How to Capture the Beauty of Nature in Flatlay Photography

guest-blogger-strip-black

By Ja Soon Kim

I was a graphic designer and an art director in advertising for many years.

I hold a BFA in fine art. Photography is my passion.

Photography is an art form in that you are able to create or captures images that are uniquely your own vision. But first, you have to have the right equipment that is perfect for what you envision.

I used to shoot with an iPhone camera until I saw the color quality in the images shot with Fujifilm cameras. I knew I had to switch in order to achieve the subtle tones, colors, textures and depth that would enrich my images.

I had been considering several cameras. When a friend showed me his Fujifilm XT100, I knew this was it.

IMG_2935.JPG
You don’t have to go somewhere special to find things to shoot. If you take a closer look, there are things you never noticed before that are beautiful. These are leaves I found while walking my dog.

I have been shooting with Fujifilm cameras for over a year. I started with a borrowed X100T and now I shoot with an X-T1. It is the perfect camera for me, just the right size and surface texture, not too heavy, great retro look, and it fits perfectly in my hands. It’s fun to shoot with. It didn’t take me long to learn the basics but there are endless possibilities with this camera. It has given me exactly what I was looking for in a camera.

One of the handy features I love about X-T1 is that I can transfer pictures directly, via WI-FI, from the camera to my iPhone. This is perfect for Instagram users.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
I found all this beautiful spring growth on a walk in the countryside. I arranged them with a sense of movement using a variety of plants. Against a black background, they look elegant with their vibrant green stems.

 

Flatlay, or tabletop photography, is different from landscapes or portraits in that you are creating your own subject to shoot rather than shooting what is already there. It provides a totally different experience, creative control and it shows in the resulting images. This process has been deeply meditative for me. I work alone, without a crew, as I used to as an art director.

Shooting flatlay gives us total control over the subject and allows us to be creative in our own unique way.  You can use any material you find interesting. I work mostly with found or foraged props from nature that we all see every day and are readily available all around us. I don’t purchase props for shooting.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
These fallen leaves were collected under an old cottonwood tree. I was fascinated with bug-eaten holes and the varying stages of fall colors. I used a simple arrangement for these. 

Light is everything in photography. I almost always set up my shots near a big window in my house. My typical background is a piece of plywood painted black on one side and white on the other or foam core boards in black or white. A very simple set up.  I use a tripod whenever necessary.

When I travel, I shoot on what is readily available: sandy beaches, beautiful rock, etc.

The lighting is the most important component of photography. I don’t use artificial lighting. I’ve tried them but it doesn’t have the depth and subtle variations that natural light offers. I love the shadows that appear with natural light. Shadows give depth and dimension to images.

fullsizerender-1
These wilting flowers were found in my neighborhood and in my garden. Some are wildflowers.

This is a simple grid with various stages of fresh to wilting late summer blooms. I frequently save and reuse props as they dry, mixing them with other things to make new and different images. Nothing is wasted and ultimately all goes to compost.

 

Often they are more beautiful when they dry, so be playful and experiment.

My subjects are almost always found or foraged. The process of collecting, imagining how they might look together in my mind is part of my creative process. Ultimately, they do need to be selected and arranged in your own creative way that makes the picture beautiful and compelling.

Cultivate Your Own Style

Processed with Snapseed. Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

These varieties of wild sunflowers bloom everywhere in the Southwest in late summer. All of them are collected from the sides of the road and arranged while still fresh in a very simple vertical design. I use reusable plastic containers to keep them fresh until I get home. Shot on silver PMS paper. 

Most of my pictures are shot with the XF35mmF1.4 R lens, a great everyday lens. I shoot with other lenses but I love the honesty and zero distortion of this lens.

I love shooting with wide angle lenses XF16mmF1.4 R WR or XF18mmF2 R when I am out shooting landscapes. I also shoot with the XF60mmF2.4 R Macro when I want to play with close ups or create different affects.

More recently, I’ve began shooting with the X-T2 and look forward to the types of images I can create with this beautiful camera.

Discover more of these images created with FUJIFILM X Series in my instagram feed!

 

24 Hours in Yosemite

X-Photographer strip BLACK

By Bryan Minear

As I sat on a plane bound for San Francisco, staring down some 40,000 feet to the clouds passing underneath me, excitement and anticipation filled my soul. It was the beginning of a journey – an epic adventure creating unique images and memories. I hoped that this pilgrimage with fellow photographers would live up to my expectations, and further inspire me to follow my dreams.bm_7After being awake for 30 hours, we arrived at dusk. On the way into Yosemite, we stopped off at tunnel view. It was my first glimpse of California that wasn’t being hidden away by the night. The rock faces lit up underneath a sea of endless stars. In that moment, it all felt like a dream. I was now experiencing this miraculous destination that I had experienced so many times before through someone else’s eyes. We spent an hour shooting before heading to drop off our bags and get settled in our condo. At 4:30 AM, we were off to glacier point to prepare for our first sunrise.bm_5I stared into the face of half dome, brilliant and gleaming in front of me. In some ways, I was taking a photo that millions of people had taken before me – but at the same time, I took pause to remember that the beauty of photography is that each moment captured is infinite and unique in its own way.bm_2The sun began to glow, and I was able to catch the last few stars in the sky over half dome.  My X-Pro2 clicked away on a timelapse and my X-T2 shifted in my hand as I tried to find my perfect composition. I was awaiting the shot that I was planning on taking since the trip’s inception.

“First light over half dome” is something that I had wanted to see for myself since I knew Yosemite existed. My lens of choice for the perfect capture was the XF10-24mmF4 R OIS. It gave me the versatility I needed to grab a few shots at various focal lengths in order to choose my shot in post.

After a short and much-needed nap, we ventured down into the valley to see the golden light as it passed over us. Fall color was in full swing and there was a slight chill to the air, only further enhancing the experience. We found a spot along the Merced River with a beautiful view of half dome reflected in the water. Along a nearby boardwalk, we took in Yosemite Falls as it towered above us. The falls were not supposed to be running at this time of year, but luckily, a storm passed through the night before we arrived, giving the falls a second wind.bm_6I framed up a shot with a 10-stop ND and 3-stop ND Grad to get some cloud and water movement. Shooting long exposures during the day is one of my favorite things to do because it gives me some time to enjoy the scene around me. Oftentimes I get so caught up in getting the shot that I don’t “see” things for myself. The photos are the best way to relive the moment, sure. But it’s equally as important to live in the moment and enjoy your surroundings.bm_4As the light started to drop in the sky, I shifted into creative mode trying to make the absolute most of the light that I have left. I set up another timelapse in front of the half dome with my X-Pro2, and with my X-T2 and XF16mmF1.4 R WR attached, I began walking around finding different compositions to maximize my last few moments.bm_1Over the course of the next few days I experienced close to all that Yosemite and the surrounding area had to offer: Taft Point, the 7,503 ft lookout point, Tioga Pass, and the desert-laden Eastern Sierras that lie just outside of Yosemite proper. The trip was full of friendship, laughter, and best of all, amazing scenes to photograph.

Meet X-Photographer: Victoria Wright

X-Photographer strip BLACK

Victoria Wright moved to Seattle from eastern Washington in 2007 to finish her degree and finally be in the city she loved. Inspired by her grandfather’s ability to create and share a beautiful moment with brushes on canvas, Victoria took an interest in photography early in life; however, she did not pursue it seriously until moving to Seattle and did not transition this passion into a profession until 2013, when social media began opening doors which allowed her to share with a larger audience.

6178069088
Victoria Wright, captured by Kelly Victoria

When Instagram came to Android in 2012, Victoria experimented with mobile photography and began to connect with other users around the world. Her recognition on social media quickly grew and she helped build the Instagrammers Seattle community as a manager, organizing photo walks, charity events, exhibits, and more in the larger Pacific Northwest (PNW) region. She also began to have her mobile work shown in major exhibitions such as 100-50-1 in San Francisco as well as events and galleries in Seattle.fujifilmxt1_victoriawright-50Specializing in portrait, lifestyle and travel photography, Victoria’s goal has always been to create photographs that possess a thoughtful approachability, bringing the viewer into the moment rather than leaving them on the outside. She has worked with global brands including GAP, AMEX, Coach, and Airbnb, capturing people, places, and moments in time that others might overlook. In search of the next story worth telling, Victoria has traveled to and photographed many locations around the United States (including remote regions of Alaska), the mythical countrysides of Scotland (fairies and all), the endless landscapes of Iceland, and elsewhere, all while on assignment.ny-16This fall, she will be hitting the road and the skies again as she travels through New Mexico, Utah, Texas, and then back to California to finally visit Yosemite National Park for the first time. Next summer, she is planning to reconnect with her European roots on a trip to Lithuania — her first trip back since moving to Washington when she was only two — with her father, a man whose model of unquestioning generosity and inspiring drive to work hard have helped her find her own path.ny-14Victoria will of course be traveling with her Fujifilm camera in tow. After purchasing her first X Series camera — the X-T1 — Victoria knew she had found the perfect match. The ease, flexibility and photo quality of the X Series quickly won her over and she recently moved to the X-T2, though her T1 remains close by.fujifilmxt1_victoriawright-12-1Living in the PNW, Victoria never shies away from bad weather, especially while on the road, and the X Series allows her to brave the elements without worrying about her gear. The cameras are compact for easy travel, the lenses are sharp and fast, and the Wi-Fi capability makes remote uploading and shooting incredibly easy, including the ability to adjust exposure, aperture, ISO and other settings right from her phone.fujifilmxt1_victoriawright-36More than anything, Victoria admires how well Fujifilm listens to its photographers. Through both software and hardware updates, she has found that the X Series continues to improve in ways that truly benefit photographers. The X-T2, with updated 4K video capabilities, impressive Autofocus functions, and a Vertical Power Booster Grip that allows for brilliantly fast continuous shooting, is no exception. It is safe to say that Victoria is excited to see what lies ahead for Fujifilm and she can hardly wait to get her hands on the GFX 50S. The new G Format sensor is definitely going to shake up the world of medium format photography.ny-4

 

Wildlife photographer Chris Weston puts the new XF16-55mm f/2.8 through its paces

Fujifilm’s new XF16-55mm f/2.8 weather-resistant lens lives up to expectation. With a new type of nano-coating that reduces flare, the optical excellence of the lens matches the supreme quality I have come to rely on in the very best Fujinon lenses.

_DSF5616
X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/4000th, f/4, ISO800

 

Photographing birds of prey at a local falconry, I was astounded by the depth of detail, sharpness and contrast of the pre-processed images. It feels great in the hand. The aperture and focus rings give me confidence when I need it most while the build quality exceeds my often-exacting need for equipment that can cope with the most extreme and harsh environments.

_DSF6101
X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/400th, f/5.6, ISO1600

 

And, even with the fast f/2.8 aperture, it’s still compact enough to travel with. This is a lens that lives up to the Fuji legend.

Chris Weston – Wildlife Photographer and Fujifilm X-Photographer

X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/4000th, f/4, ISO800
X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/4000th, f/4, ISO800
_DSF5873
X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/1250th, f/4, ISO800

 

_DSF5747
X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/1900th, f/8, ISO800

 

_DSF5660
X-T1 with XF16-55mm @ 55mm. 1/1700th, f/8, ISO800

 

Fujifilm X Magazine – Issue 2 reader images 1/3

X-series users from across the globe share their finest images and the stories behind them

Here’s a selection of users’ images published in our Fujifilm X Magazine. If you would like to see your images in our magazine, and if you’re an X-series user, we’d love to see your shots. Email your images, along with details of the story behind them and some information about you and your photography to: xmagazine@bright-publishing.com

Ken Ratcliffe – Relaxing in the park

Technical details Camera: X100 Lens: 23mm fixed Exposure: 1/25sec at F2, ISO 6400 and Hoya R72 filter
Camera: X100 – Lens: 23mm fixed
Exposure: 1/25sec at F2, ISO 6400 and Hoya R72 filter

“I live in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, and photography has been one of my hobbies for about 30 years. I took this shot at Blenheim Gardens, in Minehead in Somerset. I take all my infrared images hand-held, with no tripod – the fixed lens/sensor/ viewfinder combination on the X100 allows you to use it like this with the Hoya filter.

“I’ve been shooting with digital for the last seven years, and the Fujifilm X100 has been my best purchase  –  pound for pound, it’s the best camera on the market. It’s so adaptable and versatile, yet easy to carry, and you get super image quality. My best piece of photography advice would be to always have your camera with you – it’s when you’re not expecting it that the best images happen.”

Willy Verhulst – Belgium

Technical details Camera: X-Pro1 Lens: XF 18-55mm Exposure: 1/1000sec at F8, ISO 640
Camera: X-Pro1 – Lens: XF 18-55mm
Exposure: 1/1000sec at F8, ISO 640

“This image was taken early one morning in the Ardennes region. 
I like to be at one with nature and try to create atmospheric images, which I think I managed here. Doing this generally means paying particular attention to how the light is falling on a scene.

“I’m 59 years old and have been taking photographs since I was around 12. I’ve had several exhibitions, but now I simply enjoy taking photographs while I’m traveling. The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is perfect for this – it’s light enough to be carried all day and delivers brilliant results.”

SEE MORE OF WILLY’S WORK HERE