How to Capture the Beauty of Nature in Flatlay Photography

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By Ja Soon Kim

I was a graphic designer and an art director in advertising for many years.

I hold a BFA in fine art. Photography is my passion.

Photography is an art form in that you are able to create or captures images that are uniquely your own vision. But first, you have to have the right equipment that is perfect for what you envision.

I used to shoot with an iPhone camera until I saw the color quality in the images shot with Fujifilm cameras. I knew I had to switch in order to achieve the subtle tones, colors, textures and depth that would enrich my images.

I had been considering several cameras. When a friend showed me his Fujifilm XT100, I knew this was it.

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You don’t have to go somewhere special to find things to shoot. If you take a closer look, there are things you never noticed before that are beautiful. These are leaves I found while walking my dog.

I have been shooting with Fujifilm cameras for over a year. I started with a borrowed X100T and now I shoot with an X-T1. It is the perfect camera for me, just the right size and surface texture, not too heavy, great retro look, and it fits perfectly in my hands. It’s fun to shoot with. It didn’t take me long to learn the basics but there are endless possibilities with this camera. It has given me exactly what I was looking for in a camera.

One of the handy features I love about X-T1 is that I can transfer pictures directly, via WI-FI, from the camera to my iPhone. This is perfect for Instagram users.

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I found all this beautiful spring growth on a walk in the countryside. I arranged them with a sense of movement using a variety of plants. Against a black background, they look elegant with their vibrant green stems.

 

Flatlay, or tabletop photography, is different from landscapes or portraits in that you are creating your own subject to shoot rather than shooting what is already there. It provides a totally different experience, creative control and it shows in the resulting images. This process has been deeply meditative for me. I work alone, without a crew, as I used to as an art director.

Shooting flatlay gives us total control over the subject and allows us to be creative in our own unique way.  You can use any material you find interesting. I work mostly with found or foraged props from nature that we all see every day and are readily available all around us. I don’t purchase props for shooting.

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These fallen leaves were collected under an old cottonwood tree. I was fascinated with bug-eaten holes and the varying stages of fall colors. I used a simple arrangement for these. 

Light is everything in photography. I almost always set up my shots near a big window in my house. My typical background is a piece of plywood painted black on one side and white on the other or foam core boards in black or white. A very simple set up.  I use a tripod whenever necessary.

When I travel, I shoot on what is readily available: sandy beaches, beautiful rock, etc.

The lighting is the most important component of photography. I don’t use artificial lighting. I’ve tried them but it doesn’t have the depth and subtle variations that natural light offers. I love the shadows that appear with natural light. Shadows give depth and dimension to images.

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These wilting flowers were found in my neighborhood and in my garden. Some are wildflowers.

This is a simple grid with various stages of fresh to wilting late summer blooms. I frequently save and reuse props as they dry, mixing them with other things to make new and different images. Nothing is wasted and ultimately all goes to compost.

 

Often they are more beautiful when they dry, so be playful and experiment.

My subjects are almost always found or foraged. The process of collecting, imagining how they might look together in my mind is part of my creative process. Ultimately, they do need to be selected and arranged in your own creative way that makes the picture beautiful and compelling.

Cultivate Your Own Style

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These varieties of wild sunflowers bloom everywhere in the Southwest in late summer. All of them are collected from the sides of the road and arranged while still fresh in a very simple vertical design. I use reusable plastic containers to keep them fresh until I get home. Shot on silver PMS paper. 

Most of my pictures are shot with the XF35mmF1.4 R lens, a great everyday lens. I shoot with other lenses but I love the honesty and zero distortion of this lens.

I love shooting with wide angle lenses XF16mmF1.4 R WR or XF18mmF2 R when I am out shooting landscapes. I also shoot with the XF60mmF2.4 R Macro when I want to play with close ups or create different affects.

More recently, I’ve began shooting with the X-T2 and look forward to the types of images I can create with this beautiful camera.

Discover more of these images created with FUJIFILM X Series in my instagram feed!

 

Inspired Coastlines with X Series

X-Photographer strip BLACKBy Bryan Minear

At the beginning of December, I was on my way to California for a part-work, part-fun gig in SoCal.  Being that this was only my 2nd trip to California and my first to the coast, I wanted to take everything that I thought I might need. One of the perks of the FUJIFILM X Series system is that I’m able to bring a lot of gear without having to worry about my bag being too heavy, on account of everything being so small and light compared to a DSLR system.ona_bryanminearblog_4Gear List:

  • FUJIFILM X-T2
  • FUJIFILM X-Pro2
  • FUJIFILM XF10-24mmF4 R OIS
  • FUJIFILM XF16mmF1.4 R WR
  • FUJIFILM XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
  • FUJIFILM XF35mmF1.4 R
  • FUJIFILM XF56mmF1.2 R
  • FUJIFILM XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR
  • FUJIFILM XF1.4x TC & XF2.0x TC
  • Formatt-HItech Firecrest Holder
  • Formatt-HItech Firecrest 10-stop ND & 3-stop ND Grad
  • 13” Macbook Pro
  • 1TB SSD Hard Drive
  • Anker PowerCore 20000
  • The Camps Bay ONA Camera Bag in Smoke

ONA_BryanMinearBlog_6.jpgI’ve always had a love/hate relationship with shooting out of airplane windows. I’ve taken some beautiful shots, and some terrible ones, but regardless I always give it a shot and hope for the right combination of clouds and terrain to come away with something cool. For the first time in the sky I gave the X-T2 with XF50-140mm and XF1.4X Teleconverter a shot and it ended up being really awesome. Typically I have always tried shooting wide and always seemed to get the wing of the plane, reflections, or window scratches that made my shots unusable. But zooming in that far, and having the crazy good image stabilization of the 50-140 gave me some spectacular results.ONA_BryanMinearBlog_8.jpgWhen I finally landed in San Diego, I only had a few hours to get checked into my hotel and find a good spot to shoot the sunset before I had to shoot the event I was in town for. I grabbed my ONA bag and ran out the door to see what I could find. I just made my way toward the west-facing beach of Coronado.  This was my first “true” California coastal sunset, and it was a colorful cloudless sky. I took a few shots but mostly just took it in and enjoyed the moment.dscf5272Day 2 started when a friend picked me up and we drove out to Anza Borrego. It was an unbelievable experience for this midwestern boy; in just 2 hours, we went from beautiful rolling hills and coastline to mountainous desert. We spent some time shooting from Font’s Point which gave a breathtaking view of the terrain spread out in front of us. This was everything I always expected from California: palm trees and vast expansive desert spread out in front of me. We spent a few hours shooting the beautiful textures and colors of the desert before moving on.fxp23658Heading back towards the coast, we decided that the next stop would be the rocks of Corona Del Mar. Despite slipping multiple times and having extremely soggy shoes, I was thankful to have experienced one of the most beautiful sunsets of my entire life. Having 2 camera bodies is absolutely essential for the kind of work that I like to do. I split my time between my X-Pro2 with XF10-24mm set up on a tripod shooting long exposures, and my X-T2 with XF50-140mm combo in hand snapping away at boats, water and really fine-tuning my compositions with the compressed field of view. Having the 50-140 lens has turned me from a 100% wide shooter to a 60/40 tele/wide shooter and it has made such a huge impact on the work that I create.dscf5758The next day was spent shooting around the picturesque Laguna beach area. It was a semi-low tide so we climbed to an area along the coast that has a sinkhole with beautiful swirling water, and set up our gear. After a bit of droning and waiting to see what we would get in terms of a sunset burn, we all got a bit ambitious and ventured further out on the rocks that were exposed by the low tide. While setting up on a tripod to get some water movement shots, a rogue wave came out of nowhere and completely soaked me and my camera. There has never been a time that I was more thankful to have weather-resistant gear. I spent the rest of the night soaking wet from head to toe, but was able to continue to shoot the rest of the sunset.dscf5947After drying off at my hotel and grabbing a couple hours of sleep, I decided that my final morning before flying home was going spent in Long Beach shooting the sun coming up behind The Queen Mary. I arrived to a beautiful star-filled sky, giving me enough time to nitpick and get the composition that I really wanted. As I sat there on the rocks with my X-T2 on-tripod in front of me just waiting for the perfect moment, I thought about all I was able to experience on such a short trip, and how there is so much more of the world to see and explore. I couldn’t ask for anything better than being constantly inspired to create by my surroundings, and the gear that helps me capture it all. ona_bryanminearblog_12

24 Hours in Yosemite

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By Bryan Minear

As I sat on a plane bound for San Francisco, staring down some 40,000 feet to the clouds passing underneath me, excitement and anticipation filled my soul. It was the beginning of a journey – an epic adventure creating unique images and memories. I hoped that this pilgrimage with fellow photographers would live up to my expectations, and further inspire me to follow my dreams.bm_7After being awake for 30 hours, we arrived at dusk. On the way into Yosemite, we stopped off at tunnel view. It was my first glimpse of California that wasn’t being hidden away by the night. The rock faces lit up underneath a sea of endless stars. In that moment, it all felt like a dream. I was now experiencing this miraculous destination that I had experienced so many times before through someone else’s eyes. We spent an hour shooting before heading to drop off our bags and get settled in our condo. At 4:30 AM, we were off to glacier point to prepare for our first sunrise.bm_5I stared into the face of half dome, brilliant and gleaming in front of me. In some ways, I was taking a photo that millions of people had taken before me – but at the same time, I took pause to remember that the beauty of photography is that each moment captured is infinite and unique in its own way.bm_2The sun began to glow, and I was able to catch the last few stars in the sky over half dome.  My X-Pro2 clicked away on a timelapse and my X-T2 shifted in my hand as I tried to find my perfect composition. I was awaiting the shot that I was planning on taking since the trip’s inception.

“First light over half dome” is something that I had wanted to see for myself since I knew Yosemite existed. My lens of choice for the perfect capture was the XF10-24mmF4 R OIS. It gave me the versatility I needed to grab a few shots at various focal lengths in order to choose my shot in post.

After a short and much-needed nap, we ventured down into the valley to see the golden light as it passed over us. Fall color was in full swing and there was a slight chill to the air, only further enhancing the experience. We found a spot along the Merced River with a beautiful view of half dome reflected in the water. Along a nearby boardwalk, we took in Yosemite Falls as it towered above us. The falls were not supposed to be running at this time of year, but luckily, a storm passed through the night before we arrived, giving the falls a second wind.bm_6I framed up a shot with a 10-stop ND and 3-stop ND Grad to get some cloud and water movement. Shooting long exposures during the day is one of my favorite things to do because it gives me some time to enjoy the scene around me. Oftentimes I get so caught up in getting the shot that I don’t “see” things for myself. The photos are the best way to relive the moment, sure. But it’s equally as important to live in the moment and enjoy your surroundings.bm_4As the light started to drop in the sky, I shifted into creative mode trying to make the absolute most of the light that I have left. I set up another timelapse in front of the half dome with my X-Pro2, and with my X-T2 and XF16mmF1.4 R WR attached, I began walking around finding different compositions to maximize my last few moments.bm_1Over the course of the next few days I experienced close to all that Yosemite and the surrounding area had to offer: Taft Point, the 7,503 ft lookout point, Tioga Pass, and the desert-laden Eastern Sierras that lie just outside of Yosemite proper. The trip was full of friendship, laughter, and best of all, amazing scenes to photograph.

Why I love: the Fujinon XF16mmF1.4 lens

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We asked a few of our X-Photographers why they love the widest of our super-fast aperture prime lenses, the FUJINON XF16mm F1.4 R WR. Here is what they said..

Kevin Mullins – Reportage Weddings

Kevin Mullins XF16mm

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KevinMullins-Headshot-200x200At first I wasn’t sure if I would be attracted to the 24mm full frame focal length having tried that several times in my Canon days. However, as soon as I got the 16mm I just knew it was going to be a flyer. This lens is PIN sharp wide open, focuses incredibly quick and works so well with the continuous shooting mode of on the X-Series. It gives that extra width when shooting in tight areas at weddings and is perfect for shots such as the recessional and really close up but powerful images of the confetti throwing etc.quote-right

Click here to see more of Kevin’s work


 Derek Clark – Music

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I love the 16mm f1.4! It’s a surprisingly versatile lens that is equally at home shooting portraits as it is landscapes. The X-Series lenses are all fantastic, but I would say the 16mm f1.4 has something extra special. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there is just something magical about it. There’s a cinematic quality, an epic look, yet a sense of real intimacy when working in close. I like to work with two bodies at a time and the 16mm paired with a 35mm or 56mm is an amazing combo that gets any job done, no matter how low the light!quote-right

Click here to see more of Derek’s work


Ben Cherry – Environmental Photojournalism

A mother watches on as her herd while eating ripe figs.

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Stuck in dark, hot conditions with F2.8 being on the borderline of usability, even with high ISOs, the XF16mm offers a popular standard focal length with a wide aperture range that makes it surprisingly versatile. Though you can stop this down for a larger depth of field, many want to use this at F1.4 or there abouts. A very close minimum focusing distance and beautiful out of focus rendering make this a superb lens for placing your subject within an environment but keeping the viewer focused on the subject thanks to that narrow depth of field. quote-right

Click here to see more of Ben’s work


Matt Hart – Street

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This is lens is so sharp and so fast it’s unbelievable, I carry it with me at all times to get me out of trouble in low light conditions. I used to use a 24mm on my old film camera for Street when I was shooting wide, but now I use the XF16mm. It really comes into its own on busy city streets as it allows me to get in close but also grab lots of other detail in the background. I love the lack of distortion when shooting in cities with lots of vertical & horizontal lines.quote-right

Click here to see more of Matt’s work


Looking through a new world with the Fujinon XF16mmF1.4 R WR

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Who would have thought a lens could make such a difference in the way you see the world?

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The focal length of the XF16mmF1.4 R WR is superb for photographing indoors and outdoors and is often overlooked by many photographers wanting something wide. Being a prime lens you will find it is a welcome challenge in your gear arsenal as you navigate the nonexistent zoom with your legs out in the field. It’s this real world experience when composing that will make you feel part of the scene as you live every moment of your surroundings.

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Fujifilm X-Pro2 – XF16mmF1.4 R WR – ISO 200 – F2.0 – 1/1600 sec

Combine the small size with a maximum aperture of F1.4 and photographs seem to ‘pop’ whenever they are printed or presented on a screen. The bokeh performance on this lens is stunning and something many photographers will find appealing when photographing the smaller things in life. If you prefer capturing landscape scenes, you will notice a natural look to them as the lens captures the majority of the surrounds at a 24mm (35mm equivalent) focal length.

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Fujifilm X-Pro2 – XF16mmF1.4 R WR – ISO 200 – F5.6 – 1/1600 sec

If you find yourself in the wet and wild outdoors, the XF16mmF1.4 R WR lens incorporates 9 seals to counteract the weather and dust in your environment, so it makes sense to marry this lens onto a weather resistant body like the Fujifilm X-T1 or Fujifilm X-Pro2. Its hardy exterior complements any interchangeable X Series body and the large focus ring turns with ease and precision.

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Fujifilm X-Pro2 – XF16mmF1.4 R WR – ISO 200 – F4.5 – 1/80sec

It is no wonder many photographers are starting to take notice of this finely crafted Japanese made lens. Superb image quality without the size and weight make this the perfect lens for travelling and keeping your camera small and compact.

Do you own this lens yourself? What’s the best picture you have taken using it?

 

Adventuring with Mother Nature and X Series

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By Daniel Malikyar

From the moment I truly began to pursue photography, I strived to distinguish my work from the millions of images flooding digital media across the world. In doing so, I’ve always been an advocate of doing whatever it takes to get the shot. Whether that means hiking a treacherous mountainside all night to capture the beauty of first light from an unseen perspective, or hanging from an abandoned bridge 2,000 feet above the ground, capturing timeless moments are what I live for. Through my experiences, I have learned that photography is a key factor in the difference between being alive, and actually living. Abiding by this principle, I set out on road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle accompanied by two talented friends and an arsenal of Fujifilm X Series gear.DSCF7316We left LA for Oregon on a Tuesday afternoon, and after a brutal sleepless 16-hour road trip, we made it to our first destination – Abiqua Falls. Fortunately our car for the trip was a 4WD Jeep, and allowed us to take the mile long off-road path to the trailhead for the falls. With tattered sneakers accompanied by a light rainfall, I ventured through Oregon’s lush landscape for my first time. The abundance of massive trees and greenery were like nothing I had ever seen before. The hike down to the river was pretty intimidating, and required you to scale down a lengthy and steep hillside that was only accessible by a rope tied to an old tree at the top. I went first, and discovered that the last hundred meters of the slippery, muddy terrain had no support rope. After my first step I went down with no control, and slid for about a hundred feet, ruining my clothes and scratching up my hands in the process. Nevertheless, we all made it down eventually and hiked alongside the river to our destination. I had never seen Abiqua Falls, so when we turned the corner that revealed it’s jaw-dropping beauty I was in awe.DSCF7013The picturesque landscape was surreal, and I immediately began planning out the perspectives I wanted to capture in order to do it justice. What I didn’t realize was how difficult the blistering backwash from the water crashing to the surface made it to snap a photograph without drenching the camera lens. The remarkable durability and weather-resistance of the X-T1 matched by the speed, precision, and quality of the XF10-24mmF4 R OIS conquered the conditions, and allowed me to capture my experience before the backwash fogged up the lens. From Abiqua, we drove through the countryside to two of Oregon’s most iconic waterfalls, Multnomah and Latourell. These two were conveniently located very close to one another, and neither required a difficult hike to get to. Their overwhelming size was a humbling reminder of the power of Mother Nature, and gave me a challenge to capture them true to scale. Running on no sleep in almost 48 hours, we left the falls and enjoyed the hospitality of a friend and Oregon local, who took us to a famous Portland brewery before getting a couple hours of rest to continue on our photographic journey.DSCF7041Several hours of sleep, a warm shower, and a cup of coffee later we were on the road again… this time headed towards Washington. We got up before sunrise to capture first light from the Rowena Crest. The dynamic range on the X-T1 did Rowena justice by capturing all the tones and colors of the current season. After a brief session at Rowena, we drove straight to Olympic National Park. We encountered wildlife along the way, including a bear and bison. It was my first time seeing such large animals up close, and thanks to compact size of the X-T1 I was able to take it out of my pocket in time to capture the moment. Olympic National Park had otherworldly nature-filled roads whose cinematic foregrounds looked like something out of Planet of the Apes. With the help of the XF16mmF1.4 R WR lens, I was able to capture the detail of the nature before me.DSCF7291After exploring through Olympic, we returned to the hospitality of a friend’s home in Seattle, anxious for the adventures that were to come the next day. After a few more hours of sleep we set off to catch the infamous abandoned railroad known as Vance Creek Bridge for sunrise. Vance Creek is very dangerous if you’re not careful, and trespassers of the area are given a hefty fine if caught by authorities. This didn’t stop us; we were determined to get to the bridge and get our shots as quickly as possible. Running on minimal sleep, the excitement of visiting Vance eliminated any sense of fatigue and gave us motivation to get through the hike to find one of the most amazing abandoned locations I had ever seen. I cautiously maneuvered all the way across the bridge, and after documenting every angle I could, I hung my body off the edge of the bridge to capture the vertigo-induced lookdown perspective that is seen throughout most of my travels.DSCF7374This image gives me a sense of conquering that location, and I strategically waited until I was done shooting to make my mark with the widest lens of my kit, the XF10-24mm. After leaving Vance Creek without any issues, we headed back to Seattle to take on the skies of the city in an R44 helicopter with Classic Helicopters. While I’ve had helicopter shoots across several cities in many different conditions, it was my first time shooting in harsh light, and in an unfamiliar city. Nevertheless the X-T1 and XF10-24mm combo proved their worth, showcasing the very impressive speed and accuracy of the auto-focus feature. About an hour after the flight concluded, the sun had set, signifying the end to an amazing few days spent with friends shooting in new environments with an awesome camera system. We returned to our friend’s house to catch some sleep before we set off on a 20 hour road trip back to Los Angeles.

In addition to my Pacific Northwest road trip, I also had the pleasure of shooting with Fujifilm X Series gear this past December in the winter wonderland that is Alberta, Canada. The camera withstood unbearably low temperatures, snow, and everything in between. I even hung my body out of the car at 100kmh in -20 degree weather to capture a symmetrical road shot during sunset on the way home from our final day, which consisted of a trip to Yoho National Park to capture a direct vantage point of an endless blue river. Although my winter hat flew of my head and my face turned bright red from the extreme temperature and heavy wind, the camera gear had no issues withstanding the harsh conditions and delivering excellent quality images.

In conclusion, the most valuable aspect of traveling for me has always been capturing my experiences. In doing so, I’m able to make my memories timeless and share them with the world. With the help of Fujifilm’s cutting edge X-T1 system and expansive Fujinon XF lens lineup, I was able to document my recent travels throughout Alberta, Canada and the Pacific Northwest. The durability of this mirrorless camera is incredible. The compact size and endless internal capabilities of the X-T1 also set it apart from any camera I’ve used before. One of my favorite design aspects is the moveable LCD; this made it much easier to shoot reflections and difficult perspectives that cannot be seen through a viewfinder. The XF lenses are also very impressive. Their power and design compliment the body by providing lightning-fast images of excellent quality, color and sharpness. The auto-focus feature is also remarkably consistent and accurate across all subjects, and allowed me to make the most of every rare photo opportunity Mother Nature presented along these two trips. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work with Fujifilm’s X Series gear, and I highly recommend it to all photographers looking to take their work to the next level with a conveniently sized, sleekly designed system.

Elephant Close Up – Story Behind the Photo

Pygmy elephants are endemic to the island of Borneo, famous for their slightly smaller size, they are endangered with a population of roughly 1,500 left in the wild. This species is increasingly vulnerable to human impacts as a result of deforestation and conflict with palm oil development. They are the least understood elephant and in my opinion the sweetest, with their oversized ears and long tail to keep them cool and usher away insects.
Our first encounter was through an opening where there were about twenty elephants grazing. Our presence obviously wasn’t too big a concern as we were still observing different behaviour which is only seen in relaxed environments, such as play fighting and suckling.
Elephants play fighting
Taken with the XF50-140mm.
We moved on in our boat and headed around to a more suitable location and the view that greeted us was unbelievable! 
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Taken with the XF16mm.

I didn’t think the XF16mm would get much work but I was wrong. Having that mounted on one X-T1 and the XF50-140mm on another, sometimes switching to the XF16-55mm too, made for a brilliant set up.

One set up that proved to really work was the XF10-24mm and the X-T1 on a monopod fired via wireless triggers. Using the electronic shutter mode meant that I could have the camera really close to the elephants with no sound being produced so they stayed nice and calm. I couldn’t have done this with an SLR or in mechanical shutter mode. Using that set up on a monopod meant that I could shoot from a really low (or high) angle and still stay on my feet incase I needed to move. The tilting screen meant that I could see exactly what was in the frame and I used continuous auto focus as I trusted it to keep the focus on the subject. the wide perspective really worked well with these large animals, they may be called pygmy elephants but the adults still stand 2.5 meters tall! The other advantage of this lens was the OIS which worked fantastically. Considering I was holding the camera on the end of a 1.5 meter poll, in a busy environment and still getting sharp photos at 1/60sec is a testament to the OIS. 
Elephant Close Up
The lower perspective offered by this set up helped to place the elephants in their environment.
However when the conditions were particularly gloomy and I didn’t want to push the camera past ISO3200 (ISO6400 is fine but on this occasion I decided not to) I switched to the ever-present XF16mm and utilised the F1.4 aperture. Though the angle of view was much narrower the benefit of the faster shutter speed was huge. This was particularly important as when the sun was shinning it would often create very strong dappled light which would often result in blown highlights. As a result the best results were usually from overcast conditions as it meant that everything was correctly exposed, but this meant there was less light available. 
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A mother and baby share a quite moment.
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An elephant checks out my remote set up. XF16mm.
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XF16mm at F4.
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Walking along an elephant pathway through the undergrowth. XF16mm at F4.
To get some close ups I used the ever-present XF50-140mm utilising the wonderful sharpness at F2.8.
Elephant (3 of 36)
F2.8
Elephant (6 of 36)
F2.8 – This lens is so sharp wide open.
This was a truly incredible experience, one that I will never forget and I am so pleased that the X-Series produced photos to do the interactions justice. From the XF50-140mm to the XF10-24mm, the Fujinon lenses were exceptional across the range. We were even lucky enough to see the elephants beside a river just as the evening light reached its vivid climax.
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The XF16mm being utilised again at F5.6.
I hope you have enjoyed this series of photos, let me know your thoughts. The X-Series is developing into a great, lightweight wildlife system, I can’t wait for the forecasted XF100-400mm to complete this fantastic system!
You can find more of my work via the following links: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram.

Python Close Up – Story Behind the Photo

I have been lucky enough to be using a prototype of the XF16mm F1.4 since March and I have to say it is brilliant. I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d end up using it for, but as it turns out it is an extremely flexible lens and helped to produce some shots that would otherwise have not been possible.

This particular story has a bit of an unusual beginning. The location is the Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysia, I was in this region with another photographer, Christian Loader from Scubazoo who I’m currently doing some work with. I have to thank Christian for some of the photos of me here. One morning, we headed up river briefly as our guide Osmon wanted to show us something he had spotted the previous night. We slowed underneath some low lying branches. Before I knew what had happened we had come across a relatively young python and… it fell in the boat! At which point I almost jumped out, much to the amusement of the other two who have handled snakes extensively before. The snake then decided to snuggle up to my Millican Dave camera bag! They calmly caught it and we relocated it inside the forest on a nice tree branch, in return it kindly sat still allowing us to take some pictures.

Python-2

The close focusing capabilities of this lens really impressed me and allowed me to get some really close wide-angle shots, allowing me to fill the frame with the python and to also capture the environment.

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I used the X-T1 with the XF16mm F1.4 attached as well as a Nissin i40 flash I used a rogue flash bender. But because this would involve getting very close to the snake I decided to put the camera on a monopod and used a wireless trigger set up to keep me working at a safe distance. To stress, the snake was absolutely fine and did not once try and strike the set up. The angled screen on the X-T1 was very helpful here as it meant that I could see exactly what was in the frame, regardless of slight angle changes to composition.

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Here is the set up. Please excuse the ‘jungle hat’!

Because I was using the i40 flash in TTL mode, I couldn’t shoot above 1/180sec so I had to stop down to F8 for much of the photos. The location was very dark and flat as the vast majority of the tropical sunlight is absorbed by the canopy above. Thankfully the XF16mm seems to have very quick and accurate autofocus, even in these less than ideal conditions.

Python-4

In an up and coming blog I’ll show the benefit of the F1.4 aperture when photographing Pygmy Elephants.

You can find more of my work via the following links: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.