Tips for Handheld Macro Photography

guest-blogger-strip-blackBy Nicole S. YoungBumblebeeMacro photography is an fascinating way to get a close-up look at everyday items. Photographers will oftentimes use a tripod to create their photos, but in some cases it is necessary, and also more convenient, to hand-hold the camera to create these images. However with hand-held macro photography you will also face certain challenges along the way. Here are some tips to help get you started creating your own beautiful macro photographs.

Camera gear used in this article:

  • FUJIFILM X-T1 Camera
  • FUJIFILM X-T2 Camera
  • FUJINON XF60mmF2.4 R  Macro Lens
  • Neewer CN-216 Dimmable LED Panel

Add More Light

I like to photograph macro images in the shade or on cloudy days so that I have a nice even light spread across the scene. However, sometimes the existing light is not quite enough for the camera settings required to get a good image (a high shutter speed and lower ISO). To compensate, I will oftentimes use a simple and inexpensive LED light that can either be attached to the hot-shoe of the camera, or held off to the side. This not only adds a good amount of fill light, but it also will help add catchlights to whatever you are photographing.

01_nicolesy_macro_light
The Neewer CN-216 Dimmable LED Panel adds a nice fill-light to a macro photo without being too harsh.

Focus Manually

When photographing something that is moving, just like I did with these images of bees, it was very difficult to use auto-focus. The bees were moving to quickly and positioned themselves out of focus before I could even press the shutter. To work around this challenge, I decided to pre-focus the lens and moved the camera back-and-forth until I could see the bee in focus, and then I pressed the shutter and fire off several consecutive frames. You will end up with a lot of throwaway images with this technique, but you will also have a higher chance of getting one of the images from that set in focus.

Here’s a step-by-step on how I performed this technique:

  1. First, I pre-focused the lens so that the focus point was an appropriate distance from the lens for the subject (in this case, a bee on a flower).
  2. Next, I set my drive mode to “continuous high”.
  3. Once I found a good subject (a bee on a flower), I moved the camera back and forth on the bee until I could see it come into focus on the preview on the back of my camera. As I saw it pop into focus, I pressed the shutter and created several images (with the hopes that one of them is in focus).

Focus on the Eyes

If photographing a bug or small animal, it’s important that you focus on the eyes. Small bugs can move around quickly, and so it can be tempting to feel like you are getting a good photo if the creature is facing away from you. While it won’t hurt anything to fire off a few photos (pixel are cheap, after all), a photo of the eyes of a bee, for example, is much more compelling than a bee butt. Have some patience and position yourself so that you can create the best creature portrait as possible.

02_nicolesy_macro_butt
This photo is in focus, but it’s also the wrong end of the bee! (FUJIFILM X-T2, FUJINON XF60mm Lens, 1/680 sec at F2.4, ISO 400)

 

 

03_nicolesy_macro_eyes
Your best bet is to position yourself so that you can photograph the eyes of your subject. This image shows just how detailed the eyes of a bumblebee can be when zoomed in close. (FUJIFILM X-T1, FUJINON XF60mm Lens, 1/1000 sec at F5, ISO 3200)

Find a Clean Background

Creatively speaking, the composition of your photo is going to be one of the most important aspects. You might have a “technically perfect” photo, but if it does not look good compositionally then it it loses its appeal. I find that one of the easiest ways to get a good composition is to angle myself so that the background is clean and not busy. There are a few different ways you can accomplish this:

  • Move your camera (or yourself) lower to position the frame at eye-level (instead of shooting down). This will help create a blurred background to separate the subject from its surroundings.
  • Find a subject that has contrasting elements behind it so that it stands out.
  • Use a wide aperture to add more blur to the background.
04_nicolesy_macro_composition1
The bee in this photo is on a very distracting background, and makes the image less pleasing. (FUJIFILM X-T2, FUJINON XF60mm Lens, 1/420 sec at F2.4, ISO 400)

05_nicolesy_macro_composition2

To get a better photo, I waited for the bee to move and positioned myself so that the background behind the bee was less busy. (FUJIFILM X-T2, FUJINON XF60mm Lens, 1/320 sec at F2.4, ISO 400)

Use a Fast Shutter Speed

With hand-held photography it’s important to make sure that the shutter speed is set fast enough to prevent camera shake. A good rule of thumb is to set the speed to at least the same number as the focal length of your lens. For example, I was using a XF60mm lens for these photos, so I would want to be sure that the shutter speed was set to no slower than 1/60th of a second to make sure that I don’t add motion blur to the photos. However I also needed to make sure that the shutter speed was fast enough to freeze the action of the bees as they moved around. For these photos I found that a shutter speed of 1/250 (and typically higher) was a safe setting.

06_nicolesy_macro_slow
At 1/30th of a second, the shutter speed is WAY too slow to both hand-hold the bee and photograph it without moving. As a result, there is a significant amount of motion blur in this image. (FUJIFILM X-T2, FUJINON XF60mm Lens, 1/30 sec at F4, ISO 200)

Bumblebee

Using a faster shutter speed, such as 1/500th of a second, gives you a better chance of getting a photo without any movement. (FUJIFILM X-T1, FUJINON XF60mm Lens, 1/500 sec at F4, ISO 640)

The intensity of the light in the environment you are photographing will determine if this is going to be an issue. If there is a lot of sunshine or it is very bright (even in a shaded area), then you may be in the clear. However if you do need to increase the shutter speed, here are some tips to help you add more light to the scene:

  • Try adding an additional light source (similar to what I mentioned at the beginning of the article).
  • Increase the ISO setting, or set it to “auto” and let the camera decide for you.
  • Use a wide aperture, such as ƒ/2.8 or wider. Doing this will allow more light to the sensor, but it will also increase the blur and narrow your depth of field (the area that is in focus), so it may be more difficult to get an in-focus photograph.

About the Authornicole_s_young_portraitNicole S. Young is a full-time photography educator living in Portland, Oregon. She owns and operates the Nicolesy Store where she creates and sells photography training, presets, and textures for photographers of all levels. Nicole has also been a stock photographer for over 10 years and licenses her work primarily through Stocksy United.

The Painter’s Brush and Fujifilm

guest-blogger-strip-blackPhotography is art. Whether you’re capturing the soul of another in a portrait, or the essence of our world in a landscape image. What you capture on a sensor is reflective of how you perceive our shared environment. A camera, in other words, is akin to a painter’s brush. Perhaps this is why we place so much importance on our tools. We want to wield a brush that will help us achieve what we see in our minds. I love the analogy of a painter and a photographer especially when considering the use of Fujifilm for one of my brushes.DSCF4103You see, one of the reasons I bought into the Fujifilm X System was because of how I thought it’d allow me to obtain a certain aesthetic. Sure, I loved the retro look, the portability, the easy access of essential controls, the fact that it was supremely sharp; but there was more to it than these common Fuji-loves. As an artist I draw a lot of inspiration from the work of old masters. I find their aesthetic as timeless and powerful. The use of light and contrast in their paintings to be awe inspiring. I wanted to achieve with my camera and lens something close to what they were able to produce with a brush and canvas. Enter the tools I prefer to wield for a master aesthetic: the X-T1 and X-Pro2.DSCF3287Fujifilm’s X-Trans APS-C sensor has a few advantages in regards to capturing light. One of the largest advantages is how well it can get everything in focus when compared to one of its full-frame counterparts. A crop frame essentially increases your depth of field while you are also able to bring in more light to the sensor with an equivalent aperture and focal length. Why is this an important factor, even for portraits? Because having your scene in focus allows your viewer to get a better idea of the entire area your subject is in. A story can unfold before your viewer with better ease. Of course, you can achieve a deep depth of field with larger sensors, but you’ll lose out on light and sometimes even enter into diffraction issues depending on your scene. I’m sure some of you are wondering, “but what about the bokeh?!” Sure, bokeh can be nice for a headshot and even in environmental portraits. Bokeh offers a great way to force a viewer to look at the subject. Though, I feel as though there is a stronger element to draw attention to a subject: light. Breaking out of the bokeh-mold you’re able to expand upon your use of light. DSCF1385The X-Trans sensor also has an oddity about it that I have not found on a Bayer patterned sensor: it produces sharp images that have an almost a brush stroke feel to them. Some will point out that it is due to my processing an image in Lightroom and Adobe’s refusal to really figure out how to sharpen an X-Trans sensor. There could be some truth to that and from what I’ve read online, most people aren’t impressed by this interaction between camera and processor. I, however, enjoy this look and use it to my advantage. The images produced by a Fujifilm sensor seem to come together in a different manner than my images from other sensors.DSCF3684Since I am a large fan of natural light I really love cameras that are able to take what I throw at them in terms of needed dynamic range. With Fujifilm, I love how easily I’m able to bring down the highlights and get a nice overall exposure. This puts me shooting my exposure a little to the right more often than I’m used to, but it’s great to be able to see a clean sky in my images. There is also the DR setting which gets baked into the RAW files and even allows some more pushing of the files if need be. This is especially useful when using harsh lighting.DSCF3171There you have it, some of the greatest reasons of why I love my Fujifilm cameras and why they are able to capture the moments I love.

Which camera is right for me – X-T10 or X-E2S?

Same 16mp sensor, same auto focus, and roughly the same weight and size…
So what is different between the X-E2s and the X-T10?

Well as it turns out quite a lot! In this video blog we’ll take a look at the key differences between these two cameras and determine which is better for certain styles and situations.


Both cameras are available in silver or black variants and the retro, functional designs are indicative of the Fujifilm X-Series, but there are clear differences between them. The X-T10 is an SLR-style deign with the viewfinder in the centre of the camera, while the X-E2s has a rangefinder-style design with the viewfinder on the far left of the camera. This doesn’t sound like too big of a deal, but this difference is the main reason why I use these two very capable cameras for different situations.


Which eye to use

That sounds like a bizarre subtitle, maybe Ben has had a long night…? No this is actually a really important thing to consider. I am left-eye dominant, so when using the SLR variant my face is mostly obscured by the camera, but this would pretty much be the same if I used my right eye. But with the rangefinder-style cameras (X-E2S) I deliberately use my right eye (yes it was a bit weird at first but I quickly got used to it). The reason for this is if you use your left eye with one of these camera then the camera sits completely across your face, whereas with your right eye, the camera is off to your right, leaving your face mostly unobscured. This can be a really big factor if you are going to be photographing people regularly as it makes it so much easier to interact with your subject. Particularly if you don’t know each other or have limited common language to otherwise engage, simply being able to smile while taking a photo makes all the difference.

X-E2S – Rangefinder-style images

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


X-T10 – SLR-style images

The little brother of the X-T1 and X-T2, this dynamic camera is great for those looking to cover a wide variety of photographic genres, whether that is through travelling or simply experimentation. Combining this compact but powerful camera with the likes of the XF18-55mm F2.8-4 OIS and the XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8 OIS makes for a brilliant, lightweight travel set up. Maybe add a low-light prime in there like the XF35mm F1.4 or F2 and then you have most bases covered in a very compact system. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the launch of this camera while working in Borneo. Here are a selection of images from that trip with the X-T10. As well as that, here is a link to my brief review of the camera – http://www.bencherryphotos.com/Blog/OMG-is-that-the-XT10 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Benefits of each camera

X-T10

  • 8 frames per second
  • Articulating LCD screen
  • SLR-style design
  • Great general travel option

X-E2S

  • Discreet, slim design
  • Rangefinder-style design
  • Slows you down
  • Best for people interaction
  • Fantastic with XF prime lenses
  • Different to most other cameras on the market

Which would I choose?

Both are superb cameras with clear benefits over each other. Choosing between them very much depends on where you want your photography to develop. For me, I would opt for the X-E2s with a handful of lightweight prime lenses like the XF18mm F2, XF35mm F2 and maybe the XF56mm F1.2. This creativity inspiring set up would encourage me to think more about my photography, slow me down and encourage better interaction between me and my subjects (with beautiful results wide open using the prime lenses). What set up would you choose and why? Let us know in the comments below.

Click the camera title to find out more:

FUJIFILM X-E2s or FUJIFILM X-T10


Ben CherryA little about Ben

Ben is an environmental photojournalist, zoologist and Fujifilm X-Photographer. His passion is showing the beauty and fragility of the natural world. Find more of his work at:

X-Pro2 Portraits with The Woz, Apple’s Co-Founder

Guest Blogger strip BLACK

By Dan Taylor

It’s not every day that you get the chance to photograph a person who is directly involved in creating a product that has changed the world. And it’s even rarer to have this person’s undivided attention for a few minutes just before getting mic’d up to take the stage.Dan Taylor photographing Steve Wozniak for Fujifilm - Image by Dan Taylor - dan@heisenbergmedia.com-1So, when I first got word that I’d have exactly this opportunity to photograph Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in Manchester, England, at Business Rocks, I knew I had to be prepared and have everything ready to go the minute he came out of the green room. Striving for absolute image perfection, my choice of gear was clear: The Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF56mmF1.2 R.

While I’m generally a fan of the SLR body format, e.g. my X-T1, utilizing the new technology and features in the rangefinder format X-Pro2 was too good to pass up. And when combined with the XF56mmF1.2 R (in this case at F8) the results are razor sharp, crystal clear, and absolutely stunning. I’d even venture to say that the XF56mm is the best headshot lens I’ve ever used.

Knowing that I had very little time with Steve, I had prepared my lighting setup in advance, and fired off a few quick test images with a colleague. Given that our time together was to be quite short, I knew that simplicity would be key. Building on this simplicity, I found a plain white wall between the green room and stage and used a slow(er) shutter speed to capture the ambient lighting to help illuminate the background.

Initially, I had a black background setup, but decided at the last minute to go with white. With the black background I could use a fast shutter speed, as ambient light wasn’t needed or wanted. However, with the introduction of the white background, I did want to capture the ambient light generated by the speedlights. At f/8, a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second was just right.

For my headshot with The Woz, I used 1 key and 1 fill triggered via a wireless transceiver in an off axis clamshell lighting setup. The key light is diffused inside a Lastolite Umbrella Box, and the fill light diffused via a standard umbrella.

Depending on the look you’re trying to create, the fill light might not even be necessary. In this case, I’ve used it to fill and soften the shadows the key light would be casting.Dan Taylor and Steve Wozniak headshot  for Fujifilm - Image by Dan Taylor - dan@heisenbergmedia.com-1When shooting with speedlights and any FUJIFILM X Series camera, one crucial menu option you want to turn off is the Preview Exp./WB in Manual Mode. If this option is on, you’ll be presented with things exactly the way the sensor sees things, normally a good thing, but here, without compensating for the light the speedlights are going to generate.

Right. Settings set, lights lit, The Woz ready to go. Let’s make some magic!

I generally turn to humor to get the ball rolling, and always have a joke or two ready. I’ve got a few really, really bad one liners that are just so horrible, there’s really no choice but not to laugh at them, and so far, they haven’t let me down. With The Woz, I actually had to resort to joke number two, as he gave me the punch line to joke number one before I could even finish the sentence. Ever the prankster.  Steve Wozniak for Fujifilm - Image by Dan Taylor - dan@heisenbergmedia.com-1All in all, I’d estimate that Steve and I did 4 shots together in a time period totaling less than a minute. And even though our time together was short, The Woz has been one of my favorite sessions yet. Not only is he an iconic figure, but a true gentleman, as for when I sent him the images we did together, he replied within minutes, stating, “It was great to watch you work. I love seeing great technical skills of all kinds.”

Thank YOU Steve for a great collaboration!

For me, when it comes to quality, portability, and forward thinking, the Fujifilm X-Pro2 is the camera that always makes it in my bag.

Adventuring with Mother Nature and X Series

X-Photographer strip

By Daniel Malikyar

From the moment I truly began to pursue photography, I strived to distinguish my work from the millions of images flooding digital media across the world. In doing so, I’ve always been an advocate of doing whatever it takes to get the shot. Whether that means hiking a treacherous mountainside all night to capture the beauty of first light from an unseen perspective, or hanging from an abandoned bridge 2,000 feet above the ground, capturing timeless moments are what I live for. Through my experiences, I have learned that photography is a key factor in the difference between being alive, and actually living. Abiding by this principle, I set out on road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle accompanied by two talented friends and an arsenal of Fujifilm X Series gear.DSCF7316We left LA for Oregon on a Tuesday afternoon, and after a brutal sleepless 16-hour road trip, we made it to our first destination – Abiqua Falls. Fortunately our car for the trip was a 4WD Jeep, and allowed us to take the mile long off-road path to the trailhead for the falls. With tattered sneakers accompanied by a light rainfall, I ventured through Oregon’s lush landscape for my first time. The abundance of massive trees and greenery were like nothing I had ever seen before. The hike down to the river was pretty intimidating, and required you to scale down a lengthy and steep hillside that was only accessible by a rope tied to an old tree at the top. I went first, and discovered that the last hundred meters of the slippery, muddy terrain had no support rope. After my first step I went down with no control, and slid for about a hundred feet, ruining my clothes and scratching up my hands in the process. Nevertheless, we all made it down eventually and hiked alongside the river to our destination. I had never seen Abiqua Falls, so when we turned the corner that revealed it’s jaw-dropping beauty I was in awe.DSCF7013The picturesque landscape was surreal, and I immediately began planning out the perspectives I wanted to capture in order to do it justice. What I didn’t realize was how difficult the blistering backwash from the water crashing to the surface made it to snap a photograph without drenching the camera lens. The remarkable durability and weather-resistance of the X-T1 matched by the speed, precision, and quality of the XF10-24mmF4 R OIS conquered the conditions, and allowed me to capture my experience before the backwash fogged up the lens. From Abiqua, we drove through the countryside to two of Oregon’s most iconic waterfalls, Multnomah and Latourell. These two were conveniently located very close to one another, and neither required a difficult hike to get to. Their overwhelming size was a humbling reminder of the power of Mother Nature, and gave me a challenge to capture them true to scale. Running on no sleep in almost 48 hours, we left the falls and enjoyed the hospitality of a friend and Oregon local, who took us to a famous Portland brewery before getting a couple hours of rest to continue on our photographic journey.DSCF7041Several hours of sleep, a warm shower, and a cup of coffee later we were on the road again… this time headed towards Washington. We got up before sunrise to capture first light from the Rowena Crest. The dynamic range on the X-T1 did Rowena justice by capturing all the tones and colors of the current season. After a brief session at Rowena, we drove straight to Olympic National Park. We encountered wildlife along the way, including a bear and bison. It was my first time seeing such large animals up close, and thanks to compact size of the X-T1 I was able to take it out of my pocket in time to capture the moment. Olympic National Park had otherworldly nature-filled roads whose cinematic foregrounds looked like something out of Planet of the Apes. With the help of the XF16mmF1.4 R WR lens, I was able to capture the detail of the nature before me.DSCF7291After exploring through Olympic, we returned to the hospitality of a friend’s home in Seattle, anxious for the adventures that were to come the next day. After a few more hours of sleep we set off to catch the infamous abandoned railroad known as Vance Creek Bridge for sunrise. Vance Creek is very dangerous if you’re not careful, and trespassers of the area are given a hefty fine if caught by authorities. This didn’t stop us; we were determined to get to the bridge and get our shots as quickly as possible. Running on minimal sleep, the excitement of visiting Vance eliminated any sense of fatigue and gave us motivation to get through the hike to find one of the most amazing abandoned locations I had ever seen. I cautiously maneuvered all the way across the bridge, and after documenting every angle I could, I hung my body off the edge of the bridge to capture the vertigo-induced lookdown perspective that is seen throughout most of my travels.DSCF7374This image gives me a sense of conquering that location, and I strategically waited until I was done shooting to make my mark with the widest lens of my kit, the XF10-24mm. After leaving Vance Creek without any issues, we headed back to Seattle to take on the skies of the city in an R44 helicopter with Classic Helicopters. While I’ve had helicopter shoots across several cities in many different conditions, it was my first time shooting in harsh light, and in an unfamiliar city. Nevertheless the X-T1 and XF10-24mm combo proved their worth, showcasing the very impressive speed and accuracy of the auto-focus feature. About an hour after the flight concluded, the sun had set, signifying the end to an amazing few days spent with friends shooting in new environments with an awesome camera system. We returned to our friend’s house to catch some sleep before we set off on a 20 hour road trip back to Los Angeles.

In addition to my Pacific Northwest road trip, I also had the pleasure of shooting with Fujifilm X Series gear this past December in the winter wonderland that is Alberta, Canada. The camera withstood unbearably low temperatures, snow, and everything in between. I even hung my body out of the car at 100kmh in -20 degree weather to capture a symmetrical road shot during sunset on the way home from our final day, which consisted of a trip to Yoho National Park to capture a direct vantage point of an endless blue river. Although my winter hat flew of my head and my face turned bright red from the extreme temperature and heavy wind, the camera gear had no issues withstanding the harsh conditions and delivering excellent quality images.

In conclusion, the most valuable aspect of traveling for me has always been capturing my experiences. In doing so, I’m able to make my memories timeless and share them with the world. With the help of Fujifilm’s cutting edge X-T1 system and expansive Fujinon XF lens lineup, I was able to document my recent travels throughout Alberta, Canada and the Pacific Northwest. The durability of this mirrorless camera is incredible. The compact size and endless internal capabilities of the X-T1 also set it apart from any camera I’ve used before. One of my favorite design aspects is the moveable LCD; this made it much easier to shoot reflections and difficult perspectives that cannot be seen through a viewfinder. The XF lenses are also very impressive. Their power and design compliment the body by providing lightning-fast images of excellent quality, color and sharpness. The auto-focus feature is also remarkably consistent and accurate across all subjects, and allowed me to make the most of every rare photo opportunity Mother Nature presented along these two trips. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work with Fujifilm’s X Series gear, and I highly recommend it to all photographers looking to take their work to the next level with a conveniently sized, sleekly designed system.

A journey to Marrakesh

9. DSCF5376 mercato medina - sitoby Jesper Storgaard Jensen

About me

Jesper Storgaard Jensen bwI’m Danish, born in 1964, and have been living in Rome since 1997. I have always loved writing and at a certain point, after my arrival in Rome, I started to collaborate with magazines producing travel articles. It was from this that the Danish Daily wanted to publish a travel article of mine from an Italian island. Unfortunately the PR-photos were of a too poor quality. In other words, I had to do the photos myself. This is when I purchased my first ever 5-mega-pixel camera. That was back in 2003, and since then, my interest in photography has been steadily increasing. I had been working for the Danish Embassy in Rome for ten years, but in 2009 I took the jump to become a full time freelance journalist and photographer shooting travel, culture, food & wine and interviews. Everything with my own imagery.

The journey to Marrakesh

We – a total of eight persons – were doing a 7 day on-the-road-trip round Morocco, two days of which were spent in Marrakesh. As I needed to travel light, I packed only my Fuji gear – Fuji X-E2, the 18-55mm kit lens and the 35 mm lens for portraits & food. I must say that I find this a excellent combination and the overall weight is significantly reduced compared to DSLR gear.

7. DSCF5387 medina - sito

Travelling in a country with a completely different culture to my own I wanted to play it safe. So I asked most people if I could take their photo, especially regarding portraits, which I guess is quite obvious. There were occasions where some scenes were too good to miss, and in these circumstances I fired from the hip, looking elsewhere.

6. DSCF5536 Amir Marrakech - sito

5. DSCF5591 street portrait marrakech sito

8. DSCF5345 pink all over - sito

Generally speaking, Marrakesh is a very photogenic location. There are so many varied situations, so wonderfully exotic, with such incredible faces, emotions, the colours, the textures. Everything seems to be calling you to be immortalized.

3. DSCF5470 butcher marrakech - medina

11. DSCF5408 medina nr. 2 - sito

2. DSCF5480 man with hat - sito

1. DSCF5566 medina - sito

Future projects

Aside from my daily work, I like to have detailed, lengthy photographic projects and I’ll soon be leaving Rome for my summer holidays. I’ll be driving through the south of Italy to the island of Pantelleria, south of Sicily. During that month of holiday I’m planning on doing a project called “People I met”, taking portraits of people I’d casually meet during that month. On a long term basis, I’m working on a project where I’ll be photographing different kinds of Roman artisans in their working environments. This project will be continuing into 2016.

Contact

Web
Instagram
500 px
Picfair

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

– – – – – – –

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

 

X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Chris Weston

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?

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

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

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

_DSF610172

How did you develop your style in photography?

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

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

_DSF1284

Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

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

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

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

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

_DSF5175

Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

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

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

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

_DSF561872

Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

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

_DSF1764

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

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

_DSF4607

What’s next for you?

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

_DSF1679-2

Contact info

Website
Facebook