Experiencing Rajasthan with the X100S

By Simon Bray

I wanted to explore somewhere different, somewhere that would stretch me, show me part of the world that I’d never experienced before, and may not have the freedom or lack of responsibilities to explore in the same way again; so we chose India, specifically, two weeks in Rajasthan.


I think to say that it stretched me would be an understatement of vast proportions. Every time I thought I was getting somewhere close to understanding the place I was in, something new would throw me off. My senses were constantly stimulated, whether it was relentless traffic and horns sounding, incense or burning rubbish, the colours and constant movement, being stared at or asked for money, flavours that were totally new, the combination was overwhelming.

However, there was never a shortage of things to photograph. It was almost as if every corner demanded to be documented. Everything was new, interesting, exciting, it was like returning to when I’d just started to pick up a camera and the possibilities of making images was totally new again.

Being a tourist gave me permission to photograph, I didn’t feel any boundaries. Every time someone asked me and my wife (mainly my wife) for a portrait, I asked for one in return. My confidence to take images soon built, even if my the rest of my instincts remained unsure about everything happening around me.

I don’t think I went with any direct expectations of what I wanted to capture. I don’t think I had any direct expectations of what I was about to throw myself into at all actually! The one thing I did know was that I wanted to travel light. I took just one backpack, so taking a raft of lenses and equipment really wasn’t an option, which is why I opted for the FUJIFILM X100S, it was an obvious choice really.

It’s a camera that I’d grown to love shooting with over the past year or so. The simplicity of using it is what really drew me in, but the image quality continues to impress me, I’d go as far as saying I like working with the files over my full frame DSLR option. It’s my go-to camera for travel, to the extent that I’ve just ordered the FUJIFILM X100F, which I know will be by my side pretty much everywhere I go!

I have compiled the images I took during my time in Rajasthan into an 86 page book, co-published by Let’s Explore Publishing and myself. It’s an exploration to experience a culture that is different to my own. Different values, commodities, traditions, history, religions, customs, food, politics, economics and yet so much to be shared together along the way.

If you would like to pre-order a copy of the book, please visit: http://www.simonbray.co.uk/prints-publications/the-limited-findings-of-a-westerners-short-stay-in-rajasthan


About Simon

Simon Bray is a Manchester based documentary & landscape photographer. He began taking photographs when he moved from Hampshire to Manchester as a means of assimilating into his new surroundings and adjusting to city life. His work has been exhibited at The Whitworth, Manchester and Brighton Photo Biennial and displayed at The Southbank Centre and Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool. His work has been published in The Guardian, BBC In Pictures and Outdoor Photography.

Website: www.simonbray.co.uk
Instagram: www.instagram.com/simonbray
Twitter: www.twitter.com/simonbray

El Camino with the Fujifilm X100S

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The Camino de Santiago (also commonly known as ’The Way of St James’, or ‘El Camino’ in Spanish) is the name given to the pilgrimage routes that start all over Europe, but all lead to the same destination: the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Northwest Spain).


By Danny Fernandez

Since moving to Spain in 2011, I had heard many people talking about doing ‘El Camino’, and each of them saying how incredible the experience is (life changing for many). For the past few years, it has been on my ‘to do’ list, and this August, I decided to combine three of my passions (travel, cycling and photography) and see what all the fuss is about!

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The first choice I had to make (although it wasn’t really much of a difficult one) was whether I should walk, or cycle. As a keen cyclist, the choice was simple; I would do a cycle tour. By cycling, it also meant that I could see much more of the coast in a shorter time, and also easily take detours if I wanted to explore the area.

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The second choice that I had to make was which camino to do. It was a toss up between the most popular, but easier and better facilitated route; the Camino Frances, or the more difficult and less crowded Camino del Norte. I decided to do the ‘Camino del Norte’. This is the route which follows the northern coast on Spain. I chose to do this route as I had heard it is the most beautiful but also one of the most difficult routes due to all of the mountains! I decided to start in the beautiful coastal town of Castro Urdiales (50km west of Bilbao), and had approx 17 days to cycle the 780km to Santiago de Compostela.

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The third choice that I had to make was where I would stay. Typically walkers (commonly known as Pilgrims during the camino) stay in Albergues (which is like a simple hostel, solely for pilgrims). However, cyclists get the last priority of beds in Albergues (walkers first / those on horses – yes, horses – second / cyclists third). As I had no guarantee of a bed, I decided to bring a tent and camp where possible.

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My Way

There seem to be as many reasons for doing the camino, as there are pilgrims. I met people from all walks of life, including entire families, married couples, adventurers, grandparents and even one guy who had walked out of his front door – in the Netherlands – 11 months ago, and is still walking now!

At the start of my camino, I overheard people saying things like “The Way gives you what you need”. I rolled my eyes and blew this off as some hippy thing, but after 17 days of cycling, I agreed with this.

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I think that the nature of any repetitive action (in this case ‘wake up/eat/cycle/sleep/repeat’), gives you a lot of – almost meditative – headspace, and can teach you all sorts of things about yourself. I had a lot of time to ponder on things (I was, after all, cycling by myself for on average 5 – 8 hours a day).

I also feel that the challenges taught me a lot about myself, and man, there were challenges! It was way more difficult than I could imagine. Some days I would battle a constant uphill mountain for more than 2 hours without escape. On average, I was ascending and descending between 800 – 1000 metres of altitude a day. And when it’s 32 degrees, and your loaded bike weights 30kgs, you feel every meter.

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Before starting, I expected to have many highs, and many lows (such is the beauty and the curse of solo travel), and the camino gave me both of these. I had extreme highs after making it through hours of rainy mountains to be rewarded with parted clouds over the most breathtaking views. And I had extreme lows when I questioned my reasons for this ‘stupid idea’ and was 90% sure that I was going to quit and just hang out on a beach for the remainder of my trip.

Each persons experience of the Camino is unique and I feel that if you listen, you can learn a lot about yourself during this journey.

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Why I chose the X100s

I’m not sure if other photographers are like me, but I spend so much time in a constant debate over which camera equipment to bring before any trip.

Since selling my Canon gear 3 years ago and slowly building a collection of Fuji (X100s / X-T1 / X-T10 / XF16mm / XF35mm / XF56mm) I was fortunate enough to have the choice of what to bring for this trip.

x100sI had narrowed it down to the X100s, or the X-T10 + XF16 and XF35 lenses. After changing my mind on a near daily basis, I eventually decided to simplify EVERYTHING on this trip, therefore I would only bring my X100s. I had previously spent 3 months backpacking around India with this camera and think it’s an incredible travel camera.

My reasons for bringing just the X100s was that I wanted simplicity. This was very much my philosophy behind the entire trip – to get away from every day life of choices and go back to basics (this was also the basis for my terrible decision of bringing only 2 pairs of socks for a 17 day cycle trip). I was clear that this was not a photography trip; it was all about the experience of the camino, and the X100s was always at hand to document it.

And if I had to choose only one reason why this is still my favourite travel camera, it’s because it doesn’t interrupt your experiences; but instead is there to complement them. Photography has taught me how to see, and when a camera fits in so seamlessly with your life, it can help deepen your appreciation of that moment.

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Holiday Snaps – Freedom From Faff

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Holiday snaps – it’s just one of those things right? Even though you LOVE taking pictures, LOVE capturing beautiful scenes of beautiful places, sometimes you simply can’t be bothered to figure out the following:

  • Which lenses should I take?
  • What bag am I going to use to take all this stuff?
  • What ND filters should I take?
  • What about chargers, spare batteries, neck strap, lens cloth (which you have temporarily ‘misplaced’ but don’t want to admit you have lost to your Wife)
  • And what about my tripod, how will it fit in my luggage?
  • Sighs..

This Is Where The Fujifilm X70 Comes In..

If you’re like me and already have a Fujifilm X Series camera, you have become very accustomed to quality photographs and probably shudder at the thought of using anything substandard.

And this could be for many reasons – but for me, it is this simple:

“What if I see something amazing while I’m on holiday? It could be the next picture to go on my wall at home.”

Now I know that if I shot the image on a smartphone there is no way that I would want to print it due to the lower image quality, and so I would always want to have an X Series with me.

With this in mind I decided to take only the X70 on my recent holiday to Mallorca. Now I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about not taking all my camera gear with me. I think this is because it all becomes a bit of a comfort blanket, I would think to myself:

“I’ve got the 10-24mm for my wide shots, my 55-200mm for my tele…” etc.

So ‘only’ having the fixed focal length I thought this might limit me creatively a bit, but all I can say is WOW – it really doesn’t! 

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I was trying to put my finger on what it is that makes this camera stand out from the crowd, and I think it really comes down to these 3 reasons:

The Image Quality Is Superb

This little camera creates beautiful images. It has the same sensor as found in the X-T1 (X-Trans CMOS II) and can easily produce stunning A3 / A2 prints.

And I have even seen great images printed at 2 by 3 metres from this sensor!!

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It’s Really Easy To Use

Whether you understand shutter speed, aperture and all that jazz or not, it really doesn’t matter with the X70 because this camera will cater for your abilities.

If you’re still learning the basics of photography you don’t need to worry as the camera has a handy little AUTO switch you can use to keep things simple.

But if you are like me and LOVE playing with all the settings, adjusting your depth of field and all of that then the X70 will be a great choice for you as all of the useful features are either a switch or a dial at your fingertips.

Not only that but the camera itself will charge like a phone in that you can use a USB cable straight into the side of the camera, the battery will then charge internally. It’s a simple thing, but in reality it’s really handy, as every night I’d just plug it in and place it on the bedside table to keep the power topped up.

Another great feature I use all the time is the built-in WIFI. When on holiday or travelling, a lot of us like to share our images with friends through Facebook or similar. With the WIFI feature on the X70 you can transfer over your images from camera to smartphone, edit them in Snapseed or similar and then upload – simple.

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The Caves of Drach – Mallorca – looking straight upwards for those wondering

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It Fits Into My Pocket

This is perhaps the simplest reason, and yet it is still one of the most important as to why I love this camera.

Unlike any other camera in our range the X70 actually fits into my pocket, which I find truly liberating.

It means that wherever I go, I have my camera with me without having to take a camera bag – which as I’m sure many men out there will agree – our ultimate aim is to carry everything of use within the pockets of our jeans.

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My Wife beating me at pool…Again
Keeping things healthy at dinner time
Keeping things healthy at dinner time..

pic_04And The Super Technical BONUS Reason…

My Wife LOVES taking couple selfies, and it just so happens that this camera makes that really easy too as the screen flips up fully. 😉

To find out more about the Fujifilm X70 Click Here.

Until next time, happy snapping

Dale 🙂

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My first ever tram ride.. It was brilliant!