A perspective on the wild side

By Chris Weston

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is making an emotional connection with the wildlife I encounter. One of the most challenging aspects of my job is conveying that connection in a photograph. To do that, I have to make use of a very important compositional tool – perspective. Continue reading A perspective on the wild side

Never Miss The Moment: A first look at the FUJIFILM X-H1

By Chris Weston

Wildlife photography throws up many challenges. For starters, weather and environmental conditions are rarely ideal. Dusty African savannahs, humid jungles, persistent precipitation in rainforests, sub-zero temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic – they all demand the very best of the equipment I use, in terms of both performance and reliability. In reality, it’s about confidence – I need to know that when the going gets tough the camera I’m using will perform consistently and uninterrupted. Having worked with X-T series cameras in camera-hostile environments around the world, I already have surety in the Fujifilm system.

I have recently spent time working with the FUJIFILM X-H1, including a trip to the stunning Camargue region in the South France to photograph the wild horses there. It’s obvious the designers and engineers have taken weather resistance to even higher levels with this new camera, with more robust seals to prevent electronics’ two main enemies, dust and water, leaving you high and dry. Continue reading Never Miss The Moment: A first look at the FUJIFILM X-H1

The Wonders of Winter

FUJIFILM X-T2 | F5 | 1/8000sec | ISO1600 | Exposure bias 0

By Chris Weston

Winter is my favourite season for photography. For the camera, there is something uniquely special about the quality of light. For me… well, I simply love photographing in snow and cold climates. Give me the Arctic over Africa anytime.

Of course, the challenges in such wintry conditions are many. First of all, the gear has to be up to the job, which is the reason I’m so enamoured with the Weather Resistant lens technology that Fujifilm has put into the three lenses I mainly use: the XF16-55mmF2.8, XF50-140mmF2.8 and the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 zooms. Continue reading The Wonders of Winter

Art and Mind – 10 Days in Japan [Part Two]

By Chris Weston

Part 2: Art and Mind

Hokkaido (Days 6 – 10)

We often hear or read the quote, “It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer”, meaning the creation of great photographs is not dependent on having the latest or most expensive gear but on having a keen eye, an open and inquisitive mind and the artistic skills to turn vision into a reality that is a photograph. After sixteen years as a professional photographer, I can attest this is absolutely true. Continue reading Art and Mind – 10 Days in Japan [Part Two]

Photographers, We’re Storytellers – 10 Days in Japan [Part One]

By Chris Weston

When I first became interested in wildlife photography, I harboured a deep fascination with Japan. I used to study the work of some of the great Japanese nature photographers – Michio Hoshino, Mitsuaki Iwago, Nobuyuki Kobayashi – and found, in their images, a hidden depth, an elusive something that I could only describe as “soul”. I also noticed many of my early photographic heroes, photographers such as Art Wolfe and Jim Brandenburg, as well as my favourite artist, Monet, had been inspired by immersion in Japanese culture. Continue reading Photographers, We’re Storytellers – 10 Days in Japan [Part One]

Wildlife Photography: Creating a Sense of Place

By Chris Weston

Wildlife photography isn’t just about frantic action shots and animal portraits. An important area of the genre is capturing a sense of place – images that show the subject in the landscape.

Photographing animals in their environment is a critical area of my work because such images serve to further the cause of environmental conservation, which is a driving force behind my work. The primary cause of decreasing wildlife populations is habitat loss, so revealing the beauty of the land in which animals make their homes is, for me, an important aspect of my storytelling. Continue reading Wildlife Photography: Creating a Sense of Place

X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Chris Weston

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?

chris westonWhen I was about 15 years old, I lived in Boston. Unfortunately, not the colourful, vibrant city in the United States but the quiet market town in Lincolnshire, England – historically linked to its American namesake but a place best known for its Dutch-like landscape and the agricultural prowess of its inhabitants. What I am trying to say is, I grew up in a part of England that required much of one’s imagination.

At school one day, I was asked to select my preferred employer for a 2-week work placement. The options weren’t good. Potato planting, bulb cleaning or strawberry picking were three of the more attractive options, as I recall. Seeing my inner turmoil, in a way only dads can, my father asked me what I wanted to do for a career. Without hesitation I replied, “I want to be a photojournalist”.

From where that statement came, I have no idea. Not a clue. I mean, I remember wanting to be (at various stages and in no particular order) a fireman, a policeman, a jet pilot, a train driver, a ski jumper and, of all things, an accountant … but a photojournalist? That was a new one. Even so, at my father’s behest and with the blessing of a somewhat perplexed headmaster, I began my first ever assignment.

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How did you develop your style in photography?

While I was on an assignment, about a year after I turned professional, I had a light bulb moment. I was in Tanzania photographing the annual wildebeest migration, as it passed across the Grumeti River. It was a slow day and photographic opportunities were few and far between. I don’t know if you’ve ever paid a lot of attention to wildebeest but they’re not Africa’s most alluring creatures. African’s describe them as, “The animal God created out of the leftover parts of other animals”. Don’t get me wrong, I like wildebeest but they don’t do much. Their day consists of walking in a wide circle eating grass. And that’s about it. Two days into a three-week long project, I was struggling for ideas. How do you continually photograph what amounts to a large brown antelope grazing in a big brown field?

And then it struck me. I started to think about migration and what it really is. Migration is the movement of animals from point A to point B. Movement. Migration is movement and that not wildebeest was the real story. I started to make photographs that captured the story of the migration – wildebeest moving, individually, in a line, in large herds. Suddenly, my photography had purpose and it has been guided by the light from that bulb ever since. We’re not just photographers we’re storytellers. In place of a pen we have a camera but irrespective of the tool our aim is the same: to amuse, emote, inform, educate, and entertain. I believe that inside all of us is a story that is aching to be told, tales that make photography a unique and intensely personal experience.

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Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

For the past couple of years, I have been advocating that the next major shift in camera design will be the exit of the mirror. The mirror is perhaps the single most-limiting factor in an SLR camera, which is rather surprising given that it has been the mainstay of camera design for nearly 80 years.

First of all, the mirror causes cameras to be far bigger and heavier than necessary. Secondly, to accommodate the mirror, the lens needs to be pushed further forward, increasing the distance between the rear lens element and the sensor (or film) plane, which diminishes the quality of the light transmitted by the lens.

Thirdly, the mirror slapping up against the chamber introduces vibration that, when combined with relatively slow shutter speeds, softens edge detail, reducing image quality further. This is particularly true when using ultra-high resolution DSLR cameras. Finally, mirrors are noisy. The constant slap-slap-slap cuts through the silence of dawn and dusk, echoing across open savannahs and bouncing off woodland trees, startling anxious wildlife into panic.

So, when Fuji announced the launch of the X-T1 mirror-less camera, I was intrigued enough to contact Fujifilm UK. My main question to Fuji was: Is the X-T1 up to the rigors of professional wildlife photography? They answered my question with a question: loaning me an X-T1 body and a couple of lenses they said, “You tell us!” I’ve been using the X-T1 ever since and my investment in Fujifilm products continues to grow.

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Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

For me, a photograph begins with a caption. That may sound a little back-to-front but if you think about it, really it isn’t. For example, imagine trying to build a house with no architectural drawings. Where would you start? How would you even know what materials you needed? Nobody would approach house building this way, yet the idea that fully formed, well-composed photographs just happen seems to be accepted as the exception to the rule. It’s not. Photographs are designed and crafting an image begins with having something interesting you want to say.

Knowing what to say comes from knowing your subject. The better you know your subject, the more stories you have to tell. I became a wildlife photographer because I’m fascinated by the natural world. How it works, how it fits together and how everything is connected. I often find myself intrigued by inane questions like,  “Why are zebras black-and-white striped when they live in a yellow savannah?”

It’s by asking questions and finding answers that I’m able to hit upon new ideas for images, find ways of making interesting photographs of ordinary subjects or different ways to photograph the same subject over and over. It’s how I learn about the natural world and develop a better understanding of wildlife and nature and, to some extent, my part in it all. And knowing yourself, how you feel about things and how things move you is as important a part of the process as the technical aspects of photography.

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Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

Perhaps intriguingly, I’m more inspired by people and events outside of photography. In photographic circles, I admire the work of Michael Nichols, particularly, and, in the very early days, I learned a lot of the basics from Art Wolfe. However, today, science (especially quantum mechanics) and extraordinary people and thinkers, such as astronaut Chris Hadfield, author Yuval Noah Harari and physicist Brian Cox inspire me.

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

There are so many thoughts, ideas and techniques that have led me to where I am that it’s hard to narrow them down to a few. So, instead, how about I offer Fujifilm readers a completely free e-book titled Nature Photography: Insider Secrets. To get a free copy simply click on this link: Top Wildlife Tips

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What’s next for you?

I’m on an amazing personal journey of discovery, looking at how creativity through photography can inspire how we live, as individuals and within communities and society as a whole. It’s a story that I want to share with the world and I’m currently talking to Fujifilm about how we can make that happen. Watch this space!

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Contact info

Website
Facebook

CP+ 2015

It’s that time of year again.

Japan’s annual photography convention sees all of the big players in the photography market under the huge roof of the Pacifico Convention Centre in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo. Obviously the reason I’m here is because Fujifilm have once again put on an amazing stand, showing off all aspects of the business.

In 2014, we took a bit of a gamble by placing four European photographers on a stage and asked them to tell the Japanese public what they did. The talks were in English and then translated into Japanese by the lovely Hiroe Kubuki from Fujifilm Tokyo. This meant that the photographers were not able to talk as freely and as flowingly as they would normally like and we were not sure how the crowds at CP+, which is a very Japanese show, would take to this.

It turns out they took to it incredibly well. Large crowds, lots of questions at the end, laughs at the jokes throughout, and rapturous applause at the end helped us see that the gamble paid off.

Fast forward twelve months and we’ve done it again.

The Fujifilm X Photographer stage

Issaque Foujita talking ay CP+
Issaque Foujita talking at CP+

CP+ opened today and the X-Photographer stage has proved extremely popular. The program kicked off at 13:00 with Japanese photographer Issaque Foujita taking the audience through a number of his favourite shots, explaining the thought process both technically and artistically that went into each.

Chris Weston on the CP+ stage
Chris Weston on the CP+ stage

At 14:00, Switzerland-based wildlife photographer Chris Weston introduced himself with this video on the large screen, before giving some great advice about telling stories with your images.

Masaaki Aihara standing next to one of his prints on the CP+ stage
Masaaki Aihara standing next to one of his prints on the CP+ stage

Japanese professional photographer Masaaki Aihara took to the stage at 15:00 and spoke about his natural, minimalist approach to photography.

Finally, Japanese photographer Shinichi Hanawa presented the last talk of the opening day and explained his style of photography and how he uses Fujifilm X system to help him realise his vision.

Friday’s stage schedule includes Japanese photographers Tsutomu Endo, Yukio Uchida, Rei Ohara and Yoshihiro Enatsu along with Swedish photographer Knut Koivisto and British photographer Damien Lovegrove.

On Saturday, Polish reportage photographer Tomasz Lazar will be joined by Japanese photographer Sachi Murai. Chris Weston, Tsutomu Endo, Yukio Uchida and Rei Ohara will also make a second appearance on the stage.

The show will wrap up on Sunday with Sachi Murai, Masaaki Aihara, Issaque Foujita, Tomasz Lazar, Knut Koivisto and Damien Lovegrove all making their second appearances.

Interviews

Mr Soga, the man behind the product planning team for X mount lenses
Mr Soga, the man behind the product planning team for X mount lenses

I’ve been lucky enough to interview each of the photographers, plus a few other key members of staff from Fujifilm Japan, and I’ll look to getting all of these interviews and more images posted online soon. We’ve also recorded all of the talks so we’ll try to get these up as quickly as possible so you can watch them and be inspired.

What else is happening on the Fujifilm stand?

Following the lens roadmap announcement earlier this week, we displayed mock ups of the new XF35mmF2, the XF100-400, the XF120mmF2 Macro and the XF1.4x tele converter.

The new XF35mmF2 lens, as modelled on my X-T1
The new XF35mmF2 lens, as modelled on my X-T1
The new XF120mmF2 Macro
The new XF120mmF2 Macro
The new x1.4x Tele Conversion adaptor
The new x1.4x Tele Conversion adaptor

Fujifilm “touch and try” let’s members of the public try out our new products. Lots of interest in the XF16-55mmF2.8

Testing an X-T1
Testing an X-T1
Testing an X-T1
Testing an X-T1
Something to test the cameras and lenses on
Something to test the cameras and lenses on

 

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The X User Gallery showed off some great images taken by real X users, captured and printed using Fujifilm products.

 

The Quick Maintenance service, that was amazingly popular at Photokina 2014, makes another appearance, much to the delight of many Fujifilm camera owners that were able to get a free sensor clean and camera check-up.
The Quick Maintenance service, that was amazingly popular at Photokina 2014, makes another appearance, much to the delight of many Fujifilm camera owners that were able to get a free sensor clean and camera check-up.

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Chris Weston – Wildlife Photographer and Fujifilm X-Photographer

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

 

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

 

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