The ‘Great British Summer’… We all remember it, don’t we?
As a photographer, who makes a living from shooting music events, the summer time means swapping my cameras and lenses, from my rolling camera case, to a heavy rucksack that I carry on my back. ‘Why?’ you may ask. I think you’ll understand as you read on.
From June until mid September I’m often asked to shoot at different festivals up and down the UK. A dream job in most peoples’ eyes and, yes, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had amazing times and memories at festivals all over the world.
I must admit though, over the past few years the thought of shooting a festival for 3-4 days, as Y Not Festival is, does bring me out in a cold sweat. The great British summer time, we all know, is very unpredictable to the extreme, and I usually end up photographing these events in bad weather. Take this year’s Nottingham Splendour festival for example, an outdoor one day event where the weather was fine until 4pm, when the Buzzcocks came on, and the heavens opened up. The rain did not stop pouring all evening and in to the night it became torrential – even as I drove along the A52 home.
The first thing I do before I go to ANY festival is to swap my Fujifilm kit over from a rolling case to a rucksack because, quite simply, you cannot roll through all the mud and rain where the grass used to be!
I have learned over the past few years, and this is a tip for those reading this, that if you shoot mirrorless Fujifilm cameras, chose what lenses you use the most at a festival, and only take those. To cut down the amount of time spent changing lenses, I now carry three Fujifilm camera bodies with me at festivals. I always take my two X-T1 bodies with my XF16-55mmF2.8 (which is my go to lens) and my XF50-140mmF2.8. On my FUJIFILM X-Pro2 camera I take an XF14mmF2.8 as this is a really wide lens, perfect for close ups and backstage pictures.
Due to the amount of dust, mud and rain at festivals, I never take these lenses off. This helps keep my sensors in top-notch condition against whatever the summer weather throws at them.
Y Not Festival 2017
This year’s Y Not festival opened on the Thursday night with Feeder playing in the evening summer sun. I managed to grab some portraits with Grant and the lads before they went on stage and played a great set to the early bird festival goers, who had arrived on the Thursday afternoon to set up camp.
Did I mention the summer sun on the Thursday evening? Well, that was the last we saw of it! Come midday on Friday, due to a few hours of a very heavy, torrential downpour, the whole festival site had changed completely.
What was green grass had now turned into a muddy swamp. Maybe these are the perils of holding a festival on the Derbyshire moorlands, but I think the conditions on the Friday took everyone by surprise. The main stage was particularly badly affected, driving rain had soaked the stage and there were fears of the bands getting electrocuted if they plugged in and played. A few acts were cancelled as the rain did not relent, until someone had the idea to put up four gazebo type marquees on the stage for the bands to try and play under.
This did help provide some shelter and two bands powered on through, performing in the height of the driving rain. I was at the festival to photograph one of these two bands; Nothing But Thieves. While the band had temporary cover, I, however was not so lucky. As a photographer, I, and my kit, needed to be at the front of the stage.
When I’m shooting at festivals, I’m always being asked about how weathered my Fujifilm X Series cameras are. I will admit that I’d never pushed my equipment as much as I had before experiencing the conditions at Y Not Festival. The rain was just horrendous. For the first three songs (around 17 to 20 minutes) I was photographing the band at the front of the stage. I was then side of stage to shot another two songs from there – once again I was exposed to the elements and continued to get soaked.
I can honestly say that my cameras passed their weathering ordeal with flying colours! I had no problem with the bodies and lenses in this heavy rain.
The rain continued throughout the evening and the main headline act, The Vaccines, was cancelled as the weather became so extreme. Therefore, it was time to go home and give my equipment a good clean up.
Although Saturday was blue sky, the night brought more torrential and a decision was made to call off the last day of the festival due to health and safety issues.
The ‘Great British Summer’, as I said, I get the cold sweats just thinking about it!
Please note: Not all of the X Series cameras feature Weather Resistance. Please check the specification of each model before purchase.
I am in it for the music. I am a photographer, but first and foremost I am a dedicated fan of
music, particularly the electronic genre. Photographing music is how I find belonging in its
When I look at the work of other music photographers, I often don’t see the passion for
music, nor “hear” it in their images. I hope to help change that with this e-book.
I shoot electronic music exclusively, which means all my experience comes from this type of
event. I believe a good part of this ebook will be applicable to any kind of music or event
shooting, but there are also things in here which are specific to the electronic music scene.
In this book I talk about how to get started, preparations, what’s in my bag and of course,
how I shoot events. This book features many examples of my images with analyses of how I
made them, anecdotes from the shoot, and the gear and settings used. I assume readers are
familiar with technical terms such as exposure, ISO, aperture, exposure value (EV), and how
to adjust these settings.
I have made the transition from making pictures for myself, to shooting paid gigs in
Denmark, very quickly. I have learnt an enormous amount in that time, and I hope to pass
this on, and inspire you to make better music pictures.
I am lucky enough to get to shoot the events I would go to as a regular fan. And I hope my
passion can inspire your music photography. You have to love it all: the music, the artists, the
people, the long nights, the loudness, the chaos, the photography.
Channel that love into your images.
How to buy this eBook
The eBook comes as a 220-page PDF and can be purchased and instantly downloaded from Flemming’s website below:
I went down with a crash. Almost immediately the mud started to seep through my trousers which were already soaked by the rain. I had cradled the two X-T1s in my arms as soon as I felt my feet sliding away from me. The rain had no affect on them, it just collected into droplets and ran off. The rain that fell on me however seemed to go into my bones. I sat up and looked around. I was surrounded by thousands of people all bent on having a good time – and succeeding. I looked down at the rain soaked cameras, it was then that I realised what I had become. How on earth did this happen?
But first, a bit about me.
I first became interested in photography at the age of 8 or 9. My parents bought me my first camera as a birthday present shortly afterwards. As my interest grew I went to the public library to learn about processing and printing. I managed to acquire a second hand enlarger, a developing tank, some dishes and had managed to blackout my bedroom by hanging all the clothes I possessed over the window. This was well before the days of central heating, and I had a wall mounted infra red heater that glowed red which I used as a makeshift safelight when printing. Surprisingly this rather makeshift approach worked and the experience of seeing a print gradually appear as it was gently rocked in the developing tray was magical. I still have that sense of wonder when I look at prints today. The technology is different but the magic of creating a record of a moment that makes up life’s experiences remains. It gets even better when I can create an image that goes beyond straightforward recording something and which connects with other peoples emotions from when they saw or experienced something similar. That’s the reason I love combining travel and photography. It creates so many privileged situations and I find it increases the possibility of creating the types of images I love.
I continued to dabble with photography into my 20’s but life gets busy and a career in Public Service refocused my priorities until much later in life. Now with that career behind me (and contrary to public belief Public Service can have high job satisfaction and be fun) I have reengaged with photography and am now building a second career.
Why indeed. To be honest it all came as a bit of a surprise to me as I considered myself to be a Canon shooter. I did buy an X100 when they first came out. I was seduced by the look and feel of it. The handling reminded me of and old Leica I used to own. I loved the simplicity, the clear controls and small size.
Unfortunately it did not work out for me. I found the focusing too slow and the camera stayed in a draw for a few years. In time the X100s was released but I was still not tempted. Eventually someone told me that Fuji had released updated firmware for the X100. It took me another few months before I downloaded it and gave it a try.
What a difference! It became the camera I thought I had bought in the first place. What impressed me more though was the fact that Fuji made the firmware available for the X100 rather than withholding it in order to get more people to to buy the X100s.
I thought that it was remarkable that a company would show such loyalty to its existing customers, especially in this day and age where incentives are only offered to new customers. I was so impressed with the improved handling that, when the X100t came out I bought one. I took it with me that same day when I took the dog out for a walk with the intention of trying it out. Nothing spectacular, just a nice shot of sheep and lambs in the sunshine on the Dorset coast with the sea as the background.
I was wondering if I could use the WiFi app to simplify my news workflow so, just to test things out, I used the Fuji app to put an image on my phone and from there uploaded it to the news agency. It was only when the license fee arrived some months later that I realised that the image had been published on the Telegraph Online website before I got home. I love the simplicity and size of this camera, and unsurprisingly, my Canon 5D large and heavy by comparison.
I had a trip to Spain coming up and I really wanted to reduce the weight of the gear I was carrying in the backpack, so I decided to buy the X-A2 with the kit zoom lens and the 10-24 f4 lens. Although there were clear limitations compared to using the 5D kit there were also wonderful benefits. It was not just the weight either, I was less “visible” as a photographer. I could hand hold at lower shutter speeds, the electronic screen was wonderful in dark environments, the lenses were sharp and significantly I found that I was using the Jpeg files with little or no tweaking rather than the RAW files which resulted in less time in front of a computer screen. The GPS tagging via the Fuji phone app helped enormously when it came to captions and keywords. Overall a considerable saving of time.
It’s a slippery slope. I went and tried out an X-T1 with the idea of trading in my 5D mk 2 but keeping the 5D mk3. The logic being that I would have a lightweight travel kit and shoot news stuff using either the X-A2 and the X-T1, or the Canon 5D mk 3 and the X-T1 depending on the circumstances. On trying the X-T1 out, I found I loved it as much as the X100T, and it has the same WiFi capacity. I also found out that Cactus make some speedlight triggers that will allow Fuji cameras to use canon speedlights using the Cactus transmitter to control the power of the flash. That was it then, I bought one and a 50-140 f2.8 lens. I was intending to use it and the Canon 5D mk 3 a couple of weeks later at the Glastonbury Festival where I was one of the team of accredited photographers. As I prepared the kit for the event I wondered if those nice people at Fuji would lend me another X-T1 and a couple of lenses so I could cover the festival using only the lighter Fuji gear. Well-they can only say no.
They said yes, which is how I came to be sitting in the mud in the company of 175,000 festival goers, countless volunteers, specialist staff, police, performers and somewhere on the site, that nice Mr Eavis. As I wiped the rain off the cameras and checked them for damage I realised I had become a “Fuji shooter”.
So how did it go?
Well it all went rather well, which was pleasantly surprising considering that the X-T1s were a new camera to me. The firmware in the cameras was 3.11. I had been hoping that version 4.0 with the significantly improved focusing would be available by the time the festival began. Unfortunately it wasn’t. Despite that, the focusing on the X-T1 was better than I expected. In most conditions it worked well and was accurate. I struggled with it a little in low light though and it was too slow for some fast moving situations. Having said that, I changed my technique over the course of the festival and my results improved.
Shooting the Pyramid Stage at night was the most difficult environment because of the rapidly changing lighting and the continually moving musicians. I ended up using continuous focusing, with the pre focusing switched on and the drive set to continuous fast. I also ramped the ISO up more than I would normally do and stopped the 50-140mm lens down a bit rather than using it wide open. To keep the speed up I shot Jpegs. With this combination, the number of sharp images increased dramatically. Unfortunately so did the overall number of images shot resulting in taking considerably longer to edit them. Up until then I had been shooting Raw and Jpegs intending to use the Jpegs and have the RAW files for anything where the Jpegs were inadequate. It’s a credit to Fuji’s technology that, despite some challenging lighting conditions the Jpegs remained superb throughout. With exquisite bad timing I picked up an email as I walked out of the festival on the Monday morning saying that Fuji just released the significantly improved version 4 Firmware!
The camera’s handled well and sat in my hand nicely with most of the controls easily accessible. It was a bit tricky at first to change the focus point with the function buttons on the back, but that improved as I got used to the camera. Even so replacing the OK/Menu button with a joystick control that would perform both the OK/Menu control and move the focus point would be wonderful. Like all these things though, its about getting the right balance and I am aware that such a change may not be possible without compromising the size and style of the camera body.
Having the shutter speed, the ISO setting, the drive and the exposure compensation easily accessible via dials on the top of the camera was wonderful. Perhaps it was because I spent my early life using cameras with that sort of arrangement but I took to it immediately and it felt more natural that having to go through a menu system, especially with the ISO setting. This ease of access combined with the Electronic Viewfinder meant that I could accurately assess difficult lighting conditions and make the necessary exposure compensation without having to take a shot and play it back on the LCD to check the histogram.
The combination of one body with the 16-55 f2.8 and the other with the 50-140 f2.8 worked really well. Most of the images were created with these two lenses. It made working fast and easy. Given small size and low weight of the kit it also made swapping between cameras fast and easy. I don’t like changing lenses when I am working in this sort of environment as I have to work fast and upload news pictures soon after they are taken. Dust on the sensor slows down the processing stage enormously. When I did change lenses though, I did not get any dust problems, or if I did the built in sensor cleaning mechanism got rid of it. I don’t know if I was just lucky of if the design of the Fuji sensor made a difference but it was a refreshing change.
After a couple of days using the cameras, when I had got to the stage of not having to think about it I began to really enjoy them. The fun and experimentation of photography seemed to be coming back and I really enjoyed using the tilting LCD screen which made it easier to shoot from unusual angles. I also was not getting the aches and pains I was used to in these sort of environments. Given that I was on my feet and working from about 7:00 am to 1:30 am the next morning (with a short break sometime in the afternoon) I felt remarkably relaxed.
As I enjoyed this new found freedom it all went wrong..
I had found somewhere to sit and have a coffee. As I stood up I realised that I had lost a camera. As the knot in my stomach formed my mind tried to work out where I had been and where I could have left it. My pulse rate went up as I started to take straps belts and bags off so that I could find out if I had lost my camera or the one Fuji had loaned me. Neither, they were both still there. So what had I lost? I checked the other lenses, the Speedlight, the other accessories. They were all still there.
All that had happened was that I had got used to using the cameras and had forgotten about them. I had stood up, and being used to carrying two Canon 5Ds with L series lenses attached, the load I was carrying was so light that I thought I had lost a camera. This happened a few times over the subsequent days, that sudden feeling of panic followed by a feeling of relief, then foolishness.
One final thing worth mentioning is the viewfinder. Its fabulous.
One of the reasons I bought full frame cameras in the past was that I had used the C type sensors and was not impressed with the size of the image in the viewfinder. The X-T1 viewfinder with its magnification factor and “Full” mode is a joy to use. For me it was a game changer.
So in summary, as I said earlier, it all went rather well. In a couple of heavy downpours the cameras, the 16-55 f2.8 and the 50-140 f2.8 were unaffected, It seems that the weather resistance really does work. The X-T1 is a joy to use, handles well and is robust & light. The lenses are sharp and considering the max aperture, remarkably light. The combination of the 16-55 and 50-140 were used most of the time (although I must confess to having a soft spot for the 10-24mm). The focusing with the 3.11 firmware is not up to the speed of a DSLR but the version 4 firmware seems to be a considerable improvement.
So what next?
Well I have just started the planning for a 6 week trip to India and its definitely the Fuji camera’s that will be coming with me. And, if you would like to see more of my work please visit me at:
My name is Hollie, I am 23 years old and I am currently studying the second year of my degree in Digital Media Practice at The Brit School.
Before the night of Monday 29th September 2014, I had religiously gone to the gigs of my favourite artists since I was 15 and queued for hours on end to get close enough to the front of them in order to take great photos.
Photography and music are two of my biggest passions, and when I came across the competition that Fujifilm were running on their blog, I instantly had the urge to enter with the thought in mind as I’m sure everyone who entered did; that ‘I had nothing to lose’, only something to gain in the very slim chance that I may win.
My delight at winning this competition and the opportunity that it gave to me in my pursuit of doing a job that I love, has been fantastic.
Tony Woolliscroft was a man whose photography work I deeply admired before entering this competition, and after working with him and getting to know him as a person and getting to watch what he does first hand I find I only have great things to tell you of him.
Tony was fantastic to me. He was very welcoming and honest and in the short amount of time I got to work alongside him, I felt that I learnt a lot.
The Fujifilm X-T1.
My brand new X-T1 FujiFilm camera quickly became my new best friend. It is now my preferred choice of camera to use on photo shoots and live work.
The look of the camera is a nice black matt, vintage finish that packs the punch of everything up to date technology-wise. The live view of this camera is fantastic and has quickly become one of my favourite features as it is one of the most useful in my opinion.
Anyone who is anyone, has surely heard of The 1975 by now? Right?
So I was no stranger to this band, their unique sound, fantastic live sets and somewhat vintage style (usually black and white) rock and roll photography tastes.
I had the opportunity to meet the band, spend the day with them and get an insight into tour life, as well as photograph their soundcheck and live sets with Tony.
The band welcomed me and allowed me to be myself around them and work to my potential. I felt completely at ease around everyone I met during this fantastic day, and I would just like to end by giving thanks to FujiFilm, Tony Woolliscroft and The 1975 for the opportunity to have done this.
I hope that you all enjoy my photography of The 1975 and that you’ll be seeing plenty more of me and my photography in future.
You can find me and my work at the following links: