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.

Banish camera shake with a stringpod

Tripods. They’re very useful when it comes to avoiding camera shake, but they can be quite bulky things to lug around – even the lighter carbon-fibre versions. But while Fujifilm have created impressive Optical Image Stabilisation systems in their lenses, there is a way of beating the shakes using nothing more than a piece of string and a tripod quick release plate. Better still, you can fit this set up in your pocket so you’ll never have an excuse for leaving it at home.

These are the constituent parts needed to create your stringpod. String (funnily enough), a tripod plate and a pair of scissors (unless you’ve got very strong teeth). I’ve used green garden twine largely because it’s easier to see in these pictures. Normal string does the job just fine.

DSCF0084Start by passing the string through the oval handle on the bottom of the quick release plate.

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Now, pull a double length of string out and place it under your foot. Don’t cut the string just yet, you’re just sizing up at this stage.

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With the string under your foot, hold the plate so the string is taut and make sure it’s at eye level. It’s worth screwing your camera on to the plate and repeating this process, varying the length of string as required until you get the height perfect for you. Only when you’re happy, cut the string.

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Being a failed boy scout, I only know one type of knot, so I tied it here once I had the height right for me. My stringpod was now ready for use.

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If you want to use the stringpod standing up and have a Fujifilm camera with a tilting rear LCD, you have two options. First, just place it under one foot, pull the string tight and use the camera’s viewfinder. Alternatively, to shoot at waist level, flip the screen out, stand with your feet around shoulder width apart, pass the string under both feet and, again, pull it tight to create a triangle.

Finally, if you want a lower angle, wrap the string around one wrist, pass it under both knees and pull the whole set up tight. The key to reducing camera shake, is keeping that string tight.

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So, how well does it work? Due to a motorbike accident some few years ago, I have the weakest wrists known to man so I don’t really like to stray below 1/60sec when I’m hand-holding. This shot was taken at 1/20sec at f/22 and, as you can see, it’s all over the shop.

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Using my stringpod, however, I was able to get a shake free result using the same exposure combination. I’m not saying it’s going to work with ten second exposures at night, but it could well get you out of a tight spot when you’ve left the tripod at home.

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Pet Photography

JRXT7877By John Rourke

w360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerNot many people realise it, but before I started travelling and shooting Motorsport, photographing pets was a major part of my business. I would shoot a lot of equine and dog portraits with the odd cat, snake or rat thrown in now and then. I still run Pawfolio, but it’s now more a project of love, or reserved for when people who know me as ‘the pet photographer’ really want me to shoot their most beloved….. not the kids, yep it’s always the dog!

I see a lot of people posting photos of their pets on instagram lately, with some pets even having their own pages. So I thought I would put a few tips together that might be fun to try out if you want to get a great shot of your own pooch…. some of the tips might even work on pictures of the kids too!

For my doggy model, I’m going to use Bria aka ‘The Beast’, my beautiful Sprocker Spaniel. These shots all involve natural light as I wanted this article to be of use to everyone. As long as you have a camera and a lens you can get stunning shots of your beast without expensive lighting.

Preparation

In my ‘Pawfolio’ bag. Don’t panic! You don’t need all of this! this is just some of the equipment I use on various shoots… If you have only one lens and a camera you’ll be fine 🙂

Camera: XPro1, XT1, XT10
Lenses: 18mm F2, 35mm F1.4, 10-24 F4, 90mm F2, 50-140mm F2.8
Lighting: Ambient/Natural Light
Extras: Dog, lead, willing assistant (wife, kid, person you met on a dog walk?), dog treats / squeaky toy / bouncy ball / whistle, silly voice, insurance (if you want to shoot other peoples dogs!), mobile phone

Top Tip! Things become massively easy in life once a dog knows how to sit, stay, and look at food!! this is where all that training pays off! You will need a few basics such as;
Sit, Paw, Down/Sleep, Stay, Come…
(We had to learn some of these commands in polish once for a clients dog we photographed.)

A food-orientated dog is perfect, if this isn’t working then it’s down to the favourite toy, bouncy ball or failing that, making stupid noises…..dogs love this! The right noise will get a dog to tilt it’s head in a way that looks cute but whilst saying ‘what are you doing, human?’

Play with your beast first;

  1. this builds a little trust between the dog and yourself.
  2. It’s fun for both of you,
  3. it burns off the dog’s energy reserve

A few minutes playing around the kit isn’t a bad thing either, it lets the dog know that the camera is nothing to be worried about and not something strange and dangerous…

Around the house – Your own dog

Ideal for practice and often the easiest of images to shoot are where the dog is relaxed in their own surroundings or favourite spot. I normally wait for ‘Beast’ to find somewhere nice to settle or I encourage her to sit roughly in the right place. Quite often I’ll pap her as she drifts off to sleep. These are candid based shots but can turn into gorgeous intimate photos.
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I use any of the following 18mm f2, 35mm f1.4 and the 90mm F2 mostly to achieve the shallow depth of field for this type of shot. The XF35mm f2, XF16, XF23 and XF56mm would be amazing also. Any lens at  F1.2 – F2 will make a stunning image. I often use the X-Pro1 and X-T1. The OVF on the X-Pro1 can be really useful in hybrid mode during low light if the EVF wont preview the shot.

#Tip – You can put the Fuji camera to silent mode if the dog is too distracted by the shutter sound. Beast used to hear the shutter then pounce on me because she thought the sound meant that the shoot was over.

The candid shots I usually try to get for every dog shoot are:

Nose

That big snuffler is amazing. Shot at 1.2 or on a Macro it makes a stunning detailed image.
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Paws

The texture of the pads or the hairy paw is beautiful. If it’s your dog, hold the paw and capture a paw & hand selfie #TooCute

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Face

Poor beast with the collar of shame
Poor beast with the collar of shame
"What's going on down there?"
“What’s going on down there?”

Like any face or portrait I shoot, I always focus on the eye closest to me. If you shoot the furthest one and the closer one is blurred, the image just looks wrong – please don’t do it!!

#Tip – Try shooting the dog from ‘a dogs view’ or from below the dog looking up. Crawling around in the dirt is just an everyday thing for me, but I think it’s really worth getting the unusual perspective. This is also now where the flip out screen is genius and the X-T1 or X-T10 becomes king.

That said, don’t rule out the standing up traditional viewpoint. Sometimes if you stand right over the dog looking down, you get that ‘puppy face’ beaming back up at you, and there is nothing cuter.
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Outdoors

For outdoor shots, choose a nice spot your dog is going to love and that has some features or atmosphere about it. The beach is an awesome place for dogs, and one of our favourites, with lots of space, great light, and lots of zooming. For this a 90mm, 50-140 or the new 100-400 is ideal because the animal can move around freely but you can still fill the frame. This situation is ideal for the X-T1 or X-T10 because of their high frame rate. I would probably go for the X-T1 more to help keep the sand, salt and spray out of the camera. I would also recommend the weather resistant lenses for this type of shoot. A rogue wave splash or a shake down from the Beast can spray your gear from a surprising distance.

You won't believe the range on this thing!
You won’t believe the range on this thing!

Rivers are great too, but always check the current is safe. Look for a spot on the bank with space and great moody lighting, perhaps between some trees. You should make sure your beast can get in and out easily, and I always have someone with me to throw a ball or something safe for the dog to chase, or I sometimes just sit and watch the animal play and have fun on their own.

My favourite lens for outdoor dog shoots has to be the 50-140 F2.8. With good flexibility and a shallow depth of field at F2.8 there’s always gorgeous bokeh in the background. I try to keep the shutter up between 2000th and 4000th of a second to keep the motion frozen. If the light is changing or the dog is running through light and dark patches, try ‘auto ISO’.

Set the the auto ISO range function to work between ISO 200 and 6400. To control the aperture, try to stay in the range of F2.8 – F4/5.6 or if you want some amazing textural shots and there is loads of light, dial in F8 – F11. Again get low… I have the tilt screen for this, or just get in the dirt and sand and the shots will be amazing.

You could also try the 16-55 F2.8 if you want the shot to be a little more environmental, shoot wide and get more of the landscape in your photos. When you print this type of shot they look great printed large.

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If you want to get really creative try ‘panning’ the dog. This is a technique we use on the track to shoot cars at the races. Select a shutter speed between 1/8th (very creative) up to 1/200th (suggest you start there and work your way down to 1/8th), and rotate your body at the hips following and tracking your dog as it runs past. You want to work your shots at slower and slower shutter speeds to create a wonderful action arty shot…

Dog pan
Doggy pan

More about the author

John + Beast
John + Beast

John Rourke has been shooting professionally for 15 years and is the owner of Adrenal Media, the Official Photography Agency for the FIA WEC (World Endurance Championship), and the ELMS (European Le Mans Series) including the world famous ‘Le Mans 24hr’. He shoots all of his professional and personal work on Fujifilm X series cameras.

Links
Adrenal Media on instagram
John Rourke website
Adrenal Media website
Pawfolio Facebook

 

Big tips for shooting small

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w360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerWhat’s not to like about macro (close up) photography? Getting closer to your subjects to see them in greater detail will always appeal, so picking up a few techniques to help you get better at shooting close ups is always worthwhile. Before we get down to the picture taking, let’s cover off the basics.

First, to get the best results you’re going to need a macro lens. That doesn’t mean a lens that has a macro setting, it means a proper macro lens. Such optics aren’t only suitable for close up work. The FUJIFILM XF60mm F2.4 Macro lens that we’re using here, for example, doubles as an excellent lens for shooting portraits, but it’s optically engineered to excel at close ups.

When it comes to macro lenses you’ll often hear the term ‘reproduction ratio’, such as 1:2 or lifesize. Put simply, this refers to the size the lens can reproduce what it’s being pointed at. A macro lens that offers a lifesize (or 1:1) ratio will reproduce the subject at the same size on the sensor as it is in real life. 1:2 means the subject will be reproduced at half lifesize, and so on. The XF60mm offers a 1:2 reproduction ratio.

Finally for now, it’s important to know that the closer you get to a subject, the smaller the area that appears in sharp focus. Given this, focusing has to be extremely precise, which is why a tripod or some other form of support is recommended.


Scenario 1: Shooting macro outdoors

With spring just around the corner, it’s obvious to brush up on your macro skills so you can shoot flowers. Indeed, for this very blog, I found a clump of snowdrops in my local park. Shooting macro images outdoors brings a number of challenges. The light levels vary which can cause exposure issues and, on the day I shot, it was windy, which causes delicate flowers like this to blow around a lot. That means you’ll need to shoot plenty of images, so make sure your battery is fully charged and you there’s plenty of room on your memory card.

I used an X-T1 for all these images as the fold out LCD is an absolute godsend. As I was working at ground level, it avoided me having to lay down on the cold ground. Instead, I popped out the LCD and rested the camera on a rolled up coat for support as my tripod didn’t go low enough.

I picked my subject carefully, finding one bloom that was isolated away from a larger group so I could focus attention on it and still get some complementary colours in the background; always check what is behind your subject before you shoot.

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The first shot I took (above) was with the XF18-55mm set to 55mm and at its closest focusing distance. To be fair, this isn’t a bad result at all, but doesn’t really have a huge amount of impact as the bloom is quite small. So I reached for the macro lens and took this:

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It’s a big improvement with the bloom occupying more of the frame, but the light is a little flat, so I used a small silver reflector placed under the snowdrop to push some more light in and get an even better shot:

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I could have stopped there and been happy, but I also had the FUJIFILM MCEX-11 and MCEX-16 extension tubes with me, so I gave them a try. The tubes fit between the lens and body and allow you to focus even closer. Both tubes maintain all functionality between lens and camera including autofocus, but the focus can hunt a little more and as I was getting so close to the snowdrop I opted to switch to manual focus and use Focus Assist to enlarge the subject on the X-T1’s rear LCD for focusing accuracy. AF hunting isn’t the end of the world, but means you can end up with shots like this where it’s focused on the background rather than the single bloom.

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I took three further sets of images, one with the 11mm, one with the 16mm and then one with the two combined, which got me closest of all. The reflector stayed in place for each image, but the sun was in and out hence the variations in light levels. Take your pick!


Scenario 2: Focus stacking indoors

Time to warm up and head indoors to try another macro technique: focus stacking. Here, you take a range of shots with the lens focused on different parts of the subject before using Photoshop to stack them all together and get one super sharp image.

As previously mentioned, the closer you get to the subject, the smaller the zone of sharp focus so it can be difficult to get the image sharp from front to back. One solution would be to put the camera on a tripod and use a small aperture. But this could make for a long exposure, plus lenses aren’t always at their optical best at smaller apertures. It’s better to pick a central aperture – here I used F5.6 – and stack the images together.

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To make this technique work, you’ll need something called a focusing rail. This attaches to your camera and allows you to make precise incremental changes by using the measure on the side of the rail. I used the 454 Micropositioning Sliding Plate by Manfrotto. I attached this to the X-Pro2 and XF60mm with MCEX-11 extension tube I was using inside, then put both on a tripod and framed up my subject – a dusty snooker scoreboard. In case you wondering why I didn’t remove the dust, this is purely to show how much detail you can get using the stacking technique.

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With the XF60mm set at F5.6 and manually focused on the number 9, here’s the result I got (above). The 9 is nice and sharp, but the in focus area soon drops off on either side. Next, I didn’t touch the focus on lens and moved the focusing rail until the point nearest the camera came into focus. Noting the distance on the rail, I took a shot. I then moved the rail until the furthest point from the camera into focus and took another shot. Again, nothing on the camera was changed and I noted the distance on the rail.

The distance between the two focus points needed the rail to be moved by 4cm. So, again, by not touching any settings on the camera or lens, I moved the rail incrementally by 2mm at a time and took further shots. This gave me a total of around 20 images. Shooting over, I went to my computer and fired up Photoshop.

I opened all the files at once in Photoshop and then chose File>Scripts>Load File into Stack then on the dialogue box that opened, I chose Add Open Files and OK. With this complete, I then opened the Layers palette in the resulting image and selected all the Layers before choosing Edit>Auto-Align Layers. Once this was complete, I then selected all the Layers again and chose Edit>Auto-Blend Layers. On the resulting dialogue box, I chose Stack Images and then hit OK.

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Depending on how much RAM your computer has, these processes may take a while, but once Photoshop has weaved its magic, you should find a sharp image where all the frames are stacked together. There is a possibility that your image will have some odd overlapping elements caused by the slight variance in camera angle between each frame as you move the camera along the rail. In this case, I did, but I was able to crop in slightly to removing the offending areas. If that’s not an option, you’ll need to try a different subject matter and preferably shoot on a plain background such as white or black.

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If you’re happy with the result, finish by choosing Layer>Flatten Image and you’re done!

So there you have it – macro in a nutshell. One final point to bear in mind, macro photography is time-consuming to get right. Don’t expect great results straightaway, although there’s little doubt that patience will be rewarded. So when it comes to macro ideas, think big!

How to create a beautiful portrait

By professional fashion photographer Dave Kai-Piper

Dave Kai Piper-35w360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerPortrait photography is one of the most amazing genres in my eyes. Simple on the surface, yet complex and diverse underneath. At first glance, photographing people is pretty simple, but when it’s broken down into the 4 main elements: Location, Lighting, Subject & Camera we start to understand the subtle nuances of what it takes to build up a wide and diverse portrait portfolio.

To get started with artificially-lit portraiture, there are 3 main lighting types: Rembrandt, Split and Butterfly. Each of these lighting types has characteristics which allow us to be creative. And it’s by experimenting with each of these lighting types you will learn how to control the shadow placement on your subject, and how by combining these techniques you’ll discover the art of the portrait.

Here is a quick way to identify each lighting type:

Rembrandt lighting: Light will come across the face from a 45 degree angle in an elevated position from the eye-line of the subject. The bridge of the nose should create a triangular area of light under the eye the other side.

Split Lighting: the light will hit one side of the face or part of the head creating a deep shadow on the other side. Normally the light source would be behind the eyeline of the subject.

Butterfly lighting: Commonly used in beauty set ups, the light should present evenly across the face in line with the nose and high above the subjects eye-line. Even shadows under the nose are a sign of this lighting set up.


The shot

In the example I am using here, I have mixed two of these lighting types to give me the effect I am looking for. I have also used two types of light known as Hard light and Soft Light.

Hard light creates shadows with sharp edges; it is made by using undiffused light sources such as a Speedlight aimed directly at the subject.

Soft light creates shadows with a smooth transition between light & dark; it is made by using indirect light sources or by using diffusers to scatter and soften the light before it reaches the subject.

In our example we have set up the split light to have a hard light and the Rembrandt light to be soft.

 


How to create ‘The shot’

Firstly I set up the ‘Key Light‘ (most important light in the shot) to the Rembrandt Lighting position using a Cactus RF60 Speedlight & a Roundflash modifier. I found the exposure setting I wanted by selecting the f-stop I wanted on the camera after setting the ISO at 200. I left the shutter speed at 1/125th of a second.

Our ‘Hair light‘ is in the Split Lighting position and is set up to be used as a hard light. In the sample for this blog we used another Cactus Speedlight but this time modified with a piece of black wrap. This is the same as cooking foil or aluminum foil that you would find in a kitchen, but is matte black. It is very common in the film industry as a quick and effective way to shape light or to block light ‘spilling’ over to an area that was not intended. Here I have rolled it up and created a homemade snoot to give me very close control of the placement of light.

I then used a V6 Cactus Trigger mounted on to the camera hotshoe to control the power output of the flashes; which were mounted on a set of tripods remotely. This allowed me to work faster and in a more controlled way. Once ready, I took three images: one of each light firing independently and then one shot with both firing together to create the final look.

The angle of the camera for this shot was placed just below the subjects eyeline to give her a powerful look, and in this example I used the XF90mm lens to get rid of any unwelcome distortion that wide angles can give.

Focal lengths from around 50mm to 200mm are good for a head shot or portrait.


My 10 top tips:

  1. Portraits are about timing, emotion & people, not cameras, lights or anything that is technical.
  2. The technical guidelines are always starting points and flexible at that.
  3. The bigger & broader the light, the softer the shadows will be. If you want contrast – move your light source away from your model.
  4. Soft defused light is better if you are trying to create a ‘beauty’ light
  5. Hard lights are great for creating hard edged shadows and character
  6. The story is in the shadows.
  7. When setting up your lights, use a lightmeter if you can.
  8. My lights are very rarely on full power, soft and subtle is the key
  9. Be creative, but don’t over complicate the shot.
  10. Avoid lighting people from below the eyeline of your subject

Final result

Here is the final resulting image which has been converted to black & white.

Model: Stephie Rebello, Lighting: 2x Cactus RF60 Speedlights
Model: Stephie Rebello

To see more of Dave Kai-Piper’s work, please visit: ideasandimages.co.uk

Which shutter speed should I use?

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If you are like me, knowing what shutter speed to use when you are trying to capture a particular type of action can be confusing at times. So I’ve put together a little ‘cheat sheet’ to help you get a good idea as to which shutter speed to use for particular shots.

In terms of how to use this ‘cheat sheet’ I recommend you print it off, stick it in your camera bag and, whenever you get a chance to shoot something more tricky, have a look at it and try out the relevant shutter speed. Alternatively, find yourself a willing volunteer to practice with!

Before you get started; Put your camera into ‘Shutter priority’ mode; to do this set your aperture setting to ‘A’, the ISO setting to Auto and moving your shutter speed dial off the ‘A’ position. This ensures you only need to worry about the shutter speed that you choose and nothing else.

Download the ‘Shutter speed cheat sheet’ here


Star jumps at 1/4000 to freeze motion 

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Important tip! As a good rule of thumb, always use a focal length that is equal to or less than the shutter speed when not using a tripod – this will help against unwanted blur in your images. For example if the shutter speed is 1/30, you should shoot with a focal length of 30mm or wider (28mm, 18mm, 16mm etc).

Walking fast at 1/250 to freeze motion

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Walking fast at 1/15 for motion blur effect – panning the camera with the subject

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Walking fast at 1/4 for motion blur effect – camera on tripod

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Important tip! If you find that using a slow shutter speed makes your image overexpose consider shooting with an ND filter or shoot at sunset/sunrise.


These are just a few examples to get you thinking about which shutter speed to use – the cheat sheet should assist with other types of shots.

The most important thing to do is just go out and try them, don’t worry about getting it wrong and blurring your shots, as over time with practice you will start to get the shots that you were hoping to get.

If you have a friend that is interested in photography go and learn this with them. You can bounce ideas off each other to create some great shots. And… you can get them to perform star jumps for you until you get them perfectly sharp and in focus!

Until next time

Happy snapping! 🙂

Dale

How to use the Interval Timer function

w360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerThe Interval Timer feature built into some of our X series* cameras can be an excellent tool to express your creativity.

It can be used to capture multiple images one after the other with the knowledge that you will simply pick your favourite image later on. Or the most likely the reason you would use this feature is to create a time-lapse movie like this little Lego guy doing a dance (rather badly I might add!), or perhaps a flower bud opening up, or even the sun setting behind the horizon – the possibilities are truly endless.

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Example of time-lapse movie – The Robot Dance

In this tutorial I want to give you a basic idea of how to use the Interval Timer function to create timelapse movies. For in-depth advice on timelapse movie creation and some of the more detailed do’s and don’t’s I would strongly recommend searching ‘How do I get great timelapse results from my camera?‘ as there are so many good tutorials already out there.

The option for timelapse is found in the main menu of the X series cameras under the title ‘INTERVAL TIMER SHOOTING‘, choose this option with the menu/ok button.

From this, select the interval (the time between each shot) using the navigation buttons (up, down, left and right). Once you are happy with the intervals, you will need to choose how many shots you want in total – this is found under the title ‘NUMBER OF TIMES‘. To help with how many shots you want see the tip below:

TIP! In Europe and Canada we normally use 25fps (frames per second) also known as PAL for our movies. Below you can see examples of how many photographs you would need to take to achieve the required length of movie.

Examples for 25fps:

1 second of footage = 25 photographs
2 seconds of footage = 50 photographs
10 seconds of footage =  250 photographs
1 minute of footage = 1500 photographs

Another way to think of this is Video length = Number of pictures ÷ Frame rate

The last step is to choose when the camera actually starts taking pictures, this could be immediately, in which case you would select 0h 00m or for example 20 minutes time (0h 20m). When you are ready to shoot simply press the menu/ok button and this will start the timer.

At the end of the sequence of shots you will then need to put them into a movie making program such as Adobe Premiere Pro or similar to create the timelapse itself – for that part I’d recommend looking up a software specific tutorial, so if you use Premiere Pro try a search like ‘Create a timelapse video in Premiere Pro‘ in your favourite search engine.

TIP! I normally use YouTube for this part to see exactly what buttons the teacher is clicking / using to create the timelapse video – that should stop you getting lost along the way!


TIPS, TIPS, TIPS!

Use a tripod for best results
Use a tripod for best results

Here are some bonus tips to think about when creating a timelapse video:

  • Use a tripod  Otherwise your timelapse video will look like an earthquake is taking place!
  • Set the camera to 16:9 ratio – This will be the correct image ratio for a 1080p Full HD movie file, so you will not need to crop hundreds of images!
  • Plan ahead – If you are shooting a sunrise or sunset, know exactly where the sun is going to end up. Apps like The Photographer’s Ephemeris can really help you achieve this.
  • Think very carefully about composition – This kind of goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyway.. 😉 Take your time framing the shot, after all you are going to take hundreds of pictures of your landscape and it would be a real shame to get 300 images of the horizon all wonky!
  • Shoot Raw & Jpeg – Although Jpegs are preferable for many users, if the lighting changes dramatically whilst shooting you will find editing & correcting a RAW file much more flexible as it retains all the detail from an image rather than a compressed version.
  • Shoot manually – To ensure consistently good results always shoot fully manual – set the shutter speed, the aperture, ISO and focus yourself rather than allowing the camera to do this for you.

Below is an example of a timelapse movie shot on the X-T1 and played back at 25FPS. The movie consists of 150 shots.

I hope this has inspired you to go out and give it a go! It can be truly rewarding and really fun too!

Happy Snapping! 🙂

*The Interval Timer feature is available for the FUJIFILM X-T1, X-T10, X100T and X30.

 

Tutorial: Street photography

w360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerToday I’m going to take you through some of the advice given to me by UK wedding photographer Kevin Mullins. Kevin’s approach to candid wedding photography translates precisely into his street photography style. 

What makes a good “street” shot?

The three key factors that make a good street image are;

  • good light
  • good composition
  • interesting subject

Get all three and you have a great shot. Two of them can result in a good shot. If you can only have one, make sure it’s the interesting subject

Assignment 1 – Shoot with a theme

Start by simply shooting how you want, but with a theme. Try the theme “angles”. When I took this shot below, it was a nice sunny-but-cool day in Cambridge so there were plenty of things to choose from. Look for good light, some sort of interesting subject, and carefully consider the complete composition.

The bright sun meant that to me, the ‘angles’ would need to come from shadows. This guy caught my eye because he was using his phone before getting on his bike. I wondered who he was contacting, or whether he was just checking a map. About 20 mins later we saw a cyclist nearly get taken out by a car so I wonder now if he was sending a ritual “goodbye, just in case” message. X-T1; XF18-55 @ 35; 1/640 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200
The bright sun meant that to me, the ‘angles’ would need to come from shadows. This guy caught my eye because he was using his phone one last time before getting on his bike. I wondered who he was contacting, or whether he was just checking a map. About 20 mins later we saw a cyclist nearly get taken out by a car so I wonder now if he was sending a ritual “goodbye, just in case” message. X-T1; XF18-55 @ 35; 1/640 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200

Assignment 2 – Frame your subject

Try to use people to frame shots of other people. Pair up with another photographer and go hunting interesting shots together. Use your partner to help provide a frame for the shot. The theme of “angles” was dropped but otherwise everything applied; light, composition, something of interest that tells a story.

Although personally I find the arm in the foreground a bit distracting, it does give a bit more depth to the image and the bright blue of this guy’s jacket and the sign pull your attention away from the frame  . X-T1; XF18-55 @ 35; 1/200 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200
Although personally I find the arm in the foreground a bit distracting, it does give a bit more depth to the image and the bright blue of this guy’s jacket and the sign pull your attention away from the frame . X-T1; XF18-55 @ 35; 1/200 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200
I like this one because the conversation is framed by the arm on the left, and also the stranger on the right. X-T1; XF18-55 @ 55; 1/200 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200
I like this one because the conversation is framed by the arm on the left, and also the stranger on the right. X-T1; XF18-55 @ 55; 1/200 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200
This last one failed the assignment in that it wasn’t framed by a person in the foreground. However, I like it because of the way the light fell on the faces of the people having the conversation. Nice light and begins to tell a story about a meeting in public. X-T1; XF18-55 @ 35; 1/200 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200
This last one failed the assignment in that it wasn’t framed by a person in the foreground. However, I like it because of the way the light fell on the faces of the people having the conversation. Nice light and begins to tell a story about a meeting in public. X-T1; XF18-55 @ 35; 1/200 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200

Assignment 3 – Spot Metering

The next thing to try is pre-focusing and spot metering. Put your cameras into spot metering and manual focus mode and stand facing a place where people would “break the light”. In other words, pedestrians and cyclists would travel from the bright sunshine, into the shade, or vice-versa. Use the “AF-L” button to pre-focus on the ground where we wanted them to be when we shot and then simply time them right to shoot them just as they cross from the light into the shadow. The camera will adjust for the exposure according to light on the subject, rather than the total light in the scene.

On the X100T, X-T1, X-T10 and X-Pro2 there is a setting that allows you to link the spot metering with the AF box. Activating this allows you to choose the point in your composition to expose for. On cameras without this function the spot metering will only occur in the middle of the frame so you may be slightly limited in your composition.

This shot was actually taken by Kevin himself using his X100T; 1/320 sec; f/16; ISO 640
This shot was actually taken by Kevin himself using his X100T; 1/320 sec; f/16; ISO 640

Assignment 4 – Zone focusing

Get close to your ‘subjects’. Getting close obviously means more chance of affecting the resulting image so it’s key to try to appear like you are not taking photographs. The main reason people need to really see what they are shooting is to make sure you are focusing on the right thing.

Guy working on a market stall. Bikes were everywhere in Cambridge. X-T1; XF18-55 @ 55; 1/90 sec; f/11; ISO 400
Guy working on a market stall. Bikes were everywhere in Cambridge. X-T1; XF18-55 @ 55; 1/90 sec; f/11; ISO 400

Keep your camera in Manual Focus mode, select a nice small (big number) aperture value and then used the focus distance indicator on the screen of the camera to understand where the range of acceptable focus would be.

Focus on the ground a few metres in front of you. Your next challenge is to get in close to people and inconspicuously shoot them getting on with their life. Continuous shooting is also very handy here as it allows you to shoot a few frames, especially good if your subject is moving through your zone focus area.

Assignment 5 – Turn invisible

There is now no need to hold the camera up to your eye so all of your shooting can be at waist level, looking down onto the tilting LCD screen (if your camera has one) to check the overall composition. After a while you will be able to simply look around and be confident that you’re going to capture the interesting subject without them knowing, therefore not influencing or changing the subject, but merely documenting what is going on around you.

Not many people "at work" seemed to really be working.  Zone focussed and shot from the hip with X-T1; XF18-55mm @ 35mm; 1/64 sec;   f/13;   ISO 1000
Not many people “at work” seemed to really be working. Zone focused and shot from the hip with X-T1; XF18-55mm @ 35mm; 1/64 sec; f/13; ISO 1000
One of my last images as we were about to lose the sun completely. This is the only guy who looked like he was working, although I question his choice of office. X-T1; XF18-55 @ 55; 1/125 sec; f/16; ISO 1250
One of my last images as we were about to lose the sun completely. This is one of the few guys who looked like they were actually working, although I question his choice of office. X-T1; XF18-55 @ 55; 1/125 sec; f/16; ISO 1250

Summary

  • The three keys to a good street image are; good light, good composition, interesting subject. All three of these results in a great shot. Two of them can result in a good shot. If you can only have one, it has to be the interesting subject
  • Shoot with a theme. This will make you consider your shot more carefully and not just fill your card.
  • Try to frame your subjects with parts of the background, or even make your own frame by using other photographers
  • Setting your camera on full auto with Spot metering allows you to ignore the exposure settings and let you worry about looking for a good shot
  • Zone focusing allows you to not worry about accurate focus, but rather understand that if a subject is within a certain “zone” in front of your lens, it’ll be sharp and in focus
  • Tiltable LCD screens allow you to shoot at waist level and still see the frame. The camera remote app takes this one step further and you look like you are just using your phone while actually shooting people with the camera hanging around your neck.

Keep practicing, hope for something interesting to unfold in front of your eyes and be ready with your camera when it does. Hopefully these techniques will help you get a great shot without anyone even knowing you were there!

Using white balance to take better photos

white balance

w360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerWhite Balance is a term that may seem foreign to most photographers. Especially as a setting that you could adjust that would make a drastic impact on your photos.

If you ever have taken a photo inside with fluorescent lights as your main source of lighting, you may notice a slight “bluish” look to your photos.

Why did this happen? All light sources have different colour tones based on a temperature reading scale ranging from red (warm) to blue (cold) known as Kelvin (K).

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Your choice of lighting will impact the overall look of your image and the actual colours shown in your photo. A photo mainly lit with a candle will give off a slightly deep orange colour tone. Likewise a photo mainly lit by fluorescent lights will give off a light bluish colour tone. Usually undetectable by the naked eye, we only really notice the difference when we look and compare photos side by side.

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The term ‘White balance’ (WB) is the process of removing unnatural colour tones in photos. All FUJIFILM Digital cameras have ‘White Balance’ controls to help change or correct these colour tones.

Why would a photographer need to change the camera’s white balance setting? Depending on the subject and lighting source used, a photographer can adjust the camera’s white balance setting to properly show colours as the naked eye sees them or to change the “mood” of a particular photo.


So why experiment with white balance?

You may find that the Auto White Balance setting corrects colour tones when you don’t want it to. This can happen with sunsets or landscapes, where the colour of the light is an integral part of the picture. By using one of the preset settings, you can better control the colour tone of your  photos based on the light source used. In addition to one of these “preset” settings, most FUJIFILM cameras offer the ability to pick a custom white balance setting also known as colour temperature (measured in Kelvin).

Here are some of the most commonly found and used white balance settings in Fujifilm cameras:

Auto – this is where the camera takes continuous readings of the light sources and makes adjustments automatically to the colour tone of the photo.

Daylight/Sunny/Fine – not all cameras have this setting because it sets things as fairly ‘normal’ white balance settings.

Tungsten/Incandescent– this mode is usually symbolized with a little bulb and is for shooting indoors when traditional incandescent lighting is used. It generally cools down the colors in photos.

Fluorescent – this compensates for the ‘cool’ light of fluorescent light and will warm up your shots.

Shade – the light in shade is generally cooler (bluer) than shooting in direct sunlight so this mode will warm things up a little.

Colour Temperature – This option allows you to select the colour temperature using the measurement known as Kelvin, this gives you even more creative control. And without getting too technical here’s our handy hint: If your photos are coming out yellow/orange turn the temperature down (lower number value, for example 2500K) and if they are a bluish colour tone, turn the temperature up (higher number value, for example 8300K). You will soon pick up what lighting environments are around which value of Kelvin.

The other option you have is to shoot in RAW, select Auto White Balance and adjust later in post processing. This does give you more flexibility after the shoot but will add more time to your processing, plus a bit more technical know-how to get best results.

As you can see above the white balance chosen for a shot can make a huge difference to the feel of an image and in some cases what season the image was taken in.

We hope you have found this tutorial helpful and that it will get you out and about experimenting with white balance.

And as an added bonus, check out FujiGuy Billy as he shows you how to get your White Balance settings up and running in camera here.