X-Thusiast Featured Photographer of the Month: Michael DeBeen

Fujifilm Australia is thrilled to introduce our June 2016 X-Thusiast Featured Photographer: Michael DeBeen. Hailing from Geelong, Victoria, Michael is a horologist, calligrapher and gifted photographer with a penchant for exploring the great outdoors. In this month’s Q&A, Michael shares how he uses the science of photography to capture striking shots in vivid detail with his Fujifilm X-T1.

“Little Gepetto,” Fujifilm X-T1 + XF56mmF1.2 @ F2.5

How did you develop an interest in Fujifilm photography, and how would you describe your photographic style?

This is a tough question—I’m not sure what was the pivoting point that led me to photography. Throughout my life, I have been attracted to ideas and pursue them obsessively. It is simultaneously a gift and a fault of my personality, and photography is a product of this.

I consider myself technical-minded, and it may have been the science of photography that initially gained my attention. Things like lens and sensor design are fascinating to me. One of the reasons I became interested in Fujifilm was its unique X-Trans sensor array that negates the need for any anti-aliasing filter to minimise moiré.

My first exposure to photography was almost two years ago now, when, after much deliberation, I bought my first camera: the Fujifilm X-T1.

Before my interest in photography sparked, I never considered myself creative. I had a clear structure in my mind where science and arts were on opposite sides of a great divide. It wasn’t until recently when a friend commended my creativity that I realised there isn’t such a divide, and you can’t have one without the other.

While consistency is important to me, I don’t actively seek it in my photographs. I take each photograph as they come and try to find an ideal look for that particular image. It has a little to do with intuition and a lot to do with over-analysis and micro-adjustments. Perhaps some day someone wiser than I will help me understand and articulate my photographic style. Until then, I’ll continue being my usual oblivious self.

“Cappuccino” Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 @ F1.2, 1/2000sec, ISO200.

What’s your favourite location to shoot in Australia? Your favourite subject?

So far, in Australia, my favourite location to shoot is the Great Otway National Park and the Great Ocean Road. It is wonderfully refreshing and calming, even from a non-photography perspective.

I look forward to exploring more of Australia in my future, and discovering more of its sights.
As for my favourite subject, that can change by the day. I appreciate minimalism—especially if I can find something striking without distractions.

“Beach” Fujifilm X-T1+ Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 @ F1.2, 1/4000, ISO200

Why did you choose the Fujifilm X-T1, and what is your favorite aspect?

Touching on what I mentioned before: The X-Trans sensor contributed to my choice, but it wasn’t the only deciding factor. My priorities for a camera system were quality (both image and physical), functionality, weight/size and support.

The Fujifilm X-T1 ticked all these boxes.

I was (and still am) impressed with the clarity and colour rendition of the X-Trans II sensor. Fujifilm’s choice to implement additional features such as an intervalometer, filmic profiles in-camera and their commitment to support even their dated cameras via software updates is a benefit some other manufacturers often overlook.

The X-T1 was Fujifilm’s current flagship interchangeable lens camera. I liked the X-Pro1 aesthetically, but couldn’t justify it over the technical improvements that the X-T1 offered. I love the idea of the X100 series, but I wasn’t in the market for a fixed lens system.

It is difficult for me to choose one feature over any other as a favourite, but the 0.005-second refresh rate of the electronic viewfinder is at the top of the list.

Which Fujinon lens(es) do you prefer to use with your Fujifilm X-T1 camera?

My favourite X-Mount lens is the Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 (~85mm full frame equivalent). It is such a flattering lens, it’s practically impossible to take a bad photo.

And while I was traveling through Europe, the Fujinon XF23mmF1.4 (~35mm equivalent) was invaluable. It is an incredibly versatile lens.

Could you describe your photographic workflow/process? Do you prefer any particular editing tools, social networks or camera accessories to enhance your work?

There is not much to say other than I still have a lot to learn. That is true of everything in life.

Although the X-T1 is very capable of producing brilliant results straight out of the camera—especially when you consider Fujifilm’s film simulations—I always finalise whatever I envisioned in post-production.

Beyond exposure, my most valued in-camera settings are the RAW file-type and the Adobe RGB colour space. I pay close attention to the histogram. The dynamic range of the X-T1 is admirable, so unless I am in an unusual situation, I will prioritise highlights and do my best to not clip them unless it is unavoidable.

Ideally I try to keep a rounded histogram so that when I get it to my computer I have as much data as possible.

My post-production workflow is probably best described as disorderly. I have not yet found a single software solution that can do everything I need in one neat package. I extensively use Adobe Photoshop CC as a tool to refine, polish and offer greater levels of photo manipulation. To complement Photoshop, I also use Adobe Lightroom and Phase One Capture One Pro 9 regularly.

London Tourist, Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF23mmF1.4 @ F1.4, 1/2000, ISO800, polarising filter

Do you have any advice to new photographers?

Do not delete your photos! Once you become more confident in your abilities, you will return to them with a fresh perspective, and you will find hidden gems that you previously overlooked. If you are happy using your camera on auto, the best thing you can teach yourself is how spot, matrix and scene metering modes affect your exposure.

Any final thoughts, tips or advice?

A significant influence to my ideas and final results as a photographer is print and framing—how the image will appear on different paper stock, and how it can be complemented by a different frame.

Photography now being a predominantly digital format makes it easy to forget about your photos. Even if you are just starting out, don’t shy away from printing them. It’s important to have a tangible representation of your work.

You can find more of Michael’s compelling work on his Instagram account here.

Interested in joining the X-thusiast community and sharing your own story? See the full X-Thusiast Gallery and Submission details here.

Author: Leigh Diprose

Leigh works at Fujifilm Australia as a Direct Market Communications Specialist. He is an experienced photographer and blogger who enjoys sharing his extensive imaging knowledge with photographers around the world. To learn more about Fujifilm Australia's products visit http://www.fujifilm.com.au/

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