Winter is a great season for photography and it is always worth forcing yourself to think differently. In my opinion, winter landscapes can be more about the narrative of the image than the technical aspects of the shot.
1. Visit your Favourite Locations in the Snow
When the Snow descends, think of the already beautiful locations you know and pay them a visit. This is a photograph Hillsborough Church, Co Down transformed under a blanket of snow. It also should be noted that you don’t have to shoot with a wide-angle lens to capture landscape images as this photo was shot at around 75mm.
2. Use the Evening or morning light.
The sun is lower in winter and can cast long shadows or create a warm winter glows (especially in the evening). This image was shot using the X20 camera on a cold day in December on Tyrella Beach, County Down. On visiting my local beach during a winter weekend I discovered a range of activities I wasn’t expecting.
My advice is to pack a camera and head for the coast on a day that it would be the last place you would think of visiting as it might amaze you what you will find.
For low light photography you might need to increase your ISO, the Fujifilm range offer a capped auto ISO mode which can be very handy for outdoor photography during the winter months. I tend to shoot auto ISO capped at 3200.
3. Use Winter to create dramatic scenes
The winter season can really create as sense of drama. This old ruin in County Donegal is made even scarier by the cold winter mountains in the background and the use of long exposure photography to make the sky even more dramatic.
4. Shoot what you would tell people
During April, Northern Ireland saw the largest snow fall in decades. Roads were closed for days and the countryside was transformed to pure white. I took this shot with the X100s to document the level of the snow against some farm fencing. It wasn’t overly interesting at the time but as we look back it is great to have photos of just how much snow had fallen. Close up shots against the reflecting snow can be a challenge, using ‘Spot metering’ can bring the clarity and detail to your main subject.
5. Shoot Contrasting Landscapes
It can be great to head out on a sunny day after a snowfall. This image was shot with the X100s on the Murlough Bay path (County Down). It was sunny which created an interesting contrast against the snow-covered Mourne Mountains.
The trick is to have a camera with you on your winter adventures so you document what you discover. I tend to pack the X100s wherever we go and it is amazing just how many images I managed to capture on days when photography was the least of my objectives.
I shoot fujifilm exclusively; I use two X-Pro 1’s and a X100s for my wedding work and travels. This set up works for me, however there was a learning curve involved, as the concept of these X-Series cameras were different from the D-SLR’s that I was used to.
The biggest challenge I faced was learning how these cameras acquired focus, I spent hours online seeking relevant information and even more time applying what I read and testing things out. YES, they actually do focus, they just do it differently to my old D700 and a friend’s 5D2 I had right next to it for comparison.
As a result of the information I gathered and my personal experience over the last 8 months, I decided to put this article together and I hope that fellow X-Series users out there and those considering buying one of these cameras might find it useful, especially in regards to focus accuracy.
Like ZACK ARIAS, I believe that the Optical Viewfinder is a big deal on these cameras. The hybrid viewfinder is innovative and each mode serves a purpose, i.e for close ups where the Electronic Viewfinder is the better option. Nevertheless, I find myself using the Optical Viewfinder 90% of the time, I truly love it. The focus on this article will be focusing with these cameras (X-Pro 1 & X100s) with the Optical Viewfinder.
“The effect whereby the position of a object appears to differ when viewed from different positions. In this case, the different positions are the lenswhich is at the centre of the camera and the viewfinder window which is to the left and above the centre of the camera.
We have established that the viewfinder window is positioned to the left and above the centre of the camera, thus being positioned to the left and above the lens.
The viewfinder window (when in optical mode) is designed to have a larger Field Of View than whatever lens you attach to the camera body. Because the Field Of View of the viewfinder is larger than the Field Of View of the lens, you are able to see things that are outside your frame and not just what is inside it – the OVF is under inclusive.
CORRECTED AF FRAME:
The different positioning of the viewfinder window and the lens means that we have to overcome parallax when it comes to nailing our focus. To aid us in doing so, these Fuji X-Series cameras have a brilliant tool called “Corrected AF Frame” ; this is optional but I strongly suggest that you turn it ON and leave it ON.
BOX 1 : Represents the focus frame at infinity – This is where the OVF will naturally perceives focus to be.
BOX 2 : Represents the focus frame at the OVF’s minimum focus distance – the closest the OVF can focus before it hits the macro range. (This is about 2.6ft for the X-Pro 1 and about 1.6ft for the X100s)
This is how I have the Optical Viewfinder (OVF) set up in all three of my cameras:
My custom OVF displays have quite a lot of information overlay which I have become used to, however for the rest of this article, I will “turn off” most of these information and only “leave on” those which I believe are relevant to acquiring focus with these X-Series cameras.
We are now left with a much cleaner looking OVF, with just the Focus Frame at infinity (BOX 1) and Corrected AF Frame (BOX 2) as well as theDistance indicator on.
The distance indicator is pretty useful since the distance of our subject is used to calculate the amount of parallax compensation that is needed between the viewfinder window and the lens. So having an idea of how far or close our subject is can help us to acquire our desired point of focus with greater accuracy.
1. Due to the different positioning of the OVF and the lens, they naturally see focus at different points.
2. However, the camera has ONLY ONE REAL FOCUS BOX, which shows up at different locations within the OVF.
3. When we turn Corrected AF Frame on, the two boxes (BOX 1 & BOX 2) that shows up in the OVF represents the RANGE within which the REAL FOCUS BOX could be.
4. The RANGE within which the REAL FOCUS BOX can be is BETWEEN infinity (BOX 1) and the focus frame at the OVF’s minimum focus distance (BOX 2)
5. The RANGE for the X-pro 1 is infinity and 2.6ft
6. The RANGE for the X100s is infinity and 1.6ft
7. When we press the shutter down halfway to auto focus, the camera calculates the distance of our subject and a GREEN BOX appears diagonally between the RANGE.
8. This GREEN BOX is the REAL FOCUS BOX.
9. Exactly where the REAL FOCUS BOX appears within this RANGE depends on the DISTANCE of our subject – in other words, where the REAL FOCUS BOX appears between BOX 1 and BOX 2 depends on how far or near our subject is.
The GREEN BOX is the REAL FOCUS BOX – this is the actual point where the camera focuses the lens, and it will be located slightly below and to the right of where the viewfinder window perceives focus to be.
Remember that the viewfinder window and the lens are positioned at different locations – and even though we are seeing our subject through the viewfinder window, we want our final image to be how the lens sees our subject.
We want the focus point of the image we capture be where the lens focuses – the GREEN BOX is our parallax compensated FOCUS BOX, it sees our subject how the lens sees it, hence why it is the REAL FOCUS BOX.
The RED BOX (RANGE BOX) is solely for the purpose of this article and it will not show up in the camera.
Here is the same image as above but without the range box:
The distance of our subject is what determines where the REAL FOCUS BOX appears within our RANGE ; the distance indicator tells us how far or near our subject is, therefore knowing our subject distance is useful.
Let’s assume with an X-Pro 1 + the 35mm lens, when we press the shutter halfway, the camera calculated that our subject was 5ft away, and where the REAL FOCUS BOX has shown up in the illustrations of this article is a representation of that, so where the GREEN BOX has appeared between the RANGE so far is because our subject is 5ft away from us.
What if our subject was 3.6ft or 12ft away? Where between the RANGE will the GREEN BOX appear?
With our subject at 5ft away, the GREEN BOX appears relatively central between BOX 1 and BOX 2.
With our subject at 3.6ft away, the GREEN BOX appears down to the right, away from BOX 1 much closer to BOX 2.
With our subject at 12ft away, the GREEN BOX appears further up and to the left, away from BOX 2 and much closer to BOX 1.
This demonstrates that the GREEN BOX moves diagonally between BOX 1 & BOX 2 ; and exactly where it appears between these two boxes depends on the distance of our subject.
What happens if our subject is further than 12ft away or closer to us than 3.6ft?
With our subject at 30ft away, the REAL FOCUS BOX will show up within BOX 1.
At 2.6ft away, the REAL FOCUS BOX will show up within BOX 2.
Why does the REAL FOCUS BOX appear within BOX 1 & BOX 2 at these extreme distances? Beacause :
BOX 1 : Represents the focus frame at infinity.
BOX 2 : Represents the focus frame at the OVF’s minimum focus distance – which is is 2.6ft for the X-Pro 1.
Remember the RANGE BOX? let’s go back to it:
The REAL FOCUS BOX can appear anywhere within the RANGE BOX – the GREEN BOX can appear anywhere between BOX 1 & BOX 2.
When our subject is further way, i.e 30ft from us, parallax is not an issue and the couple of inches between where the viewfinder window naturally perceives focus to be and where the lens naturally perceives focus to be is meaningless.
So with subjects further away, the REAL FOCUS BOX is more or less identical to BOX 1; the viewfinder window and the lens perceives the same REAL FOCUS POINT at far distances, that is why the GREEN BOX appears within BOX 1.
If our subject is much closer i.e 3.6ft, parallax becomes an issue and the couple of inches between where the viewfinder window naturally perceives focus to be and where the lens naturally perceives focus to be now matters; however at such a close distance, parallax is so great that you are better of switching to the Electronic Viewfinder.
If our subject was 2.6ft from us, the REAL FOCUS BOX is more or less identical to BOX 2, this is the closets the OVF can focus before it hits the macro range, but parallax is great at this distance so use the EVF! The camera automatically switches to the EVF when one uses the macro function.
If our subject is at a midrange distance, i.e 5ft from us the REAL FOCUS BOX appears at the appropriate area between the RANGE BOX.
The camera’s viewfinder window and lens are positioned at different locations and as a result we have parallax.
The camera has only one real focus box, when you turn on Correct AF Frame, two boxes shows up in the OVF.
These two boxes represents focus at infinity and the OVF’s minimum focus distance – this gives us the range within which the real focus box can show up once the shutter is pressed halfway.
The distance of our subject determines exactly where within the range that the real focus box appears.
When the shutter is pressed halfway, the camera calculates the distance of our subject, compensates for parallax and shows us where the REAL FOCUS is.
This same principle applies to any of the 25 different focus points that we can chose from in the middle 2/3rd of the OVF’s frame.
I used the middle focus point throughout this article for simplicity, however, this is how things should look when we select other focus points:
When we press the shutter down halfway, the camera calculates the distance of our subject and compensates for parallax for both the focus frame and the frameline – this gives us an accurate representation of how the lens sees everything.
How much the frameline moves down and to the right depends on the distance of our subject.
For a subject far away, i.e 20ft, the frameline moves very little, in fact if our subject is beyond 20ft, i.e 30ft, the frameline doesn’t move at all. The closer our subject is, the greater the movement of the frame line.
The closer our subject is to us, the greater the parallax, hence the greater movement of the frameline ; the further our subject is away from us, there minor the parallax, hence the little movement of the frameline.
Each lens has a different Field Of View, however, the Field Of View of the Optical Viewfinder will always be larger than that of the lens attached to the camera. This is the same for the X100 and X100s albeit with a fixed 23mm lens.
The Framelines, are an approximation and just like the Corrected AF Frame and the Distance indicator, it is a tool to aid us. It might take some time getting used to it, but it is totally worth it and will become second nature in due time. The OVF is pure joy to use!
Here is a small selection of images taken under various conditions using the OVF:
Fujifilm still produces colour negative and reversal film for enthusiasts and this legacy continues to have a place in the digital arena – with the X-series of cameras giving you an option to select from a variety of Film Simulation modes.
In essence, the Film Simulation modes enable you to decide on the look of your image in terms of colour saturation and contrast, or simply lose colour altogether and go for a black & white effect. The beauty is, the camera does it all for you. All you have to do is decide what look you want for the image you’re shooting.
The standard Film Simulation options in all X-series cameras are Provia, Velvia, Astia, Monochrome (black & white) and Sepia. However, some models include PRO Neg Hi, PRO Neg Standard, and filters for the Monochrome mode.
You’ll find the options by going into the Shooting Menu and looking in the first set of controls. It’s the same tab where ISO, Image Quality and Image Size are set, just scroll further down. It’s impossible to tell you exactly which Film Simulation to use for a given situation because it’s all a matter of taste, but we can give you some pointers. If you just want a general setting because you shoot a wide range of subjects then stick with Provia; Fujifilm has chosen it as its standard setting. But if you prefer a richer, punchier look, perhaps for landscapes or nature, then Velvia will give you exactly that. Astia, on the other hand, offers a softer, more subtle rendition of colours, so would work well for portraits.
The Monochrome and Sepia Film Simulation options do exactly what they say on the tin. Monochrome will work for most subjects and gives your image a timeless feel. Sepia should probably be used more sparingly but can certainly work well at retro events when you want to give a portrait or a scene a classic old-school appearance. If your camera has the two PRO Neg options these are best for shooting portraits: Standard expands the hues available for skin tones and is intended for studio work, while Hi gives a slightly more contrasty look and is fine-tuned for outdoor portraits.
Film Simulation bracketing
Experimentation is key with the Film Simulation modes and Fujifilm has actually made this really easy on most X-series models thanks to Film Simulation Bracketing. This is found directly beneath Film Simulation in the Shooting Menu and is perfect for when you want to play around and work out what kind of image you like or if you’re simply feeling indecisive. Exactly how it’s set varies from camera to camera but here’s how it’s done on the X-Pro1…
TIP: If you shoot in RAW+JPEG mode, you can preview and shoot with the Film Simulation mode you have selected, but the original RAW file will also be saved. You can revert to standard or even change the Film Simulation mode using the RAW File Converter built into the camera itself.
An emphasis on detail, texture and pattern is what makes macro photography so
complex and unique. If done properly, macro photography can give you mind-blowing
results. In this article, let’s go through a few tips which will greatly improve your macro
photography skills and help you take dramatic and high impact shots.
Turn on macro mode: This may seem like a tip for dummies, however many beginners
forget or do not know because they’re too lazy to scan through the thick manual. Macro
mode is usually represented by a small flower on the setting dial. This lets you bring the
lens of the camera closer to the subject.
Use a tripod: Since macro photography is all about sharpness and clarity, you must use
a tripod to avoid any form of vibration that may occur. A tripod will greatly help you in
getting a sharper image.
Focus manually: When the subject is very close to the lens, the auto-focus would tend to
search backward and forward for something to focus on. It would save you a lot of time
to manually focus on the subject and would also be a lot more precise. For starters, shoot
stable objects like flowers where you can take all the time in the world to get your focus
spot on. In time and with practice, you can shoot insects and other wildlife.
Turn the flash on: A shadow can completely ruin your picture; so don’t forget to use
flash. However, you should idly shoot in brightly lit spaces. Use a reflector if you have to
fill the shadow. It would be perfect if you could adjust the intensity of the flash on your
camera, however if you cannot, tape a piece of tracing paper to the top of your flash to
adjust the brightness of the flash.
Aperture: Having the freedom to adjust your aperture settings is a big plus point as it
allows you to control the depth of field. Certain cameras do not allow you to change the
aperture setting once in macro mode. However, if they permit you to do so, you should
use a large aperture in order to blur out the background.
Macro photography is great fun and will keep you preoccupied for ages. You can
endlessly experiment with it on a variety of subjects. It will literally open up worlds
within worlds, so let those creative juices flow and let your camera go wild.