What to shoot in November – Longer wintry nights

Remember, remember, there’s plenty to shoot in November! Don’t put your camera into hibernation just when the nights are drawing in – try our pick of this month’s most photogenic events

The end of October saw the clocks shuffle backwards by an hour across the whole of Europe, giving early risers a little more daylight, and earlier sunsets at the end of the day. Don’t be disheartened by the encroaching dark or use it as an excuse to hang up your camera until the spring, though – there’s plenty to shoot in these shorter days. For starters, why not try your hand at some low-light photography? Before you even leave the building, do a little planning.

Think about where you’d like to shoot, and be sure to tell someone where you’re headed – or better still, convince an equally shutter-happy friend to come along for the ride.

Don’t let your quest for the perfect shot get in the way of personal safety, and be sensible about where you plan to stop and take pictures. Cities and remote landscapes alike can be beautiful once the sun’s gone down, but they can be scary and potentially dangerous as well – so be safe.

Low-light landscape pictures can be incredibly impressive, but getting a great shot when there’s little light around is a real challenge – longer shutter speeds are essential, so make sure you’ve got a tripod or other support on hand to ensure pin-sharp details. Keep your ISO setting low and set a shutter speed of around 15 seconds to capture as much light as you can. Set your lens as wide as possible and ensure your aperture’s also as wide as it can go, which will help to retain details and make the most of available light. Adjust your camera’s white-balance to change the mood of the image: you might find that cooler, bluer tones give you more of a midnight feel, so don’t forget to experiment while you have the chance.

Want to capture a lifelike scene at dusk? You could always test-drive the built-in HDR feature on most X-series cameras to layer exposures and achieve as much detail as possible in your final image. And if your dramatic sunset landscape has turned out cloudy, try using the X-series’ Film Simulation modes to shoot a moody black & white twilight scene with real drama in the skies above. Most importantly, don’t forget to take a torch, keep a spare camera battery cosy in your pocket and wrap up warm, because the more comfortable you are, the more you’ll enjoy your low-light shoot.

First frost

First FrostIf the month lives up to its reputation we’re in for chilly mornings – but this means beautiful images of finely-detailed frost for you. Get close to the fronds of plants in your garden, or seek out a frozen cobweb for a glorious late-autumn shimmer. Just head out around sunrise before any thaw and don’t forget your gloves!

Winter wildlife

Winter wildlifeWild creatures are readying themselves for the rigours of winter, so this time of year is an ideal opportunity to see beasts out and about collecting their food. If you’re a fan of feathered subjects, try setting up a feeding station in your garden and see what local birds you can lure in front of longer lenses like the XF 55-200mm.

Christmas lights

Christmas lightsThe big switch-on seems to happen earlier every year – but that just means more time for shooting the decorations! Larger towns and cities become a festive light show, but make sure you time your shooting for twilight so there’s still some blue in the sky – it’s this contrast of natural and man-made light that will make your shots sparkle.

Festive markets

Festive marketsWith Christmas just around the corner, you’ll find festive markets aplenty in your local towns and villages. Seasonal crafts, twinkling decorations, cheerful crowds and a variety of unusual foods present ideal subjects, and if you’re shooting handheld, remember to switch your Optical Image Stabilisation on for sharper shots.

Traffic trails

Traffic TrailsLong exposures change the way you see the world, and a great example is when shooting the rush hour. Using a shutter speed of around 10 seconds turns crawling cars into an amazing stream of light and with its shortened days November is the perfect time to try it out – you can even shoot a few on your way home from work.

FUJINON XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS lens test

Sample 4
200mm setting, 1/2000sec at f/6.4, ISO 320
At the 200mm setting, the lens can produce frame-filling shots from the side of a track. This was taken in a public area through a mesh fence

FUJINON XF lenses are all about quality. Quality of build, quality of performance, quality of results. With prime (single focal length) lenses, quality is to be expected by virtue of their more simple optical construction. But good results are less of a foregone conclusion when it comes to zooms. Until recently, the XF55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R was the only telezoom in the Fujinon line up. It’s since been joined by the XC50-230mm f/4.5-6.7, which was launched alongside the X-A1 and is designed for mid-range X-brand models. But the XF55-200mm remains top dog by virtue of its faster maximum aperture and more solid build, making it the perfect accompaniment to the X-E and X-Pro models. We tested the lens on the latter model.

Sample 1
141mm setting, 1/1250sec at f/5, ISO 320
No problems with vibrant colours, and the level of detail is impressive, as is the car!

The first thing you’ll notice about the XF55-200mm is its impressive build quality. It looks and feels as though it’s built to stand the rigours of daily use and feels reassuringly solid in every aspect of construction. The zoom collar is both large and very smooth to use, while the manual focusing ring at the end of the lens and the aperture ring near the body are both well sized and a real pleasure to control. It comes supplied with a deep lens hood to keep a tight control on flare, plus there’s a switch to turn Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) on and off, alongside the automatic or manual aperture control switch. The OIS is worthy of note. Offering up to 4.5 stops of compensation, we found that even at the 200mm setting, we were able to shoot with shutter speeds around 1/20sec without any evidence of camera shake.

Sample 2
164mm setting, 1/20sec at f/4.6, ISO 400
Optical Image Stabilisation is excellent, this shot was taken at 1/20sec but there’s no hint of blur

With the XF55-200mm attached to the X-Pro1, the combination is neither heavy nor bulky – it’s fine to sling over your shoulder while you’re out for a walk, plus the zoom action is constructed in such a way that there’s no zoom creep, even with the lens pointed down.

A focal range equivalent to 84-305mm on a 35mm camera means the lens offers plenty of versatility. We used it for a wide range of subjects, from portraits through to sporting action. The focusing proved accurate and the out-of-focus areas were lovely and smooth thanks to the seven-blade aperture diaphragm.

Sample 3
200mm setting, 1/120sec at f/4.8, ISO 400
Regardless of focal length setting, the lens delivers high-quality results. You can count every hair in this dog’s fur

The real beauty of the lens, though, is in the quality of the results. In keeping with the Fujinon XF philosophy, the resulting images display impressive levels of sharpness thanks to the combination of high-quality optics and the X-Pro1’s wonderful X-Trans sensor. The lens also showed great consistency through the focal range and aperture settings. Whether you’re shooting wide open at 55mm or stopped down at 200mm, you can be confident of getting great results every time.

Lens tested by Roger Payne

Using Film Simulation modes

Fujifilm still produces colour negative and reversal film for enthusiasts and this legacy continues to have a place in the digital arena – with the X-series of cameras giving you an option to select from a variety of Film Simulation modes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In essence, the Film Simulation modes enable you to decide on the look of your image in terms of colour saturation and contrast, or simply lose colour altogether and go for a black & white effect. The beauty is, the camera does it all for you. All you have to do is decide what look you want for the image you’re shooting.

The standard Film Simulation options in all X-series cameras are Provia, Velvia, Astia, Monochrome (black & white) and Sepia. However, some models include PRO Neg Hi, PRO Neg Standard, and filters for the Monochrome mode.

You’ll find the options by going into the Shooting Menu and looking in the first set of controls. It’s the same tab where ISO, Image Quality and Image Size are set, just scroll further down. It’s impossible to tell you exactly which Film Simulation to use for a given situation because it’s all a matter of taste, but we can give you some pointers. If you just want a general setting because you shoot a wide range of subjects then stick with Provia; Fujifilm has chosen it as its standard setting. But if you prefer a richer, punchier look, perhaps for landscapes or nature, then Velvia will give you exactly that. Astia, on the other hand, offers a softer, more subtle rendition of colours, so would work well for portraits.

Select Film Simulation in the Shooting Menu
Step 1 Select Film Simulation in the Shooting Menu
Select Film Simulation Mode
Step 2 Choose the Film Simulation Mode you would like to use

The Monochrome and Sepia Film Simulation options do exactly what they say on the tin. Monochrome will work for most subjects and gives your image a timeless feel. Sepia should probably be used more sparingly but can certainly work well at retro events when you want to give a portrait or a scene a classic old-school appearance. If your camera has the two PRO Neg options these are best for shooting portraits: Standard expands the hues available for skin tones and is intended for studio work, while Hi gives a slightly more contrasty look and is fine-tuned for outdoor portraits.

Film Simulation bracketing

Experimentation is key with the Film Simulation modes and Fujifilm has actually made this really easy on most X-series models thanks to Film Simulation Bracketing. This is found directly beneath Film Simulation in the Shooting Menu and is perfect for when you want to play around and work out what kind of image you like or if you’re simply feeling indecisive. Exactly how it’s set varies from camera to camera but here’s how it’s done on the X-Pro1…

Setting up Film Simulation Bracketing
Step 1 In the Shooting Menu, choose Film Simulation Bracketing and select three different film styles in any order you want. For example, for Film 1 you could select Astia, Film 2 Velvia, and Film 3 Monochrome, as we have here.
Selecting Film Simulation Bracketing in Drive Menu
Step 2 With these selected, press the Drive button on the back of your camera. Scroll down and activate Film Simulation bracketing (BKT). Now with one press of the shutter release, the camera saves three versions of the image.

TIP: If you shoot in RAW+JPEG mode, you can preview and shoot with the Film Simulation mode you have selected, but the original RAW file will also be saved. You can revert to standard or even change the Film Simulation mode using the RAW File Converter built into the camera itself.

Macro Photography Tips

An emphasis on detail, texture and pattern is what makes macro photography so
complex and unique. If done properly, macro photography can give you mind-blowing
results. In this article, let’s go through a few tips which will greatly improve your macro
photography skills and help you take dramatic and high impact shots.

Turn on macro mode: This may seem like a tip for dummies, however many beginners
forget or do not know because they’re too lazy to scan through the thick manual. Macro
mode is usually represented by a small flower on the setting dial. This lets you bring the
lens of the camera closer to the subject.

Use a tripod: Since macro photography is all about sharpness and clarity, you must use
a tripod to avoid any form of vibration that may occur. A tripod will greatly help you in
getting a sharper image.

Focus manually: When the subject is very close to the lens, the auto-focus would tend to
search backward and forward for something to focus on. It would save you a lot of time
to manually focus on the subject and would also be a lot more precise. For starters, shoot
stable objects like flowers where you can take all the time in the world to get your focus
spot on. In time and with practice, you can shoot insects and other wildlife.

Turn the flash on: A shadow can completely ruin your picture; so don’t forget to use
flash. However, you should idly shoot in brightly lit spaces. Use a reflector if you have to
fill the shadow. It would be perfect if you could adjust the intensity of the flash on your
camera, however if you cannot, tape a piece of tracing paper to the top of your flash to
adjust the brightness of the flash.

Aperture: Having the freedom to adjust your aperture settings is a big plus point as it
allows you to control the depth of field. Certain cameras do not allow you to change the
aperture setting once in macro mode. However, if they permit you to do so, you should
use a large aperture in order to blur out the background.

Macro photography is great fun and will keep you preoccupied for ages. You can
endlessly experiment with it on a variety of subjects. It will literally open up worlds
within worlds, so let those creative juices flow and let your camera go wild.

Originally posted by Fujifilm India http://www.fujifilmblog.in/macro-photography-tips/