Tag: Camera

HOW TO: Set up for Action Photography

Following on from the last blog that covered what gear to use for wildlife photography, I’m going to explain how I set up my X-Series cameras for capturing action. Though some cameras are better than others for this type of photography, there are little ways to help yourself help improve your chances of capturing action.

High burst rate

Though using a high burst rate will eat through your memory cards space, shooting at a high frame rate will hopefully get a good selection of action shots.

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Auto focus

First of all make your focus point as large as possible: do this by pressing the AF button and zooming out as far as you can. With a moving subject it will be very difficult to keep the subject in a small selection zone, so give yourself the best chance possible. Continuous focus (This applies to the X-T1 and X-E2 as they have vastly improved continuous AF functionality) is really helpful with certain subjects, especially if they are coming towards you. For those of you with models that are best in single focus mode, fear not! Generally the Fujifilm lenses are quick to auto focus so if you’re following a subject you can focus, take a shot and then focus again or alternatively prefocus if you know where the subject it going to go. Some photographers use cameras in MF mode and use the AFL/AEL button to focus. This is helpful because you can then use the manual focus ring on the lens and see what is in focus via focus peaking. Experiment and see what method works best for you.

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This sequences was taken using the X-T1’s tilting screen and the XF56mm at F2.8.

ISO

My standard ISO setting is 800. To some this might seem high but the output from this is so clean that it isn’t a concern for me. If it’s a bit cloudy and I’m wanting to freeze the action I’ll push my ‘ready’ ISO to 1600. My philosophy is that it is better to have a sharp image that might be slightly noisy as you get up to than an image that might have some motion but has less or no noise.

Shark
A blue shark close up taken at ISO 1600

Shark close up100% close up – In my eyes the noise (or lack of it) is not a problem at ISO 1600

Aperture

For action photography you have to decide if you want to freeze a moment, capture the motion or something in the grey area. If you want to freeze the action you’ll generally want to use a wider aperture to get a sufficiently high shutter speed. The shutter speed required to freeze depends on the pace of the action, and your chosen aperture is determined by the light conditions and your ISO choice. The thing to remember is that shutter speed, aperture and ISO are all intertwined. If you want to read more on apertures then read this previous blog (it contains puppies!). If you want to focus on one, say a faster shutter speed, then this has an adverse affect on the other two factors. If you’re wanting to freeze the action with a fast shutter speed AND also have a large depth of field then you have to increase the ISO. It is also about prioritising the most important factor for you and then compromise with the others. When aiming to freeze the action I am generally in aperture priority mode, where I have set the ISO according to the conditions (usually over 800), and I then choose an aperture to obtain the shutter speed I want.

Frozen Kittiwake

Taken at 1/3800 sec, F5.6, ISO 800

If you want to capture motion blur, say through panning with your subject, then your shutter speed is having less of a constraint on your ISO and aperture so you can change these accordingly to reduce your shutter speed. One way to control this is through shutter speed priority, where you set shutter speed to what you want and then have the aperture in auto mode so it will change to keep the same low shutter speed (with the ISO previously set).

Panning moped

Taken at 1/13 sec, F16 ISO 200

Finally, another set up option for action is to set the aperture and shutter speed to what you want and then have the ISO in automatic mode. You could go fully manual but I find this can quickly lead to problems when trying to capture action, especially if there is a lot going on around you. This method can result in you missing fleeting moments.

Now that you know some action set ups go out and shoot! Let us know what your action set up is with the X-Series and share with us your action shots via our Fujifilm’s Facebook and Twitter. As ever, if you have any questions then please leave a comment below or contact me via:

Twitter – @benji_cherry

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BenCherryPhotography

Mobile capabilities

WiFi is becoming an increasingly common feature on cameras. It has the ability to open up lots of handy functions that would otherwise require wires, more equipment and often more time. Fujifilm has taken this function and made it possible to do a whole variety of functions without having to use any wires, stuff that you can do quickly and in any location.

Paul SchlemmerFirst and foremost, the WiFi function allows you to connect your camera with your phone or tablet and via the Fujifilm Camera Remote app you can download photos. This is really helpful if you enjoy using social media and want to upload photos while in the moment. A standout example of this is Paul Schlemmer, an X-Photographer who is constantly on the move, and often camping, but the lack of standard internet doesn’t stop him uploading photos to his brilliant Instagram account. This friendly digital nomad (and awesome beard wearer) is now uploading photos from his X100T to his phone and then to Instagram. This shows that the Fujifilm X-Series has the ability to keep your camera equipment size and weight down, it also has the ability to reduce your computer requirements to share your journey with others. As long as you’re happy with the JPEG presets available (you can’t download RAW files at the moment) then this is a lightweight travel solution. The bonus of only having the JPEGs available, is apart from the fact that the presets are wonderful, it prevents you from spending too long editing your photos, so you have more time to get out shooting.

But what if you want to share the moment with someone in person? Giving them a hard copy of an image. Well Fujifilm have created the Instax SP-1, a printer that turns your mobile device and/or camera into a modern, adapted version of a classic “polaroid camera”. You can send photos wirelessly via your camera (check compatibility) or mobile device to the printer that will then produce a print in a matter of seconds. The great Kevin Mullins used this at a wedding he was photographing and the couple burst into tears when Kevin handed them a print as he was leaving. Check out his review of the SP-1 here.

Zack Arias uses the SP-1 on his travels and it is amazing how one little camera and a printer open so many doors and start conversations. Check out his very interesting view of this helpful accessory here. 

Awful modelThe Fujifilm Camera Remote app isn’t just about sending files to your mobile device. As the title suggests you can control your camera and effectively use your device as the camera’s viewfinder. To the more vain amongst us, this is brilliant for selfies.. Possibly the ultimate selfies?! I use this function a lot when testing out lighting for a portrait session before the subject turns up, cutting down the length of the shoot and the amount of their time I take up. It has also really helped me improve my understanding of lighting as I can experiment as much as I like without bothering the subject, as I’m the subject! I simply set the camera up on a tripod and use my phone to position myself correctly, as well as seeing the result and changing my lighting set up accordingly. The problem with this is you can often get carried away and pretend that you can pull off a good selfie!

Ben Fuji app At the other end of the vanity scale, I’ve used the wireless preview to photograph timid wildlife. By setting up the camera on a tripod in a location I know they will visit, I was able to retreat a bit to be less of a deterrent for the subject. In the adjacent picture I’m using the app with an X-T1 on a monopod to get closer to a puffin on a cliff edge (Photo courtesy of Duncan Jackson).

Zack Arias often takes advantage of the live preview on his phone for street photography. Check out this brilliant video of Zack exploring Marrakech and showing how he takes advantage of the app.

Finally, you can use the GPS tracking in your phone to automatically tag images with your geo-location. Great for helping you keep a record of where you’ve been. You simply connect the devices using the previously mentioned apps, syncronise the GPS location and then it will automatically update periodically as you move around.

Fujifilm has fully embraced WiFi technology to make wireless features and products that can really benefit a photographer, amateur and professional alike. With Fujifilm you can always expect improvements through firmware updates as well. The up and coming X-T1 upgrade has got some headline improvements already made public (check out my last blog on this). Who knows what Fujifilm will offer next to take advantage of mobile capabilities? What would you like to see?

My love affair with EVFs

When I first started using the Fujifilm X-Series last summer I didn’t realise how helpful electronic viewfinders (EVFs) can be. Being able to see a live view of the exposure and then adjusting this via the exposure compensation dial means that I am more efficient. When using SLRs it is often difficult to get exposure compensation exactly right the first time around, this often means you take a photograph multiple times to get it just right. With X-Series cameras you are able to see how an exposure adjustment will effect the exposure of the image before you take the photo. This is especially helpful for fleeting moments, especially in quickly changing light.

The exposure compensation can be adjusted in post-production but I feel the live view produced by EVFs has helped me improve my photography. This makes my editing workflow shorter, which is always an advantage.

I found this feature particularly helpful when taking silhouettes, such as the images of Chesterton windmill in the gallery below.

EVFs are also very helpful with non-Fujifilm lenses or using Fujifilm lenses in manual mode as they can accurately show when the focus is correct. Even with the X100s and X-Pro1, which have hybrid viewfinders, I use them almost exclusively in EVF mode instead of OVF mode because, for me, it offers more benefits.

Weather resistance in windy Wales

A friend and I decided to go camping in Wales, which perfectly coincided with the passing of the ex-hurricane Bertha! To many this is a bizarre time to choose to go camping, but from a landscape photography perspective, angry weather equals exciting weather.

At the moment I am trying to train myself to only use prime lenses as Fujifilm offers such a wide variety covering lots of helpful focal lengths (the announcement of the XF90mm f2 R and XF16mm f1.4 R being added to the lens roadmap is very exciting). The reason for this is that to me they inspire creativity, using the fixed focal length makes me think more about composition and simply take more time with each picture. However, the thought of changing lenses in high winds and heavy rain atop a cliff wasn’t particularly appealing so the ever-camera-bag-present XF18-135mm came into its own. Having previously used a prototype version of the lens on the Farne Islands (see my initial impressions here) this was the first time I had really put the production version through its paces and I have to say it passed with flying colours.

Because I was generally taking landscape photographs I didn’t miss the wonderful wide aperture capabilities of prime lenses. The other bonus of using the XF18-135mm was the fast auto focus and probably, more importantly, the weather sealing. Once mounted to the X-T1 the weather resistance system left me with one less thing to think about while battling the hazardous conditions.

I wasn’t the only thing out enjoying the powerful winds though, a few fulmar were flying around the cliffs, putting on a very impressive aerial display. This was a great opportunity to try the continuous focus in mirky conditions with a very fast moving subject. Once locked on the keeper rate was very high.

Enjoying the conditions

Fulmar

Target ahead

Fulmar-3

Cliff flyby

Fulmar-2

Fulmar in the scene

Welsh cliffs

The other very helpful feature of the XF18-135mm lens is the 5-stop image stabilisation which proved very helpful in countering the blustery and often dark conditions.

Setting Welsh sun

Welsh sea

Going further against my plan to use only prime lenses, the other lens used extensively was the XF10-24mm R OIS on the X-Pro1. Again I went with the practicality and versatility offered by this wide angle zoom lens. Despite this being a zoom, I loved using it at the ultra wide 10mm end to capture as much of the impressive scenes in front of me as possible.

Incoming shower

Welsh coast

Boisterous waves

Welsh coast-2

Overall it was a great few days for photography, but before you go off camping in inclement weather, make sure you check with others you drag along, as the X-T1 – XF18-135mm set up is weather resistant and ready for anything, but they might not be so obliging.