Welcome to the Second Series of Through a Photographer’s Eye. In this series, we continue to learn about Australian photographers and how they use X Series Cameras to photograph their world around them. Our third interview in Series Two is with Sydney based photographer, Tony Gardiner.
Tony, cinematography has been a big part of your life and runs in your family, can you tell us why you decided to use the Fujifilm X-Pro2 to capture on set still images and how did your relationship with Fujifilm originally start?
I have been very fortunate to grow up around image-makers. Cinematography is the family business! My father and grandfather ran a film lab in Sydney Australia. Because of my long association with image making, I have always been familiar with Fujifilm & Fujinon products and have always held the lenses especially in high regard.
I was looking for a lightweight easy to use mirrorless camera to capture both on set stills and for my art projects because I have always liked the look of Fujifilm products.
Did you face any challenges while using the X-Pro2, XF50-140mmF2.8 or XF35mmF1.4? Can you tell us how you overcame them?
There were no significant challenges that would be specific to the X Series. I enjoyed the size and power of the camera. The main challenge was the size of the long lens. However, this is just the physics of glass elements and lens as a whole. The XF50-140mmF2.8 is a beautiful lens, but I just found it a bit too big to shoot from the hip on set.
You may have seen that Fujifilm released the new MK18-55mm T2.9 lens for E-Mount cameras, tell us in your professional opinion, based on what you have seen, how do you see Fujinon lenses changing the game for independent cinematographers?
I have always been a big fan of Fujinon Glass. Owning a set of Alura / Arri Studio zooms which unfortunately I no longer have, however, I have been able to get the Fujinon Cabrio range of zooms for the bigger “tent pole” episodes of the popular TV show, Home and Away. The size and quality of these lenses open up so many opportunities not just for independent but major productions alike.
Sony’s E- Mount series of cameras themselves have been wonderful assets to independent and small productions however the lens selection has been limited. The release of the lightweight E-Mount Fujinon lens is a significant step in taking a wonderful system from good to great.
Can you give us an insight into what it’s like working in a crew and how you depend on each other to create a scene?
I’m really lucky to have an amazing crew on Home on Away! We work 46 weeks a year together. Spending that much time together makes us kind of like family, and like family, there are ups and downs, but there is no way we could get our insane schedule completed without every single person on set. I have some of the best operators in the business who frame up what I want before I know I want it! My grip can build multiple lenses of track on the beach in no time. It’s because of their talent and ability to work in all conditions (sometimes in relatively harsh conditions) that we can produce excellent results day in day out.
If you have some advice for someone starting out in photography what would it be?
Persistence, keep shooting. Shoot as often as you can and learn from every shot you take. I have been working on professional sets since I was 16 and almost every day I still learn new tricks or techniques that I can store in my bag of tricks.
As a cinematographer, do you do anything differently when capturing a scene on a stills camera compared to one that records video? Does composition and image ratio play an important part?
While photography and cinematography share a lot of the same skill sets, they both have very different sets of rules that you need to learn (so you can know when to stick by them and when to break them)! With photography, you are capturing a single moment in time, so the way you tell your story is very different. Cinematography allows you to tell a story with a moving image however it can have more restraints in framing and composition.
What was your favourite image captured using the Fujinon XF50-140mmF2.8? Can you tell us the story behind the picture?
My favourite image with the long lens is just a quick snapshot I took of a boat at sea while in-between setups on a “Home and Away” set at Palm Beach in Sydney. This was a lucky case of excellent timing with the seagull flying through shot. I love the ease of use of the X Series, while on set I was able to quickly pick up the camera and grab this image while shooting a scene.
Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR – 140mm – 1/32,000 – F2.8 – ISO 250
Considering you been in the industry for a while and used a lot of gear what would you like to see on a future X Series camera regarding settings and video features?
With the updates to the X-T2, I think Fujifilm has come a long way in making a very usable “B” camera for cinematography use. I would like to see 4K video capabilities included in the X-Pro2 camera. However, I understand this may change the ergonomics and size of the camera, so maybe I just have to man up and go for the X-T2!
Other interviews in this series