Fujifilm X Series WILL make you a better photographer…

By Kevin Mullins

Of course, we all know that’s not strictly true, but I do believe, indirectly, that using Fujifilm X Series cameras do empower us to be better at our craft……read on and I’ll explain. Continue reading Fujifilm X Series WILL make you a better photographer…

Sports Photography as a Spectator – Rally

In a series of articles X-Photographer Jeff Carter will be shooting at sports events in the UK and showing how to capture great images with the Fujifilm X Series without the need for a media pass Continue reading Sports Photography as a Spectator – Rally

Go forth and multiply!

The multiple exposure mode on your Fujifilm X Series cameras is probably one of those functions that you know is there, but you’ve never really tried. You might have dismissed it as a little gimmicky, or perhaps just not thought that you could put it to much use. But trust me, this function is a highly-addictive way of taking images.

The good news is, every X Series model has the feature so you’ve really no excuse not to give it a whirl. Exactly how you access it will vary from model to model, but you should find the icon – two overlapping rectangles – in the Drive menu, the Adv. setting or, as on the X-T2 I used, the Drive dial on the top-plate.

Once you’ve selected the mode, the process of picture taking is simple. Point it at your first subject and take a picture. The camera will then give you the option to Retry the shot if you’re not entirely happy by pressing the left button on the rear quadrant or move on to the next shot  by pressing OK.

When you press OK, you’ll see that the original shot appears as a ghost image on the rear LCD or in the viewfinder so you can frame the second more accurately. You may also want to change the exposure with the exposure compensation dial, so you get a decent balance between the two exposures. That, essentially, is it. Once you’ve taken the second image you again get the chance to reshoot if you’re not happy, or press OK to save the file. Images are only saved as JPEGs.

The skill (and fun) comes in working out what combinations work best and the more you use the multiple exposure mode, the more you’ll realise the creative opportunities you have. Generally speaking, I found that combining a texture on the first frame with a subject in the second frame can render great results. The textures can be almost anything – I’ve used carpets, tarmac, wood and brickwork as starting points. It’s important that these textures are evenly lit, which is why you should shoot these multiple exposures on overcast days. The other option is to shoot combinations of subjects that complement one another, or the complete opposite. You really can let your imagination run wild.

Once you’ve captured your images, you may need to apply some further tweaks in Photoshop or Lightroom. For ideas or inspiration, take a look at these images, then get out there and give it a go yourself. I guarantee you’ll have a whale of a time.

My first shot here was a concrete inspection cover, then I cropped in tightly on this thatched cottage for an old world look. In Lightroom, I lifted the colours slightly using the Vibrance slider.

This church graveyard had some tombstones covered in ivy. I captured those first, then turned to capture one of the windows – I’m really pleased with this effect, which I further enhanced using the Bleach Bypass preset in Lightroom. Don’t know how to use presets? You can find details in my recent How to video.

This spooky-looking door was created by photographing a weathered wooden door and then this entrance door. Turning to Lightroom, I then applied the Yesteryear preset to make it look like a photograph from the 1800s.

Straight from the camera, this image is a simple combination of a Neighbourhood Watch sign with a warning to motorists to slow down. It’s all rather Big Brother, but the juxtaposition of the two shots works nicely, I think.

Natural vs artificial light

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w360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerLight. There’s a lot of it about. And as photographers it’s up to us to harness it in every shot we take.

You may have a personal preference as to which light source you prefer, be it natural or artificial and, despite the combative title of this blog, we’re not for one minute going to suggest that one is better than the other. Instead, we’d suggest that it’s what you’re shooting that counts and should make your choice accordingly.

By way of demonstration, I set up a couple of still-life images, lighting one using artificial light from a humble desk lamp and the other using diffused daylight on a cloudy day. Along with the lighting being switched, I also changed the subject, but nothing else – the background is the same as is the kit – a tripod-mounted X-T1 with the spectacular XF90mm F2.

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Shooting in artificial light

The beauty of artificial light is that it’s completely controllable. Even a simple desk lamp, like the one I’ve used here, can easily be moved around so you can direct the light where you want it. The same, of course, applies to flash, LED and fluorescent light sources. Compared to daylight, artificial light sources are comparatively small, meaning the light they emit is more harsh. You can diffuse it or you could simply play to these strengths, as I did here to light my spanner collection. Metallic objects – among others – are great for this kind of light, which throws deep shadows on the opposite side to the light source. For the collection of images below, I simply moved the light around the set up to get a variety of different effects.

As well as being a harsher light source, artificial light like my desk lamp tends to be less powerful, so you may need to increase your ISO if you want to shoot hand-held or – as I did here – mount the camera on a tripod. You also need to consider your white balance settings, but we’ll come to that a bit later.

Shooting in daylight

Putting my desk lamp to one side for a minute, I moved on to shooting with daylight, using a large, north-facing window in my house as the light source and opening the curtains completely. North-facing windows are best because no matter what time of day you shoot, the light will always be soft as the sun will never shine directly through it. I had no such problems on this dreary day. Daylight like this is lovely and soft, so it lends itself perfectly to flattering portraiture. With no willing human subjects on hand, I switched to this gerbera, which benefits just as well from the diffused light.

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I started by setting up with the window directly behind me, which created the shot above. It’s OK, but the light is very flat and the background is a little more prominent than I would have liked. To solve this, I moved the flower round by 90° to help create some shadows between the petals and tried again. Much nicer – there’s some improved definition on the stem of the flower and the background is darker!

The daylight was a little brighter than my artificial light set up, but not by a huge margin and, wanting to keep the ISO down, I shot tripod-mounted again. With a human subject, I’d have pushed the ISO higher. Despite the fact that I was shooting within one metre of a floor-to-ceiling window, daylight levels do drop off quickly as you move away from the window. To counteract this, I used an A2 sheet of white card as a reflector to push light into the left hand side of the flower.

A question of white balance

Every light source has its own colour temperature, which is measured in Kelvin, essentially this means that different types of light have different colours. The human eye automatically corrects for this, but cameras can’t so you need to make sure you set the correct white balance setting to make sure colours are accurate under different lighting conditions. It’s tempting to shoot with white balance on Auto, but this one size fits all approach can get caught out. Which is why I always change the white balance setting myself when I shoot. Shooting in Raw is also an option as you can change the white balance setting in post production; a luxury that isn’t available with JPEGs.

Your X series camera comes with a variety of preset white balance options – daylight, incandescent, shady, fluorescent etc – in the first instance, use one of these. But the X-series cameras also have a Custom white-balance option which helps you get super-accurate colours 100% of the time.

Using it is simple, just frame the shot as you want it, select the Custom white-balance mode and then follow the on-screen instructions. Essentially, you need to hold a piece of white paper or card in the same lighting as the subject and then let the camera do the rest. I did that on both set ups, as well as used some presets, the results of which are shown here. Of course, there’s no right or wrong here, you can simply pick the shot you like the best, but it’s well worth playing about with white balance settings. Give it a go, whatever lighting you’re using!

For more help with white balance & settings please find our dedicated tutorial here.

Plastic fantastic!

This colourful effect is known as cross polarisation and the good news is, it’s incredibly easy to do. In the days of film, this technique would have regularly required sheets of polarising film placed behind the subject and a polarising filter on the camera. Now, all you need is a polarising filter, a computer screen and a plastic geometry set. Here’s how it’s done:

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1 As mentioned, the pre-requisite parts are a geometry set (we pushed the Fujifilm budget to the limit spending £1.59 on this one), a polarising filter and a computer screen. It isn’t essential that the filter is the correct size for the lens you’re using – just as long as it covers the front element. I used the super-sharp XF60mm macro for these image, but didn’t have a 39mm filter, so I just used a 72mm one instead.

 2 All these shots were taken with the X-T1, which I set to aperture-priority, ISO 200 and spot metering. The camera was tripod mounted and positioned directly in front of the screen.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 08.48.103 The computer background needs to be white. As I was using an Apple Mac, I did this through the System Preferences window. With the background white, I positioned the pieces from the geometry set directly on the computer screen in the order I wanted them.

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4 Here’s the magic bit! Put the polarising filter in front of the lens and slowly rotate it, as you do, you’ll see the screen turn grey, then black. As this happens, the vibrant colours in the plastic will appear. Make sure you spot meter from the plastic, not the black background and you’ll get a result like this.

 5 Once you’ve perfected the technique, you can start getting creative. Here are a couple of extra shots of individual pieces from the set where I cropped in in post-production.

Quick tips

There is a ‘sweet spot’ when you’re turning the polarising filter, make sure you experiment so you get a pure black background, otherwise you’ll end up with a less-appealing grey as you see here.

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Use the Velvia Film Simulation mode for really vibrant colours.

On some screens, when you find the optimum position for the polarising filter, small white dots will appear in the background. These may disappear when you spot meter accurately, but if they don’t you can get rid of them by boost the blacks in post production.

We’d advise you to buy a new geometry set rather than using an old one, which will almost certainly be covered in scratches and will dilute the effect. Besides, everyone needs a protractor, right?