A Day in the Life by Kevin Mullins

By Kevin Mullins

My core business is as a documentary wedding photographer but I also shoot, and greatly enjoy, ‘Day in the Life’ family sessions.

A ‘Day in the Life’ session is a photoshoot based on the same ethos as the way I shoot my weddings; 100% candid.

It’s critically important for me that my clients can look back at these day in the life images in 10, 20, 30 years’ time and remember the actual moments with their family. Moments that happened naturally, rather than ones that I, as the photographer, stage managed.

By using the very small and very silent Fujifilm X Series cameras I can really blend in as much as possible and just observe the family, photographing the moments that I think are important to photograph. Continue reading A Day in the Life by Kevin Mullins

Idi Probak – A traditional Basque rural sport

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Guest Blogger strip BLACK

By Danny Fernandez

The Basque Country is an area spanning both Spain and France on the Atlantic coast.

In the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to visit this unique Spanish region (what most people are referring to when they talk about the Basque Country) several times and have been able to learn a little about the culture, traditions and food; all of which are extremely rich.

On my last visit, I was able to join in the yearly celebration of ‘San Pedro’ (or ‘San Pedroko Jaiak’ in Basque). This is celebrated all over Spain, but this festival is especially important to the village of Boroa. Boroa is made up of 15th Century farmhouses, rolling hills of farmland and dense forests, but also has a pioneering industrial centre. Interestingly, Boroa has it’s own Michelin starred restaurant.


The Basque Country is a place with many rich, rural traditions (many dating back centuries), and they celebrate their heritage by keeping these traditions alive during special events throughout the year.

The climax of the Boroa’s San Pedroko Jaiak celebration is a traditional rural sport named ‘Idi Probak’ (which can be loosely translated to ‘Oxen Tests’) and takes place in Boroa’s village centre.

There are a few variations of this game (depending on the region in which it is held) but I will briefly describe the one which I saw.

The game involves two oxen dragging a rock (in this case, a 1800kg concrete slab) along the length of a cobbled track (named ‘proba toki’ – the length of this is typically from 22m – 28m). The oxen are guided by an ox-herder and a goader, whose job it is to steer both the oxen, and the rock along the track. They have 30 minutes to do as many lengths as possible, dragging the 1800 kgs behind them. The spectators bet on how many lengths the Oxen can carry the weight in 30 mins.

I heard that in the past, it wasn’t uncommon for the competitors to bet their harvest, their houses and even their land during this event!

The oxen are trained throughout the year in preparation of this competition, and are regularly taken for long walks in the hills and mountains as well as trained by dragging rocks.

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During the evening of the event, the locals (and also those from neighbouring villages) come to watch the spectacle, socialise and end the night with traditional music and dancing.

The Basque country is a very unique place, full of natural and untamed beauty. The people are proud, the food is incredible and the landscapes are stunning.

‘The moment this man won a bet, correctly guessing how many lengths the oxen could drag the weight in 30 minutes’.
‘The moment this man won a bet, correctly guessing how many lengths the oxen could drag the weight in 30 minutes’.

 

All photos taken on a Fujifilm X-T10 using XF16 / XF23 / XF56 lenses.


To see more of Danny’s work, click here.

 

 

Lightweight landscape photography with a reportage head

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By CAMILLE MCMILLAN

Epic mountains.
Granite walls clung to by a finger…
Night sleeping in a hammock hung by Carabiners on a vertical 500m drops.
Scaling a waterfall turned to ice in -10 conditions, Ice axes, crampons.
The north face of the Eiger.
Base jumping.
No, no thanks, not for me…

I live in and love the mountains, the French Pyrenees. I am very happy to climb , walk and explore, but when the need for Carabiners and ropes happen, that’s when I take another route. I’m not an Alpinist, this makes me a lightweight, and as I’m a lightweight I wish to carry lightweight kit. No “Landscape photographers bad back” for me.

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Recently I took a trip to the other side of France, the Alpes-Maritimes, tracing the old border of France and Italy. A border that shifted with the end of WW2. The old border line in the Alpes-Maritimes are on ridges, peaks or cols, sometimes on the road, but mostly the car can only get you so far, then its hiking.

I approach landscape photography with a reportage head. I am not the kind of photographer that has the patients or time to hang around at a location, ponder, wait for the light, pause for dusk or sleep out all night for dawn. Maybe I’m not a proper landscape photographer, maybe I just lack the patience, I am however very much interested in narrative, the Journey.

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When on my journey, I see something, I stop and take a picture and move on. Hopefully the light is good on the subject at that moment. I’m much more about the story. That’s where the X100T is so good. I see the work I’m doing now as a journal, making notes. Maybe some day I could return with more equipment (a tripod ) maybe even camp out the night , but only with light kit, keeping the no humping kit bad back rule.

I shoot jpegs now (I spoke about in my last entry) and I’m right back to my early E6 (transparency film) days, I bracket. A few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of bracketing and would have been horrified that I am shooting jpegs.

The f-stop bracketing with the X100T is great, 1/3rd of a stop work really well. This is not ‘in camera ‘ processing for a bracket, its a true 3 exposure event. I struggled with this at first as I would start to move looking for the next picture before the 3rd shot had fired. I am learning to be patient.

For me its important to know which in film simulation to use and not just shoot with the very seductive Classic Crome or the old school landscape photographers favourite Velvia (Even if you can shoot it at 800 ASA !) You can bracket film simulation modes with the X100T, and it is a one exposure event. Film simulation bracketing is a very good learning tool on how the different film simulations will look in different lights, however you can not Film simulation bracket and f-stop bracket at the same time. In my opinion, the characteristics of the film stock very much influences how the story is read. I make the decision which film simulation to use on a project and keep it that way. Sometimes the film simulation I have chosen is not the best for the light in a situation, but I feel the continuity of the colour and tonal range is of an over riding importance. Okay, you can call me old school.

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I’m not the photographer that enjoys the capture one / light-room / photoshop part of photography. I just want to get the image correct in camera and then print it. The dream is to send it to the printer from in the field…

I should however invest in an ND grad filter, Seven 5 by Lee filter probably and the WCL-X100 wide conversion lens, a pro ipad and a carbon tripod.

I’m searching for perfection in camera and escape the tyranny of post production.


See more of Camille’s work

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Backpacking India with Danny Fernandez

By Danny Fernandez
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During the first half of 2014, I decided to pack my bags, say goodbye to what I knew as ‘life’ and spend 3 months traveling around Northern India. This blog is to share my journey with you. All my images were shot on the FUJIFILM X100S and processed in Lightroom.

Varanasi, or ‘the holy city of India‘ sits on the banks of the river Ganges, in Uttar Pradesh. Varanasi (or Banaras) is known for being the most spiritual part of India, and this is reflected by the amount of devotees attending various religious ceremonies every day. Some Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation. It became my home for 6 weeks, and this is my experience of it.

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My entire trip was somewhat based around a 6 week stay volunteering in Varanasi. Allow me to backtrack for a moment and explain:

A year before arriving in India I was going through a bit of a rough time, and decided that I needed something to focus on; something new, exciting and adventurous. It had been 5 years since I had last strapped on my backpack and been for a ‘big trip’. As I had always wanted to visit India, and always wanted to volunteer, I began googling ‘volunteering in India’. After getting over the shock of the extortionate price asked by many charities to volunteer, I added in the keyword ‘Free’ to my Google search. After reading through a few posts, I found an article titled ‘top 1o places to volunteer for free, in India’ (or something along those lines). At last I found a company called Fairmail. In a nutshell, Fairmail works with children from disadvantaged backgrounds, trains them in photography, encourages them to explore their creativity and take photos which are in turn made into greeting cards and sold worldwide. The children receive a percentage of the sales, which pays for their education, housing, medical etc.

I applied to become a volunteer there, and joined the 12 month waiting list.

Fast forward 12 months and I step off an 18 hr train journey tired and hungry (I had forgotten to bring snacks so had bought some spicy bombay mix which served me as lunch, dinner and breakfast).

I was met by Dhiraj, a former student and one of the managers of Fairmail Varanasi. As we were driving to my guesthouse, the first thing which hit me was the apparent lack of any kind of road rules. I had felt the same way when I first arrived in Delhi, but this was next level when it came to driving. The roads were a mess of rickshaws, excrement, bikes, potholes and goats.

It took quite a few days to adapt to the pace of Varanasi. I remember constantly being on edge as I walked around during the first few days, as at any one time you could: Get charged by a cow/get run down by a car, motorbike or rickshaw. This was mixed with the constant loud noise of the traffic,  the ceaseless bombardment of flies, and the heat (which reached a scorching 47°C while I was there. Let that settle in for a moment. Forty seven degrees). Varanasi is not the place to go and relax.

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I’m aware that I may be sounding negative, but for all the stresses and difficulties faced, there were many moments of beauty.

The city sits on the banks of the ‘holy river’ – the Ganga. Each morning devotees awake early to bathe in the river and each night, Aarti is performed, where priests perform music while burning incense in front of the eyes of hundreds of followers. It is truly a beautiful sight.

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The first 3 weeks of my stay were spent in a guest house in Assi Ghat (Ghats are essentially temples, which line the Ganges river). During my last 3 weeks, I decided to move into the Fairmail office, in Nagwa (a village to the south of the Ghats). My experience here was great, as it allowed me to glimpse into the lives of those living in this area. As I was living in the office, I was also able to spend much more time with my students of Fairmail.

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My experience volunteering at Fairmail was also excellent. Alongside other volunteers, we taught the students lots of useful tips for taking better photos. One thing which I contributed was the use of flash photography in their work.

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The locals rightfully say “Full power, 24 hours”. Truer words have never been spoken.

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I highly recommend a visit to Varanasi for anyone visiting India. Be prepared for a total bombardment of all your senses, but once you adapt to the pace of life, you might learn to love it.

See more of my work here.

 

 

X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Kevin Mullins

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography? How did you develop your style in photography?

I’m an exiled Welshman living in North Wiltshire where I live with my lovely wife, two lovely children, not so lovely naughty whippet. I shoot social documentary photography, mostly weddings, and I shoot in a candid manor which means I don’t stage or set up any of the photographs.

My photography journey has been quite quick and up until 2008/9 I was running my own online marketing business in London. A change in circumstance saw us “move to the country” where we settled down and I decided a complete change of career was needed. I decided to become a wedding photographer.

In a not very short period of time I understood that my ideal day shooting a wedding was in a totally candid way. And as such, that is how my style has evolved and I now shoot documentary weddings all over the UK, Europe and even America. I love the humanity element of weddings and I simply shoot people, being people.

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Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

In short, I was very happy with my old DSLR system but I always felt there was something missing. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on until I picked up an X100 in 2011. I knew instantly that this was the future for me (though it would take a couple more camera models before I made the switch entirely).

Using the smaller CSC cameras simply allows me to get more intimate images, without affecting the integrity of the moment.

I’m not a “spray and pray” type photographer. Most of my images are considered moments, rather than running around shooting thousands of images and hoping for the best, the X-Series with their glorious viewfinders and beautifully designed chasis allow me to watch, then shoot.

I believe a good documentary photographer should be a better observer, than shooter. The X-Series are so much lighter and they allow me to get into moments and shoot weddings from the inside out, rather than the outside in as was the case and only option with my big DSLR system.

I sold all my DSLR gear and bought a new car. With the change I invested in my X-Series and have never looked back.

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Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

I like to look for the extraordinary, in a world of ordinariness. I see wedding photography just like street photography. A good street photograph has a story and has a reason to exist. I want all my images to involve emotion, story and ultimately some kind of humanity element. I don’t want my pictures to be simply boring snapshots wherever possible and so my philosophy is to shoot images that make me smile, and make the client smile too.

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Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

I was never “into” photography, but I remember seeing the images of Jane Bown, Don McCullin etc in the Sunday supplements as I grew up. I didn’t have an appreciation of the technique of photography then but I certainly loved looking at the photographs.

In more recent times, from a wedding and street photography point of view I’m in awe of the work and philosophy of Mel Digiacomo.

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Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?

From a technical point of view I’d like to say things like; consider the background, check the composition of your images, ensure the light is good.

All these things are important but my most important tip I think is this: try not to take boring photos. Whether you are shooting on the streets, shooting weddings or shooting your kids at home – always try and give the image a reason to exist. A snapshot of someone sat in a café having a drink has a lot less impact than if perhaps something else is happening in the background, or there is a juxtaposition in the image.

I find setting my cameras up to use back button focusing and zone focusing for low light works amazingly well. If I’m shooting quickly, I will often use aperture priority or even “P” mode. Remember I’m the observer and the camera is the technology! Explore the glorious JPEGs that the X-Series produce too. I think if you ignore these, you are missing out on such an exciting part of photography – having the results out of the can without having to process them? Imagine that…..

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What’s next for you?

I’m shooting more and more overseas weddings and I’ll be exploring that a bit more. My workshops and speaking see me travel too which is great but one thing I want to explore more is social documentary. I want to capture life in all its aspects and I’ll be perusing that more over the coming years.

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Contact info

Main website
The Owl
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

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