How to find picture ideas
The secrets to great composition
Camera techniques
How to use shutter speed and aperture creatively
Lens choice
Make the most of light
A new approach to the photographic process
Finding inspiration and staying motivated

Location
Ondaatje Theatre, Royal Geographical Society
1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR

Date and time
7:00 – 9:00pm
Thursday 24th July

Chris Weston

Chris Weston – Biography

Chris Weston became a professional wildlife photographer in 2001 in order to follow his passion for what he describes as “the extraordinary behaviour of wildlife”. His contemporary approach to photography led to Amateur Photographer magazine describing him as “One of the most dynamic wildlife photographers working today.”

He specialises in photographing mammals and endangered species and is renowned for his ability to connect with wildlife and reveal the often hidden personalities of his subjects. His work is published globally, with clients including the BBC, ITV, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, and National Geographic. Recently, his ‘underground’ image of a galloping zebra was selected by The Sunday Times magazine for its feature titled “The Year’s Best Animal Photographs”.

Chris’s work is driven by conservation. His iconic book Animals on the Edge: Reporting from the Frontline of Extinction, written in conjunction with the IUCN, has been described as “The most up-to-date visual survey of our world’s rare and endangered species.” And he has been named by Outdoor Photography magazine as one of the world’s “40 Most Influential” wildlife photographers.

Tickets and pricing

Main Event Tickets
£12.00 per person

VIP package
Incl. reserved seating and “Meet the speaker” champagne reception
£25.00 per person

Book Now
Click here to book your tickets
or call 07773332504 (UK)

Illumination Part 2 of 5 – Location Portraits using Flash and Natural Light

We’ve been working with professional portrait photographer Damien Lovegrove to bring you some videos that will inspire you to get more from your camera and help you take your photography to the next level.

Part 2 of 5

Damien takes his model Victoria outside to a magnolia tree and shoots into the light using an X-T1 and XF56mm.

We hope you enjoy and please feel free to share with other people who might also like it.

About Damien

Damien Lovegrove is a renowned photographer and lighting guru. He specialises in portrait and beauty photography and teaches professional photographers his craft across the world.

Read more

Holidaying with an X100S

When I was lad, the family holiday was one of only two annual outings for dad’s camera. No prizes for guessing the other. It was packed in its ever ready case, along with a 36 exposure roll of Kodachrome ready for two weeks on the British coast; typically Cornwall or Norfolk. For the life of me, I can’t remember what the camera was, but it had exposure settings around the lens, an ASA dial I could never work out how to turn and manual film advance. If I was lucky, I was allowed to wind it on to the next frame after each shot. Sometimes I even got to take a picture.

I got the chance to shoot the odd landscape. ISO 200, 1/110sec at f/11
I got the chance to shoot the odd landscape. ISO 200, 1/110sec at f/11

It seemed like a fiendishly complex piece of equipment which, of course, it wasn’t. The lens was fixed, there was no flash and the viewfinder was essentially just a small window with a piece of coloured glass in it. But that camera helped make photography special. I found myself thinking about dad’s camera just a few weeks ago when I was away with my own family in the Cotswolds. As a complete break from the norm, I’d opted to take just one camera – the Fujifilm X100S – to capture our five day stay. Although I was confident it would deliver great shots, I felt nervous travelling so light. I usually have to forsake taking essential items of clothing just to ensure I’ve got all the requisite camera gear, but this time I was bold and left the hefty gadget bag at home, desperately trying to be upbeat about my minimalist choice.

Clever cows and calves in the Cotswolds… ISO 200, 1/240sec at f/2
Clever cows and calves in the Cotswolds… ISO 200, 1/240sec at f/2

For the first 24 hours, I thought I’d make the biggest mistake of my photographic life. When I was taking pictures I wanted a longer zoom, an off-camera flash, a tripod, anything other than what I actually had. But then I realised I was just approaching my recording of the holiday in completely the wrong way, and rather than wishing the X100S was something it wasn’t, I started playing to its strengths. Talk about a lightbulb moment.

Accept the X100S for what it is and your photography changes. Not close enough to the subject? Walk towards it. Too close? Take a step back. Can’t get the framing you want? Walk around until you find a better angle. And, best of all, can’t get exactly the shot you want? Don’t worry, just leave it, a better picture opportunity will be right along shortly. This all sounds like a very ‘free love’ approach to picture taking but I can assure you that after using the X100S on holiday I didn’t come home harbouring an unhealthy obsession for cheesecloth or guitar strumming.

Great colours from the X-Trans sensor. ISO 400, 1/220sec at f/4
Great colours from the X-Trans sensor. ISO 400, 1/220sec at f/4

Modern photographers can be lazy. Zoom lenses (Fujinon ones included) are so wonderfully sharp these days and exposure systems so scarily accurate that having to put in some effort to find a good shot can seem too much like hard work. But the X100S rewards those who put in that effort. The fixed lens is every bit as good as you’ve read in all the other blogs before this one and the X-Trans sensor delivers supreme quality images – I never had any qualms simply upping the ISO to get the shots I wanted. Sure, it’s not perfect, but show me a camera that is. In the case of the X100S I found that the focusing does hunt a little and I’d like to see another programmable function button, but these are minor asides in a majorly good performance.

X100S: Holiday pictures to make you smile! ISO 320, 1/10sec at f/4
X100S: Holiday pictures to make you smile! ISO 320, 1/10sec at f/4

The shots you see here aren’t supposed to be works of art, they’re a record of our holiday and that makes them special. They’re also different to any other holiday photographs I’ve ever taken; fewer landscapes, more people and some miscellaneous bits and bobs that remind me of a great few days with the people that matter most to me. And that’s all because of the Fujifilm X100S.

Illumination – Location Portraits using Flash and Natural Light

We’ve been working with professional portrait photographer Damien Lovegrove to bring you some videos that will inspire you to get more from your camera and help you take your photography to the next level.

In each of these videos, Damien talks you through his thought process when shooting portraits with different available light. He provides you with examples of his work and describes how and why the shot was taken in that way.

Part 1 of 5

In our first video in the series, Damien shoots some mid shot portraits of Victoria in a well-lit classic English country house – typical of the type you might find in a UK wedding venue.

We hope you enjoy and please feel free to share with other people who might also like it. Make sure you subscribe to be notified as parts two to five are also released.

About Damien

Damien Lovegrove is a renowned photographer and lighting guru. He specialises in portrait and beauty photography and teaches professional photographers his craft across the world.

“I’m inspired by beauty and as I have matured as a photographer I’ve learned to see beauty in just about everyone and everywhere. It’s not what I look at that matters to me, it is what I see.”

“I love people and I suppose women in particular. I love their mannerisms, fashion, style and beauty. I love photographing women. I also get a buzz from teaching.”

Read more

See more like this

Although the above video was completely free, you can also purchase “ILLUMINATION –
The ultimate training video experience in lighting portraits on location”
from Damien’s website. You get the following:

  • Full HS 1080p
  • 19 chapters
  • 115 minutes
  • Speedlights
  • Big flash
  • Natural light

Click here to learn more about this Lovegrove Training masterclass presented by Damien Lovegrove.