Needless to say, Iceland is a pretty awesome place. And with awesome places comes awesome and often very extreme weather. During my recent travels around Iceland, I endured everything from minor sandstorms to a fully fledged blizzard as we crossed the mountains into Akureyri.
Our first X-Thusiast featured photographer of 2017 is Michael Pilsworth, who hails from Western Australia and enjoys wedding landscape and coastal photography.
Let’s start with the basics, Michael. Where are you from? What are your hobbies? What are some important aspects of your life?
I’m lucky enough to live in the picturesque southwest of Western Australia, which has some of the most stunning coastlines in the world. For over 10 years my work was my hobby, as my wife and I photographed around 45 weddings per year. At each wedding, I would annoy my wife incessantly with the need to place the bride and groom “right over there on that rock” to photograph a spectacular sky and landscape — with the bride and groom, of course. After a change in direction due to a family situation in 2012, I became employed in a role in which I travel by road to most of Regional Western Australia, and now photograph those landscapes purely for enjoyment.
“Little Beach, Albany-Western Australia” by Michael Pilsworth, Fujifilm X-T1 + XF10-24mm – F22 – 10mm ISO200 – 27 seconds
How did you develop an interest in Fujifilm products? How would you describe your photographic style?
Carrying two Canon bodies and lenses for 10 to 12 hours a day at a wedding has some definite wear-and-tear effect. The last couple of years of wedding photography saw us change over from Canon to Fujifilm after reading how Australian wedding photographer James Day was enjoying the colour, focus, range, ease, benefits and style of the Fujifilm. I still placed brides and grooms “on top of that hill over there,” but what was produced from the Fujifilm had a different style altogether. Images were insanely crisper and cleaner, with zero focus issues, and incredible colour and depth. My wife – who culled, proofed and edited – found colour-correcting, tone and output of images were fast and accurate due to the Fujifilm capturing what we intended at the time.
What constitutes a good photograph for you? What inspires your photography?
Being a photographer in the southwest – with the calibre of nice blokes Christian Fletcher, Tony Hewitt and Ben Knapinski in my midst and as inspiration – forces you to take unique photographs. For me, capturing the different and the unusual is vital to keep mastering the unique image. I chase the setting sun in different locations from as far as Broome and Derby to farther south at Esperance. Although my wife tells me the sunrise is supremely more beautiful – I have yet to verify that statement.
“Mutton Bird Island, Albany-Western Australia” by Michael Pilsworth, Fujifilm X-T1 + XF10-24mm – F8 – 10.5mm ISO400 – 8.5 seconds
Where are your favourite places to shoot in Australia?
A favourite location is difficult to choose from the places I have visited. The Pilbara and Kimberley areas are up high on the list of favourites due to the forever-changing and altering landscape from month to month, wet season to dry season, and there is an endless list of locations I have yet to explore. In contrast, though, a drive through Balingup and Bridgetown on a foggy, wintry day is often just as spectacular.
“Pilbara, Western Australia,” by Michael Pilsworth, Fujifilm X-T1 + XF50-140mm – F8 – 66mm – ISO200 – 1/220s
Why did you choose the Fujifilm X-T1?
Apart from the size and the feel in my hand of a solid camera, the return of functions that remind me of the film cameras of my youth was a real delight of the X-T1. I am continually amazed and bore my family to tears with my enthusiastic diatribes of explanations on the output of images of clarity and depth of the X-T1. Shoving the back of the camera into their faces, exclaiming “zoom up, have a look at that!” is regular dinnertime conversation.
Where is your dream destination to shoot?
Returning to Karijini [National Park] after my one and only visit in 2010 is definitely on the list. Taking the Fujifilm’s through the gorges would be a real test of their capabilities.
“Tree Farm — Gin Gin, Western Australia” by Michael Pilsworth, Fujifilm X-T1 + XF50-140mm – F8 – 74.4mm – ISO200 – 1/200s
Which Fujinon lens or lenses do you prefer to use with your Fujifilm X-T1 camera? Tell us why.
I love the XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR. I like that it’s water-resistant, great low light capabilities and I like how it compresses the image on my landscapes. I have also been shooting with the 18-55mmF2.8-4 and 55-200mmF3.5-4.8 kit lenses and they are absolutely beautiful lenses; they are solid construction and the quality of images they produce are outstanding.
Do you prefer any particular editing tools, social networks or camera accessories to enhance your work?
Most of my editing is done in Adobe Lightroom. I edit on the road, so Lightroom on a laptop is ideal – then uploading to Instagram and Facebook. I use a remote trigger and a 10-stop ND filter as well as a Polariser filter. I also manually focus most of the time and use hyperfocal distance calculations.
“Sand Dunes Near Lancelin, Western Australia,” by Michael Pilsworth, Fujifilm X-T1, XF50-140mm – F11 – 140mm – ISO200 – 1/450s
Do you have advice for new photographers or the next potential X-Thusiast?
Watch lots of tutorials and learn from the masters who love to educate. But most of all just keep shooting (with a Fujifilm of course).
Any final thoughts or tips?
Anxiously waiting on the release medium-format Fujifilm GFX 50S. The capabilities of this camera to capture and reproduce higher-quality resolution and print to a large spectacular size is something I am keen to try.
At the beginning of December, I was on my way to California for a part-work, part-fun gig in SoCal. Being that this was only my 2nd trip to California and my first to the coast, I wanted to take everything that I thought I might need. One of the perks of the FUJIFILM X Series system is that I’m able to bring a lot of gear without having to worry about my bag being too heavy, on account of everything being so small and light compared to a DSLR system.Gear List:
FUJIFILM XF10-24mmF4 R OIS
FUJIFILM XF16mmF1.4 R WR
FUJIFILM XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
FUJIFILM XF35mmF1.4 R
FUJIFILM XF56mmF1.2 R
FUJIFILM XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR
FUJIFILM XF1.4x TC & XF2.0x TC
Formatt-HItech Firecrest Holder
Formatt-HItech Firecrest 10-stop ND & 3-stop ND Grad
13” Macbook Pro
1TB SSD Hard Drive
Anker PowerCore 20000
The Camps Bay ONA Camera Bag in Smoke
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with shooting out of airplane windows. I’ve taken some beautiful shots, and some terrible ones, but regardless I always give it a shot and hope for the right combination of clouds and terrain to come away with something cool. For the first time in the sky I gave the X-T2 with XF50-140mm and XF1.4X Teleconverter a shot and it ended up being really awesome. Typically I have always tried shooting wide and always seemed to get the wing of the plane, reflections, or window scratches that made my shots unusable. But zooming in that far, and having the crazy good image stabilization of the 50-140 gave me some spectacular results.When I finally landed in San Diego, I only had a few hours to get checked into my hotel and find a good spot to shoot the sunset before I had to shoot the event I was in town for. I grabbed my ONA bag and ran out the door to see what I could find. I just made my way toward the west-facing beach of Coronado. This was my first “true” California coastal sunset, and it was a colorful cloudless sky. I took a few shots but mostly just took it in and enjoyed the moment.Day 2 started when a friend picked me up and we drove out to Anza Borrego. It was an unbelievable experience for this midwestern boy; in just 2 hours, we went from beautiful rolling hills and coastline to mountainous desert. We spent some time shooting from Font’s Point which gave a breathtaking view of the terrain spread out in front of us. This was everything I always expected from California: palm trees and vast expansive desert spread out in front of me. We spent a few hours shooting the beautiful textures and colors of the desert before moving on.Heading back towards the coast, we decided that the next stop would be the rocks of Corona Del Mar. Despite slipping multiple times and having extremely soggy shoes, I was thankful to have experienced one of the most beautiful sunsets of my entire life. Having 2 camera bodies is absolutely essential for the kind of work that I like to do. I split my time between my X-Pro2 with XF10-24mm set up on a tripod shooting long exposures, and my X-T2 with XF50-140mm combo in hand snapping away at boats, water and really fine-tuning my compositions with the compressed field of view. Having the 50-140 lens has turned me from a 100% wide shooter to a 60/40 tele/wide shooter and it has made such a huge impact on the work that I create.The next day was spent shooting around the picturesque Laguna beach area. It was a semi-low tide so we climbed to an area along the coast that has a sinkhole with beautiful swirling water, and set up our gear. After a bit of droning and waiting to see what we would get in terms of a sunset burn, we all got a bit ambitious and ventured further out on the rocks that were exposed by the low tide. While setting up on a tripod to get some water movement shots, a rogue wave came out of nowhere and completely soaked me and my camera. There has never been a time that I was more thankful to have weather-resistant gear. I spent the rest of the night soaking wet from head to toe, but was able to continue to shoot the rest of the sunset.After drying off at my hotel and grabbing a couple hours of sleep, I decided that my final morning before flying home was going spent in Long Beach shooting the sun coming up behind The Queen Mary. I arrived to a beautiful star-filled sky, giving me enough time to nitpick and get the composition that I really wanted. As I sat there on the rocks with my X-T2 on-tripod in front of me just waiting for the perfect moment, I thought about all I was able to experience on such a short trip, and how there is so much more of the world to see and explore. I couldn’t ask for anything better than being constantly inspired to create by my surroundings, and the gear that helps me capture it all.
As a Fujifilm X-Photographer and dedicated fan of the Fujifilm X Series System, I had a feeling that something new was coming! The X-T1 was a terrific camera, one that has served me very well for the past few years, but when I experienced an early prototype of the X-Pro2, I started wishing and praying the X-T2 would have those fantastic improvements if and when it arrived.For just a minute, let’s pretend (I love to pretend, so let’s pretend) that Fujifilm called me and said, “Bill, what would you like to have in the new X-T2?” Well, when I got the chance to shoot an early prototype of the X-T2, I realized just how innovative and talented those folks at Fujifilm really are: it’s as if the X Series engineers could read my mind! Fujifilm doesn’t make life very easy for us, choosing between the already incredible X-Pro2 and the now newly released X-T2. The new X-T2 is the perfect option for people like me that do a number of different kinds of photography: nature/landscape, wildlife, travel, close-ups and Americana. The newly developed viewfinder in the X-T2 is the best electronic viewfinder of any Fujifilm camera so far – and that’s saying a lot! With increased magnification and resolution, the X-T2 is a pleasure to see the world through – and with that viewfinder, it’s a beautiful world.One of the new features that is especially valuable for capturing a variety of moods in landscape photography is the new ACROS Black and White film simulation. I shoot in jpeg file mode and shoot Velvia, Provia and Acros as my three film simulations. When studying a landscape’s potential, I need the three options for capturing the best scene in the most effective way. The X-T2 is wonderful in how easy it makes it for me to do just that: this camera is the perfect instrument for all landscape photographers.The newly developed X-Trans CMOS III sensor gives a great boost in resolution with its 24.3 megapixels. It has gorgeous gradation and maintains superb low noise performance as the previous X-T1 sensor, actually even around a stop better.Another sheer joy on the X-T2 is the placement and action of the buttons and dials, all making the use of the camera sleekly enhanced. The new joystick is a great improvement for moving the focus points and one improvement I can’t live without now that I’ve experienced it.Hey, all this is wonderful but the bottom line for any camera is the image quality and the new X-T2 delivers in spades. Team the new X-T2 with those incredible FUJINON XF lenses and the results are simply amazing. Once again, Fujifilm has delivered up a fantastic tool for us to go out into this beautiful world and capture it all.
Need inspiration? X-Photographer Chris Upton has plenty to give here with his story into the Fujifilm X system along with his tips & tricks for better photos.
Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography? How did you develop your style in photography?
I am a photographer based in Nottinghamshire, UK with a passion for Travel, Landscape and Social Documentary photography.
My love of photography started in my teens when I used the camera to record walking and climbing trips around the UK but especially in the Peak District and Lake District. As my knowledge developed and results improved, the emphasis changed from less walking to more photography. In those days I was shooting 35mm slide film and enjoyed processing my own black & white prints in my darkroom at home. As with many other photographers the shift to digital helped to improve my photography and it’s certainly more comfortable processing images in the digital whiteroom!
Over the years I have been fortunate to travel widely and consequently this has become my favourite genre of photography. I find it an amazing experience to observe and photograph a variety of cultures, people and landscapes, and hope that through my photographs I can bring a little of this to the viewer and inspire others to experience the beauty and diversity of the world for themselves.
Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?
Having used a DSLR system since their launch I had always hankered after a small rangefinder style camera that I felt would offer more freedom and enjoyment in my photography. When the Fuji X-E1 was launched I bought one straight away thinking it would complement my DSLR and would be a great walk around camera. As soon as I got the camera I was smitten. It was so lovely to use, it felt just right, it was intuitive and it made me want to take pictures. The only area where I needed reassurance was image quality, could an APSC sensor really match my full frame DSLR? Well I should have had no concerns. The combination of camera and stunning Fujifilm XF lenses delivered superb results and there was a further revelation, jpegs! I hadn’t shot jpegs for a long time but when I saw the results I was amazed. They were sharp, the colour rendition was spot on and the overall feel of the image was beautiful, almost film like in their appearance. I bought a couple more lenses, the XF10-24 and the XF55-200 and the brilliant Fuji X-T1, and this opened up more creative opportunities. I started to use the Fuji kit more and more, no longer was it a back up to the big, heavy DSLR. It had earned its stripes and I loved the combination of a smaller, lighter, robust system that was so intuitive and simply a joy to use. Today the DSLR system sits in the cupboard waiting for the inevitable ebay listing as the Fuji accompanies me everywhere at home and abroad.
What & who inspires you?
I love great pictures whatever the subject matter and as a travel photographer you have to be pretty adept at different genres as you will be shooting architecture, people, landscape, detail, street and many other subjects in the quest to capture the spirit of the place. Therefore I have many sources of inspiration. I marvel at the landscape work of Charlie Waite who seems to capture scenes at their absolute best with sublime composition and feeling. David Noton, Elia Locardi, Ric Sammon and Steve McCurry are among my favourite travel photographers and Art Wolfe’s images combine the best of nature and travel with fine art. Sebastio Salgado has to be there for his amazing documentary and people pictures. I just think it’s important to open your eyes to the world out there and draw inspiration from as many sources as possible.
Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?
Without doubt the number one priority with Travel photography is planning. We don’t have unlimited time or budget when travelling so we have to make use of every moment. That means understanding key locations, viewpoints, weather conditions, sunrise & sunset times and direction and any local factors such as opening & closing times. The internet is an invaluable resource for this and I will check out tourism websites, Google images, flickr and 500px. You will find some stunning images of your locations that you should use as a starting point. Of course you will want to shoot the iconic views of famous locations but when you have those in the bag look for something different, put your stamp on the place. You will be surprised that it’s so often those images that give you the most satisfaction.
The majority of my images are taken using a tripod. Now whilst some photographers regard a tripod as an unnecessary evil there are many good reasons to use a tripod other than just avoiding camera shake. Sure there are times when I shoot handheld but using a tripod slows you down and makes you think more carefully about your subject, enabling more precise composition. It also helps makes the use of gradual neutral density filters easier with more accurate positioning. Creative opportunities are also opened up by using longer shutter speeds in daylight, including the use of ND filters, to capture movement. But of course it’s the ability to capture the best light of the day at sunrise and sunset that make the tripod an invaluable part of any travel photographers kit.
I love photographing people, but for many the prospect of approaching a stranger and asking to take their picture is a real challenge and that’s why some take the easier route of a long lens grab shot. Whilst there is certainly a place for the candid approach I have found that taking pictures with permission yields far better results. So I would urge you to pluck up the courage and try to make that connection with your subject. I always try and learn a few words in the local language which, even if I get wrong, usually results in smiles and breaks the ice, creating a perfect start for your people photography. Check your equipment before you approach your subject including lens selection, aperture, battery life and frames remaining on your memory card. Also once you have permission don’t just take one shot and move on. Shoot a few images, move around and work with your subject. Resist the temptation to keep chimping your screen but use it to show your subject the results, this works really well with children and of course thank the person when you’ve finished.
What’s next for you?
I have just completed a major Social Documentary project on the closure of Thoresby Colliery, the last pit in Nottinghamshire. Being such a significant event in the county’s industrial and social history I was keen to produce an enduring record of the colliery and to share the images with as wide an audience as possible. So I am delighted to have produced a major touring exhibition which opens in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire and runs until 27th February and have also published a book, “Thoresby The End Of The Mine”. Full details of both can be found on my website www.chrisuptonphotography.com So in the short term I am busy publicising and promoting but I am also looking forward to a few trips abroad including Venice, India and Andalucia.
Granite walls clung to by a finger…
Night sleeping in a hammock hung by Carabiners on a vertical 500m drops.
Scaling a waterfall turned to ice in -10 conditions, Ice axes, crampons.
The north face of the Eiger.
No, no thanks, not for me…
I live in and love the mountains, the French Pyrenees. I am very happy to climb , walk and explore, but when the need for Carabiners and ropes happen, that’s when I take another route. I’m not an Alpinist, this makes me a lightweight, and as I’m a lightweight I wish to carry lightweight kit. No “Landscape photographers bad back” for me.
Recently I took a trip to the other side of France, the Alpes-Maritimes, tracing the old border of France and Italy. A border that shifted with the end of WW2. The old border line in the Alpes-Maritimes are on ridges, peaks or cols, sometimes on the road, but mostly the car can only get you so far, then its hiking.
I approach landscape photography with a reportage head. I am not the kind of photographer that has the patients or time to hang around at a location, ponder, wait for the light, pause for dusk or sleep out all night for dawn. Maybe I’m not a proper landscape photographer, maybe I just lack the patience, I am however very much interested in narrative, the Journey.
When on my journey, I see something, I stop and take a picture and move on. Hopefully the light is good on the subject at that moment. I’m much more about the story. That’s where the X100T is so good. I see the work I’m doing now as a journal, making notes. Maybe some day I could return with more equipment (a tripod ) maybe even camp out the night , but only with light kit, keeping the no humping kit bad back rule.
I shoot jpegs now (I spoke about in my last entry) and I’m right back to my early E6 (transparency film) days, I bracket. A few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of bracketing and would have been horrified that I am shooting jpegs.
1/3 Stop Under
1/3 Stop Over
The f-stop bracketing with the X100T is great, 1/3rd of a stop work really well. This is not ‘in camera ‘ processing for a bracket, its a true 3 exposure event. I struggled with this at first as I would start to move looking for the next picture before the 3rd shot had fired. I am learning to be patient.
For me its important to know which in film simulation to use and not just shoot with the very seductive Classic Crome or the old school landscape photographers favourite Velvia (Even if you can shoot it at 800 ASA !) You can bracket film simulation modes with the X100T, and it is a one exposure event. Film simulation bracketing is a very good learning tool on how the different film simulations will look in different lights, however you can not Film simulation bracket and f-stop bracket at the same time. In my opinion, the characteristics of the film stock very much influences how the story is read. I make the decision which film simulation to use on a project and keep it that way. Sometimes the film simulation I have chosen is not the best for the light in a situation, but I feel the continuity of the colour and tonal range is of an over riding importance. Okay, you can call me old school.
I’m not the photographer that enjoys the capture one / light-room / photoshop part of photography. I just want to get the image correct in camera and then print it. The dream is to send it to the printer from in the field…
I should however invest in an ND grad filter, Seven 5 by Lee filter probably and the WCL-X100 wide conversion lens, a pro ipad and a carbon tripod.
I’m searching for perfection in camera and escape the tyranny of post production.
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