9 Ways to Gain Better Rainy Day Photos

That torrential downpour you see out the window some days could signal the end of your next big shoot — or it could indicate a new, albeit slushier, opportunity. Rain brings new possibilities for portrait, landscape and other genres of photos.

 

Take up some savvy ways to set up these rain shots so you and your subjects minimize time spent in puddles as you get the perfect pic.

 

Fear not — it’s just water.

If you want the best rain photography, you have to be willing to get wet. Dress for the weather, whenever possible, and embrace a bit of discomfort for the sake of perfecting your craft.

Photo by Nick Edmunson

 

Use microfiber cloths to keep your gear dry.

Just as you should dress for the weather, so too should your equipment. Even weather resistant gear is better off not getting drenched, and you are going to want your lens dry for most shots.

 

Create contrast by shooting in low light.

Raindrops are most apparent in twilight and nighttime shots, especially if the picture is eventually published in black and white. Viewers’ eyes are called to textures and patterns, like rippling puddles or splashing raindrops, with less light — and thus less colour.

Photo by Bob Cooley

 

Backlight your raindrops for visibility.

While low light calls attention to patterns, backlight makes subjects in its path more visible. Try shooting toward – though not directly into – a light source to see the raindrops against its luminosity. Streetlights are great for this approach.

 

Establish complementary light with your flash.

Yet another way to illuminate raindrops is to use your flash. It does not have to be your primary light source. Instead, it can be lowered by a few stops to supply complementary light that lets the precipitation glisten.

 

Research in advance for portraiture scenes.

Rain can be an interruption to portraiture sessions, but maybe your clients embrace its melancholy vibe. Survey your area for potential compositions where your subject could pose at length without getting soaked.

Photo by Jason Vinson

 

Place your subject beneath an awning or overhang.

Keep your subject dry for a portrait session by setting the shot beneath a covering on the street. This provides shelter, and the composition has a natural feel, seeing as people often wait out storms beneath these coverings.

 

Move out of the shower and behind the wheel.

Like awnings and overhangs, cars serve as adequate shelter and realistic scenes. Vehicles are good for more than composition, though. If the rain is too much for you and your equipment, and if you don’t have a sufficient umbrella, shoot from your car.

 

Capture the humanity in rainy day reactions.

It is difficult to be unaffected by rain. Reactions range from puddle dances to dread-faced power walks. Street photography on rainy days can highlight characteristics of joy, resilience and vulnerability in fresh ways.

Photo by Erwin T Lim

 

Rain does not have to be end of your shoot. It can be the beginning, so long as your eyes stay open to creative opportunities. To learn more about the cameras you could be using for your rain photography sessions, check out our eBook, Which X Series Should I Buy?

 

The Advantage of Mirrorless

Since mirrorless digital cameras entered the photography scene in the late 2000s, the question has been whether they could be a better option than DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex). Since that time, the mirrorless system has grown in popularity, so it is clear photographers are increasingly making it their preference.

 

What’s a DSLR?

DSLR cameras (or digital single-lens reflex) use the design of old-school 35mm bodies, with light taking a path from the lens to the prism and then to the viewfinder, where you can see the preview of your image. As you hit the shutter button, the mirror flips up, a shutter opens and light reaches the image sensor, which retains the picture.

 

What’s a mirrorless camera?

The big difference with the mirrorless camera is that it has no mirror that flips when you open the shutter. Instead, light moves directly from the lens to the image sensor and the shot displays on your screen.

 

 

Which style is lighter?

Because mirrorless cameras do not need to store a mirror and a prism, they do not need to be as heavy or as large. If you like to travel with your camera or just enjoy a lightweight rig, then you may prefer the mirrorless system.

 

Which body has better focus?

Many years ago, DSLRs had the reputation of being the better – or at least faster – model for autofocus shooting. This is because DSLRs used phase detection, a quicker method that relies more on the camera’s electronic sensor, rather than contrast detection, the slower but more accurate system utilised in most mirrorless bodies. However, mirrorless cameras have since improved in this area. Now, many mirrorless bodies, including Fujifilm’s newer models, employ a contrast-phase hybrid autofocus system.

 

Which style is suited for continuous shooting?

If you want to capture fast-moving action, you may want a camera with the capacity for continuous shooting. Mirrorless cameras, with their simplified path for obtaining images, excel here. For instance, the Fujifilm X-T2, when photographing from its continuous shooting boost mode, shoots about 11 frames per second, well ahead of most other cameras on the market.

FUJIFILM X-T2

 

Which one shows an accurate shot in its viewfinder?

Mirrorless cameras also have viewfinders that display truer to what your photograph will become. Their electronic viewfinders allow you to see, in real time, adjustments to aperture and ISO, whereas the optical viewfinder found in DSLRs displays those changes only after you shoot the image. The mirrorless style has a big advantage here, as it saves you time from going back and forth between shooting and adjusting.

 

As with many debates over photography equipment, the choice comes down to your personal preference. If you find a camera that you handle comfortably and shoot naturally, then proudly make it yours and enjoy creating great shots with it!

 

For more Fujifilm camera options, download our 2017 Buying Guide.

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Myles Kalus

Welcome to the Third 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 eighth interview in Series Three is with photographer, Myles Kalus.

Myles, tell us a bit about yourself and how you relate to Fujifilm X Series cameras?

 

I originally intended to pursue an engineering career and studied mechanical engineering at university. Towards the end of my degree, I realised that engineering wasn’t really for me. By some stroke of luck, I picked up a camera in my last semester and realised that photography was what I wanted to do. I finished my degree, and immediately immersed myself into photography. I spent some time looking for the right camera to work with as I grew as a photographer, bouncing between different brands and different types of cameras.

 

I eventually picked up a first Fujifilm camera, the X100S, and knew from using it that what I needed for my “perfect” camera was one that had the modern advancements of digital camera technology in the shape and feel of a traditional camera. Having the aperture, and shutter speed dials right there to see just felt right to me. So, when the Fujifilm X-T1 was announced, I sold all the gear I had and made sure I was the first one in line at my local camera store to get my hands on it. I’ve exclusively used Fujifilm cameras ever since for both work and leisure.

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF23mmF1.4 R – 1/500 second – F5.6 – ISO 320

 

As someone who photographs a lot of portraits, do you have any recommendations for XF lenses to use? For instance, based on your experience which lens do you think is better, the XF56mmF1.2 or XF90mmF2?

 

It’s hard to pick between both as they have different qualities but I’d have to go with the XF56mmF1.2. While the XF90mmF2 is technically the perfect lens for portrait work, the XF56mmF1.2 allows me to get physically closer to the subject, allowing me to interact, and connect better with the person I’m photographing. It’s also a smaller lens, so it’s less intimidating for my subject.

 

I’ve always found the smaller more retro your gear looks; the more relaxed and natural people will be when photographing them. Alternatively, I’ve also used the XF23mmF1.4 to shoot portraits to provide a little more context to the picture and involve the environment to show where the portrait is captured. This lens has been instrumental when doing backstage work.

 

 

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

 

Looking into gear, I would say to buy a camera that is straightforward to use. A lot of cameras these days have added functionalities that sometimes become a distraction. I’ve personally found that the fewer choices I have, the more concentrated I’ve been with learning and studying the camera and photography. If possible, I’d highly recommend a camera with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) as it allows you to immediately see how the settings affect exposure and depth-of-field. All these factors taken into consideration will speed up your learning process significantly, and improve your technical mastery within a short span.

 

From a photography perspective, I’ve always advised newcomers to find a few photographers of which their works you like, go through their work obsessively, learn what is it about their work that you admire, and try to replicate their work. This forces you to experiment with your camera and pushes your eye to see what and how they saw and why they photographed it.

 

You have worked with many international clients, do you think the Fujifilm X Series system delivers the image quality they are after and what are your thoughts on the new Fujifilm GFX 50S medium format camera for fashion photography?

 

Yes. I can confidently say that the Fujifilm X Series fulfills what my clients need. I’ve never heard back from a client questioning me about the quality or questioning about the gear I used. Whatever does the job as per client requirements. That’s all that matters when working with a client.

 

I feel the Fujifilm GFX 50S is a great addition to the Fujifilm lineup, and see it as an ideal camera for those requiring the benefits of medium format when working within fashion photography; higher resolution for detail, reduced vibration from the lack of a mirror and expanded dynamic range. It also opens the doors to medium format that would otherwise be closed to many photographers due to how expensive other medium format cameras are in general.

 

 

What is Street Style Australia and how has it helped you establish yourself?

 

Street Style Australia is a documentary project I started some years ago with the goal of documenting how Australians express themselves through what they wear. No one was doing it properly back then. So, I decided to take it upon myself to do it. Doing the project has opened many doors for me, regarding meeting and working with people within the industry, and allowing me to create work and fulfil a niche for an international audience. It’s also allowed me to further delve into the inner-workings of the fashion world documenting backstage and behind-the-scenes for runways, fashion events, etc.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF56mmF1.2 R – 1/1000 second – F1.2 – ISO 640

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF56mmF1.2 R – 1/500 second – F1.4 – ISO 200

 

 

Aside from fashion, what elements of the photo do you think are important to make a portfolio-worthy fashion shot?

 

For me, the first step is understanding the purpose of the photo and working out how to deliver that goal through the photo. Great portfolio-worthy fashion photographs have always put feeling, mood, and story-telling before technicalities and aesthetics. An aesthetically pleasing photograph doesn’t cut it. Great fashion photographs also make the audience immediately look straight into and embrace the content within the frame as if it is a window, and see what the photographer is seeing. The presence of the photograph as an object to the viewer is invisible or non-existent.

 

So, giving an example from landscape photography, when I look at Ansel Adams’ photographs of Yosemite, I don’t think about how beautiful the photograph is. I think about how beautiful Yosemite is, feel how amazing it is to see the view. His photos make me feel like I’m there witnessing or at least, make me want to go there to witness Yosemite myself. I forget that the photo is a photo.

 

How important is it to work in a team in your field? Do you find stylists; makeup artists and models are all easy to work with? How does a general shoot form?

 

A good team is vital because you can’t-do everything yourself in general. How easy others are to work with is usually based on the individual and their capabilities. Most of the time, everyone’s down-to-earth and professional. Occasionally, you do get less than ideal team member, but that doesn’t often happen, thankfully.

 

Ideally, you’d work with those who understand what you’re trying to create in the photographs. A lot of discussion happens before shoots, to discuss how to execute the shoot, and to find the right people who can do what you need in the shoot.

 

Generally, a shoot forms when someone (client, creative director, stylist, or even the photographer) has an idea or a brief that they want executed. A team that they feel is right for the task is then assembled, pre-production for the shoot that involves location-scouting, pulling garments or accessories from brands/labels, identifying the right gear (camera, lighting, etc.) for the job. Then, once all the pre-production is hopefully done, then the shoot happens.

 

 

Can you share some insight into what it’s like to cover an event like Paris Fashion Week on the street? What gear would you recommend someone have to help capture stunning images?

 

Looking at the photos that usually come out from any fashion week, you can’t really tell but shooting street style at fashion week is quite a physically straining job; a lot of running, a lot of rushing from one venue to the other, staying outdoors regardless of how bad the weather is, barely any resting or eating from the deadlines and number of photographs you take in a day. I take about 5000 photos per day and go through them all at night to send them off to the client by morning.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF56mmF1.2 R – 1/2000 second – F1.4 – ISO 200

 

This goes on for each day of fashion week. I usually only get time to have a couple of small meals and about 4 hours of sleep each day during fashion week if I’m lucky. Also, the environment you photograph in is best described as chaos; there are so many unpredictable elements to juggle with, and you have to make quick judgment with what you see in front of you.

 

You’re dealing with trying to find the best angle to photograph the best-looking outfit or garment after finding it among a mass of people moving in an environment that is full of distracting elements, traffic, and at times, unforgiving weather. Think too much and you might lose your only opportunity to photograph a look.

 

Camera body-wise, the X-T2 with the grip was perfect. I bought it before flying off to Europe, and its upgrades over the X-T1 made my life much easier while shooting. The 11 FPS and high refresh rate in the EVF provided in Boost mode, and the customisable autofocus system the X-T2 has were a joy to have while shooting in the erratic shooting environment. For lenses, I predominantly used the XF56mmF1.2. Ideally, I would have preferred using the XF90mmF2 because I prefer the look produced by the lens, is weather-sealed, and is quicker at autofocusing, but ultimately chose not to use it as forced me to step too far back from the subject to photograph them. I did use the XF23mmF1.4 when I wanted to capture more of the environment. Though, I mainly use that lens backstage due to there being limited space.

 

To see more of Myles photography follow Street Style Australia on Instagram or mylekalus.

Previous interviews from Series Three of Through a Photographer’s Eye:

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Johny Spencer

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Gavin Host

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Mike Bell

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Ryan Cantwell

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Sarp Soysal

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Harrison Candlin

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Geoff Marshall

 

9 Ways to Develop Your Own Photography Style

You are getting serious about photography and want to develop your reputation. You feel like establishing a look so that each photo fits into a greater catalogue of work.

 

Develop a recognisable and genuine photography style by following a few tips.

 

Exercise patience and dabble in many styles.

 

Take time to become comfortable as a photographer. Master fundamentals of composition, angles and lighting. Experiment with every photo style you can imagine. Expand your creative eye and learn what shots you take best.

Image by Clément Breuille

 

Study the work of others.

 

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. So review the work of other photographers, past and present. Learn what inspires you and what resonates with you emotionally.

 

Imagine beyond your current equipment.

 

You might have too much gear but be best suited as a nimble photographer who carries one camera and one lens in order to move freely around a subject. You might have a savvy eye for wildlife photography but lack the zoom to capture animals quickly from afar. Borrow or rent and experiment with photo equipment to delve into any style that intrigues you. Make your creative path more about your passion than today’s possessions.

 

Express yourself.

 

All creative work is, in some sense, biographical. Even in picturing other people and sites, you give the world a sense of yourself. Be in touch with your own hopes, desires and fears so you convey a sense of sincere yearning through your art.

Image by Chelsey Elliott

 

Separate subject from style.

 

Saying you shoot portraits, cityscapes or sports is not enough. True style is not just what you photograph but how you photograph it. The perspective you offer to stage, frame and light your shots defines you. Think about the smallest details as you create your portfolio.

 

Contemplate your business model and your market.

 

Think of how genres of photography follow different economic models. Portrait photographers acquire clients and guarantee pay by booking sessions, whereas landscape photographers often sell shots long after shooting. Consider your market. It is easier to do portraits in a bustling city where many people need headshots. If a genre appeals to you, decide whether relocation increases opportunities.

Image by Nadeesha Rathayake

 

Find the moments when people compel you.

 

When your style involves people, think about the instant when you see their true essence. It could be when they talk about difficult times, have a drink or belt out a laugh. Determine when people seem to you their true selves, capture them in it and make that an element of your signature style.

 

Create recurring elements using aperture, light and colour.

 

Many photographers are known for their use of lighting, whether natural, interior or DIY. Others are known for revisiting a colour or two in many shots. Set at least a few attributes of lighting, colour palette or depth of field to coalesce your photos into a grouped look.

 

Harness post-production to mark your style.

 

Refine images with photo-editing software to further establish your aesthetic. Subtle but persistent changes to contrast, highlights, shadows and other elements give photos a unified look and set your aesthetic.

Image by Scott Grant

 

As you learn how you view the world and what elements you bring to each shot, you make recognisable work with a photography style that wows.

 

11 Ways to Shoot Stunning Astrophotography

If you want a new challenge in your photography, take shots that are out of this world. Astrophotography, the art of recording objects beyond Earth, seems much like other time-lapse photography styles, but its dark skies and distant, moving lights present unique challenges to push you creatively.

Take stunning astrophotography shots by getting your physical setup and camera settings right for this genre.

 

Before you shoot, know your stars.

 

Study what you are capturing. By learning about star constellations, you can decide which stars you want to include and where in your composition you want them displayed.

Stake your spot to study the sky.

 

Determine where you want to shoot your astrophotography images. Get away from big cities and their light pollution. Go toward less-settled regions and their visible skies.

Photo by Bryan Minear

 

Fine-tune your whitest whites.

 

Astrophotography relies on stars’ luminosity, so make sure their whiteness is stark. Adjust your white balance, either through one of your camera’s preset or by manual alteration.

 

Increase your ISO.

 

Your camera’s ISO setting determines the light sensitivity of your camera’s image sensor, and astrophotography requires high sensitivity. Expect to shoot at ISO 400 or more.

Rely on manual settings.

 

Your camera’s autofocus mode is unlikely to stay locked onto a moving star. Use manual focus and if your camera enables focus peaking ensure it is turned on.

Photo by Photo Rangers

Stay steady for an unwavering shot.

 

Everything you know about camera sturdiness applies to astrophotography. Set up your most trusted tripod and, if you have one, use your remote shutter release. If you don’t have a remote turn on your camera’s self timer for two or ten seconds.

 

Place your focus on a single star.

 

With your manual settings, select a star or moon to test and improve your focus. For larger stars or the moon, locate their very edge and make sure it is optimally clear.

 

Embrace star trails.

 

As you shoot from the rotating Earth, your long-exposure photos show the path of stars in the sky. To highlight star trails, choose a wide-angle lens, which keeps a broader range of the paths in your focal region.

 

Or, alternately, eliminate star trails.

 

If you want to focus on the sky’s stillness, you can reduce star trails, though you may want to stash a calculator in your camera bag. Astro photographers follow the Rule of 600, or the Rule of 500, depending on whom you ask, to determine their maximum exposure before star trail becomes visible. Divide the rule’s number by the focal length of your lens. If you have a 28mm lens, divide 500 by 28 to get 17.85. This means you can shoot at an exposure of 17 or 18 seconds before star trail appears.

 

Do not forsake the foreground.

 

Astrophotography shots can still have earthly elements. Frame your shots with trees or hilltops to give your composition added dimension.

 

Utilise editing software for finishing touches.

 

Astrophotography benefits greatly from post-production edits. Alter your contrast, exposure and white balance until the sky tells the story you want.

 

Consider yourself an astrophotography expert, or at least more than a novice. Minding these principles of camera settings and general composition, you are ready to stun with your space shots.

Photo by Josselin Cornou

 

Want to purchase a Fujifilm camera, but not sure which one is right for you? Our Buying Guide can help you narrow down the list to find the best camera for your photography style.

 

 

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Harrison Candlin

Welcome to the Third 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 Three is with Brisbane based photographer, Harrison Candlin.

Harrison, your travel, adventure and landscape photography is spectacular. Why do you think you were drawn to photography and how will it impact your future career?

 

I think the reason I became so fond of photography is because of my father. I would like to say I followed in his footsteps. As a retired professional landscape and wildlife photographer, he always inspired me by his landscape imagery and how a person could capture and convey a scene with a camera. The ability to document the world around us; specifically, the natural world, opened my eyes to the possibilities of photography and how it could lead me to places and see things a bit differently to everyone else. As a travel, adventure and landscape photographer, I attempt to capture the true surroundings and emotional feelings of a scene. To me, that’s something that cannot be replaced, and this is how my style has evolved. Travelling around Australia and Europe has broadened my horizons immensely. Only four years ago I hadn’t travelled anywhere. I think the more of the world I get to see, the more landscape I can walk, and the more culture I experience, the deeper my perspective of the world will become. I’ll be a graduate Industrial Designer in a month, so having knowledge of the world is fundamental for design.

 

 

You mentioned on social media you used the Fujifilm X-E2S and Fujifilm X-Pro1. Can you provide some insight into why you choose a rangefinder over a Digital SLR?

 

They are both excellent cameras that have performed exceptionally well. Having previously owned DSLR’s, I never felt overly comfortable with using them and just never felt at home. The Fujifilm system is incredibly discreet and compact, and the light weight factor was a major selling point. The unique conservative design was different to the regular camera shape, and that caught my attention dramatically. Back in 2013 when I saw Fujifilm release the interchangeable lens system of the X-Pro1, I was captivated by its size, retro style, and image quality. Since then, Fujifilm and mirrorless cameras in general, have taken a huge leap forward in competition with DSLR’s. I think the major reason for wanting to own a rangefinder is its direct correlation to its old film predecessors. It makes me feel connected to photography, not just part of it.

 

 

Based on your experience, how would you describe Fujifilm’s quality when talking about image quality and the design of X Series cameras?

 

The image quality is superb. The colour rendition is phenomenal, and editing capability in the RAW files is outstanding for an APS-C sensor. Regarding design, Fujifilm to me has led the way in beautiful classic, refined cameras. The materials are solid, well-constructed and I feel the sense of true craftsmanship and dedication when using them.

 

 

Do you have a favourite location to photograph? How did you stumble upon it?

 

For me when I photograph in nature, I pursue the feeling of reflection and the escape that comes with it. The disconnect from the modern world when entering the natural, untampered world is a feeling I will always chase. Mount Barney National Park in the Gold Coast area and lately the New England National Park in the Northern NSW Tablelands has become a favourite place of mine. These places are relatively close to home and leave me with a greater sense of appreciation every time I go. I’m drawn to wild places where I can enjoy the surreal feeling of standing high on a mountain overlooking valleys, gorges, and lush rainforest. I’m very lucky to have such raw beauty and rugged mountains so close to home. I find most of my locations from word of mouth, books or Instagram.

 

 

How do you find the natural environment impacts your photography?

 

I’m lured by light and moved by the characteristic of the changing landscape. I feel a sense of security and embeddedness in the natural environment while I’m hiking and climbing, alone or with friends. It brings me to life. I feel freedom in the wild and can truly slowdown from the fast paced world. This is the basis for my photography. Enjoying the moment and slowing down, capturing what I can and leaving with a sense of accomplishment whether or not I took a great shot.

 

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

 

Just pick up a camera and have a go. A lot of learning comes from mistakes I have realised. Dedication is something you will need to develop over time. It’s a fundamental key in developing your style, your photography quality and most importantly, being there to capture it. I have driven numerous six-hour drives to the same places just to get the shot I want, only to find out I couldn’t get it. However, if you’re dedicated enough, you’ll always want to go back and pursue it. The beauty of photography though is you might not always get your intended shot, but something else will always pop up. To be honest, most of my work has happened this way. Capture it, work the scene, change your angles, get down low or up high and fire away. Improvise and be spontaneous.

 

 

Lenses obviously play an important part of overall quality, so with this in mind what lenses do you prefer to use and why?

 

In my field, the classic 24-70mm range out performs any other lens in versatility, and with that in mind, I use the Fujinon XF16-55mm (equivalent in 35mm). This lens is fantastic; weather sealed, durable, and exceptionally fast and well performing. In the travel, adventure, and landscape field, I always have a need to go wide and to go tight depending on the scene and landscape. Therefore, this lens covers the focal lengths I use most often while keeping a constant F2.8 aperture which is imperative for low light and shallow depth of field. Before I bought my Fujinon XF16-55mm, the majority of my landscape shots were shot on the Fujinon XC50-230mm. This lens is versatile because of its mid-telephoto to long telephoto length. It’s a great, light weight and cost effective lens that has served me for three years now, allowing me to take some of my best work in over five countries.

 

An expensive and fast lens doesn’t always make your photos any better. For city traveling purposes, I tend to use my Fujinon XF18mm, because of its small form factor, great width, and fast aperture. These are my go to lenses that cover nearly all of my photography and give the versatility to work scenes and make something brilliant. I have recently bought the Fujinon XF55-200mm.

 

 

What does traveling to new places mean to you and do you partake in any location research before you go?

 

I research a lot before I go anywhere, more so the access, facilities, and tracks instead of the photos. I like to be open minded when visiting new places so my images don’t sub consciously conform around other photographer’s work that I’ve seen.

 

 

To see more of Harrison’s photography visit his website or follow him on Instagram.

Previous interviews from Series Three of Through a Photographer’s Eye:

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Johny Spencer

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Gavin Host

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Mike Bell

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Ryan Cantwell

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Sarp Soysal

 

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Sarp Soysal

Welcome to the Third 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 fifth interview in Series Three is with Melbourne based photographer, Sarp Soysal.

 

Sarp, your story about how you started photographing with the X100 is quite interesting. Can you share it with us?

 

Ah yes, it is actually a pretty interesting story but a little tragic at the same time. I was travelling around Europe a few years ago on a personal photography project with a fair bit of gear: a Nikon body and a bunch of lenses and even speedlights. I also had a tiny little backup camera buried somewhere deep in my backpack that I never touched and had barely even used before.

 

One day when I was shooting in Paris, my Nikon was set up on my tripod, and for some strange reason that I still haven’t figured out, the camera fell off and shattered. As a broke backpacker, I wasn’t at all in a position to buy any new gear, so I had to reach into my bag for that tiny backup camera which was, as it turns out, a Fujifilm X100.

 

I didn’t have much experience with this camera, but it was all I had to finish my project. I remember sitting in my hotel room and trying to figure out how I was going to finish working with this one small point and shoot and its fixed lens. It wasn’t even a full frame camera, and this was around five years ago when full frame cameras were seen as the only professional cameras. But when I actually started walking around with the Fujifilm X100, something quite strange happened.

 

Through its optical viewfinder, the world looked different. It reminded me of being a teenager and using my dad’s analogue rangefinders. I didn’t have my bag of lenses for every possible shot, but through Fujifilm X100’s fixed lens, the streets started to look more romantic to me almost. I would say this was the beginning of a very important, almost spiritual, transformation for me.

 

In the way, I shoot, see the world and travel. While I felt pretty lost after I broke my Nikon, in the end, I managed to complete my project with some pretty special images thanks to my little Fujifilm camera. Needless to say, when I arrived back in Melbourne, I sold all of Nikon gear including that ridiculous backpack. And I have never looked back.

 

 

After moving from the Fujifilm X100 to the Fujifilm X-Pro2 what sort of advantages have you found the newer camera offers?

 

I think the biggest advantage of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 over X100 for me is its weather-sealed body. Already, while travelling, my X-Pro2 has withstood thunderstorms, unexpected torrential rain, bumpy bus rides, the ridiculous dust of Kathmandu and you name what else. The X-Pro2 feels tough in my hands, with its brick-like body. Secondly, obviously, the X-Pro2 is a much faster camera than the X100, which is very important for my photography style, mostly being snapshots on the street. Despite these things though, I still have my original X100 and from time to time, shoot with it, for old time’s sake. It will always have a special place in my heart.

 

 

If you could explain X Series cameras to someone who had never heard of them before what would you say?

 

Well, that’s quite a difficult question to answer. Let me put it this way: I wouldn’t explain X Series cameras from a technical perspective but more an emotional one. Pretty much every camera brand on the market at the moment, many of which I’ve shot with in the past, is almost like shooting with a computer rather than a camera. Most of their mechanical or software features that help sell them don’t really add much to your shooting experience and in my opinion, don’t serve a lot of purpose in the actual field.

 

X Series cameras, however, are so thoughtfully designed, with the photographer’s experience in mind, they feel to me like an extended eye, or like an additional organ. The dials, the viewfinder and even their compact size and grip really create a very organic shooting experience that doesn’t distract you from creating images with technical functionality or settings. So if you ask me to explain X Series cameras, I’d say they are cameras for creativity and for storytelling. They are cameras with soul.

 

 

 

Travelling is obviously high on your agenda, where have you been recently and can you share your favourite photo and tell us the story behind the image?

 

Most recently, I did a 100 days project, beginning with a road trip from Melbourne to Queensland and then three months travelling across Asia. I visited Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and finally Nepal, where I am at the moment. I challenged myself to post a photograph everyday on Instagram that represented that day which turned out to be harder than I thought but I did it only skipping maybe 2 or 3 days. If I look back on my Instagram feed now, I’d say that my favourite image would be from day 40 of the journey, not necessarily because it is the best photograph but because of the story behind it.

 

I took this photograph in the south of Cebu Island (Philippines) on a modest fishing beach called Santander where all along the sand, there are tiny homes housing the families that collect seaweed and fish every morning. On one of my walks down to the beach, I found myself in the home of about 7 or 8 little hooligan kids who welcomed me with excited screams, dancing, playing and just general tomfoolery. These kids had next to nothing. Their clothes were ripped and dirty, their shoes didn’t match, and their play equipment consisted of some rope, a tree and a few planks of wood. I have honestly never seen happier, more energetic kids.

 

I ended up visiting these kids a few times during my stay on the island and got to know the family a little. I couldn’t stop taking their photographs because they got so adorably excited about having their picture taken and when they’d see their own faces on my LCD screen, they’d go crazy. I think I was the first person to ever take their photograph.

 

While portraiture isn’t my forte, I had to capture the kids’ faces which just beamed with spirit and hope. To me, this photograph is both a story and a lesson. It tells of hope and need and happiness and most importantly, of how much you actually need in order to be happy.

 

 

 

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

 

I’d say the biggest piece of advice I’d like to share with young photographers is not to get trapped in the technical side of photography or with camera reviews, equipment choices and stuff.

 

In my opinion, the most important first step is to get to know the gear that you have, whatever it might be, and understand everything about it so you can learn how to work with it and how to make it work for you. Because at the end of the day, when someone is looking at your photographs, no one cares really about what settings you used or what camera you have. It’s about the story you tell.

 

As any skill or art form, it requires a lot of practice. So take your camera with you everywhere and use every outing as a learning opportunity. Devote 20 hours a week, every week to making photographs. Get yourself a good pair of walking shoes and hit the streets or parks of your town or city and just shoot. Eventually, you’ll find your voice, and then you can focus on developing your own photographic style to tell your own stories.

 

 

 

You said the following statement after photographing with Fujifilm equipment over the last five years:

“My style has evolved to be a kind of poetry: subtle metaphoric images that tell stories through layers and light, shadows and figures”.

Can you provide a photographic example and explain the romance behind the image based on this statement?

 

Like I said before, X series cameras aren’t technically distracting so when I’m shooting on the street, I’m able to enter a kind of zone in which I am completely tunnel-visioned: all I see are light and shapes. Over time my photographs have moved more and more away from obvious compositions and stories and more towards combining elements under interesting light.

 

Most of the time, I take scenes that are seemingly nondescript but that through my lens I know will become something quite interesting. This image, for example, is one I took in Kathmandu, Nepal this month. While to my partner, it was nothing more than an ordinary Nepalese house front, to me, the shadows created a mysterious story: to whom does the hand belong? What is the child looking at? And why is he dressed so smartly while living in such an apparently poor house?

 

I like to make people wonder, and I think that my favourite kind of photographic story is not the one that I tell myself but the one that someone who looks at my photograph will imagine.

 

We noticed in your portfolio you have a number of portraits, can you give any tips on how to best approach people on the street to take their photo?

 

It’s funny that you say that because to be perfectly honest, I never feel that portraiture is my strong point. But I do like to include people and faces in my street scenes. I don’t really have any specific approach per se, but I do feel that if you’re a shy person, you will struggle as a street photographer. It is largely about engagement, with the elements around you and most importantly, the people you intend to photograph.

 

I suppose my photography reflects my personality in general as someone that tends to engage with strangers quite a bit, especially while travelling. To take someone’s portrait, is a kind of unspoken negotiation a lot of the time, relying on body language and your ability to read the situation. That said, a lot of the time, I usually avoid any kind of engagement before I’ve taken the shot.

 

My photography focuses a lot on candid, organic moments and so I like to be invisible. I even avoid eye contact because once the person is aware of the camera, the scene is shattered. Afterwards, I like to engage, chat with them or ask them questions depending on how open they are. And mostly people don’t have a problem with their photograph being taken.

 

 

The Melbourne streets are far from your travels, what do you like most about returning to the ‘Most Livable City in the world?

 

I love shooting on Melbourne’s streets. I guess it’s where I feel most comfortable. I have been living in St Kilda East specifically for almost seven years, and I’d say that the surrounding suburbs like Balaclava, St Kilda and Chapel Street are my usual photographic battlefields.

 

I know the culture and city very well, so I know how people usually react to my camera on the street which is important for the kind of work that I do. There isn’t the same chaos or exotic situations that you’ll find in Asia, but there is a very distinctive light that belongs to Melbourne that I think is almost recognisable. It helps to create its own kind of mysterious and dramatic images in an otherwise very orderly city.

 

To see more of Sarp’s photography follow him on Instagram.

Previous interviews from Series Three of Through a Photographer’s Eye:

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Johny Spencer

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Gavin Host

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Mike Bell

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Ryan Cantwell

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Ryan Cantwell

Welcome to the Third 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 fourth interview in Series Three is with Adelaide based photographer, Ryan Cantwell.

 

Ryan, what do you most enjoy about photography and how did you get started in this creative field of work?

 

I enjoy the practical side of photography. Being able to be in different environments, places, spaces and the travel side of it.

 

It all started with a video camera I bought in my early high school days to film friends skateboarding and the ruckus you get up to in between it all to make movies for fun and school projects, but that camera packed up and called it a day just over two years from getting it.

 

After that, I went and purchased a $150 compact digital camera from Harvey Norman, and from there I just took that little camera everywhere with me in my pocket. I didn’t have the funds to get an SLR and lenses, so holding a wide angle lens for my retired video camera at the front of the camera was my way to get fish eye photos of friends skateboarding when I needed to.

 

My parents at the time didn’t notice I was taking a lot of pics since I was running a compact digital camera and I also wasn’t running to them to get me a kit camera since I was happy using what I had. Outside of that the photo classes in the darkroom throughout my high school years got me into photography. It’s quite the common cliché, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. To put this answer in one word it would be – skateboarding.

 

 

 

You recently used the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X-T2 to capture images around the state of South Australia. Out of the two cameras, which one did you prefer to use the most? Can you tell us why?

 

The X-Pro2… Hands down. Shooting range finder style cameras like the X-Pro2 is such a relief after using a digital SLR.

 

The X-Pro2 is an ideal travel camera (if you want to take lenses) that will hold up in quality against full frame bodies. Using a smaller retro looking camera lets you get away with a lot more than when carrying a DSLR; people tend not to notice you. It’s like a versatile pocket knife compared to a sword.

 

 

 

How did you find the colours produced by the X-Trans CMOS sensor appeared when compared to previous cameras you may have used in the past? Did you notice any differences?

 

Good as basic as that sounds the colours Fujifilm punch out are something that’s noticeable compared to other RAW files I’ve shot. There’s something in the images that make skin tones look better; even the blue channels do something that’s fun. It’s hard to explain, but it’s noticeable when you start ‘nerding’ out on the computer.

 

 

 

Your style of photography portrays a unique view. What are you looking for when taking a photo of a person or subject and do you prefer to shoot in a particular sort of light?

 

It depends on the environment the person is in. The subjects face is normally the key attraction in portrait photography, but there’s something more with the motion and shape the person you are photographing can make. It’s even better if they are wearing something that just pops in the surroundings they are in.

 

I feel it is a cross over between a super candid movement and an observation of shape and colour all co-existing between each other.

 

The preferred lighting I like to shoot in is a tricky question since various light produces different scenarios. I like harsh mid to late afternoon light. When cloud cover appears I know that it will slightly diffuse and when that happens perfect golden light results in my subjects. This light doesn’t happen often, but six out of ten times it does, Murphy’s Law says I won’t have a camera with me!

 

 

 

How did the XF50-140mmF2.8 perform for surf photography when coupled with the Fujifilm X-T2? Was the focal length long enough or would you recommend the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6?

 

It was just long enough for the surf spots I went to. The stretch of beach I shot at has different ranges of sand height to work with but if you go to the back where the dunes roll in that lens wouldn’t have the reach you would need to do the wave(s) justice. I would prefer the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 as that range can give you more placement on land with out letting mother nature get close to you such as the tide getting closer when you’re too zoned in looking through the viewfinder.

 

 

 

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

 

Don’t worry about the fancy technical side of the gear. Get a cheap camera and work with that. Don’t rely on editing so much. If you’re growing up in a ‘boring’ town that offers a lot of mundane surroundings and you feel like there’s nothing pretty to take photos of then you’re not paying enough attention.

 

You will learn to find ‘beauty’ and oddities in places rather than just visiting the regular postcard scenes and look outs. Look at art paintings and how they applied technique and composition. Paintings have been around a lot longer than the camera. Be forward with yourself and the people you approach it can be awkward, but your results will be more to the point you have in mind. Sometimes don’t take photos, so you can live in semi regret you didn’t take a photo of a wonderful thing, move on and remind yourself to be more mindful next time.

 

 

 

You also used the XF56mmF1.2. After taking photos using this lens, did you find there was any need to edit them on a computer and how would you rate the bokeh?

 

That lens is ridiculous. It’s sharp and if you’re a person that likes cranking the sharpness slider when post processing then you’re image is going to be over done. The size of its build and the results it provides indeed live up to its hype. I didn’t play with the lens too much, but the results it gave me in low light conditions were a no brainer. I would definitely want this lens in my kit.

 

 

 

If a photographer was visiting South Australia for the first time, can you recommend two locations to visit?

 

A day trip down the Fleurieu coast. From midday onwards, as the sun sets on the water the area glows in the afternoon light, and there is an array of coastal and inland textures to play with in the right light. I haven’t been there in a while but the Flinders Rangers and beyond in the winter time gives a lot of wild scenery if you want to see how barren things can get in this state.

 

To see more of Ryan’s photography visit his website or follow him on Instagram or Facebook.

Previous interviews from Series Three of Through a Photographer’s Eye:

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Johny Spencer

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Gavin Host

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Mike Bell

 

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Mike Bell

Welcome to the Third 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 third interview in Series Three is with Sydney’s North Beaches based photographer, Mike Bell.

Fujifilm X-T1 – XF16mmF1.4 R WR – 1/350 second – F2.5 – ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1 – XF16mmF1.4 R WR – 1/80 second – F2.2 – ISO 320

 

Mike, commercial photography isn’t for everyone, so what made you choose the genre and how did you get started?

 

A couple of years ago I was made redundant. I worked for a large company doing photojournalism type photography for a magazine. Being a photographer & retoucher for so many years I wanted to continue my passion for my trade, and there wasn’t that much full-time work that incorporated this.

 

I decided to set up a retouching business, retouching professional wedding photographers images, but soon realised this wasn’t what I wanted. I began to notice the amount of building and construction that was going on around Sydney and decided to target this industry and started getting in touch with large companies to see if I could help out by photographing any of their completed jobs, fit outs or progress photography.

 

This then led me to get involved with event photography and corporate portraits etc. I had done a bit of wedding photography and wasn’t interested in getting involved in that over saturated market and thought there was a business for me in commercial work. So far I am working with a few large building and event companies, and my business is growing every day.    

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR – 1/45 second – F5 – ISO 6400

 

You use the Fujifilm X-T2 for professional use, how do you find the image quality and do you hear any feedback from clients after they see the images you take?

 

Before switching to Fujifilm cameras about five years ago I was using Nikon DSLR equipment, and my previous job involved a lot of travel, it was a lot of heavy gear to lug around. I began by buying a Fujifilm X100S and was so impressed by the files I was getting I changed my whole kit to Fujifilm cameras.

 

I started using the Fujifilm X-T1 and then upgraded to the X-T2. I find the image quality on my X-T2 superb, in particular with the prime lenses, for the work I am doing the lenses give me amazing results. Unlike the wedding industry feedback from my clients is very thin but when I do get feedback, it is always very positive.

 

I am now very interested in shooting with the new medium format Fujifilm GFX 50S camera and GF lenses. I believe with this new equipment; I can take my images and business to another level. This new medium format camera is absolutely perfect for most of the work I shoot and look forward to the time I can add this camera to my line up.  

Fujifilm X-T1 – XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR – 1/180 second – F2.6 – ISO 200

 

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

 

Photography is obviously a passion and not a job most people would choose if they were not into it, so by having that passion for what you do you are already halfway there. Create a service for clients that is reliable and ALWAYS deliver what you promise.

 

Taking an interest in your customer’s business, showing them you have done your research always helps. Never stop looking for new clients, self-marketing is key. Your creativity and skill will get you so far, that’s almost the easy bit, creating a customer base and the way you deal with your clients can be the difficult bit.

Fujifilm X-T2 – XF16mmF1.4 R WR – 1/160 second – F5 – ISO 200

 

Which was your first Fujinon lens? Can you share your favourite image taken using the lens and tell us how you captured it?

 

My first Fujinon lens was the XF35mmF1.4 R; I obtained the lens when I purchased my Fujifilm X-T1. This is still my favourite lens that sits on my camera most of the time. If I’m looking for a crisp shallow depth of field portrait style shot, this is my go-to lens, and the 50mm equivalent on a 35mm frame is a classic.

Fujifilm X-T1 – XF35mmF1.4 R – 1/160 second – F2.8 – ISO 1600

Ah, choosing a favourite shot with a particular lens is a difficult one. The black & white image shown above is from a recent wedding I took and one of my favourites from the shoot. The XF35mmF1.4 R just nails the beautiful natural low light that was coming through the window that afternoon. The dynamic range is great (another reason I want to upgrade to the Fujifilm GFX 50S camera)

 

If someone was given a brief for a commercial job, what advice can you give them based on your experience?   

Briefs can be handed to you in all sorts of shapes and sizes; I get a lot “We want to look relaxed and easy going without looking to corporate”. Sometimes clients are not sure what they want, and you have to put your creative spin on it. I would always suggest getting as much information you can with regards to what they will be using these images for, for what purpose are they trying to achieve with the shots, the more information you have, the happier the client will be with your images. Always turn up prepared, enough batteries, cards, lighting if needed, etc.

 

Information again is key. Find out when the client needs the images, what format they need them in, anything you can do to make the whole process easy for them will make your job easier.

Fujifilm X-T1 – XF16mmF1.4 R WR – 1/800 second – F2.5 – ISO 200

 

As you photograph quite a bit of architecture how do you find the distortion on the Fujinon lenses compared to any other gear you may have used previously?

 

One word…AMAZING, the Fujinon lenses I use have nearly zero distortion. The widest lens I use in my kit is the Fujinon XF16mmF1.4 (24mm Equiv), I find this wide enough for most of my work and find the barrel distortion almost non-existent, and what there is can be fixed in post. The Fujinon lenses I found a lot better than the Nikon wide lenses I was previously using.

Fujifilm X-T1 – XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR – 1/6 second – F4.5 – ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1 – XF35mmF1.4 R – 1/55 second – F1.6 – ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1 – XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR – 1/4 second – F8 – ISO 200

 

Can you provide some insight into your workflow process from shot to end result?

 

I almost always shoot RAW files on most of my jobs and apply my edit to the images in Lightroom depending what the client is after. I also shoot jpegs for a lot of my personal work as I love the in camera Fujifilm Film Simulation presets. I take all images into Lightroom for post processing and supply my client with a proof sheet to choose from and then provide high-resolution files as needed.

Fujifilm X100S – 1/1600 second – F5.6 – ISO 400

 

As a Sydney-sider is there anywhere in the state of New South Wales where you find yourself constantly going back to, to capture that perfect image?

 

As a Sydney based photographer, I travel all over Sydney, quite a bit out west as a lot of large construction is happening out there. I’ve been from Melbourne to Canberra and from Newcastle to the south coast. There is not one particular place that draws me back for any of the commercial work I am doing at the moment, but I did do a job for a magazine once in Broken Hill and would love to go back there and shoot again as the light is amazing out there.

 

If you would like to see more of Mikes’s photography then visit his website or follow him on Instagram or Facebook.

 

Previous interviews from Series Three of Through a Photographer’s Eye:

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Johny Spencer

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Gavin Host