Through a Photographer’s Eye: Bhagiraj Sivagnanasundaram

Welcome to the Second Series of Through a Photographer’s Eye. In this series, we continue to learn about Australian photographers and how they use X Series Cameras to photograph their world around them. Our sixth interview in Series Two is with Sydney based photographer, Bhagiraj Sivagnanasundaram.

Bhagiraj, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in photography?

I’m a wanderer often travelling between two worlds, one as a Doctor in a busy Emergency Department, another as a photographer. 
There should be a starting point to any kind of passion. For us photographers, it’s mostly another photographer or a photo that pushes us to start exploring the world. For me, it was the photos taken by my cousin brother when I was just five or six years old. The small chicks under the monsoon mushrooms in Sri Lanka, the beautiful flowers and of course the photos of myself in different attires, sometimes as a fashionista and occasionally as a native hunter wearing just a leaf where appropriate. Those were the old film days which provoked the craving for the looks of films even though I hardly used a film camera – one strong point that made me fall in love with Fujifilm and its film simulations.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – 1/15 second – F4.5 – ISO 400

The journey began with a small point and shoot ten years back; I went through different phases of bridge cameras, DSLRs and now have finally settled on Fujifilm X Series. Luckily I had early recognition of my work as some of them ended up in few magazines and some won awards. Slowly the passion to Travel started, and now I proudly call myself as a Travel & Documentary photographer even though occasionally I try other genres of photography out of curiosity.

 

We noticed travel and documentary photography form an important part of your portfolio.
 Can you tell us why?

Travel and documentary photography is something that challenges me. It’s highly unpredictable; scenes won’t wait for me, so I have to be at the right spot at the right time. I have to handle people with all types of personalities, and most importantly our world is rapidly evolving. We don’t see half as much of what our grandparents saw, and our grandkids won’t see much of what we see today. This reality constantly pushes me towards Travel and Photography.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF35mmF2 R WR – 1/20 second – F2 – ISO 500

My inspirations are from famous travel and documentary photographers, and I follow the passion of those travellers who witnessed the various cultures, people, lifestyle and stunning destinations. However, art should be unique, and I try my best to maintain my way of the journey. I explore my way of expressing my inner feelings of witnessing a moment, let it be a happy event or something bad, either way, I make sure it will be remembered forever for what it is and I share it with my audience.

It is not only about a process of making an infinite physical memory of my travels. It is also a medium that connects me to a lonely Shepard in a cold Himalayan region with whom I shared a hot coffee or with a cliff diver in a rural village in Sri Lanka who asked me to take a good picture of him doing the stunt, risking his life.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – 1/500 second – F9 – ISO 250

Each moment I encounter has an unexplored history behind it. When explored, these moments become so important that they carry an experience of that fraction of a second. I become the portal connecting two unknown worlds, and the tool is my camera, from the artisans of Fujifilm. The fraction of a second that I encountered will never repeat, but it will resonate forever through my photographs.

 

What are your thoughts on editing an image by removing a distracting object from the scene? Do you change the scene in post processing or is your preferred capturing method SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) with much editing?

I do not modify the scene, but I create the image to represent the actual scene as much as possible. We are getting a little bit technical here. As we know human eyes have higher dynamic range than any of the consumer cameras ever produced. So it becomes essential to process the photos to a certain level, so they match the original dynamic range of the scenes.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – 0.6 seconds – F16 – ISO 100

Over the course of a decade, I have used three different brands, and I have found Fujifilm is different to them. The mix of colours, shadows, and highlights are more artistic with this Japanese brand. When combined with stunning film simulations it just brings back my childhood memories, and it is one of the most important factors that opted me to do the big jump to the Fujifilm X Series territory. When used correctly the film simulations have some strange good emotions in them which I cannot explain, but I love them. Sometimes you don’t know why you love something, but it’s the best thing you can ever do.

SOOC has never been my method until I discovered Fujifilm. It is also one important reason I switched to the brand. With Fujifilm, all I have to do is a very basic editing for few a seconds or a couple of minutes, and sometimes I do nothing to the images at all.

One would argue that using film simulations is similar to digital manipulations. However being the photographer we should decide on what is the most important message we are conveying through our photographs. We should decide whether to give weight to the shadows, highlights or colours. Simulations help us to achieve them- I’m not talking about digital filters here.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – 1/100 second – F8 – ISO 100

Depending on the genres of photography the use of simulations or post processing differ. For example, travel photographs can be a bit exaggerated replica of the reality in a more promotional way of a destination, while most of my documentary photographs undergo very little processing or none. A travel image with a stray dog or a light post with wires visible on the street could give a negative feeling to the viewer which is unwanted, where the same scene in a documentary (more towards photojournalism) photograph will work entirely differently. I mostly avoid those scenes for a travel picture than spending hours removing it in Photoshop. This is where the composition comes into the picture; I think it is the most ethical means of removing a distracting object from the picture or changing the distractor into a helper and I’m a very strong supporter of compositions. It is the most important thing for me in photography. One wise man once said, “Photography is an art of exclusions”.

 

You recently travelled to Sri Lanka with the XF10-24mmF4 and XF90mmF2. How did you find the XF10-24mmF4 lens for travel photography? Did the lens meet your expectations?


I never used such wide angle range. The minimum I have used previously was a 24mm (35mm equivalent). I was never keen on landscapes. Most of my landscapes were the backdrops of the environmental portraits. The Fujifilm XF10-24mmF4 was the first lens of its kind for me, and the intention was to capture more landscapes.

Fujifilm X-E2S with XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – 1/500 second – F4 – ISO 400

In the field, it was far beyond that, the use of it in creating beautiful compositions of day to day Sri Lankan life was impressive. The lens remained on one of the camera bodies for the rest of the trip because of its versatility. I no longer see the wide angle lens reserved mostly for landscapes. Of course, there will be issues with distortion. However, I worry more about the moment than the technical aspects of capturing it. You don’t need to switch to Fujifilm for this lens, it doesn’t mean it is inferior to any other branded wide angles, but if you are into Fujifilm, then this is one lens you should have.

Both the XF10-24mmF4 and XF90mmF2 were loaned products from Fujifilm Australia. When I returned the gear, I made sure those are the next two lenses I will acquire.

 

How did the portraits you captured using the XF90mmF2 differ from the lens you used previously? Where there any differences in quality, sharpness and autofocus speeds?

I would like to answer it differently. Could the XF90mmF2 truly replace the legendary lens I already used before making the switch to Fujifilm? The answer is, yes by all means! In reality, the Fujifilm XF90mmF2 almost equals the 35mm equivalent focal length of 135mm. It’s a specialised focal length with specific uses, particularly with portraitures. So many hardcore lens reviewers have already concluded that it is one of the best lenses in the current market.

Fujifilm X-E2S with X90mmF2 R LM WR – 1/400 second – F2 – ISO 320

The autofocus speed is super fast that I hardly missed any shots and it maintains its speed in low light – my favourite type of lighting situation. The sharpness is equally incredible, and corner sharpness is well maintained at any aperture. The beautiful bokeh, particularly at F2, works amazingly well when compared to other 135mm lenses from other brands. With the excellent contrast, colour rendition, weather resistant sealing, lesser weight than counterparts, there’s nothing more I need other than just to keep shooting with this beauty. It’s an instant boost to the confidence level in image making.

 

If someone was travelling to Sri Lanka, based on your experience what camera and lens configuration would you recommend they take?

Sri Lanka is a small tropical Island. In a matter of few hours, you will be on a misty mountain or a rain forest from a beach. Depending on the places and the season you visit the selection of camera gear will vary. In general, it is advisable to carry weather resistant lenses and cameras as most of the beautiful natural habitats in the country are water based. Also, the island has friendly people, rich traditions and festivals. So you will need lenses that can be wide opened (in aperture) and good at focusing in low light. It is also a land of leopards, elephants and the mighty blue whales. It’s one of the best places on earth to witness these giants. So you will need a good telephoto lens if you decide to take photos of them.

Fujifilm X-E2S with XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS – 1/4000 second – F5 – ISO 200

I would like to summarise the gear recommendation that will work for any travel and documentary photographer anywhere in the world.


Body Recommendations:

Main Camera – The Fujifilm X-T2.
Backup Camera – The Fujifilm X-T20.

Lens Recommendations:

The lenses listed below are the ones I carried.

Fujinon XF 18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
Fujinon XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS
Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR
Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 R OIS
Fujinon XF90mmF2 R LM WR (I’m comfortable with this focal length, but some people prefer Fujifilm XF56mmF1.2 R)
Optional – Fujifilm XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR (If you are serious about wildlife photography).

 

 

Do you have a favourite image you captured on your trip? What was the story behind the shot?

My favourite image was from a remote village in Sri Lanka nestled among the large mountains ranges. It has a rich history dating back to many centuries. The village is abundant with beauty, and it was only recently received widespread attention from tourists after a few local films were shot in the location. Over very few years the village transformed dramatically, and now it’s a popular holiday hub for many tourists. Many villagers who relied primarily on paddy fields and other traditional lifestyle jobs are now into tourism as it gives more financial stability in the modern economy. Even though methods are implemented for sustainable tourism the rate at which tourism grows is a major threat to the centuries-old traditions of the village.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – 1/100 second – F16 – ISO 200

I wanted to capture the essence of the community, and during a stroll, I saw a villager visiting his paddy field surrounded by dark foliages and huts built for tourists – a familiar scene throughout the village.

The whole scene was like an arena – the field is the village, the dark foliage from the mountains and the huts surrounding it portrayed how tourism was slowly penetrating into the heart of the village. The man was both the victim and witness of this event. It was like there was a spotlight turned on to an important event in that village which will change its future forever.

 

When you look at a scene what is the most important thing you try and capture? Does composition play an important part of your photography?


Most of the times it is about how unique the image is. In the current world, almost all of us have a camera of some sort, from smartphones to the high-end medium formats. So many photographs are made of the same subject each second. Once I visited the Taj Mahal in India, and I tried to go as early as possible before sunrise, and I was among the handful of photographers at that time, and in few minutes there are hundreds of people with cameras. So it means most of them are going to take photographs of the same place at the same time and my worry is how can I stand out from that crowd while retaining the true meaning of the scenes I encountered.

This is where composition becomes important. For me, it is the most important part of a photograph. How you place and connect the elements of a scene into a photo will decide how the picture will connect with the audience. Naturally, I’m inclined towards better compositions in my images. The actual scene may look dull, could have bad weather, etc, but still one can come out with a good image if the composition is different and unique – often turning those negative factors into positives.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – 1/500 second – F4.5 – ISO 400

Just because a sunset looks beautiful or a shadow from a person in a city looks mysterious doesn’t mean they will make a great photograph unless they connect well with their surroundings and tell a story together which makes the audience have inner discussions about the image. Occasionally the story can come from just the subject alone like in close up portraits, but most of the time it’s something that evolves around the subject and its environment. So, we should be vigilant on how we are going to present the whole thing to the audience.

 

If you have some advice for someone starting out in photography what would it be?

Learn how to be a tough critic of your images. You can book a trip for a few thousand, buy the most expensive photography gear to take to your exotic location, but at the end of the day in the hotel room; you should be brave enough to delete most of those images which you think are not the best. You shouldn’t reflect on the amount of effort you put in to get those shots.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS – 1/25 second – F16 – ISO 200

There is a difference between ‘creating’ images and ‘taking/capturing’ images. Photography is an art; we have to be the creators of the art. Perfection needs experience, and even with the best experience, it’s highly doubtful that anyone would become just perfect in image making, but keep fighting for it. Cherish the better pictures that you make today and compare these to the ones you shot last week and keep going. Keep connecting well with fellow photographers and share knowledge. Remember, it is not about the destination, but more about the journey. Good Luck!

 

To view more Bhagiraj’s work visit his websiteblog or Facebook Page. You can also follow him on Instagram.

Other interviews in this series

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Rhys Tattersall

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Jared Morgan

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Tony Gardiner

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Greg Cromie

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Clèment Breuille

Fujifilm’s History – Nearly a Century of Innovation

Fujifilm has become a household name. It is a publicly traded company and a leader in digital cameras and accessories. That level of success does not come instantly or easily, though. More than eight decades of history have contributed to building the film behemoth Fujifilm is today.

 

When you get a sense of Fujifilm’s history, then you can even better appreciate how legacy influences the characteristics of Fujifilm products today.

 

An innovative company enters the photography industry.

In the early 1930s, the Japanese government set out a plan to create a local industry for photographic film. That mandate led to the Fuji Photo Film Company’s formation in 1934. Its first factory, Ashigara, sat at the foot of Mount Hakone, but because the “Hakone” title was registered to another company, the film business took the name of a nearby mountain, Fuji.

As Fuji grew, it produced photographic, motion picture and X-Ray films. By 1948, it manufactured its first camera, the Fujica Six, which was known for its compact body and being lightweight. The camera became popular, and Fuji launched a series of Fujica still-photo and motion picture cameras and continued production of that line well into the 1980s.

 

Fujifilm goes digital with the DS-1P.

In 1988, at a photography trade show in Germany, Fujifilm forever changed the industry by unveiling a new toy, the FUJIX DS-1P, the world’s first digital camera. There had been electronic cameras before, but those cameras had stored images in an analog way. The DS-1P did so digitally with its semiconductor memory card. That first model retained only five to 10 images on its card, but Fujifilm further developed its digital technology and, in 1989, released an improved successor, the DS-X, for commercial purchase.

 

The FinePix X100 brings Fujifilm to pros.

Fujifilm continued to build digital cameras—most were designed with the casual user in mind. But in 2010, Fujifilm had something new for the pros when it released the FinePix X100. This camera fused worlds old and new with its APS-C sensor and contemporary viewfinder stashed in a vintage body.

 

Instant success leads to a series.

The X100 was so high in demand that it sold on secondary markets for double its retail price. So the following year, Fujifilm launched an entire series of high-end cameras like the X100. The next in the series, the X10, was released later that year and boasted a larger sensor and an EXR color filter, and the X-S1, the first in a series of interchangeable lenses, came soon after.

 

As the X Series continues today, its products are united not by a particular feature, but by the company’s commitment to create advanced controls for serious photographers.

 

The series is just another way Fujifilm continues its company-wide legacy of advancing technology and anticipating user needs.

 

Reasons to Shoot Monochromatic and Colour Photography

With the ease of publishing colour photography, both digitally and in print, monochromatic photos can seem like relics of the past. But there are moments when your shots are best served in black and white. The shapes and busyness of your composition might suggest it is time to break from colour and go monochromatic.

 

Look for a few reasons to make your next shot monochromatic.

 

Simplify composition and emphasise basics.

If the colour in your background and light sources is too busy, a monochromatic shot brings focus back to your subject. Your background elements still matter for the shot, but you need not worry about balance and blend of colours.

“Artillery” by Dennis Vogelsang, Fujifilm X-T1

 

Bring stark shapes to the forefront.

Images that utilise jarring shapes especially benefit greatly from monochromatic. Viewers’ eyes have less to look for when colour is removed, so more of their attention goes toward the geometry in your image.

“Brooklyn Bridge” by David Guest, Fujifilm X100S

Compensate for light sources with ugly hues.

You may have adequate lighting for your shot, but your light source is too warm or cool. If a lamp, fluorescent bulb or car headlight presents an unflattering hue, try the shot in black and white.

“A rainy night in Sydney” by Francis Gorrez, Fujifilm X-T10

 

Connote timelessness.

Because monochromatic photos were more common decades ago, we still associate them with history. Invoke timelessness in your shots today by going back to black and white. Portraits and cityscapes shot in monochromatic feel like they have a place in the photographic past.

“Look At Me! Lunchtime Rendezvous” by Justin Curtis, Fujifilm X100S

 

See faces in a new way.

People of all races and backgrounds can be photographed well in monochromatic, which diminishes blemishes and discolorations. Get a full range of black-and-white hues with a well-lit portrait.

 

Of course, not every moment is best served in black and white. Remember why your image might need a full spectrum of colour.

“Country Meets City” by Grant Ashford, Fujifilm X-Pro2

 

Show clarity between objects of similar value.

If your image includes items of different colours but similar values, like navy blue and green, then a colour photo may be necessary to distinguish the hues from one another.

 

 

Communicate the time of day.

From golden hour to blue hour, times of day come through when your outdoor photo is in full colour. Catch not only the angle of natural light but also its hue to set a more vivid scene.

 

Make fashion the focus.

When you take a portrait focused on a person’s fashion as much as his or her facial features, colour photography showcases the colour combinations of clothing and accessories.

 

Allow trees and birds to show their coats.

Most outdoor photography is best suited for colour. While monochromatic works for some waterbody shots, colour shows trees changing with the seasons and birds donning their kaleidoscope of feathers.

 

Establish your background as more than an afterthought.

Monochromatic photos bring the most attention to subjects and their shapes. But if you have an alluring background, that may not be your goal. Stick with colour if you want viewers to appreciate much more than your foreground.

 

Monochromatic and colour photos both have their place in your repertoire, and knowing the best uses for each will give you confidence as you shoot with intention.

 

X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Greg Whitton

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?

Profile1Well, I’m married to Lisa and as we don’t have any children, it leaves us plenty of free time to enjoy stuff outside of the home. We met through our walking group as we both have a love for the outdoors and it is that which helped me discover a love for photography. Initially I started heading to the hills with mates and just enjoyed climbing hills and mountains, but over time I came to appreciate the landscape and I was ended up trying to capture more than just snapshots of our hiking activities. This then developed into a strong affinity with photography.

Greg_Whitton_Photography_Fuji_2015-8

How did you develop your style in photography?

I don’t think I really have a style, although just the other day someone said they could single out a “Greg Whitton shot” from others. I wasn’t sure how to take that but they assured me it was a good thing. I’m not sure I really believe it. I’m very much a photographer who strives to capture epic landscapes, typically made that way due to the pattern of weather in them. They tend to be very moody. I’m not a heavy user of post-processing, although I would say that I think I use most of the tools that Lightroom offers. Typically my images follow the same processing workflow which takes two or three minutes. It’s perhaps why they are easier to single out, they exhibit the same characteristics. I’m using colour a lot more these days. By that I mean I’m playing with individual colour channels to achieve a ‘mood’ that I want. It’s surprising just how effective this is, a minor nudge of the blue primary colour channel for example can do wonders.

Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

A friend of mine introduced me to them. He was searching for his ‘perfect camera’ and seemed to have a new camera every week, Nikon, Sony, Ricoh, etc. I was using Canon, a 5DmkII. Eventually he got a Fujifilm X-E1 and was raving about the image quality. It was small and lightweight, and it wasn’t full frame. Naturally I didn’t really believe him. However, I started to notice I wasn’t using my own set up very effectively. I was hiking a lot and it was just too heavy. I wasn’t carrying it around my neck and was leaving it in my rucksack. As a result I was missing a lot of shots (I very much tend to shoot handheld on the fly as things happen quickly in the mountains). He showed me some of his RAF files and I have to say, I was impressed. I decided to experiment and bought an X-Pro1 and a bunch of lenses in a cashback deal. I took it on one dual shoot with the Canon. The Canon was on the tripod the whole time for ‘the big shot’ while I ran around the summit of a mountain with the X-Pro1 shooting handheld. When I got home to check the results, I had more useable images from the Fuji than I did from the Canon. When comparing images that were shot side by side, the Fuji had better clarity, less noise and were sharper. That was it, that one shoot persuaded me to ditch the Canon and go full Fuji. I don’t regret it a single bit.

Greg_Whitton_Photography_Fuji_2015-2

Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

Simply shoot what you love and don’t listen to others.

Greg_Whitton_Photography_Fuji_2015-12

Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

Colin Prior is one of my photographic heroes. My photographic eye has certainly been influenced by his amazing body of panoramic work. In recent years I’ve followed Julian Calverley because his use of mood in landscape photography is almost second to none. I’ve also become a bit of a fan of David Ward. Every image I see from him fills me with wonder. He can make the most benign foreground subject so incredibly intriguing and unique. It blows my mind sometimes.

Greg_Whitton_Photography_Fuji_2015-7

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

Oh crikey, not really. If I told you how I got most of my images you’d realise just how un-professional I am! My few words of wisdom would extend to, if you enjoy shooting the outdoors, then you must do it because you love the outdoors. Try to appreciate them for what they are and don’t get hung up on ‘the shot’. I go out to enjoy the outdoors first. A good photograph is a bonus.

Greg_Whitton_Photography_Fuji_2015

What’s next for you?

Winning Outdoor Photographer of the Year has given me a massive boost in self confidence and opened one or two doors. But I’m learning that it still doesn’t mean people are knocking down your door for stuff. You still have to be pro-active to make the most of it. I’ve been really busy since then, but it’s not all photography, I have a full time job to do too. So, you’d be surprised how little I’ve been able to capitalise on the accolade. I do have a book coming out in August, ‘Mountainscape’ published by Triplekite. It is a book that contains many of my favourite mountain images from the UK, from vistas to more personal work. It’s available to pre-order from www.triplekite.co.uk. Beyond that I’m hoping to launch workshops later in the year (folks can sign up for news on them by contacting me through the website). Mind you, if anyone wants to commission me for anything else, I’m all ears!

I’m looking forward to the next generation of cameras from Fuji, I think we are going to be treated to something special. Recently we’ve seen huge advances in resolution & technology in the digital photography world, mind you, we don’t seem to have been held back by lower resolution, I won a major competition with only 16 megapixels to play with, it was the overall image that won, not how detailed it was. Others have achieved much more with much less. It is an exciting time for digital photography and it’s great to be involved.

Contact info

Website
Twitter

Greg_Whitton_Photography_Fuji_2015-5

The Kushti Wrestlers

By Danny Fernandez

At some point during 2013 it dawned on me that I hadn’t had an adventure for a number of years. Bored with my job and in the need of a change, I began looking at voluntary positions in India. A year later I boarded a flight to Delhi with high hopes of adventure, new experiences and great photo opportunities. Luckily, all of these wishes were granted.

6 weeks of my time were spent volunteering in a small village called Nagwa, just outside the intense city of Varanasi. My job was to teach young people from the local area how to use cameras. The students of the charity (named ‘Fairmail’) then take photos which are in turn made into greeting cards, and sold throughout the world. The students receive money from sales, which pays for their education/health/housing costs etc.

During my time teaching there, I became good friends with the students. One student had previously mentioned that his brother takes part in Kushti, an ancient tradition of Indian wrestling which still thrives in Varanasi.

He told me that we could go to the the temple where they train to meet and possibly photograph the wrestlers. I was super excited at this prospect as if it happened, it would allow me a glimpse into the mostly unseen world of Kushti wrestling.

We arrived to the temple a little before 7am and were met with some suspicious eyes from the wrestlers (foreigners are not normally allowed into the training grounds, especially those with cameras). My student spoke to the wrestlers while myself and a few other students (each with their cameras) held back. I was nervous and felt out of place, especially as I had brought a small lighting kit with me (which I imagined made the wrestlers think I was shooting for professional/commercial reasons).  After a few minutes one of the wrestlers came over and my student introduced us; he told us that it was ok for us to take photos and I was incredibly relieved. I felt like a National Geographic photographer on his first assignment, with feelings of intimidation and self doubt. Was I ready for this? What if I screwed it up?

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (2)

The training grounds were basic, but very serene. The ring reminded me of a temple, and there was a beautiful tree in the middle of the grounds. The various weights and equipment were made in traditional, and primitive, ways. Examples included solid wooden bats which are swung around your head, and a 50kg circular weight which you wear around your neck.

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography (9)

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (16)

The training began with the wrestlers entering the ring to pray. I couldn’t understand the words, but the feeling transcended language barriers. As with many other moments in Varanasi, there was a momentary sense of peace. These moments always took me by surprise, as Varanasi is the most chaotic place I have ever experienced. It was refreshing to see religion and tradition still deeply rooted in a land that often idealises the West.

My work began slowly, taking a more documentary style approach, allowing the wrestlers to get used to me being there. I kept a distance and began documenting their training and their gym. After a while (and after I put down my camera and began training with the wrestlers), they welcomed me to come closer to photograph them.

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (14)

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (8)

Despite my initial intimidation, the wrestlers were very friendly, and after they had warmed up to the camera, I felt like they began to show off. At times I had different wrestlers asking me to take photos of them as them attempted heavier weights and more difficult exercises. You could tell that they were proud to be continuing the Kushti tradition, and wanted it to be recorded.

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography (11)

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (6)

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography (15)

There are two things that I think helped me in this situation – firstly, I was a volunteer, working with the local youth, so they knew my intentions were pure. Secondly, I had been growing an awesome Indian style moustache that they all found hilarious (this actually helped me out in many situations during my travel!).

The highlight for me was when the wrestling began. Usually witnessing a fight makes me feel uneasy, but when I watched Kushti, I could appreciate the skill and dedication of their art. Perhaps it was the beauty of the surroundings, or the inner peace that seemed to radiate from the wrestlers, but I sensed absolutely no aggression on a personal level between the wrestlers. They seemed like a band of brothers.

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (4)

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (10)

Towards the end of the training when I was taking group shots, they insisted that I was included in the photos. The also insisted that I took my top off so that we were all the same. I felt like they had accepted me; somebody who has lead a completely different, and completely privileged life in comparison to theirs, but at that moment when we shirtless, bare footed and stripped of our normal identity, we were equal.

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (12)

In total I was lucky enough to spend 2 mornings with the wrestlers, and I felt extremely privileged to have seen this beautiful art form in action.

Upon leaving Varanasi, I regrettably didn’t have time to visit the wrestlers to say good bye, but I left my student with prints which they gave to the wrestlers. Apparently they loved them.

ALL IMAGES SHOT ON THE FUJIFILM X100S

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To see more of Danny’s work, please visit his website at www.dannyfernandez.co.uk or follow him on Instagram at @dannyfernandez1984

 

Official X-Photographer’s site – Galleries updated!

So here’s some exciting news, the official X-Photographers website has been updated!

Six of our UK X-Photographer’s have seen further images added to their current galleries to bring even more beauty to the site. So relax, grab a cuppa and take a moment to discover some stunning new works of art within the Fuji realms.

Damien Lovegrove

damien lovegroveDamien Lovegrove left his role as a cameraman and lighting director at the BBC back in 1998 after 14 successful years to create the renowned Lovegrove Weddings partnership with his wife Julie. Together they shot over 400 top weddings for discerning clients worldwide. In 2008 Damien turned his hand to shooting beauty and portraiture and has since amassed a dedicated following for his distinctive art. Damien now divides his time between teaching the next generation of photographers and photographing personal projects. His book Chloe-Jasmine Whichello is highly regarded as a portrait style guide and his website galleries have over 2000 images to browse through among the 30 categories.

Described as a living legend, Damien is on a roll with the best of his work yet to come.

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damien

David Cleland

david clelandDavid Cleland is a landscape and reportage photographer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
He is best known for his landscape and documentary photography which has featured in a number of photographic exhibitions. His solo exhibition, an exploration of the decay of a 400-year evacuated mill received critical acclaim. David also teaches film and animation applying the rules of still photography to the art of moving image.
David’s work has been accepted by Getty Images and been published in a number of national publications and used in numerous book covers.
David has written for a number of publications on the importance of photography in education and also produced tutorials and papers on a range of photography techniques.

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david cleland

Jeff Carter

jeff carterMacLean Photographic was founded in 1996 and takes its name from owner Jeff Carter’s full name – Jeffrey Stuart MacLean Carter.

With over 20 years experience in several fields, including commercial, sport, landscape, travel and photo-journalism, Jeff Carter is based in Dunbar, near Edinburgh in Scotland. However he travels the world with his work in the motorsport and automotive industry and is constantly on the lookout for that next great image to capture.

As well as providing photographic services to editorial and commercial clients, MacLean Photographic runs a number of Photographic Workshops and Tours for individual or small groups of photographers of all abilities in and around East Lothian.

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Around the track in Belgium

Kevin Mullins

kevin mullinsKevin is pure documentary wedding photographer. He started shooting weddings professionally in 2008 and since then has photographed weddings right across the UK and Europe. Shooting in a documentary style he strives to tell the story of the wedding through photojournalism, rather than “traditional” contrived wedding photography.

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kevin mullins

Kerry Hendry

kerry hendryKerry is an award winning fine art equestrian photographer, shooting commissions across the UK and worldwide. Her work has also been published in a number of UK and international magazines, websites and blogs. Kerry was also the first female UK photographer to be named as a Fuji X-Photographer, joining a group of brand ambassadors worldwide.

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Kerry Hendry

Matt Hart

matt hartMatt 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 most recently he prefers the freedom and flexibility of the digital medium striving to retain the integrity of the original image.
Annual projects have helped him to focus on his personal development within the industry, constantly challenging his own ideas and concepts and forcing him to learn new skills. In 2013 he carried out a Year of Black and White project, this made him rethink his whole style and camera system.
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.
Matt runs Street Photography workshops and courses around Liverpool and other UK cities passing on his tricks and techniques in Street Photography and processing in black and white.

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matt hart

Monument Valley, Arizona with Gary Collyer

Technical details Lens: XF18-135mm OIS WR Exposure: 1/400sec at F8, ISO 200
Technical details Lens: XF18-135mm OIS WR Exposure: 1/400sec at F8, ISO 200

The trip of a lifetime for X-T1 user Gary Collyer delivers some truly memorable imageGary Collyer mugshots

A photographic enthusiast for many years, Gary Collyer got more serious six years ago and started going on ‘urban safaris’ to shoot candid and street images. His switch to Fujifilm came two years ago when he bought an X-E1 and XF35mm lens, and he’s since sold all his DSLRs and moved to using two X-T1s, an X-Pro1 and various lenses. “Using Fujifilm cameras takes me back to what felt to me, as a very natural form of photography,” he told us. “Their ease of use coupled with a very high-quality output leaves me to concentrate on the content and story of the image.” Recently, Gary’s storytelling quest saw him visit Monument Valley, which is where these shots were taken. “It had been on my list of places to visit for a while,” he said. “For me, it presented a unique opportunity to capture images that I had seen not only in the movies, but throughout photographic history.”

The Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei Mesa (Holy People)

“We had been out for about an hour watching and photographing the sunrise, on a beautiful clear morning. The sun had risen just enough to start bringing out the colours in the sand, whilst still being low enough to give definition to the ripples. The low-light capability of the X-T1 coupled with Fujifilm’s excellent stabilisation system allowed this to be taken handheld at a relatively slow shutter speed.”

MV-4
Technical details Lens: XF10-24mm R OIS Exposure: 1/60sec at F4, ISO 400

Sun’s Eye Arch

“These eroded holes in the sandstone pepper the landscape, with some being more spectacular than others. This one stood out with me because of the water patterns in the rocks matched by the direction of the thin strips of cloud in the sky. The capability of the X-T1 to cope with difficult lighting conditions meant that I could shoot with confidence, knowing that the dynamic range would cope with the shade of the cavern against the bright sky.”

Technical details Lens: XF10-24mm R OIS Exposure: 1/60sec at F9, ISO 200
Technical details Lens: XF10-24mm R OIS Exposure: 1/60sec at F9, ISO 200

Old shack, backcountry area

“It’s difficult to explain the sheer scale and beauty of these lands. Much of it is sacred to the Navajo people, and it is a privilege to be invited onto it, and to capture images of it. “By this time of the day, the sun had brightened considerably, causing deep shadows on this side of the shack, and this for me was the most interesting side to shoot from. That meant really testing the Fujifilm X-T1’s ability to get a balanced shot that delivered details in both light and shade. For this I relied heavily on the manual exposure preview, to get just the right balance.”

Technical details Lens: XF10-24mm R OIS Exposure: 1/1000sec at F4, ISO 200
Technical details Lens: XF10-24mm R OIS Exposure: 1/1000sec at F4, ISO 200

Juniper tree, Mystery Valley near the Square House Ruin

“I had been fascinated by the fallen and broken juniper trees from the start of the tour of Monument Valley and the adjacent Mystery Valley. All day I had been lining up shots, and taken a few, but they just didn’t feel right. Then we came across this tree, and I was really happy with the shots.”

MV-13
Technical details Lens: XF10-24mm R OIS Exposure: 1/2000sec at F4, ISO 200

Mitchell Mesa at sunrise

“This image was taken from the public balcony area of the View Hotel. I had been out an hour, capturing silhouettes of the nearby rock formations, when the sun came up over the horizon, revealing the cloud formations and lighting the Mitchell Mesa. For the sunrise I had two X-T1s set up. The first was on a tripod, taking longer exposures, the second that took this was handheld.”

MV-20
Technical details Lens: XF18-135mm OIS WR Exposure: 1/125sec at F3.5, ISO 200

West Mitten from the WildCat Trail

“The Wildcat Trail is the only unaccompanied walking trail available to visitors. At 3.2 miles long, in high temperatures, it can prove to be fairly challenging, particularly at the end, walking steeply uphill on shifting loose sand. So everything was stripped down… one camera, one lens, one spare battery, one spare card, sunblock, hat and plenty of water. Not knowing what to expect, I also needed maximum versatility from the lens, hence the choice of the 18-135mm. It allowed me to take this image of West Mitten (and believe me it’s only when you get close up on foot, that you realise the scale of these rock formations), and later fallen trees and stone piles. The dust and weather sealing proved invaluable with the occasional swirling wind.”

Technical details Lens: XF18-135mm OIS WR Exposure: 1/400sec at F8, ISO 200
Technical details Lens: XF18-135mm OIS WR Exposure: 1/400sec at F8, ISO 200

Shooting amazing nightlife with New York-based social photographer Jay “Electroblum”

pic30333by Jay Blum

Photographic style and foundation

pic19895My style of photography is social and intimately in your face. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t feel close enough with my 18mm f2 lens. My goal is to capture your alter ego raging or to strip you of it to show a contrast between you and the environment. Depending on the parties, I aim to capture shots that one may never want to show their parents. I have heard a comment that my work is a cross between the board game candy land and blade runner. I love neo-noir and post apocalyptic films and I am a drop out toy designer so maybe that explains? Other inspiration draws from the 90’s X-Men cards by Fleer company, the color on those illustrations just popped.

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My weapons of mass (“Oh god, can you please take down that pic! I don’t want my boss seeing that”} destruction!

I use Fujifilm X series cameras for all my EDM adventures. I shoot manual and control my flashes manually as well. I started out with a Fuji X10 because I loved the manual look and feel of the camera.
I soon followed with an X-E1 and recently to an X-T1. The X-E1 really gave me the results I was looking for and though the focusing was not as quick as it’s successor it still gave me satisfying results.

I currently use a X-T1 and the results are just art. This camera really gave me the courage to shoot on an ISO higher than 400. There are photos I do not have to adjust color or clarity. This camera is so on point that it locks on to the subject quickly and the results of the shots are crisp and clear.

On average my settings on the X-T1 are currently ISO 640, F5.6 at 1/4 on Velvia film simulation mode. My two flashes are set to 1/4 @ 23mm as my main light and my fill light set to 1/8 at 23mm (I set my second flash to 1/8 so the light fills the bottom of the portrait but not as bright as the main light on the subject). I always direct the main light on the upper body as one might usually do when shooting a portrait with an external flash. If the subject has an amazing outfit I set both my main light and fill light to f1/4. Mind you, these settings work for me in a dark venue that has disco lights and it also depends on how great the venue’s light is.

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I use an assortment of light diffusers and pieces from old video rigs I have acquired over the years. However, nothing beats having an assistant to help you out with positioning lights.

I use X-T1’s new WIFI connection and use it with the Fuji apps along with an app called shutter snitch. I use these apps to beam a photo to my iPhone in which I can upload to instagram immediately. An event photographer is like a journalist and a club promoter. You can upload a photo to social media with a hashtag and convince people to say “This looks wild and crazy, we’re going there for the night.”

As mentioned earlier I shoot with an 18mm f2 lens and it’s really made me a better photographer than any 50mm on a crop sensor. The lens has made me get up close and personal with my subjects because there is not much room to move around with in a packed club or concert.I had a 35mm f1.4 but that was stolen off my belt one night during a DJ set. I used it only a few times for those moments where I had space to focus on a portrait. I am currently taking in donations for a 56mm 1.2 lens so I can achieve some “bokehlicious” photos and take my work to new places!

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Shooting night life and what I’ve learned “so far”.

Night life is so fast paced, the emotions and energy people bring out with them are intense. What is not intense is their attention span.

Situations escalate and fade out quickly so pay attention because you may miss out on interesting photos.

You have at most 15 seconds to compliment your subject, tell them what you like about them, and be their friend. The faster you can relate with your subject and construct a relationship the better your love life might be (Just kidding, I mean your photos).

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Also, get lost on tumblr, pinterest, soundcloud and see what is inspiring people to express themselves. This will also inspire you and your work.

Use a prime lens. You aren’t shooting wild life. Night life is a social activity, get in there and meet people.

Want to take a photo of a hot girl with a boyfriend who doesn’t seem too excited to be out? No problem! Respectfully make your intent clear that you would like a portrait of the lady followed by a photo with her boyfriend. This will almost work 99% of the time and smooth out any uncertain feelings.

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Have a side pouch to store extra batteries, gum, mints, and SD cards.

Smile and look relaxed. If you’re nervous and timid this will reflect on your subjects and onto your photos like a mirror. Keep positive and remember that your goal is to get great shots of the night.

If you don’t want to take someone’s photo just tell them you’re out of film and walk away like you really got to reload film.

That’s all for now!
happy shooting and partying X-Toggies! <3

ElectroBlum

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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.