X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Paul Sanders

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?

paul sanders mugshotI got into photography while I was at school, I used to “borrow” my dad’s camera to play with while he was out. When I left school I went to college to study Fine Art and Photography, but didn’t really enjoy myself so I started working with another photographer shooting glamour calendars in Spain – the perfect job for a 19 year old!! Following some pretty fun living, I ran out of money and so got a job at a local newspaper. I fell in love with News Photography and filled with enthusiasm, set about getting to the top of my career. I was incredibly lucky and progressed quickly, working around the world covering news and sports with Reuters and The Times. In 2004, I was made picture editor of The Times newspaper looking after a team of 12 photographers, 25 desk staff, sorting through 20,000 images everyday and having total responsibility for the entire visual content of one of the world’s best known newspapers. It was great fun but incredibly stressful.

In 2011, I was diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety and Insomnia. And after hiding it for two years I had a bit of breakdown and took the decision to leave The Times to follow my heart. I started shooting landscapes to help with my recovery.

The whole process of landscape photography allows me to connect with myself and to the world around me, it basically calms me down. When I take pictures I tend to sit and watch the world around me, listening and feeling to what is happening as well as watching what the light is doing.

The majority of my work is long exposure photography, this style of work reflects my search for a calm mind, I don’t worry about the technicalities of photography as much as I used to, it’s all about the emotions the subject has created within me.

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Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

I chose Fuji after struggling with heavier 5×4 and DSLR cameras. I found that I spent more time lugging my kit around and it stopped me being spontaneous. Sometimes I got to a point where I just couldn’t be bothered to go out, and when you are recovering or battling with a mental illness like me it doesn’t take much to convince you to stay at home.

I initially used the X-Pro1 with just a 14mm as I was trying to simplify my working method, which really helped. I became really enthused about my photography again. But the real turning point for me was the arrival of the X-T1. When I first held the camera it was like going back in time to my Nikon FM2, the feel balance and handling are all very similar.

However the thing I really love about the X-T1 is that it doesn’t come between me and my photography, the bigger cameras got in the way, it was always about the camera and never the connection I wanted to have with my subject, now when I shoot I barely notice the camera at all, it is literally the invisible link between what I see in front of me and what I have in my head.

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Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

Yes, shoot for yourself, not for others. Photography is an investment of quality time with yourself, so enjoy it and never compromise your own vision.

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Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

I’m inspired by the work of Turner, Monet, Michael Kenna, Valda Bailey, Rothko, David Hockney but more importantly, I’m inspired by what I see everyday around me; the light over the sea near my home in Kent, rain, waves wind all of the elements make me thankful I’m alive and able to capture what I feel when I experience them.

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Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?

Be happy when you take picture, leave most of your kit at home, shoot with your least favourite lens. Don’t stand next to another photographer find your own spot if you can, but always always shoot your picture even if you are in a popular spot.

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What’s next for you?

I want to continue to work with people new to photography, especially those who suffer with mental illness who may want to use it as a means to aid recovery.

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Contact info

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Live tutorial: Portrait photography with Bert Stephani

X-Photographer Bert Stephani shares his own hints and tips to shooting Portrait photography in this live talk from ‘The Photography Show‘ UK.

Want more?..

For more of Bert’s work, please see the links below:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bertstephani?_rdr

Twitter: @bertstephani

Website: http://bertstephani.com

 

Shooting square: a lunchtime experiment…

It was just one of those afternoons where you look out the window and notice that rare, special thing… a drop of sunshine – I knew that on my lunch break I would have to take my trusty X-T1 with me for a stroll.

After admiring X-Photographer Doug Chinnery’s square format images, I thought it would be nice to just have-a-go! And as I’d never shot square format before, I knew I’d enjoy the challenge. So I set my camera to ratio 1:1 and then JPG & RAW (just in case). From that, I took a 2 minute drive to my local marina from the office here at Fuji HQ.

Once I was parked and on foot, I started shooting straight away whilst trying to get my mind into ‘square framing mode’ assuming there is such a thing! The first image I took ( that I liked 😉 ) was of a lock, I loved how symmetry immediately came into my mind when I put my eye to the viewfinder.

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X-T1 – f/5.6 – 1/140 – ISO200 – XF35mm

Here’s an example of me trying to get good framing in square format. I focused my attention to the winding path ahead and was deciding where I thought the path should cut off in my image.

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X-T1 – f/5.6 – 1/300 – ISO200 – XF35mm

When I took this shot below, I was again thinking about symmetry, trying to match the lines of the tree to hit the top left and bottom right hand corners of the frame.

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X-T1 – f/5.6 – 1/60 – ISO200 – XF35mm

This shot wasn’t a particularly amazing one, but it did contain what I was aiming for – a triangular composition. Maybe you can see it?..

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X-T1 – f/2.8 – 1/280 – ISO200 – XF35mm

I was walking along the waters edge when I saw this tiny little puddle with what looked like a mini diving board over the top of it. All it needed was tadpole or small insect having a swim to finish this image off nicely.

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X-T1 – f/2.8 – 1/1000 – ISO200 – XF35mm

This one was definitely my favourite shot of the afternoon, it was this little mound of mud and grass that to me at the right angle looked just like a small island – I’m thinking Cast Away..

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X-T1 – f/2.8 – 1/1100 – ISO200 – XF35mm

My final image was taken on the way back to the car. I came across I lovely little patch of daisys and using the tilting screen I could get right down low without getting my knees dirty – which is always a bonus!

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X-T1 – f/2 – 1/4000 – ISO200 – XF35mm

I had a great time shooting in this 1:1 format and found that for some of my close up work it would actually be really nice to continue using it. I loved working the symmetry into my images and corner to corner lines too. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go – you may just have a blast like I did!

Until then..

Happy snapping!

 

 

Live tutorial: Street photography with Matt Hart

X-Photographer Matt Hart shares his own hints and tips to shooting Street photography in this 30 minute talk from ‘The Photography Show‘ UK.

Want more?..

For more of Matt’s work, please see the links below:

Blog: https://matthewhartphotography.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/matthewhartphotography

Twitter: @matt6t6

Website: www.lighttraveler.co.uk

 

Master the X-Series – Off-camera flash

Here you will learn how to shoot creative flash-lit portraits in four easy steps

All the shots taken in this tutorial were shot with a Fujifilm X-T1, 56mm APD lens and EF-42 flashgun. In normal use, when the EF-42 is mounted on the camera’s hotshoe there is communication between the two. As soon as the flashgun is separated from the camera, that link is severed. To get around this problem, you’ll need a remote trigger, of which a variety of third-party options is available. Triggers come in pairs and function wirelessly over many metres. The transmitter unit is fixed into the camera’s hotshoe while the receiver is connected to the flashgun. When you’re working with the flash off camera, you should use the manual (M) exposure mode so you have total control of the camera’s shutter speed. Correct flash operation is only possible at the camera’s flash synchronisation speed or slower. The Fujifilm X-T1 synchronises with flash at a shutter speed of 1/180sec or slower – the 1/180sec speed on the shutter speed is marked with an X on the shutter speed dial to indicate this. Use a shutter speed faster than this and the flash will be incorrectly exposed.

STEP 1

With this portrait, camera settings of 1/110sec at f/2.5 were needed to reveal the subject’s face using ambient (available) light only. Going to the other extreme we took a meter reading with the camera from the sky – this was 1/180sec at f/3.6 – and took another shot (below). This totally silhouetted our subject, but recorded the sky accurately. For a dramatic portrait we need to stick with this exposure and then add some flash to reveal the subject.

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Available light
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Exposure set for the sky

STEP 2

The flashgun can be held in position by an assistant, or placed on a tripod or lighting stand, then you’ll need to vary the position and power output to get the best result. To prove why taking the flash off camera is a good idea, we started by taking a straight flash shot with the EF-42 slipped into the camera’s hotshoe and the TTL setting. Our subject is correctly exposed, but the light is harsh, the background is too dark and the sky lacks depth and colour.

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Flash on-camera

STEP 3

With the flashgun attached to the wireless triggers, it has to be used manually with a power output to suit the flash-to-subject distance. With experience you’ll be able to estimate the required output, but initially you can shoot and review the result before fine-tuning the flash output. Keeping the same exposure for the sky from Step 1, we started at 1/16 output (main image) but the result was too weak. Changing the output to 1/2 power (inset) gives too much light, resulting in overexposure of our subject’s face.

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Flash too powerful

STEP 4

Adjusting the flash output again to 1/4 power produces the right result with our subject correctly lit, some detail in the background and colour and depth in the sky. Simple!

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6 Great tips for better portraits

Winter isn’t just about shooting landscapes, you can grab some great portraits too – just follow our advice for better people pictures

Good portraits don’t just happen, some planning is essential. Preparation can be a constant process; bookmark websites with images that inspire you, tear out pictures from magazines, grab shots of billboards that appeal. That way you’ll have some ideas to draw on.

When it comes to taking the pictures, share those ideas with your subject; see the shoot as a collaboration. Keep talking to them as you take pictures and show them the images on the rear LCD – silence isn’t golden in portraiture.

At this time of year, you may want to shoot indoors or out. Outdoors on a cloudy day, the light is beautifully soft, which is very flattering for portraits. Use a reflector to even the light up as much as possible and consider changing the white-balance to the Shade preset to warm up the scene. Sunny conditions work well too, but make sure you use a lens hood to avoid excessive flare and ghosting. Indoors, position your subject near a window for an available light shot or use flash lighting for greater control.

No matter where you work, keep the shooting time short, especially if you’re photographing kids.

Sharp focus on the eyes is crucial otherwise the portrait will lack impact, but don’t feel your subject has to look straight at the camera. Be bold with your compositions – you don’t have to take everything with the camera held upright.

When it comes to lenses, anything goes! The XF50-140mm and XF56mm APD lenses are obvious options, thanks to their excellent bokeh effects, but wide-angle optics are worth consideration, especially if you want to include more of the surroundings. Need some portrait ideas? Try these…

Open wide

Portraits aren’t all about cropping in close, they can also work well when shooting wide to include the surroundings. Use this approach when you want to tell more of a story with your subject, or simply want to make the most of a fantastic location you’ve found.

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Go for bokeh

Fujifilm’s new XF56mm F1.2 APD lens is perfect for portraits. Position your subject in front of a background with bright highlights, then use the maximum aperture for stunning bokeh effects. This approach also works well with other fast-aperture prime XF lenses.

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Keep it simple

If you’re shooting in a studio, don’t try to use too many lights. One main light and a reflector is all you need to get some great shots, especially if the light has an umbrella or softbox to diffuse the light for a more flattering result.

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Form a group

Make portraiture more social by shooting a group. Avoid lining everyone up in one row; try having some people sitting with others standing behind, or look for a slope or steps for compositional variety. Silhouettes like this work well, too. Take plenty of shots – you’ll be surprised how many group shots can be spoiled by one person blinking!

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Creative candids

Getting your subject engrossed in an indoor or outdoor activity gives you the perfect chance to shoot natural candids. Set your X-series camera to continuous AF and continuous shooting so you can keep up with any movement, then fire away. Choosing one of the Auto ISO options will increase your hit rate of sharp shots.

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Add some colour

When the weather is colder, natural colours are more muted. Give your portraits a colour boost by adding in bright accessories such as a hat, scarf, coat or gloves. Then select the Velvia Film Simulation mode to give them extra saturation.

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Top 10 fashion portrait tips by Brian Rolfe

By Brian Rolfe

I love shooting fashion portraits, easy to plan, far less work than an editorial or commercial job! Give me a good model, quite often no team, just me, the model and an idea of what we want to create and almost without fail we’ll come away with some great shots that look uncontrived and natural. These are my tips for approaching this kind of portraiture…! !

#1 Put together a mood board beforehand that gives the general idea of what you’re aiming for, this doesn’t have to be an exact guide of the result you’d like but more of an overview so that everyone is on the same page. If you’ve not yet got a clearcut style then it’s good to find an image that’s close to what you want to create.!

#2 Pick the right model for the style you’re shooting, it sounds obvious but casting a very commercial girl next door type model when you want an editorial style with attitude is generally not going to work.!

#3 Remember models are people too, take the time to chat with them, get to know them a
little. Fashion portraits and people photography in general is as much about your personality as it is a model’s, create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere and it will show in your results!!

#4 Try not to over direct, I always find a good professional fashion model allowed to pose free will usually create magic you never thought of yourself, that pretty much goes for fashion portraits as well as editorials.!

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#5 Don’t ever put your camera down while the model is in front of you, you may just miss a candid shot that is a killer! I’ve done it and you will kick yourself.!

#6 Don’t get hung up on having a full team, some of my favourite shoots have been with no make up, hair or styling aside from what the model brings with her or him. I’ve shot models in an old pair of my jeans and that’s it.!

#7 Keep things simple, good lighting doesn’t need multiple light sources and expensive
modifiers, one light or daylight works best for a fashion portrait.!

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#8 Play with angles, shoot from the floor, move around the model and experiment.!

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#9 Keep make up natural or even shoot without any at all, a blank canvas and unstyled hair bring a realism to the shoot.!

#10 I generally keep styling basic for this kind or shoot, denim, t-shirts, vest tops, basics underwear, again give your model some ideas in advance or get something in yourself if you don’t have a stylist.! !

Have fun!

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 About Brian

pic22648Brian Rolfe is a professional photographer based just outside of London with a clean and classic style specialising in beauty, hair, fashion and portraiture.

Inspired by the classic photography of the sixties and the supermodel era of the eighties and nineties, he takes a simplistic approach, preferring to work with one or two lights and keep retouching to a minimum in order to enhance rather than overpower an image.

XQ1 – The Photographers compact?

Want a small, powerful camera that has features you actually want to use? The XQ1 might just be what you’re looking for.

Like many of you, I have my main camera (X-E2) that I use day in, day out. I know it like the back of my hand and could use it with my eyes closed – if you get my drift. The problem is, sometimes I just don’t want to carry a bag around – no matter how small it is. I want a pocket sized camera that I can forget about until the need takes me. Here’s the catch though, I don’t want a pocket sized camera that offers no control and is very noisy in low-light. This is where I think the XQ1 really shines, it just seems to tick all those boxes:

  • Pocket-sized
  • Manual control
  • High quality images, even at high ISO.

Being so used to my X-E2, I thought it would be a good challenge to use the little XQ1 for my day out to London. Not only that, but I could rid myself of the bag that I’m always carrying about, which was super!

So, like you do when you love photography & adventure, I starting taking pictures. I took the usual suspects at first; trains, train station & people randomly wandering about their business.

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One of the first reasons I would class this as a photographers compact camera is simply that you can change the focus point manually. This is something I do ALL the time on my X-E2 to aid with my composition. With other compact cameras I have used, you either cannot set it or it’s not easy to access.

For our day out we headed to the Natural History Museum, this was a great location to test the ISO performance. Looking back at the photos there is clearly some noise & grain, but it has a very film-like quality to it that I think adds to the atmosphere of the shots.

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Another point to make about this camera as I discovered on the day, was how quick it turned on. Now this may not seem life changing, but when you are with a bunch of friends that don’t do photography and want to move on to the next exhibit, speed is everything. It made many shots possible that may have otherwise been lost. This also translates well into styles like street photography – you see someone or something interesting and you need the camera to be ready immediately to capture it.

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QUICK TIP: For ease of access, I kept the camera inside my inner jacket pocket (blazer style). With that, I pretty much never missed an opportunity to shoot what I wanted – no fumbling in bags, jean pockets etc.

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Due to the size of this camera, it really is super discrete. I could get those moments that I may not have been brave enough to shoot with other cameras, with even my X-E2.

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And when all is said and done, it takes a great dinner party picture!

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I think for many photographers using DSLR’s or Mirrorless cameras, you get very accustomed with a level of quality to expect and because of this, many wouldn’t dream of downsizing to a compact camera. But, as hopefully shown in this blog, the XQ1 makes an exception to this. It shows that you can still be creative, still get excellent quality images and at at a size that literally allows you to take it anywhere with ease.

Any questions? Drop us a comment below – and yes, I cannot wait to try out the latest model, the XQ2 🙂 [WATCH THIS SPACE…]

 

 

Edinburgh Street Photography Workshop with Matt Hart

Spend the day with renowned Fujifilm X Photographer Matt Hart, exploring the exciting streets of Edinburgh picking up tricks and tips from Matt along the way. This will be delivered in a relaxed and often, very entertaining way. You will also have personal guide Ami Strachan for the day to reveal all the best locations to shoot street in Edinburgh.

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The course will give you an insight into the way Matt works and his style of Street Photography. You will learn how to anticipate and capture decisive moments throughout the city.  And, having a guide for the day will help to future-proof your knowledge of the area. So, if you choose to come back – you’ll know all the best spots!

What you will learn:

  • The skill in spotting a possible subject.
  • What  to look for in a great scene.
  • How to blend in and be invisible.
  • See and compose a subject with a scene or background.
  • Capture a subject without intrusion.
  • Develop confidence in shooting in the street.
  • Photography in public places safely.
  • Use different depths of field for different types of shot.
  • Use varying speeds for different effects.
  • How to review your own work.

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After the event you will be able to post your work and talk to Matt through his Social Media pages or by e mail; this can include online critique and coaching when requested.

When and where?

The workshop will take place on Sunday the 8th of March from 10:30am till 4:30pm with a break for lunch. Don’t worry – there will be plenty of comfort breaks for those who need them throughout the day.

In addition to Matt’s expertise, a Fujifilm representative will also be on hand with a selection of the latest cameras and lenses to try, and will be there to help answer any of your technical questions.

The exact location will be made known when a ticket is purchased and will be distributed via email.

For more information on cost or to book, please visit the event page here.

Images from past events can be found here.

About Matt

matt_hart__headshot_186x280Matt is a black & white street and event Photographer based in Liverpool England.
His journey through photography has been over 40 years mostly using film. He still shoots film, but more recently he prefers the freedom and flexibility of the digital medium striving to retain the integrity of the original image. Matt’s stock images have been used in advertising all over the world, his work has also been published in many books and magazines, including many photography magazines.

X-Photographers Spotlight – Matt Hart