Enthusiast to pro photographer – My first jobs

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By Rachel Riley

rachelriley2How time flies! It has been a fair few months since the tentative decision was made to start the journey to being a professional photographer. As it seems to have been with a lot of people, 2016 was not a good year, so development of the new business was more or less put on hold while efforts, energies and emotions were channeled in more pressing directions. That’s not to say there weren’t opportunities for photography, and it was at times an excellent way to escape some harsh realities.

Never one to do things by halves, the first job was quite Continue reading Enthusiast to pro photographer – My first jobs

Trade in your DSLR and get £200 off a Fujifilm X-T1 or X-E2 CSC

If you are on the cusp of deciding to ditch your bulky DSLR and go fully mirrorless, here’s a little something that might just tip you over the edge and help make your decision.

£100 trade-in bonus…

For a limited time only, trade-in an eligible DSLR with one of our selected UK retailer partners and get an additional £100 bonus on top of your trade-in value when you buy a brand new Fujifilm X-T1 or X-E2 Digital Compact System Camera.

…plus £100 cashback…

What’s more, you can also claim £100 cashback when you purchase a Fujifilm X-T1 or X-E2 before the 11th January 2015.

… and don’t forget the lenses.

Further cashback is available across our Fujinon XF lens range. Click here to see a full list of all Fujifilm products that are eligible for cashback before the 11th January 2015.

So what are you waiting for?

Click here to find a retailer near you.

Why do I love the XF18-135mm lens? Composition.

Good day everyone, I will have to call this a mini-blog as normally I ramble on for ages and bombard you with images – who knows, maybe I still will 😉

1504372_10154010549280534_5836271885610257265_oAs you may or may not know I’m an amateur photographer who loves to try out new types of photography – I’m sure this is not to different from many of you out there. When I first started out with photography I was educated that the more zoom you had the better. So when I was given the X100 for the first time I was quite baffled as to how to work a fixed prime lens. I felt restricted and puzzled as to why I would want one. Of course once I looked at the pictures from it, I was sold and this opened my eyes to the real aspects of what makes a great camera. The images were crisp, clear and full of vibrant colour, all I had to get used to was zooming without a telephoto lens – AKA the Hokey Cokey. Once I got this down though, there was no stopping me, I was out with my original X-E1 and 35mm prime lens and I loved every minute of it!

This leads me to the XF18-135mm. This time I had the promise of excellent image quality but with that lovely versatility of a zoom lens. When I first clicked it into position on the camera body and fired up the camera I was taken back by just how much I could see or not see depending on the focal length. It was something that took me back to the olde days of me using a camera, I was VERY excited to get out and use this new kit.

I decided upon a location in the local area that always seems to make a good picture, this being the Stevington Windmill. I looked at when the sun was going to set and got there about 50 minutes earlier to allow time for running across fields, fumbling with tripods and such like. Once I got a good position near to the windmill I shot this image.

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Focal Length: 49mm – f/5.6 – ISO200

I shot this image at the slightly wider-side of the lens to open up the landscape a bit – this to me gives a very peaceful feel to the shot. Compositionally (is that really a word?) I have dedicated two thirds of the frame to the sky as it is a sunset after all, and I think this really helps the landscape silhouette ‘POP-OUT’ from the skyline.

This next shot I really wanted to focus on the windmill and give a more intense feel. To do this I have used the lens at a longer focal length as this has a very clever effect on the composition. The more you zoom towards a subject, the more the background and foreground are compressed together. So this in turn pulls the Sun closer to the windmill and vice-versa. Not only that, but it also reduces the angle of view – cutting out all the peripheral stuff we perhaps don’t want in our shot.

As a side note – To get the composition I wanted using more zoom, I did have to move further back to accommodate the extra focal length. Basically this means I had to run like crazy across a field and keep checking to see if the composition was right as every moment I wasted meant the sun was getting lower and would soon disappear behind the hillside.

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Focal Length: 98.6mm – f/7.1 – ISO200

These next two shots show this compression effect quite well I feel. It really brings the background closer to the foreground making for a more intense composition that would not have been possible with my 35mm prime lens.

And in case you were wondering, this is my better-half with her camera at her side relaxing whilst I’m running about like a madman saying things like “That’s great, just don’t move. Pretend I’m not here..” which was all great fun. Photography should be fun and if you can get your friends and family involved, so much the better.

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Here’s a playful shot of some hot air balloons in the distance. I framed it up so that they sat on the furthest third of the frame to sweep your eyes across the beauty of the landscape. Because of the compression effect (pulling the background and foreground together) I could give the hot air balloons a bit more presence in the shot, especially when you consider the real distance between the main tree and the hot air balloons.

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I really hope this inspires you to go out and have a play with your camera, shoot a sunset, bring a friend, mix up your compositions and most of all have fun. When you do all that great pictures will naturally follow.

P.S: Seems I managed to get a good ramble and bombardment of images in after all 😉

 

Nice one, centurion

By Roger Payne

Is it just me, or have other people experienced a weird phenomenon when they start using Fujifilm X-series cameras? I’m not talking about aesthetics here, I’m talking more fundamental, cerebral kinda stuff.

Lately, thanks to the nice people at Fujifilm UK, I’ve been able to get my hands on some of the X-series models. I’ve tried the X100S (it’s very nice), the X-T1 (it’s very nice) and, most recently the X-E2 (it’s, erm, very nice). But when I’ve gone back and looked at some of the shots I’ve taken with this trio of models they all bear the hallmarks of me transforming into some wannabe reportage-come-street photographer. It’s really quite alarming.

To understand the full gravitas of this situation, it’s important for you to understand what sort of a photographer I was before I started using X-series cameras. The immediate word that springs to mind is ‘safe’. Technically adept, but safe. I photographed landscapes because they don’t move, buildings because they don’t talk back to you and my dog, because he’ll do pretty much anything with the promise of a treat. The idea of photographing a fellow human being filled me with fear while the very thought of photographing a fellow human being in a candid way would have me blowing into a paper bag to calm my nerves.

But Fujifilm cameras have changed all that.

I’d borrowed the X-E2 to go on a short city break to Rome. It was accompanied by an XF18-55mm and an XF10-24mm. Ordinarily on a trip of this type, I would have sought out the tourist hot-spots, documented them in my technically adept way and then gone home to bury them on an external hard drive, never to be seen again. But with the X-E2 in my hand, I became some kind of gung-ho street photographer, snapping pretty much anything that moved, and some things that didn’t. Within minutes, Rome went from a selection of photo locations carefully plotted on a tourist map to a photographer’s playground. My playground, to be precise.

The pictures I’ve brought home are unlike anything I’ve ever captured in a foreign city. They include people; people I’ve never met before, nor will I ever meet again. As you can see, they do also include a few shots where I lapsed into capturing subjects that didn’t have the ability to talk to me, but even these are a little different. They’re not hackneyed scenes photographed millions of times before by others, they’re my interpretations of the locations I visited; they communicate how I was feeling and how I viewed the area.

How was the X-E2? Well, it was excellent. Sure, it could do with an articulated rear screen, but I also enjoyed not having an optical viewfinder option to choose from; the finder in the X-T1 is fantastic, but I didn’t miss its functionality. In fact, I preferred the X-E2’s viewfinder simplicity (just don’t tell Fujifilm, OK?). The lenses were great, too – sharp, easy to use, no complaints.

So, am I alone, or have other experienced feeling of photographic invincibility with an X-series camera in their hands? Oh ok, just me then.

Couple. XF18-55mm, 1/80sec at f6/4, ISO 400.
Couple. XF18-55mm, 1/80sec at f6/4, ISO 400.

Sun, sights & sunburn with the X-E2

I know what you’re thinking, sun on a bank holiday?…. Never.

It sure took me by surprise, so much so, that I didn’t want to waste one drop of it. It was time for my X-E2 to come on a sun-filled adventure to a local Cavalcade. 

I had the chance to borrow the XF56mm lens over the bank holiday weekend and I really wanted to give it a good go. I decided the best way to do that was to only take the XF56mm thus eliminating any other lens choices. I like doing this from time to time as it forces me to think harder about my composition and gets me moving in and out of the action far more regularly.

After battling through the traditional English queuing system for the car park and entrance, I saw a small tent with various furry animals with a few scary ones thrown in for good measure. I snapped this cute little Hedgehog relaxing in a lady’s hat. I can also confirm that he was actually surprisingly soft!

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I also caught this seemingly unimpressed Owl, but I loved the colours in the background that I had to share it with you.

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After moving from the animal kingdom, I took to an area filled with small miniature ‘lands’ and fairgrounds, most of which were handmade by the stall owners. Some were really quite impressive. I knew I could get some serious bokeh effects here using the f/1.2 aperture. Here are some of the results I got.

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After having a go on some remote controlled boats, having a race with my fiancée, and ‘letting’ her win, we stepped outside the modelers tent and saw this clown doing his thing. I love this next shot because of the people in the background watching him go by. 

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One thing you’ve just got to love about days out like this, there are simply SO many subjects to take pictures of. As we strolled across the fiery grass I came across lots of random but interesting scenes. Here are a few of my favourites.

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Find the best expression & give it attention in the composition
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Look to fill the frame for maximum colour impact
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Shoot candid shots whenever you get a chance

A little later in the afternoon after grabbing an ice-cream and putting on some much needed (yet too late) suncream. We could hear the in-house speakers beckoning us to a central location where cars of all shapes and sizes were going to present. This was probably the trickiest part of the day (photography-wise) as the sun was very high, beating down and creating a very bright, high-contrast scene. I wanted to slow the shutter speed down to capture some movement here but had to stray away from the idea due to this brightness. What I needed to have brought with me was an ND (Neutral density) filter. This is best described as ‘sunglasses’ for the lens. Here are some of the shots that came out pretty well.

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All in all, this was the perfect day for photography, great light, great subjects and a cracking good lens! The XF56mm never failed to focus once and is sharp as a button. I hope that you all have as good an experience as I did. We would love to see your bank holiday images popping up on our Facebook page and Twitter accounts!

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New firmware for the X-E2 to bring it more in-line with the X-T1

Kaizen (改善), Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the best”, refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement. – Wikipedia

Way back in February 2014, our Senior Sales and Marketing Manager Toshi Iida mentioned during an interview with DPReview that the X-E2 would be due some loving from the R&D team in the near future.

“We will release new firmware for the X-E2 soon which will improve the refresh rate of the EVF bringing it to the same level as the X-T1 and also add an interval shooting function.”

EVF Refresh Rate

x-e2-evf2The new firmware version 2.00 has been released today and it includes the improved refresh rate on the EVF that Toshi mentioned. I’ve tested it quickly here and it is a noticeable improvement, but to be honest I didn’t find the previous refresh rate much of an issue to start with.

Selecting different colours when using Focus Peak Highlighting

It looks like the Interval Shooting feature didn’t quite make it into this one (lets hope for v 2.10), but instead we’ve got the ability to select different colours for the Focus Peak Highlighting – a feature that I really like on the X-T1.

In certain shooting situations (like ones that already contain lots of white), it can be difficult to see the white focus peak highlighting.

I personally tend to shoot on manual focus, using the AF-L button to Autofocus and then the focus ring to make minor adjustments. One thing I’ve been doing lately that makes it even easier to focus is to set the camera to B+W and then use the Red highlight peaking as it stands out hugely from the rest of the shot.

Here’s a couple of shots to demonstrate how easy it is to see the focal plane in this way. These shots are actually of an X-T1 screen so they’re for reference only. Also, please remember that these are shots of the LCD screen. When using the EVF the image is far more detailed.

I still shoot JPG+RAW so the final images don’t need to be in B+W. The reason I shoot JPG as well is so you can quickly use the playback mode to see a 100% crop to check you really did hit the focus bang on – handy when shooting at f/1.2!

Face Detection on Fn button

Fujifilm X-E2 function buttonThis is something I can see myself using, especially with the fast lenses shooting my kids when they are playing. I find the Face Detection AF very good at picking out their eyes, so to be able to switch it on and off at the single touch of a button when I’m changing between shooting them and shooting things without a face will be nice.

Conclusion

All in all I think this is a really nice upgrade for the X-E2. Perhaps some X-E2 users that were thinking about switching to the X-T1 might think twice now, but that’s OK – it’s all part of our philosophy of Kaizen to continually improve our products and hope that our users get plenty of joy out of their product before they feel they need to upgrade.

Any questions, Tweet me @Fujifilm_UK or leave a comment below.

Marc

Related links:

New firmware for X-E2 enhances performance, functions and the Real Time Viewfinder – Fujifilm UK
CP+ 2014: Fujifilm interview – ‘the only way is to keep innovating’ – DPReview.com