I am a Norwegian extreme sports photographer and a Fujifilm X-Photographer. I was lucky to get a call from Fujifilm in the beginning of 2016 regarding switching to Fujifilm. I got to try their gear and immediately fell in love.
I was curious of how the equipment would work for my use but as it turned out it worked great.
When I started the transition to Fujifilm, I brought my full frame setup with me just in case the Fujifilm system didn’t perform the way I needed it to. Lets just say that the full frame system quickly found a shelf in my office.
Small and lightweight:
One of the first and very important things I noticed when switching from full frame to the mirrorless system was weight. That is a considerable change and a massive advantage, when hiking, not only in the back country but also in ski resorts. When I am shooting in a resort for example, I usually ride snowboard with the camera in my hand, it goes without saying that I need a camera that is durable and can withstand rough treatment, and I really feel that has been the case with both the X-Pro2 and the X-T2.
I do most of my work in harsh conditions around the world, but Norway is usually the biggest challenge, with both snow and humid weather. It really puts the equipment to the test. I was struggling a bit, with my previous setup, with moisture in my lenses, and they would fog up when I was shooting in sunlight, but I have not had any problems with that after switching, which has been great for me. That is mostly thanks to the WR lenses that Fujifilm are producing.
Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)
Together with being lightweight, the EVF is a huge change when switching from a standard full frame camera to a mirrorless camera. It took me two days to fully adjust, but once I did, I have never looked back.
On sunny days up the mountains with snow all around, using the screen to check focus, details, or just look at your picture used to be a big challenge because of all the ambient light. But now I just look though the EVF, browse my photos, check details, sharpness exposure, just to name a few, and all that without ambient light spilling on to the screen.
The EVF also gives you a live exposure, which means that you see the final result with the settings you have chosen on the camera. That has made me a better photographer. I don’t shoot over or underexposed files any more. When a cloud covers the sun for only a brief second I am adjusting to get the perfect exposure, because I can see the smallest change. That is also a serious advantage when working with snow, which can so easy be over exposed.
Sometimes I shoot sequences. I do that to show a trick, or a big jump. When you are shooting a high-speed trick you need a quick shutter. That is exactly what the X-T2 has to offer. When you use the camera without the grip it produces 8 fps, but when you put the grip on, and turn on the boost button, you get 14 fps. Which is ridiculously fast!
In my line of work I sometimes just put one or two lenses in my jacket pocket and ride with the camera in my hand. That is why I am very dependent of flexible zoom lengths. So the three mostly used camera lenses I have are the XF50-140mm, XF16-55mm and the XF10-24mm. Those three I rely on with most of my field shooting but I do love to play around with prime lenses and I do it more and more. I just love the XF35mm for portraits and lifestyle. I bring it with me everywhere I travel.
You know, when you are holding a Fujifilm camera. You just want to go out and play with it. I could definitely recognize that when I picked up my first Fujifilm – the X-T1. I fell in love with the way Fujifilm makes their cameras. Shutter, ISO, Aperture, all on the outside. It is the feeling of crafting a picture with you own hands, and it looks beautiful.
I am really looking forward to a full season of shooting with both the X-Pro2 and the X-T2. And the old bulky and heavy full frame setup is out for sale.
I am not saying that you have to go and buy a Fujifilm camera, but I can strongly recommend everyone considering a new camera to have a serious look at the Fujifilm X-series.
As well as shooting trackside and pitlane action, FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and European Le Mans Series (ELMS) official photo agency Adrenal Media are always looking to provide some very special images from each of the events.
Creative Director and Fujifilm X-Photographer John Rourke invited German race team Proton Competition to bring both of their Porsche 911 RSR 991 race cars to La Source at the recent ELMS weekend at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium to photograph their car using a rig and a Fujifilm X-T2 to capture a shot of the two race cars from an unique vantage point.
The rig is a 6 metre carbon fibre four section boom made by UK firm Car Camera Rig that is fixed to the car using high powered suction clamps.
The camera, which is a FUJIFILM X-T2 fitted with the XF10-24mm ultra-wide angle zoom lens, is then fixed in position to the end of the boom. To achieve the correct exposure the camera is fitted with a Formatt Hitech filter system, in this case a Polariser and an ND Grad and then an ND filter to extend the shutter speed to around 10 seconds. This allows Adrenal Media to take images from a position that would not be possible to take when the cars are on track racing.
Using a long shutter speed of between 8 to 10 seconds the movement in the shot is achieved at walking pace by team members pushing the cars and the result is an image that makes it look like both Porsches are moving at racing speed.
“We started asking teams to provide us their cars back in May for these special images but this shot with Proton Competition is the first we’ve done with two cars from the same team,” said John Rourke. “The reason we use the rig is to take images of the cars from a vantage point that would be impossible to do in the real world.”
“Each shot takes around 20-30 minutes to complete once the rig is attached to the car,” John continued. “The rig itself is lightweight thanks to the carbon fibre construction so it doesn’t take long to put in position, the biggest issue we have is finding a place to attach the suction clamps to the bodywork of the car. Some cars are wrapped, so the suction clamps don’t have a perfect seal, so we usually do a pre-shoot recce with the team to ensure there are mounting points where the rig can be securely attached to the bodywork of the car.”
Mounting the suction cups
Mounting the suction cups
“The X-T2 is the perfect camera for this type of shot. The 24mp X-Trans III sensor gives us high resolution images to work with and the tilt screen is a real help when the camera is attached upside down to the end of the boom.”
“The biggest challenge with shooting with two cars was keeping both Porsches moving at the same speed and we did the shot a few times to make sure we had one that we were all happy with.”
Once an image is selected, it is then edited by John to remove the boom and other elements that shouldn’t be in the final shot. The result is a dramatic image that highlights the excitement of racing in the European Le Mans Series.
The 10th July 2015 was a landmark date in the history of Nottinghamshire. When the last shift at Thoresby Colliery finished on that day not only did it mark the end of 90 years of mining in the village of Edwinstowe but it signals the end of mining in Nottinghamshire.
The pit opened in 1925 and over the years has employed tens of thousands of local people. It was one of 46 coalmines in Nottinghamshire, which supplied more than 14 million tonnes of coal per year at their peak in the early 1960s.
The first two shafts were sunk to 690m in 1925 and subsequently deepened in the 1950s to the current pit bottom at around 900m depth.
Thoresby Colliery was the first to have fully mechanised coal production and also the first to achieve an annual saleable output of more than a million tons, it became a star performer in the British coal mining industry.
In the late 1980s it raised output to exceed 2 million tons, regularly smashing it’s production records, and the colliery became known as the Jewel in the crown of Nottinghamshire mines. A crown sits proudly on the headstocks in recognition of this achievement.
When the coal industry was nationalised in 1947 it employed a million men at 1,503 pits; prior to the miners’ strike in 1984, there were 180,000 miners at 170 pits. Today there are just two deep mines left, employing about 5,000 men, at Thoresby and Kellingley in Yorkshire. Kellingley will suffer the same fate as Thoresby and closes in the autumn.
UK Coal say market pressures have led to the closure of Thoresby Colliery. Coal generates more than a third of Britain’s electricity, but it is cheaper to import coal from countries such as Russia, South Africa and Colombia than to mine it in the UK.
For the past few months I have been recording the colliery, it’s buildings, plant and people for posterity. It was my aim to create a comprehensive record of the pit at a specific point in time immediately prior to its closure.
It was a chance conversation after giving a camera club lecture that started the ball rolling. A chap in the audience worked at Thoresby and was unfortunately in the first wave of redundancies. He asked if I would be interested in visiting the colliery to take a few pictures. It was a fantastic opportunity and I jumped at the chance. He put me in touch with the Health and Safety manager, I explained what I would like to do and we were off and running. It was at this point, after I had gained their agreement to document the colliery, that the full extent of the task dawned on me.
Starting the project
I visited the colliery on seven occasions, at different times of day, in different lighting conditions, including dawn and dusk. I planned each shoot but found that an outline plan whilst retaining a degree of flexibility to react to opportunities worked best.
At the outset I just toured the site to give me an understanding of the buildings, the machinery, the operation and the people. I took snaps to create a digital scrapbook to help me plan my approach. Essentially I was imbibing the atmosphere much as I would do when visiting a foreign destination for the first time. I wanted to get a real feeling for the place before I started the photography in earnest.
Health & Safety manager Grant was so supportive of my visits giving me more time than I could have wished for. Even coming in at 3.30am for a dawn shoot and returning to work late in the evening to get “the best of the light” didn’t diminish his enthusiasm. In fact he joked that, after watching me, he would now be able to take the best holiday snaps ever! I hope he does.
All of the images were shot on a Fujifilm X-T1 or X-E1 camera using a selection of Fujifilm XF lenses including the 10-24, 18-55 and 55-200 zoom lenses and 14, 23, 35 and 56mm primes. I also used a Nissin i40 flash for some shots, though preferred to use natural light wherever possible.
For my portraits, the unobtrusive Fuji equipment allowed me to concentrate on building a rapport with my subjects rather than intimidate them with a large DSLR and f2.8 lens combination. Miners might be tough guy’s and supermodels they certainly are not but they seemed to relax pretty quickly in front of my Fuji lenses.
There were several challenges to overcome not least the light levels that were typically pretty low in all of the buildings. Because of the poor light I used a tripod fitted with a ball and socket head for as many shots as possible. My cameras are fitted with arca swiss type plates so that I can switch from landscape format to portrait very easily and without having to waste time readjusting the tripod.
The mix of different light sources from tungsten, to fluorescent and natural meant it was difficult to assess the ideal colour temperature. However the decision early on to convert all the images to black & white certainly helped counter that problem!
In a coal mine dust was another inevitable and unavoidable issue. As the miners told me it’s not only the dust you can see that is the problem and I was very careful when changing lenses and using two bodies certainly helped. Thankfully the in camera sensor cleaning worked well and I was pleasantly surprised at the minimum amount of dust spotting required.
Working on a project
As my photography has progressed I have found that I prefer to look at a series of images that tell a story rather than seeing individual impactful pictures. Whilst I have adopted this storytelling approach in my travel and landscape photography this project was a whole different ballgame. This wasn’t going to be a six or ten image set but a large body of work that had to be planned and created in a certain style. I found this experience fascinating, though at first it was pretty daunting. However after a couple of visits I had captured some shots I was very pleased with and the plan started to fall into place. I think the discipline required in a project such as this has helped me to improve my photography and it felt good to be succeeding in this new genre of social documentary photography.
In an attempt to capture the “feel” of the colliery, and to bring completeness to the project, I also recorded various sounds around the pit and organised a series of interviews with miners past and present. I will be producing mini AV’s including these sounds and using the miner’s comments in my presentations.
It is very easy to stick to what we know in photography and limit yourself to a particular genre. Whilst my experience as a travel photographer, where you are required to be adept at many different genres, undoubtedly helped me there were aspects of this project that were not so familiar. As a result I feel I have grown as a photographer and I would urge you to move out of your comfort zone and try something new. There will be similar opportunities in your area, seek and ye shall find!
Capturing a piece of history
As I progressed through the project I realised that I was not only taking pictures for myself but that I was actually recording a piece of history, an enduring record of a place that, in just a few months time, would be gone forever. With that came a feeling of responsibility, not only to do myself justice but also to represent the life and work of the mining community. Apart from my family photographs, this project is the most important and worthwhile piece of work that I have ever created. Whilst there is clearly interest in the work now, what will its importance be in another 10 or 20 years?
A personal perspective
This project has been a fantastic experience. It has improved my photography, taken me into a different genre and enlightened my knowledge of an otherwise mysterious industry.
It has been a pleasure to work with the team at Thoresby, without whom I would not have been able to produce this body of work. Whilst the colliery may not draw its workers from the immediate village area, as in years gone by, their camaraderie, team spirit, hard work and no nonsense attitude in this tough and uncompromising industry epitomise the best of British workers. The closure of Thoresby truly is the end of an era.
I feel it is important to showcase my images to as wide an audience as possible, especially in the local area. Therefore, after securing feature in the local and national press, I will be staging a major exhibition in Nottinghamshire and am planning to produce a book – more details to follow.
Just to make it clear, I am not an underwater photographer. I have dabbled in it from time to time in locations of incredible marine life, such as snorkelling around coral reefs. The North Sea has a high abundance of marine life and the coast of Penzance is one of two places that you can consistently see blue sharks (the other is Cape Town). So when Danny Copeland, a fellow University of Sheffield Zoology graduate, spoke about his plan to go and see them with Charles Hood, a local charter skipper (http://charleshood.com), I jumped at the chance to join him.
Previously I have used DSLRs for underwater photography in a Ewa-Marine underwater housing. This time though I wanted to continue to push the X-T1 in difficult conditions so I put it in the same housing with the 10-24mm. Despite being dwarfed by the bag, the set up worked really well.
Thanks to Danny Copeland for this photo of me and the camera. Follow Danny on twitter to get the latest on underwater photography and marine conservation.
Once we reached 10 miles out to sea we started chumming using mackerel heads (yum) to attract the sharks. Once they were in the area the four of us that went on the trip were able to slip into the water. Once I had checked the housing was sealed I swam around to find some subjects and came across this large jellyfish surrounded by lots of little fish. This example highlights the benefit of using a zoom lens underwater as I was able to get two very different perspectives using different focal lengths.
Conditions were generally slightly overcast which actually meant there was a lovely soft light, which helped control the highlights that would have been a problem if it was a clear, sunny day. However this did mean that it was slightly dark in the water, even at the surface, so I shot at ISO 1600 to start and pushed this as the sediment levels rose throughout the day. Other settings I made sure I had set up on the boat were: continuous focus with focus priority, continuous high speed shooting (8fps), matrix metering and LCD only display. Generally I was using aperture f5.6 to strike a balance between a fast shutter speed and a good depth of field.
Because I was wearing a mask and the camera was in a housing I couldn’t utilise the wonderful EVF but instead found the LCD screen to be a great alternative. It allowed me to have a clear view of the shark(s) by not having my face to the camera and provided easy viewing of composition through the back of the camera. The advantage of the X-T1 is that I have not noticed any difference in focusing speeds between the EVF and LCD, which isn’t always the case. All of these factors meant that I could really take in this remarkable experience as one shark in particular became more and more inquisitive…
Rising out of the depth
Coming in for a closer look
Moments before bumping the lens!
The camera only helped to make the experience more memorable, with the shark showing interest in it. With an animal like this it was so interesting to witness its intelligence and curiosity, the term ‘spaniels of the sea’ I feel is very apt. At one stage the shark photo-bombed a picture of Danny!
Despite coming very close, it whole situation was very calm and meant that the interaction was an absolute joy. The shark even seemed to show a happy expression.
Overall, the X-T1 and 10-24mm set up exceeded my expectations. I knew it would follow subjects well but I thought that shooting through water would probably lower the hit rate. However, the only factor that affected this was human error. With a specifically designed underwater housing, this camera and lens set up would be a brilliant choice for any underwater photographer, with its small size, clear controls and superb image quality.