Inspired Coastlines with X Series

X-Photographer strip BLACKBy Bryan Minear

At the beginning of December, I was on my way to California for a part-work, part-fun gig in SoCal.  Being that this was only my 2nd trip to California and my first to the coast, I wanted to take everything that I thought I might need. One of the perks of the FUJIFILM X Series system is that I’m able to bring a lot of gear without having to worry about my bag being too heavy, on account of everything being so small and light compared to a DSLR system.ona_bryanminearblog_4Gear List:

  • FUJIFILM X-T2
  • FUJIFILM X-Pro2
  • FUJIFILM XF10-24mmF4 R OIS
  • FUJIFILM XF16mmF1.4 R WR
  • FUJIFILM XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
  • FUJIFILM XF35mmF1.4 R
  • FUJIFILM XF56mmF1.2 R
  • FUJIFILM XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR
  • FUJIFILM XF1.4x TC & XF2.0x TC
  • Formatt-HItech Firecrest Holder
  • Formatt-HItech Firecrest 10-stop ND & 3-stop ND Grad
  • 13” Macbook Pro
  • 1TB SSD Hard Drive
  • Anker PowerCore 20000
  • The Camps Bay ONA Camera Bag in Smoke

ONA_BryanMinearBlog_6.jpgI’ve always had a love/hate relationship with shooting out of airplane windows. I’ve taken some beautiful shots, and some terrible ones, but regardless I always give it a shot and hope for the right combination of clouds and terrain to come away with something cool. For the first time in the sky I gave the X-T2 with XF50-140mm and XF1.4X Teleconverter a shot and it ended up being really awesome. Typically I have always tried shooting wide and always seemed to get the wing of the plane, reflections, or window scratches that made my shots unusable. But zooming in that far, and having the crazy good image stabilization of the 50-140 gave me some spectacular results.ONA_BryanMinearBlog_8.jpgWhen I finally landed in San Diego, I only had a few hours to get checked into my hotel and find a good spot to shoot the sunset before I had to shoot the event I was in town for. I grabbed my ONA bag and ran out the door to see what I could find. I just made my way toward the west-facing beach of Coronado.  This was my first “true” California coastal sunset, and it was a colorful cloudless sky. I took a few shots but mostly just took it in and enjoyed the moment.dscf5272Day 2 started when a friend picked me up and we drove out to Anza Borrego. It was an unbelievable experience for this midwestern boy; in just 2 hours, we went from beautiful rolling hills and coastline to mountainous desert. We spent some time shooting from Font’s Point which gave a breathtaking view of the terrain spread out in front of us. This was everything I always expected from California: palm trees and vast expansive desert spread out in front of me. We spent a few hours shooting the beautiful textures and colors of the desert before moving on.fxp23658Heading back towards the coast, we decided that the next stop would be the rocks of Corona Del Mar. Despite slipping multiple times and having extremely soggy shoes, I was thankful to have experienced one of the most beautiful sunsets of my entire life. Having 2 camera bodies is absolutely essential for the kind of work that I like to do. I split my time between my X-Pro2 with XF10-24mm set up on a tripod shooting long exposures, and my X-T2 with XF50-140mm combo in hand snapping away at boats, water and really fine-tuning my compositions with the compressed field of view. Having the 50-140 lens has turned me from a 100% wide shooter to a 60/40 tele/wide shooter and it has made such a huge impact on the work that I create.dscf5758The next day was spent shooting around the picturesque Laguna beach area. It was a semi-low tide so we climbed to an area along the coast that has a sinkhole with beautiful swirling water, and set up our gear. After a bit of droning and waiting to see what we would get in terms of a sunset burn, we all got a bit ambitious and ventured further out on the rocks that were exposed by the low tide. While setting up on a tripod to get some water movement shots, a rogue wave came out of nowhere and completely soaked me and my camera. There has never been a time that I was more thankful to have weather-resistant gear. I spent the rest of the night soaking wet from head to toe, but was able to continue to shoot the rest of the sunset.dscf5947After drying off at my hotel and grabbing a couple hours of sleep, I decided that my final morning before flying home was going spent in Long Beach shooting the sun coming up behind The Queen Mary. I arrived to a beautiful star-filled sky, giving me enough time to nitpick and get the composition that I really wanted. As I sat there on the rocks with my X-T2 on-tripod in front of me just waiting for the perfect moment, I thought about all I was able to experience on such a short trip, and how there is so much more of the world to see and explore. I couldn’t ask for anything better than being constantly inspired to create by my surroundings, and the gear that helps me capture it all. ona_bryanminearblog_12

Chasing the Wind – Les Voiles de St Tropez

by Simon Weir

At the start of a new year I often find myself looking back over the shoots from the preceding 12 months and in 2014 one in particular stands out: Les Voiles de Saint Tropez.

Les Voiles – literally “The Sails” – take place from April to October across the French riviera. Each race brings together some of the most beautiful traditional wooden yachts alongside the most extraordinary modern sailing boats for a week long regatta in beautiful ports such as Antibes and Saint-Tropez.

My good friend and fellow Fuji user Serge Krougikoff who runs Create-Away, a photography workshop company based in the south of France, has been talking about running a trip based around the regattas for some time and when he suggested we get together try it out I didn’t hesitate to say yes! We first teamed up with professional skipper Francois in Antibes in June and the trip was such a success that we agreed to do a second test-trip in Saint-Tropez in October.

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Nestled between Cannes and Marseille the picturesque medieval port of Saint-Tropez would be stunning even without the boats. When you add some of the worlds finest vintage and classic yachts it becomes a feast of varnish and brass.

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On shore there is a party atmosphere throughout the regatta but out on the water is where the action happens and where the photographic excitement begins.  Picture this: The south of France in the autumn sunshine, racing across the bay of Saint-Tropez in the shadow of Elena under full sail – trust me – life doesn’t get much better than this!

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The original Elena, built in 1910 and winner of the Trans-Atlantic Race in 1928, was one of the greatest racing yachts of her time and this stunning replica, built in 2009 is one of the largest yachts in the regatta with a length of 41.6m (136′) and a crew of 30 – some of whom clearly have nerves of steel…

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Under full sail she is quite simply magnificent – a true queen of the seas.

But it is when you are close to her you really feel the power and the majesty of a great racing yacht.

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These black & white images are taken with my infrared modified Fuji X-E1IR and the XF14mm lens – infrared really brings out the drama in some of these shots, especially when the clouds form interesting patterns that compliment the sails.

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All the colour images are taken with Fuji’s brilliant X-T1 and their weather resistant, optically stabilised XF18-135mm lens.  This was the perfect choice for shooting from a RIB where most of the time you are being bounced around and covered in sea spray – it was certainly a good test for the camera’s weather proofing and it didn’t let me down.  The OIS in this lens is staggeringly good allowing sharp shots almost regardless of how fast the RIB was going, and the wide range of focal lengths is perfect for a shooting situation where changing lenses is simply not an option…

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Technically, this kind of shooting is really challenging.  The light changes all the time, depending on whether you are shooting towards or away from the sun, and I found the live histogram in the viewfinder of both cameras invaluable in ensuring that highlight details were properly captured – both in the sails and the sky.  Some of my favourite images place the sun shining through the sails bringing out tremendous detail in the canvas and rigging.

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Most of the time I was shooting in shutter priority mode, keeping the shutter speed at around 1/350sec – fast enough to allow sharp images even with the RIBs motion.  Focus was left to the camera with continuous tracking AF working flawlessly on the X-T1 even at 8 frames per second – no mean feat when the acton was changing so fast.

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Amidst the excitement of this shoot it is all too easy to forget composition and just hit the shutter in the heat of the moment but it is really important to take the time to plan and conceive a shot before it happens. Our skipper Francois is hugely experienced and was able to position the RIB exactly where we asked him to get a specific shot, but always with the skill and safety of a professional captain, mindful of the fact that we were shooting in the middle of a race…

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In calmer moments we were able to capture details and abstract images of the yachts – shape, form, colour and line producing patterns and textures that tell a story of their own.

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And occasionally when the wind just didn’t blow the crews had a chance to rest as well…

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At the end of the day, exhausted and exhilarated we return back to Saint-Tropez as the light faded and the evenings celebrations began…

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For details of the two “Les Voiles” workshops Serge and I are running in 2015 follow these links:

Voiles d’Antibes – 2nd to 6th June 2015

Voiles de Saint-Tropez – 29th September to 3rd October 2015

and for more about the other workshops run by Create-Away visit their website at
http://www.create-away.com

 


simon weirAbout Simon

Fujifilm X-Photographer Simon Weir specialises in photographing live performance (particularly classical music), contextual portraiture and nature. To see more of his work, check out his website http://www.simonweir.com/