For me personally, long exposure (LE) photography allows me to explore a sense of calm, a visual relaxation that matches the way I feel when I look at the landscape. But for some, the technical side of this style of photography makes it incredibly frustrating and stressful.
Before we get into the technical side of LE photography and counting exposure increase on our fingers and toes, there is something that is far more important than the technical issues. It is vision, interpretation and connection with your subject.
Ansel Adams said “A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”
There are many times that using a wide angle or telephoto lens just won’t get the results you want. They’re either too wide or too tight but you know in your heart that your viewpoint is correct.
It’s frustrating and causes many photographers to give up and go home without a shot they’re happy with. However you should persevere and with the introduction of photo-stitching software built into Lightroom and Photoshop you should try the third option which is to shoot a stitched panorama.
By stitching together individual images you can render your scene in greater detail and make extremely large prints without the image breaking up.
For those who want a bit of background early examples of a panorama include the Bayeux Tapestry, at nearly 70 meters in length it’ll take some stitching to get a photograph that will rival that!
I’ve shot panoramas for a number of years and find the discipline fascinating. The normal guidelines of composition do apply, but they also don’t – you have much more area for the viewer to explore, more details being captured and there can be cameo roles for people in the different areas of the image. These all come together to create a story or feeling that literally absorbs the viewer – well that’s the idea anyway!
To shoot your very own panoramic image:
Firstly, if you can – use a tripod
It’ll make stitching the images together far more straightforward. Make sure your tripod is level too – most come with a spirit level but luckily most of the Fuji X series have horizon levels built in. If you press the display/back button on the back of the camera a few times this normally brings it up on screen if it has one. To check that the camera and tripod are level, gently pan the camera from left to right and check the display to see if the level line is straight throughout the motion. When attaching the camera to the tripod – set it so that you are shooting a series of upright images (portrait orientation). You’d be forgiven for thinking that you should shoot three or four landscape images – although you can if you wish, but you will end up with a very strip like image. I have found the upright method to be far more rewarding.
Your focal length is generally a little longer than when shooting conventional landscape images.
For example, I recently shot a panorama in Paris using the XF50-140mm, to get the same result normally I’d have needed to use a XF10-24, but the detail in the bridge and the compression of perspective would have been lost.
In a perfect world you would use a panoramic tripod head and set the nodal point of the lens.
Basically this means the middle of the lens sits over the middle of the tripod – but with good stitching software you can get away without it being set, if you’re careful. The reason for this is that if you have the nodal point set correctly the perspective doesn’t alter as you rotate the camera, but when the lens is off-centre perspective from the lens to the subject distorts ever-so slightly.
Once you have chosen your composition and have panned the camera backwards and forwards a few times to check your image works, you must set your focus and exposure. Once set, do not alter them, otherwise you get very awkward tonal changes between the different images. The same applies to graduated filters – although you can adjust them slightly.
Finally you are ready to shoot!
Start on the left-hand side of your shot and take your first picture. Then turn the camera using a panning motion through about 15 degrees, or using the framing grid on the screen – move it round by 1/3 of the frame – this will give you enough overlap to avoid the distortion caused by turning your camera. Repeat this shooting process until you have completed your full composition.
Once have finished your series – shoot a blank frame so you know where the start and finish is.
You may need to fine tune your shot so always check the image on the back of the camera to make sure you’ve got every aspect of the shot you need.
When you get home the process is very simple.
Load your images into Adobe Lightroom – highlight the pictures that make up your panorama – take your cursor across the top menu bar to the heading ‘Photo’ then scroll down to ‘Photomerge’ and select ‘Panorama’. Lightroom will show you a rough render of the image then simply press OK and a few seconds later you’ll get the stunning panorama you planned.
Occasionally Lightroom doesn’t quite do the job, so if that happens – open the images in Photoshop, use your cursor to navigate through File – Automate – Photomerge – Panorama – the same process will happen only this time you will have a layered Photoshop document to work with.
It will take a little practice to create the perfect image but it’s great fun to try. For more inspiration look at the work of Horst Hamann or Nick Meers
If you buy an X-Pro2 and register the warranty on our website before the 8th April 2016, you could win a place on one of our fantastic workshops.
1st May – Portrait workshop with Dave Kai Piper – (4 delegates)
Location: Amersham Studios
Being a photography lecturer, Adobe Community Pro and Fujifilm X-Photographer, Dave Kai-Piper will take you on an exciting journey into portrait photography.
His workshop starts off with a conversation with each participant discussing individual goals for the day alongside a group objective. As part of the morning set-up you will have a look at some iconic images from influential photographers. Then he will break down what makes those images work & talk about how different lighting types can create moods and styles. You will learn how to build on simple lighting styles like Butterfly lighting, Split lighting and Rembrandt lighting and then put them into practice using live demonstrations with a stunning model.
Once your objectives are set, you will jump into the studio full of the newest WiFi controllable Broncolor lighting to put your new Fujifilm X-Pro 2 through its paces. You will look at ways to shape, control and create that perfect image. Within this workshop you will also learn the best way to communicate and pose your subject to get the best from your model.
Whether you have spent a lot of time in the studio using lighting or have never used additive / flash lighting in your photography before, each attendee will leave the workshop with a broader knowledge of various techniques from lighting your subject, creating a scene and directing your model.
4th May – Street workshop with Matt Hart – (4 delegates)
Spend the day with Street, Event and X-Photographer Matt Hart in this candid street photography workshop. It is here that Matt will give you an insight into the way he works and how to shoot his style of street photography.
He will show you how to anticipate and capture decisive moments, how to be invisible in public spaces to get the best images and how to to develop confidence shooting street photography. He will show you the best places in Liverpool to capture great street images – so in the future you can come back and have another go!
Matt’s workshops are always fun, informative and relaxed whilst at the same time challenging and have been designed to stretch your imagination.
7th May – Landscape workshop with Paul Sanders – (4 delegates)
Location: Dungeoness and surrounding areas
Your day will be spent with Fujifilm X photographer and landscape artist Paul Sanders, he will help you develop your own way of seeing the landscape to create images that resonate with how you feel about the location.
Paul’s specialty is long exposure photography, he will take through a natural and easy to follow workflow that enables you to get to grips with the technical side of this style of photography. He will have some Neutral Density filters and graduated filters for you to use on the day. Filtration is one of the key aspects of landscape photography, it allows you to control contrast, mood and exposure time. Paul will explain all of the pros and cons of using filters and the different types of filters available.
The day will be split into two sessions – one at Dungeness and the other at Winchelsea beach.
Dungeness is the only classified desert area in the UK, its flat bleak landscape has inspired photographers, artist, writers and filmmakers for many years. The beach is a detritus of fishing boats and fleet. The decaying hulls of boats are left on the shingle, nets, huts and machinery make this a photographers dream location. Paul will explain that landscape photography isn’t always about the big vista but also lies within the details and the abstract he will guide you around the area so that you don’t miss anything.
Winchelsea Beach is a long exposure dream, lines of decaying groynes stretch along the beach. These make the perfect subjects for getting to grips with the minimalist style that long exposure work generates. Paul will also pay special attention to composition and exposure time to create beautifully minimal images.
Our X-Photographer “Why I love” XF lens series continues with our super sharp, super fast aperture prime lens, the FUJINON XF56mm F1.2 R.
Kevin Mullins – Reportage Weddings
Most wedding photographers want to be able to separate their subjects from the background at some point during the day and the amazingly fast 1.2 aperture of the 56mm (85mm full frame equivalent) allows me to do that. Even when I’m shooting fast moving subjects, such as a confetti throw, I will sometimes want to offer a luscious depth of field and there is no other lens that offers that f1.2 aperture that allows me to do that right now. This lens, along with the 23mm lenses are my goto lenses for every single wedding I shoot.
The super fast aperture of f1.2 and the full frame equivalent of 85mm make this lens an essential part of my kit. It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting a documentary wedding, a jazz artist in a dimly lit room or a well lit portrait, the 56mm lens has a unique look and produces some of the best shallow depth of field creaminess of any lens I’ve ever used. Like all the Fuji XF lenses, the 56mm is also razor sharp and it beats the best of the high end 85mm lenses from the other big manufacturers. I haven’t tried the 90mm f2 yet, but it looks like that too will be an amazing portrait lens.
Many photographers came to the X-Series because of this lens. Offering F1.2 at 85mm equiv. focal length in a compact package that happens to be one of the fastest focusing lenses in the range… The F1.2 effect has so many benefits, from striking portraits to being invaluable in low light conditions. The later is particularly helpful for me. In tropical rainforests you don’t often see wildlife from a far but instead stumble across it. Here the F1.2 helped to capture this baby elephant dozing, ISO1600 F1.2 1/120sec. If this were with a F2.8 lens I would have been shooting at 1/30sec, risking motion blur as I tried to contain my excitement.
The 56mm F1.2 is my most used lens, it’s almost always the first lens I reach for on every shoot. I love the narrow depth of field and the super fast focusing. As a landscape photographer people are surprised when I say that I often shoot with the lens quite wide open, but for my style of long exposures where I’m trying to create a sense of infinite space the wide aperture looses the background nicely obscuring details I don’t need in the image.
When Fuji released this lens (75-210mm DSLR Equivalent), my intrigue questioned whether this would be an equal to the 70-200mm F2.8L series I had used on my DSLR; would the optics be as good? After trying it I could only describe the results in 2 words ‘Blown away’; the image quality was absolutely outstanding. I use this lens a lot in the studio for its narrower angle of view and the compression it applies to the depth of my images. The focusing & sharpness of this lens, even when hand held is amazing!… I had no need to question this lens, it more than equaled my DSLR equivalent and it’s much lighter too.
It’s obviously a little bigger than the other Fujinon lenses, but who cares when it delivers truly incredible results like it does.
I’ve shot on Fuji for almost two years now, but it was the release of the 50-140mm lens that really sealed the deal for me. Shooting fast equestrian sports needs a fast, longer lens – whether you are looking to capture pin sharp action pictures, or deliberately looking to include creative movement with interesting bokeh.
Even in low light the wide aperture, teamed with the brilliant OIS means I can still hand hold at slower shutter speeds. Also, shooting horses, whether on the polo field or out in the wild, means one thing – rain and mud! The X-T1 body with the 50-140mm gives me a robust weather sealed system I can take anywhere.
I shoot prime lenses most of the time, but as my primes top out at 56mm (85mm in old money), I often need the reach and speed of the 50-140mm f2.8 for music photography (especially for stage work). With a full frame equivalent of 75-210mm, this is the the classic workhorse zoom that has the beautiful look of a full frame 70-200mm f2.8. Put it together with the 16-55mm f2.8 and you have the ultimate fast twin lens zoom setup that can cover just about any type of event. The OIS is essential on a lens of this size and it does an amazing job, even allowing me to shoot handheld at 1/15th sec while zoomed all the way in.
This is strapped to the front of one of my X-T1s at all times. Sharp, fast and built to withstand some strong abuse, the XF50-140mm is designed for those who need a lens to rely on and not to let them down. With beautiful bokeh and tack sharp wide open, this F2.8 zoom has such a useful focal range that it is in the kit bag of nearly all working X-Photographers. The autofocus is able to track moving animals and it has turned out to be the game changer for many of my recent wildlife encounters.
I love to shoot prime lenses but at events and festivals you just cant get close enough to your subjects due to the crowed density, so the next best lens to a fast prime is a fast Zoom and the 50-140mm lens is just stunning. I have used top of the range glass from all the other big names when I used to use DSLR’s but nothing compares to the sharpness of this 75-210mm equivalent. What makes it even better is I can shoot with this lens all day and still not have shoulder and neck ache. It gives me beautiful out of focus areas, pin sharp subjects and the image stabilisation comes in to its own when the light drops.
The XF50-140 is a real workhorse of a lens and without doubt, a lens I am loathed to leave behind.
The incredible optics deliver superb definition and contrast throughout the entire aperture range. But for me it is not the technical specifications that make this lens worthy of the plaudits it receives across the web and throughout the photographic world.
It is the fact that in a cluttered world, I can isolate my subjects, drawing attention to them by shooting with the aperture wide open, deliver exceptional details, stunning candid portraits and most of all dramatic landscapes that have impact & power over the grace of a wide-angled image.
Shooting landscapes with a telephoto lens is a different discipline but it is one worth persevering with & utilising every mm of focal length this stunning lens offers you.
It’s ideal for shooting panoramas and the tripod mount gives it an incredibly stable base for shooting long exposures without a hint of camera shake – but for those who only shoot hand held the image stabilisation is second to none.
In short, if you want to add one zoom lens to your bag, this is the one – it is worth every penny and will never let you down.
When this lens was created there was nothing else much like it in the range. And to date, it is still the finest long lens in the line up. Tack sharp from 50mm to 140mm – this constant f2.8 lens is fast enough & stabilised enough for you to think less and shoot more. Combined with the most recent updates leaves this lens as one of the most reliable lenses – regardless of genre or type of photography.
It’s packed full of all the latest and greatest Fujifilm tech, such as nano Gi coating, LMO (corrects for diffraction), HTEBC Coating (ensuring ghosting and flare are controlled), five ED lens elements, one Super ED lens, 23 glass elements in 16 groups and then seven rounded aperture blades to create a smooth, circular bokeh. It has a massive 5.0 stop stabilisation too. Internal barrel movements combined with large rubber grips give this lens a wonderful sense of balance whilst also feeling very natural to hold.
In short, this lens is one of the most vital items in my kit bag alongside the 56mm APD & 16-55mm lens. The real world interpretation of the technology being used in this lens is simply that it does what you would expect it to as a working professional photographer. Combine this with the focus tracking in the X-T1 and you can confidentially take on any genre of photography. Whether it be a fashion catwalk, motorsports or even wildlife photography knowing you can get the shots you are looking for, every time.
Recently we teamed up with Amateur Photographer (AP) to create an experience day for 60 of their lucky readers.
While we were there we interviewed our three guest speakers and asked them all to tell own story as to how they made the switch to Fujifilm. Check out what made Damien Lovegrove, Matt Hart and Paul Sanders switch to the Fujifilm system, and also what has made them stay using it.
Portrait & lighting guru Damien Lovegrove talks about how he made the switch to the Fujifilm system and how using the smaller system helps him connect more with his subject. Can you guess which Fujifilm camera first caught his eye?
Street & event photographer Matt Hart tells his system switching story and praises the benefits of using the Fujifilm cameras; from the exposure previewing LCD screen, to the discrete ergonomics and quality of the final imagery.
Former Picture Editor of The Times Paul Sanders explains how DSLRs created a barrier between him and the landscape and how using the smaller Fujifilm system brought back his passion for shooting. Not only that, he also shares some excellent philosophy to shooting pictures.
The day itself was a perfect opportunity for Amateur Photographer readers to get hands-on with the Fujifilm X system and to learn from our very own Fujifilm X-Photographers. Throughout the day, multiple workshop sessions were held, allowing the experienced professionals to pass on their photographic tips & tricks covering long exposure landscapes, single light portraiture to the in-the-moment street photography.
Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?
I got into photography while I was at school, I used to “borrow” my dad’s camera to play with while he was out. When I left school I went to college to study Fine Art and Photography, but didn’t really enjoy myself so I started working with another photographer shooting glamour calendars in Spain – the perfect job for a 19 year old!! Following some pretty fun living, I ran out of money and so got a job at a local newspaper. I fell in love with News Photography and filled with enthusiasm, set about getting to the top of my career. I was incredibly lucky and progressed quickly, working around the world covering news and sports with Reuters and The Times. In 2004, I was made picture editor of The Times newspaper looking after a team of 12 photographers, 25 desk staff, sorting through 20,000 images everyday and having total responsibility for the entire visual content of one of the world’s best known newspapers. It was great fun but incredibly stressful.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety and Insomnia. And after hiding it for two years I had a bit of breakdown and took the decision to leave The Times to follow my heart. I started shooting landscapes to help with my recovery.
The whole process of landscape photography allows me to connect with myself and to the world around me, it basically calms me down. When I take pictures I tend to sit and watch the world around me, listening and feeling to what is happening as well as watching what the light is doing.
The majority of my work is long exposure photography, this style of work reflects my search for a calm mind, I don’t worry about the technicalities of photography as much as I used to, it’s all about the emotions the subject has created within me.
Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?
I chose Fuji after struggling with heavier 5×4 and DSLR cameras. I found that I spent more time lugging my kit around and it stopped me being spontaneous. Sometimes I got to a point where I just couldn’t be bothered to go out, and when you are recovering or battling with a mental illness like me it doesn’t take much to convince you to stay at home.
I initially used the X-Pro1 with just a 14mm as I was trying to simplify my working method, which really helped. I became really enthused about my photography again. But the real turning point for me was the arrival of the X-T1. When I first held the camera it was like going back in time to my Nikon FM2, the feel balance and handling are all very similar.
However the thing I really love about the X-T1 is that it doesn’t come between me and my photography, the bigger cameras got in the way, it was always about the camera and never the connection I wanted to have with my subject, now when I shoot I barely notice the camera at all, it is literally the invisible link between what I see in front of me and what I have in my head.
Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?
Yes, shoot for yourself, not for others. Photography is an investment of quality time with yourself, so enjoy it and never compromise your own vision.
Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?
I’m inspired by the work of Turner, Monet, Michael Kenna, Valda Bailey, Rothko, David Hockney but more importantly, I’m inspired by what I see everyday around me; the light over the sea near my home in Kent, rain, waves wind all of the elements make me thankful I’m alive and able to capture what I feel when I experience them.
Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?
Be happy when you take picture, leave most of your kit at home, shoot with your least favourite lens. Don’t stand next to another photographer find your own spot if you can, but always always shoot your picture even if you are in a popular spot.
What’s next for you?
I want to continue to work with people new to photography, especially those who suffer with mental illness who may want to use it as a means to aid recovery.
I’ve worked with professional landscape photographer Paul Sanders on various projects and he knows about my recent falling in love with landscape photography. I saw this image by him on his Facebook wall and had to learn more about it because I was completely blown away by it.
One quick email later and Paul told me everything I needed to know:
Photography for me is emotional, it is a reflection of my state of mind and the reaction I have to a certain place at a certain time.
These trees sit in a boating lake near my home in Kent, it’s a place that is surrounded by the M25, A25 a bustling village and noisy schools. However when I go there I hear none of the bustle of the world.
I had this image in my mind last year, so it has been a long time coming to fruition. I rarely plan my shoots but having revisited this location a number of times I knew exactly what I wanted and the conditions that would make it work.
The weather was drizzle, mist and gloomy. Strangely it largely reflected my state of mind! On the off chance that the mist and drizzle would continue I headed down to the boating lake and stood listening to the birds.
The drizzle intensified and the mist thickened a little over the lake, perfect for me, ideal for my island of trees.
To get the image I had in my head I used the Fuji X-T1 and XF50-140 lens, shooting upright which I’m starting to do more of, but I still find challenging.
I wanted the trees to be virtual silhouettes against the mist, sort of isolated but stark.
For this shot I exposed for the darkest part of the island, this intentionally overexposed the back ground exaggerating the misty feeling, shooting at F9 on telephoto also helps by utilising the shallower depth of field the 50-140 has over a wide angle lens.
Of course the joy of using the X-T1 is that the EVF means I can pretty much see the exact image I have in my head at the time of shooting, making the whole process more about the final image than the camera and the technical aspects of photography.
I didn’t want hard reflections on the water and the choppy conditions combined with the an exposure of 2 minutes rendered them as I hoped. There was very little in the sky so I added a .75 soft grad to hold the tone. I used a Lee Big Stopper increase the exposure to two minutes from 1/8th of a second.
The first shot I took was the one that nailed it for me, I did a second one but forget to release the remote until about 5 minutes later I was so lost in watching the mist moved over the lake! I often get lost in the moment and totally forget why I am there.
Once I got home, I loaded the image into Lightroom, converted it to monochrome in through Silver Efex, selecting to develop it with an blue filter to increase the tone in the trees in the foreground, increased the contrast marginally added a platinum tone from the finishing menu and saved it – five minutes of post processing!
With every picture I create it’s all about pre-visualisation and connecting my emotions with the landscape and feeling the photograph.
We recently held a small internal training course for the Fujifilm UK team and we asked professional photographer Paul Sanders to join us and help teach us more about landscape photography. After spending some time with Paul and listening to him talking about his work and his thought process in regards to photography, it became apparent that Paul had a very interesting story that I’d love to share.
Below is Paul’s story from being a trainee photographer in 1991, up to his current passion, hobby and luckily for him, profession – Fine Art Landscape Photography. If you have any thoughts or questions for Paul, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this blog.
Fine Art Landscape Photographer Paul Sanders
“I’ve been involved in news photography since 1991 when I started as a trainee photographer at The Daventry Express in Northamptonshire. I’m incredibly driven and knew straightaway that I wouldn’t settle for life on a weekly newspaper, I wanted the big time, the only place I could see myself working was for a national newspaper and one in particular; The Times. I think essentially it was because The Times is in my opinion the best newspaper in the world for it’s reporting and accuracy. I got my head down, worked hard sacrificed everything, relationships, family, friends and social life all in the single minded pursuit of my dream job.
“By 1998 I was working for the international wire agency Reuters in London and in 2002 I got the call from The Times to join their team. When The Times changed from broadsheet to the more modern compact format I was given the job of revitalising the way pictures were used in the new format. Finally on 1 April 2004 I was made Picture Editor, I had total responsibility of the entire visual content and a team of the finest researchers and photographers working with me. To say I was in my element was an understatement. However success at that level comes with a high price. Daily I would view between 17 and 20 thousand images, direct photographers, manage budgets, layout pages and train young hopefuls. By 2010 I had reached breaking point, I suffered with chronic insomnia and depression, my marriage started to break down and the wheels came off my train. I hid this all from the world until December 2011 when I announced that I was leaving the job I had pursued for years.
“When you have a breakdown your body and mind are telling you to change a few things, I needed to slow down, take stock and recover. My recovery began with shooting large format landscapes. I’d wander the country 5×4 camera and tripod over my shoulder trying to be Ansel Adams or Joe Cornish and failing miserably. The process of shooting film again slowed me down, enabling me to organise my mind a little and start to get in touch with the joy of photography. In many respects my early foray into landscape work was such a failure because I wasn’t being true to myself – I wasn’t connecting with my subject at all.
“During 2013 I had an epiphany in seeing, I realised that actually it was ok to shoot the images I wanted, not the classic views, but using my emotional and spiritual connections with the landscape to create images that resonated with my soul. I had switched from 5×4 to DSLR during 2012, to save weight and money. Still I was finding it hard to work, I would always think can I be bothered, many times I would lug my equipment to a location and not bother getting it out of the bag; it was too much hassle. I wasn’t enjoying my work at all.
“However what I had realised was that to truly see what I wanted, the sitting, watching and listening had really opened my eyes and my heart to the images I wanted to create. What I needed was a camera that didn’t get in that way of my connection or creativity.
“In early 2014 I handled the Fuji X-T1 for the first time and instantly fell in love, I actually had goose bumps on my skin, such was my connection with this camera. It was a bit like the moment Harry Potter picked up his wand for the first time!
“As soon as they came to market I bought two, a variety of lenses, and swapped out much of my DSLR equipment totally committed to these tiny miracle workers.
“My energy and creativity were revitalised, the camera wasn’t in the way, it was literally a plug in to my imagination allowing me to record what I wanted in the way I wanted without the weight or cumbersome nature of my previous equipment. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and shot the images I had been feeling. I stopped trying to be accepted by the majority and concentrated on being true to myself. If no one likes my work really it doesn’t matter to me at all. If people do and I sell a few pictures then that’s a bonus.
“I still sit for hours watching and feeling the landscape in front of me, but now I feel that I am truly connected with my work through the little Fuji. The X-T1 isn’t a barrier like my Canon, it’s a conduit. They are virtually invisible to me, instinctively my hands fall in all the right places, there’s a wonderful simplicity to them which helps me as I’m quite simple in many ways too. The less complex the process of making pictures the less I have to be concerned with. I have no desire to pixel peep or get bogged down in the technical arguments about shadow detail or sharpness, I just want to create images that please me.
“The work I shoot now totally reflects how I feel about the world and myself, I can pour my soul into those little black bodies and know that they are keeping it safe for me.”