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. Read More
I’m a Kiwi who has been living in Melbourne now for eight years. I’m a keen cyclist and spend a lot of time riding or racing. Photography gives me a creative outlet that adds to these experiences from cycling and hopefully makes me a little less one-dimensional, as I look to grow and shoot things without two wheels.
I picked up my first Fujifilm camera, an X-T1 with XF35mmF1.4 lens, in Japan while there on holiday a few years ago. It was born out of frustration with the little point-and-shoot I had with me at the time. The X-T1 felt right in my hand and, more importantly, reinvigorated my enjoyment from photography I had lost some years earlier. Photography acts as a creative outlet when I want to step off the bike.
I think I’m still finding a style I can call my own, to be honest. If you look at my Instagram it’s certainly not a case of every shot looking the same, and I’m OK with that. A lot of my shots are from road cycling races, as I don’t race a lot of that myself. I try to capture the effort of the riders, along with something of the environment these races or rides are part of. Outside of cycling I enjoy event photography where I can be more of a “fly on the wall.”
I appreciate a pretty broad spectrum of photographic work from fine art, fashion and street right through to sports. A lot of my favourite images come from motocross, skate and surfing, and I’m striving to incorporate these elements into my work.
I enjoy shooting throughout winter when the light is soft and moody, but a lot of road racing is during the height of summer so it’s a case of working with what I’ve got. With my recent 4×4 vehicle purchase, I’m looking to capture some more Australian scenery and adventure images in the coming year or so.
I’m probably going through that at the moment preparing for my first group exhibition. It’s forcing me to look at images not as a cyclist who knows the sport, but as someone just appreciating photos – it’s forced me to think more artistically about what I capture and that’s challenging.
I use both the X-T1 and X-T2, and can’t get over how much of a jump there is between the two. The focus improvements with the X-T2 have made my success rate significantly higher when trying to grab a particular rider in the bunch or through a turn. The X-T1 gets used more now for details or portraits and as the camera over my shoulder on social rides, although I wouldn’t mind trying out the X70 for this, given its smaller size.
My go to lenses are the XF16-55mmF2.8 and the XF50-140mmF2.8 as they are fast to focus and allow me to get close to the action when I can’t physically move or I’m shooting out the window of the race convoy. I also have the XF35mmF2, XF56mmF1.2 and XF23mmF1.4, which I use more outside of cycling.
With the developments in the X-T2, I shoot lossless compressed RAW + JPEG normal. For social use, I send the JPEGs straight to my phone using the Fujifilm Camera Remote App and then for anything else, pull the RAWs into Lightroom. I very seldom find myself going further into Photoshop, but I see this changing as I try to expand my horizons outside of sports.
I think it’s really valuable to just play around with your camera and get to know its capabilities and ergonomics. Use custom buttons to set it so you know exactly what to reach for in a rush when required.
For those looking to capture action, spend some time reading the Fujifilm autofocus special site. Certain lenses perform a lot better than others with fast-moving subjects, and the new focus options really open a huge spectrum for capturing action.
Given the world of social media now, try not to compare yourself too much to others. Rather, take inspiration from them, and be prepared to fail. We are all developing and changing as our skills and understanding improve, and I think it’s important to enjoy it for the fun of the process. I love that Fujifilm Australia has such a supportive community, and have enjoyed taking part in events over the past year meeting really interesting and like-minded people.