Ten tips for capturing unforgettable travel portraits

By Saraya Cortaville

Portrait photographer and X-Photographer Saraya Cortaville skillfully draws out her subject’s emotions and feelings, in a sensitive and empathetic way. Her portraits are an observation and moment of connection between two people, rather than photographer and subject. In this article, she gives us ten tips for capturing travel portraits you will remember forever. Continue reading Ten tips for capturing unforgettable travel portraits

How to capture the true personality of your subject behind the lens

Commercial and editorial photographer James Bellorini is no stranger to portrait photography and has captured many faces on camera, including entrepreneurs, performers, DJs and musicians. We wanted to ask James for his advice on how to capture a subject’s true personality behind the lens. Continue reading How to capture the true personality of your subject behind the lens

Discovering The Unknown: A Journey Through Mexico

X-Photographer strip BLACK

By Omar Z Robles

My work as a photographer has been characterized largely by my choice of subject matter and composition. Best known for photographing dancers against uncommon backdrops, I frequently get asked why and how I choose the backdrops that make it into the final frame. The truth is, when I travel (other than researching photography laws in each respective country), I don’t spend much time researching the “best places to photograph”.

Why not?dscf3772I prefer to be surprised by the places I visit and let them speak to me as I make my way into the unknown. Avoiding preconception of a physical location helps my process: I believe it helps me to create more honest images. Honest, because the final output reflects my own discoveries as opposed to try to emulate what I have seen others do – even subconsciously. This can be frustrating at times, but frustration is a part of the creative process which welcome with open arms. Much as necessity is the mother of invention, frustration can be the propeller of creativity.dscf3253I found myself traveling in Mexico City, where I was able to enlist and schedule several dancers before my trip. I had a full schedule of shoots before landing. Yet, I had no idea where was I going to photograph. While the thought frightened me, it also motivated me. Throughout the trip, I relied both on the advice of my dancers and local Fujifilm X-Photographer Jaime Ávila who, out of his own initiative, pre-scouted a few places for me (thanks a lot, brother!).DSCF9215.jpgHowever, seeing is believing. In spite of their local knowledge and willingness to help, it is not until I am at the actual locations that I face the real challenges: Will this location work for me? How can I make this place my own? How can I translate it into my visual language? My mission is to make the dancer the protagonist. It’s my responsibility to feature him or her in the location while creating a narrative evocative of the city. I can only achieve this through patience and observation.

No matter where I am, I need to observe what makes each place unique. And, more importantly, what is unique to me at that particular moment in time. That takes time and some trial and error – that’s where patience needs to kick in.

Here in Mexico City, more so than architectural elements, the one thing that has caught my attention is its density. LOTS of it. There are as many people in the streets as there are cars. While the density initially felt like a hardship, I took the time to discover how to use it to my advantage – and more importantly, how to use the density to tell the story of my experience here. Instead of running away from it, I decided to place the dancers between congested areas of people and between heavy traffic lanes.

To my advantage, working with FUJIFILM X Series gear has been a great blessing in these types of situations. Surfing waves of people, I was carrying equipment so light that I was able to move easily through the crowds. Having lightweight gear and fast autofocus, I jumped in and out of traffic swiftly (and safely).

Also, I have used the lightness of my X-T2 in combination with its burst mode to create slow exposures in areas where there are a lot of people moving. The result is an image of a magnificently elegant dancer standing strong with a blurred sea of moving people. I rarely carry a tripod; these images were easily created handheld.

I have been using the tilting screen quite often to shoot from extremely low angles. Shooting from low angles often helps in diminishing visual background noise.

My journey in Mexico City started with many revelations about my own process and creativity. I found myself slowly unraveling the unknown with the help of X Series and a true sense of adventure and exploration…

Discovering Cuba with X Series

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By Daniel Malikyar

Wandering the streets of Havana felt like I had hopped in a time machine and turned the dial back 50 years. Avoiding tourist areas at all costs always provides an interesting experience, and we did all we could to experience the real side of the city each day.dscf1567My favorite part about Havana was the wide variety of subjects scattered throughout the city. It seemed as if every corner I turned there was something new, whether it was a Dalmatian contently sitting on a gritty front porch or a bike taxi that seemed to ride by just in time for perfect light, it seemed as if there was always something that caught my eye.dscf1810I particularly enjoyed shooting the neighborhoods that surrounded the capitol building, Capitolio. I did just about everything in my power to capture the lifestyle of the locals with this interesting structure in the background. From persuading locals two stories above to give us permission to shoot from their balconies, to running behind cars, to playing soccer with local kids to get their approval, I took all measures to capture various perspectives of the Capitolio with fresh subjects in the foreground on each occasion. Thankfully I had a wide variety of range of FUJINON glass to pair with my X-Pro2 and X-T1; the XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS and XF10-24mmF4 R OIS were my go-to lenses for these photos.dscf8130Another one of my favorite locations in Cuba was Barrio Chino, or China Town. This area was very unique and boasted what I called the Cuban version of New York’s iconic Flat Iron building. I immediately loved this spot after catching an incredible golden hour that saw the sun light up the surrounding area of the building with a warm, glowing light that made for some of the best shots on my X-Pro2 XF10-24mmF4 combo from the trip.dscf1644One of the most noteworthy elements of Havana are the many random puddles that form throughout alleys that provided mirror-like reflections of the colorful cityscapes, classic cars, and great city vibes. The locals would stare at me in confusion when I would stop traffic to kneel down and use the tilt-screen on the X-T1 XF10-24mmF4 combo to capture perfect angles of the glassy puddle reflections.dscf1990As I was composing a reflection shot with my X-T1 on an overcast afternoon among a vibrant alleyway, my cousin called for me and told me I had to stop whatever I was doing and see how beautiful a baby was down the street. My first instinct was to continue to try and get my shot as that sounded a little off, but I got up and quickly walked around the block to catch the little girl and her father just before they were going to enter a home. The young dad had his daughter in his arms, and we she turned around she looked like something out of a National Geographic cover. I had never seen eyes like hers. They had a bright aqua tint of blue that could be seen from a block away. He kindly let me snap a few photographs, and I every time I looked into my electronic viewfinder of my X-Pro2 and I couldn’t believe how stunning this little girl’s features were. Cuba is full of surprises… this experience was a sure reminder of that.dscf1186I’ve never really been an advocate of guided tours under any circumstances. Cuba is one of those destinations that only has so much information that can be found online. In order to experience and capture it properly, you can’t really have a comfort zone. You have to be willing to put yourself out there with a positive and friendly vibe and hope for the best in most instances. We were even invited into a family gathering for drinks in a broken down backyard after approaching a couple locals in hopes of entering their compound to find something interesting to shoot. I lost count of the amount of complexes, homes, and lots we entered (all after asking what seemed like owners or tenants). These were the best memories, and provided some of the best perspectives that will be extremely difficult to replicate.dscf1189One hot afternoon the sunset was quickly approaching, and we were determined to find a rooftop vantage point to capture the moment the light brought warmth to the tattered cityscape of old Havana. After entering a building and passing by locals on each story, all with wide smiles of confusion but acceptance on their faces, we made it towards the top floor. When I looked down, there was the unique spiral staircase I had ever seen. I captured an organic image of the staircase with my X-Pro2 XF10-24mmF4 combo and we made for the roof. Unfortunately there are not very many tall buildings in Cuba; making it a bit difficult to get a great view of the sun setting on the water with the cityscape in the foreground. I completely forgot about the shot I had anticipated when several kids entered through the roof and showed us their pigeon traps, introducing us to some of their birds. I had never seen anything like this, and it really made me appreciate how a simple lifestyle brought joy to these kids. There were no iPads, no PlayStations, it was all about going out and having fun with the neighborhood kids like the old days.dscf1582Growing up, I’ve always loved the game of soccer. I’ve played my entire life, and jumped in on just about every pick up game we came across. Towards the later end of the afternoon we decided to check out a neighborhood called Citio just outside of Havana. Apparently this neighborhood was extremely dangerous for tourists, and upon entering all eyes were on us. After passing by a few young kids playing soccer, I hopped in passed the ball around with them. The ball they had might as well have been a rag… it was completely trashed and lopsided. I offered to buy the kids a new ball, and the look on these kids’ faces was something I’ll never forget… we walked almost 2 miles looking for a store that was open. Along the way, the kids seemed to know all the other youngsters in the area, and our group grew with every few blocks we walked. When we finally found a store with someone inside, we begged the tenant to open her store for us to buy the ball for the kids. My friend Joon and I each bought them a ball that were less than $20 USD each, but it may as well have been a brand new MacBook Pro for these kids. They couldn’t believe it and were so excited to get out and play with one another. Even though we skipped shooting for a couple hours, that was one of the best memories from our trip.dscf1381In conclusion, I highly recommend giving Cuba a visit before it becomes increasingly commercialized. Your experience in the country is up to you. I spent the majority of my time in Old Havana in hopes of capturing an unseen photo, and there are tons of interesting places to see. I was lucky enough to capture my experiences behind my FUJIFILM X Series gear, which never disappointed once. With all the impromptu moments, seconds of good light, and organic situations the X-Pro2 and X-T1 paired with a wide variety of FUJINON glass executed everything I could have asked for.

A Day in Cuba with the X-Pro2

X-Photographer strip BLACK

By Daniel Malikyar

I’m often asked, “How excited are you for your next trip?” The truth is, the anticipation for adventure never really kicks in until the abrupt lift off from the airport runway – signifying the beginning of a new chapter on my photographic journey.

After a 4-day long tour traveling with musical artist Marshmello through several states, we ended our final show at 3:30 AM in Las Vegas on a Sunday night. Immediately following the show I rushed up to my room to grab my bags and headed straight for the airport. After a 5:00 AM flight, I arrived at LAX where I met my cousin Haroon and childhood friend, Joon. Despite running on no sleep, we made our way to our connecting flight. A short layover and a several hour flight later, we arrived in Cuba.DSCF1634.jpgFrom the moment we exited the airport doors of Jose Marti International, taxi drivers lined the terminal swiftly coaxing the array of people to follow them to their cars. Being able to speak Spanish has proven valuable on many occasions, and helped us find a fair deal for such a late time of the night. The 30-minute drive from the airport to our apartment in the city of Vedado felt like Havana’s version of Tokyo Drift, lead by an aggressive local cab driver in his beat up old school car. Weaving through pedestrians, alleyways, and several animals we made it to our apartment in one piece. Upon arrival the driver insisted the price was higher than he had agreed upon, introducing us to our first taste of the local Cuban hustlers. After relentless persistence from the driver, we settled for a new deal and made it up to our apartment to call it a night. As I went to bed, I couldn’t wait to explore the city of old Havana, Habana Vieja, in the morning.DSCF2210.jpgBefore I visit a new destination, I always do my research to ensure that I’m well prepared, know what to expect, and plan out locations to shoot. After taking our first cab ride in an old school car, or coche viejo, to Habana Vieja, I quickly learned that Cuba is by far the most unique country I’ve ever visited. The shock factor of wandering the post-apocalyptic streets of Habana Vieja made it nearly impossible to comprehend what I was seeing. The streets were lined with colorful decaying buildings guarded by locals who spend much of their day on their front porch observing their surroundings. From stray dogs to barefoot kids running through alleyways playing soccer to the cigar-selling hustlers on every street corner, the ambiance of the city was something you have to physically experience to believe.dscf2128The most exciting aspect of this trip was the addition of my Fujifilm X-Pro2 to my X Series arsenal. After my first day with the camera, I immediately fell in love with the system. My favorite aspect of the X-Pro2 is the aesthetic of the body. The sleek, classic design avoided the intimidation of the locals when I kindly would ask for their portrait or to enter their residence. Whether the body was accompanied by the compact FUJINON XF10-24mmF4 R OIS, XF35mmF1.4 R, or the XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, the camera always stunned the locals when they asked to see the images.DSCF8326.jpgWhile I did encounter a couple strict denials from potential subjects, the sketchiest moment of the trip took place when I noticed a very interesting opportunity for a photograph of a mother and her infant son. When I approached what appeared to be their home, I realized it was the gateway to an entire storage lot of bike taxis. Slowly making my way forward, I called for the attention of the mother to softly introduce myself and ask for permission to take a photo. As she shook her head no, a dog that looked like a hyena out of The Lion King on steroids emerged from the darkness and bolted towards me, snarling and foaming from the mouth. I took off, and after a few blocks I made my way back to meet with my friends, avoiding whatever plans the mutant dog had for me.DSCF2181.jpgAs the day continued, we explored just about every neighborhood we hadn’t seen in the area. Thanks to my cousin’s strong sense of direction, we continuously encountered new people, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and a wide variety of subjects throughout the day. From the reflective puddles, to the daily life of the Cubanos, to the hissing hustlers of the streets, there were endless moments to photograph. We ended the day off along the seaside Malecón street for sunset. The array of classic cars, ocean views, and fisherman lining the Malecón made it one of my favorite spots in all of Havana. I was able to document the experience in all of its glory with the help of my X-Pro2 and FUJINON XF10-24mmF4 R OIS lens. After a very eventful first day in Havana, I could not wait to experience what the city would have to offer throughout the rest of the week.DSCF1325.jpg

 

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.

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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

 

Drew Gardner shoots the USA Womens 8 Olympic Team with the X-T2

Guest Blogger strip BLACKdrew gardner pic largeBy Drew Gardner

I was assigned by ‘Sports Illustrated’ to shoot a multimedia project of The USA Olympic Team Womens 8 before they travelled to Rio where they would be in the running for another Gold medal. And having recently been greatly inspired by Google’s Excellent ‘Inside Abbey Road’ I came up with the idea of shooting a 360 project with video content within it.

There is often too much emphasis on equipment but on this occasion having exactly the right tool for the job, something small, light, with superb still image quality, 4K video capable and user friendly.

Enter the brand new Fuji X-T2, the successor to the highly popular and delightful Fuji X-T1

Small, light with 4K video capability and VERY user friendly.

There are many really good camera’s out there but in my opinion none have the special ‘instantly at home’ feel for someone coming from a DSLR as Fuji does with its ‘X’ series cameras.

I am baffled as to why Fuji is alone amongst digital camera manufacturer has managed to successfully take the ‘soul’ from a film camera and transplant it in a digital offering (incidentally this is not an opinion I have reached overnight, but a view I have held for some years now.

I’m delighted to say that Fuji have been successful in carrying on this tradition with the Fuji X-T2, combining a truly intuitive user experience with superb performance on all fronts.

24.3mp X-Trans CMOS sensor which feature which debuted on the Fuji X-Pro2 is quite a step forward over the X-T1

The X-T2 is a camera with heaps of performance and is ready to shoot when you are, you can feel from the moment you pick the camera that it has massive processing power – dubbed the X Processor Pro. Aside from the sensor this is one of the key areas I look for as it is pointless having a great sensor if the camera does not have the processing power to handle it.

A powerful processor opens the gateway to all sorts of high performance feature in a camera, such as 14 frames a second (should you need it), 325 autofocus points and 4k video at up to 30fps (more of this later)

Ok so it is incredibly responsive and easy to use but what about the image quality?

I am happy to report that the image quality in terms of resolution is handy step forward over the X-T1 delivering more detail and the dynamic range, though I have not had chance to test this back to back it seems to be better.

The X-T2 viewfinder is clearer and brighter than the X-T1 and I found it easy to manually focus.


So how did it work out?

First shot of the day was the team portrait in the lake, this was carefully worked out to coincide with Sunrise (a time so early that it is actually difficult to get yourself to believe it will ever get light)

The still shot was actually way more difficult than it might first appear as there was only a limited area of hard standing in the water after that you hit deep mud…which also smelled pretty bad.

Taylor Ballentyne who shot behind the scenes of the project was kind enough to stand in so we could establish where it would be safe to stand.

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Then there was the lighting.

Let me rewind a little – I hired the Profoto B1 lights along with all other kit from one of the coolest rental houses in New York City – Scheimpflug (to quote Wikipedia it takes its name from the Scheimpflug principle which is a geometric rule that describes the orientation of the plane of focus of an optical system when the lens plane is not parallel to the image plane)

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The guys at Scheimpflug were super helpful and highly professional and were more than happy to let me come along a couple of days before the shoot so I could test the gear and ensure it worked as it should (this might seem a bit extreme but this shoot was super special and I wanted to make sure I made no mistakes). These guys are highly recommended.

Why Profoto B1 lights? Well right now my opinion they are the simplest, most reliable location light out there in with not a cable in sight, this gives you unparalleled flexibility – it is a photographers license to put a light just about anywhere.

I did not use the Profoto modifiers – I instead reverted to my softbox of choice the Chimera medium softbox (with a white interior).

I have been using the soft but highly directional Chimera modifiers exclusively for 20 ish years, they give me exactly the look I want and you can do so many clever things with them – they are versatility personified.

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If the team were on a limited small hard(ish) standing area where could I put the lights?

I was restricted to putting the key lights at the edge of Lake Carnegie, which as you will see from my drawing, has all sorts of creatures swimming in it.

SI light plan v2

I needed a little more power and I ‘only’ had 4 lights – which sounds like a lot but when you are shooting a large group on location and you are aiming for F11 or F8 to ensure everyone is in focus it really is not a great deal of light.

I was going to put a light in the water as a back light but as the sun was a great celestial back light it freed up one more Profoto B1 head.

To get a little more ‘oomph’ to my key light bank of lights I put two heads in one softbox by slightly unconventional means (though I believe you can get a speed ring which takes two heads for the Chimera soft box)

So it was three Profoto B1 lights off to camera left, which worked very well but I needed a little fill head on so I used my last Profoto B1 in a brolly – the lights were set.

The team entered the water and I had a very short period of time with them – think around 10 – 15 mins in the water before they went training.

Team USA Womens 8s Rowing Team
Team USA Womens 8s Rowing Team

Even though time was short I mounted the Fuji X-T2 on my Gitzo tripod as if needed to undertake any extensive post production (which I didn’t) it was going to be much easier – remember the tripod is your friend…..

The second shot was the 360 stills panorama where I needed to have clickable hotspots which would link to short video interviews with the team members.

Have a look at the 360 shot with videos here.

I really did not want to switch between multiple cameras so the Fuji X-T2’s enhanced video capability came into play.

Though we did not output the video in in 4K(we downsampled the footage to 720p so the final file would be less ‘heavy’) we did shoot the videos in 4K as being in the throes of another major project everything HAS to be shot in 4K it seems like ‘short change’ to shoot in 1080p but perhaps more importantly it gives me the capability to crop into the video. As we were shooting with ‘just’ one camera this could be a useful feature to have to say the very least.

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While I am talking video I shot in the standard 4K setting as Fuji’s F-Log, which ensures you get the maximum from a file as you shoot in a ‘flat’ profile was not yet available when I shot the project.

Even with the standard profile available to me on the day I was very pleased with the video output

Some of the enhanced video features that were available to me on the day, the ability to monitor audio via the headphone jack and the extended recording time (30 mins of 4K) came to me courtesy of the new VG-XT2 hand grip which takes two batteries in addition to the standard camera battery.

The 360 stills shot itself was shot on the Fuji X-T2 with the excellent Zeiss Touit 12mm lens which I find to be a dream for 360 panoramas and I used the Seitz Roundshot VR drive which I have come to rely on to deliver the goods day in day out without missing a beat. Ever.

When you are using a motorised VR head – sometimes with quite big lenses and battery packs the weight does add up so I use the Gitzo GT5562LTS which is a serious pro tripod which you can fit in your carry on luggage. For the still 360(and the stills team shot in the lake) I used the Gitzo 5381SQR which is perfect for panoramas and landscapes – it is however worthy of note as this tripod does take a full on video head too – one tripod which really does do it all.

Speaking of something that does it all it seems like a good place to round up with my thoughts on the Fuji X-T2.

If you use a an X-T1 and you are expecting a camera which completely different from your current camera then think again – the X-T2 is more about evolution than revolution and it is all the better for it, with tweaks and enhancements which makes it the most complete mirrorless camera to date that Fuji has yet produced

For me this is the camera which takes the ‘X’ series into everyday pro territory for the first time. Until now, for me at least, the X cameras which I love with their charm and wonderful image quality have been been my ‘fun’ cameras and I have walked out the door to shoot the ‘big’ jobs on something else.

The mixed still/360 still and 4k video nature of this assignment was a serious challenge and one that X-T2 rose to without any fuss or drama – excelling in every area WITHOUT making my brain melt.

Whisper it. Fuji might, just might have, produced the best mirrorless camera to date one that combines charm, image quality, capability and is a joy to use.


See the full Sports Illustrated article here
See more of Drew’s work at 
www.gardnercreative.co.uk 

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.

Project 104: An Exploration of Humanity

Guest Blogger strip BLACKBy Chris Daniels

Hello friends. My name is Chris Daniels. I’m a portrait photographer based in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m here to tell you about a year-long project that I’ve recently launched and the key role that X Series cameras are playing. The project is called Project 104. Most simply explained, it is an exploration and observation of humanity through portraiture.

  • 2 portraits per week
  • 52 weeks
  • The same 3 questions asked to each participant

The project is one of honesty. It asks people to reach within themselves and give something real back to the world. ChrisDanielsproject104fujifilm_High_Res(6of14)If you asked me to sum up in a word what Fujifilm cameras are to me I would say
“Honest”. From the moment I put my hands on one, and especially once I started to really test the X-Pro2, I knew that it was something extremely special. As an artist, I can’t 100% agree with the phrase, you’re only as good as your equipment. It is up to us as creative people to use our means to the best of our ability. What I will say is that when I have the X-Pro2 in my hands, it becomes much more than equipment. It becomes an extension of myself and my mind.ChrisDanielsproject104fujifilm_High_Res(14of14)The cameras made by Fujifilm are incredibly intuitive. I’m never fumbling around trying to get the settings just right or searching through menus with no seeming end looking for the perfect whatevers and whatnots. Adjusting to light and situation is all at my fingertips and I feel as though I could do it blind.

When I’m sitting face to face with a person, camera in my hand, and they allow me a tiny glimpse into their world I can’t think about my camera in that moment. It’s usually such a fleeting moment and I need to be able to trust that I can capture it. The X-Pro2 allows me that ability. 
ChrisDanielsproject104fujifilm_High_Res(2of14)The camera itself is beautiful and inviting, which goes to far greater lengths than just aesthetics alone. It puts the subject on the other side of the lens at ease. The system is small. Quiet and not at all intrusive. For those reasons I am able to capture naturally. My intention is to always focus on the art first. That is what Project 104 is about. Having a system that I can trust is such a key part of the success of the project. In the last few months of getting to know Fujifilm I have been nothing short of impressed. They seem to not only understand the needs of a photographer but they also listen to the photographer as well. I, for one, can say that I am a proud X Series user, and I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeve in the future.ChrisDanielsproject104fujifilm_High_Res(5of14)Project 104. Though it is still very young, it has already proved itself true and invaluable. The three questions that I ask are simple, but somewhat intense. I ask them just prior to taking the person’s portrait and let the mood and emotion created by them answering somewhat dictate the mood and feel of the image.

I hope that you’ll follow me along as I journey through this year of portraits, X-Pro2 in hand. It’s been fantastic. I have met and had beautiful conversations with some amazing people already and I’m excited to see who chance sends my way soon.

Check out the project and see everyone’s answers so far here.