Interview with professional landscape photographer Paul Sanders

We recently held a small internal training course for the Fujifilm UK team and we asked professional photographer Paul Sanders to join us and help teach us more about landscape photography. After spending some time with Paul and listening to him talking about his work and his thought process in regards to photography, it became apparent that Paul had a very interesting story that I’d love to share.

Below is Paul’s story from being a trainee photographer in 1991, up to his current passion, hobby and luckily for him, profession – Fine Art Landscape Photography. If you have any thoughts or questions for Paul, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this blog.

Fine Art Landscape Photographer Paul Sanders

Paul Sanders avatar“I’ve been involved in news photography since 1991 when I started as a trainee photographer at The Daventry Express in Northamptonshire. I’m incredibly driven and knew straightaway that I wouldn’t settle for life on a weekly newspaper, I wanted the big time, the only place I could see myself working was for a national newspaper and one in particular; The Times. I think essentially it was because The Times is in my opinion the best newspaper in the world for it’s reporting and accuracy. I got my head down, worked hard sacrificed everything, relationships, family, friends and social life all in the single minded pursuit of my dream job.

X-T1 with XF10-24 @10 - F8 - 120 Seconds - ISO200
X-T1 with XF10-24 @10 – F8 – 120 Seconds – ISO200

“By 1998 I was working for the international wire agency Reuters in London and in 2002 I got the call from The Times to join their team. When The Times changed from broadsheet to the more modern compact format I was given the job of revitalising the way pictures were used in the new format. Finally on 1 April 2004 I was made Picture Editor, I had total responsibility of the entire visual content and a team of the finest researchers and photographers working with me. To say I was in my element was an understatement. However success at that level comes with a high price. Daily I would view between 17 and 20 thousand images, direct photographers, manage budgets, layout pages and train young hopefuls. By 2010 I had reached breaking point, I suffered with chronic insomnia and depression, my marriage started to break down and the wheels came off my train. I hid this all from the world until December 2011 when I announced that I was leaving the job I had pursued for years.

XT-1 with XF10-24 @ 14mm - F14 - 180 Seconds - ISO200
XT-1 with XF10-24 @ 14mm – F14 – 180 Seconds – ISO200

“When you have a breakdown your body and mind are telling you to change a few things, I needed to slow down, take stock and recover. My recovery began with shooting large format landscapes. I’d wander the country 5×4 camera and tripod over my shoulder trying to be Ansel Adams or Joe Cornish and failing miserably. The process of shooting film again slowed me down, enabling me to organise my mind a little and start to get in touch with the joy of photography. In many respects my early foray into landscape work was such a failure because I wasn’t being true to myself – I wasn’t connecting with my subject at all.

X-Pro1 with XF14mm - F16 - 140 Seconds - ISO200
X-Pro1 with XF14mm – F16 – 140 Seconds – ISO200

“During 2013 I had an epiphany in seeing, I realised that actually it was ok to shoot the images I wanted, not the classic views, but using my emotional and spiritual connections with the landscape to create images that resonated with my soul. I had switched from 5×4 to DSLR during 2012, to save weight and money. Still I was finding it hard to work, I would always think can I be bothered, many times I would lug my equipment to a location and not bother getting it out of the bag; it was too much hassle. I wasn’t enjoying my work at all.

“However what I had realised was that to truly see what I wanted, the sitting, watching and listening had really opened my eyes and my heart to the images I wanted to create. What I needed was a camera that didn’t get in that way of my connection or creativity.

X-Pro1 with XF14mm - F22 - 1/2 sec - ISO 200
X-Pro1 with XF14mm – F22 – 1/2 sec – ISO 200

“In early 2014 I handled the Fuji X-T1 for the first time and instantly fell in love, I actually had goose bumps on my skin, such was my connection with this camera. It was a bit like the moment Harry Potter picked up his wand for the first time!

“As soon as they came to market I bought two, a variety of lenses, and swapped out much of my DSLR equipment totally committed to these tiny miracle workers.

XT-1 with XF55-200 @ 100mm - F4.5 - 1 second - ISO320
XT-1 with XF55-200 @ 100mm – F4.5 – 1 second – ISO320

“My energy and creativity were revitalised, the camera wasn’t in the way, it was literally a plug in to my imagination allowing me to record what I wanted in the way I wanted without the weight or cumbersome nature of my previous equipment. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and shot the images I had been feeling. I stopped trying to be accepted by the majority and concentrated on being true to myself. If no one likes my work really it doesn’t matter to me at all. If people do and I sell a few pictures then that’s a bonus.

X-T1 with XF10-24 @10mm - F16 - 800 Seconds - ISO200
X-T1 with XF10-24 @10mm – F16 – 800 Seconds – ISO200

“I still sit for hours watching and feeling the landscape in front of me, but now I feel that I am truly connected with my work through the little Fuji. The X-T1 isn’t a barrier like my Canon, it’s a conduit. They are virtually invisible to me, instinctively my hands fall in all the right places, there’s a wonderful simplicity to them which helps me as I’m quite simple in many ways too. The less complex the process of making pictures the less I have to be concerned with. I have no desire to pixel peep or get bogged down in the technical arguments about shadow detail or sharpness, I just want to create images that please me.

X-T1 with XF55-200 - F16 - 180 Seconds - ISO200
X-T1 with XF55-200 – F16 – 180 Seconds – ISO200

“The work I shoot now totally reflects how I feel about the world and myself, I can pour my soul into those little black bodies and know that they are keeping it safe for me.”


XT-1 with XF10-24 @ 16mm - F22 - 70 Seconds - ISO200
XT-1 with XF10-24 @ 16mm – F22 – 70 Seconds – ISO200
X-Pro1 with XF14mm - F16 - 200 Seconds - ISO200
X-Pro1 with XF14mm – F16 – 200 Seconds – ISO200
X-Pro1 with XF14mm - F11 - 280 seconds - ISO200
X-Pro1 with XF14mm – F11 – 280 seconds – ISO200
XT-1 with XF18-55 @ 22mm - F20 - 8 Seconds - ISO200
XT-1 with XF18-55 @ 22mm – F20 – 8 Seconds – ISO200

More info

All of the images featured in this blog post are available to purchase as Fine Art Prints on Paul Sanders’ official website
You can also follow Paul on Twitter or Facebook.

Why do I love the XF18-135mm lens? Composition.

Good day everyone, I will have to call this a mini-blog as normally I ramble on for ages and bombard you with images – who knows, maybe I still will 😉

1504372_10154010549280534_5836271885610257265_oAs you may or may not know I’m an amateur photographer who loves to try out new types of photography – I’m sure this is not to different from many of you out there. When I first started out with photography I was educated that the more zoom you had the better. So when I was given the X100 for the first time I was quite baffled as to how to work a fixed prime lens. I felt restricted and puzzled as to why I would want one. Of course once I looked at the pictures from it, I was sold and this opened my eyes to the real aspects of what makes a great camera. The images were crisp, clear and full of vibrant colour, all I had to get used to was zooming without a telephoto lens – AKA the Hokey Cokey. Once I got this down though, there was no stopping me, I was out with my original X-E1 and 35mm prime lens and I loved every minute of it!

This leads me to the XF18-135mm. This time I had the promise of excellent image quality but with that lovely versatility of a zoom lens. When I first clicked it into position on the camera body and fired up the camera I was taken back by just how much I could see or not see depending on the focal length. It was something that took me back to the olde days of me using a camera, I was VERY excited to get out and use this new kit.

I decided upon a location in the local area that always seems to make a good picture, this being the Stevington Windmill. I looked at when the sun was going to set and got there about 50 minutes earlier to allow time for running across fields, fumbling with tripods and such like. Once I got a good position near to the windmill I shot this image.

TFST0106 - Copy
Focal Length: 49mm – f/5.6 – ISO200

I shot this image at the slightly wider-side of the lens to open up the landscape a bit – this to me gives a very peaceful feel to the shot. Compositionally (is that really a word?) I have dedicated two thirds of the frame to the sky as it is a sunset after all, and I think this really helps the landscape silhouette ‘POP-OUT’ from the skyline.

This next shot I really wanted to focus on the windmill and give a more intense feel. To do this I have used the lens at a longer focal length as this has a very clever effect on the composition. The more you zoom towards a subject, the more the background and foreground are compressed together. So this in turn pulls the Sun closer to the windmill and vice-versa. Not only that, but it also reduces the angle of view – cutting out all the peripheral stuff we perhaps don’t want in our shot.

As a side note – To get the composition I wanted using more zoom, I did have to move further back to accommodate the extra focal length. Basically this means I had to run like crazy across a field and keep checking to see if the composition was right as every moment I wasted meant the sun was getting lower and would soon disappear behind the hillside.

Focal Length: 98.6mm – f/7.1 – ISO200

These next two shots show this compression effect quite well I feel. It really brings the background closer to the foreground making for a more intense composition that would not have been possible with my 35mm prime lens.

And in case you were wondering, this is my better-half with her camera at her side relaxing whilst I’m running about like a madman saying things like “That’s great, just don’t move. Pretend I’m not here..” which was all great fun. Photography should be fun and if you can get your friends and family involved, so much the better.

TFST0092 TFST0089

Here’s a playful shot of some hot air balloons in the distance. I framed it up so that they sat on the furthest third of the frame to sweep your eyes across the beauty of the landscape. Because of the compression effect (pulling the background and foreground together) I could give the hot air balloons a bit more presence in the shot, especially when you consider the real distance between the main tree and the hot air balloons.


I really hope this inspires you to go out and have a play with your camera, shoot a sunset, bring a friend, mix up your compositions and most of all have fun. When you do all that great pictures will naturally follow.

P.S: Seems I managed to get a good ramble and bombardment of images in after all 😉


Fujifilm X Magazine issue 6 is now available for your reading pleasure

It’s that time again. A new Fujifilm X Magazine issue is ready to your reading and viewing pleasure.

Interview with Merhdad Samak-Abedi

This issue features an interview with pro photographer Merhdad Samak-Adebi who travels the world as part of his job (working for a German airline) and therefore is lucky enough to get the opportunity to shoot his passion – landscape photography.

Take a walk around Varese, near Milan 

This issue’s “X Marks The Spot” features some fantastic street photography by Italian photographer Emanuele Toscano in and around Varese, Italy.

Be inspired

Issue 6 also contains the other usual features; “What to Shoot Now” provides you with inspiration on what subjects to shoot during the summer holiday months, “Get more from your X series” takes a look at bracketing functions that feature on most Fujifilm X cameras and the “Exhibition” shows a fantastic array of colourful images, plus the stories behind them, shot by our readers.

Competition time

Fujifilm X Magazine competition – win a Fujifilm XQ1 underwater kit

And finally, you could win a fantastic XQ1 underwater kit in our competition. For a chance to win, send us your best holiday shot. More details in the magazine itself!


Download the Fujifilm X Magazine now!

Fujifilm X Magazine – Issue 2 reader images 2/3

X-series users from across the globe share their finest images and the stories behind them

Here’s another selection of users’ images published in our Fujifilm X Magazine. If you would like to see your images in our magazine, and if you’re an X-series user, we’d love to see your shots. Email your images, along with details of the story behind them and some information about you and your photography to:

Paulo Bizarro – Carcavelos

Technical details Camera: X-E1 Lens: XF14mm Exposure: 27secs at F11, ISO 200
Camera: X-E1 – Lens: XF14mm
Exposure: 27secs at F11, ISO 200

“This was shot near my house on the beach at Carcavelos just outside Lisbon. It’s an area I know well, and I have recently started shooting a personal project there. I’m making a series of long exposures around sunset (some up to six minutes) of this pier and the sea. The idea is to get the locals to view the area differently. For this photo, I also applied a Velvia preset in Lightroom; I have used Velvia slide film for almost 20 years!

“I am a recent convert to the Fujifilm X-series after using Canon EOS for more than 20 years. I like to photograph travel, landscapes and people. For these subjects the Fuji works very well and the prime lenses are really good. I now have an X-E1 and X-Pro1 with three lenses: 14mm, 35mm and a Zeiss 50mm F2.”


Francisco Godoy – Malaga

Technical details Camera: X-E1 Lens: XF18-55mm Exposure: 26secs at F11, ISO 200
Camera: X-E1 – Lens: XF18-55mm
Exposure: 26secs at F11, ISO 200

“Here’s my contribution to the excellent Fujifilm X Magazine. It was taken at sunset a couple of weeks ago in Malaga and I love the colours in the sky and on the lookout post.”

“I used my Fujifilm X-E1 and standard zoom lens. They’re a great combination and I’m really impressed with the quality of the lens and sensor – they deliver images with strong colours and great detail. The camera was tripod mounted to avoid camera shake.”

X marks the spot: The Lake District, UK

One photographer, one Fujifilm X-series camera, a whole lot of great images

Ian Allington
Ian Allington

The Fujifilm X-M1 was made for photographers who like to travel light. Incorporating all the best elements of the X-series, including the superb X-Trans sensor, its compact dimensions and light weight set it firmly in the sights of photographers who don’t want a day in the field to result in a bad back or poor-quality images. Photographers like England-based Ian Allington (right), in fact, who regularly treks many miles in the picturesque Lake District to combine his two great passions: walking and photography.

We gave Ian an X-M1 along with the XC 16-50mm to accompany him on his latest trip into the hills and asked him to report back on his findings as he walked around the famous Old Man of Coniston. Click on the map to see his images and read his thoughts about the X-M1 and lenses.

1.The old man and dow crag

The old man and dow crag
Lens: XC16-50mm at 35mm setting
Exposure: 1/50sec at f/10, ISO 200

I decided on an early morning start and took this shot of The Old Man (on the right) and Dow Crag (on the left) from Torver before I started climbing. At this time, there was a deep shadow across the lower fields whilst the top of the hill was enjoying some early morning sun, so I was interested to see how the X-M1 coped with these conditions. As you can see, it’s coped extremely well with the contrast, retaining detail both in the shadows and the sunlit peak.

The camera offers different Dynamic Range settings to cope with strong contrast like this. Although this was taken with the standard 100% setting, 200% is available at ISO sensitivities of 400 and above, while the highest 400% setting is available at ISO 800 and above.

2.Winch cable tower

Winch cable tower
Lens: XC16-50mm at 16mm setting
Exposure: 1/200sec at f/9, ISO 200

One of the most striking features on the landscape in this area is the number of slate mines dotted around the hillside. I’ve taken many pictures here before, but what I particularly liked was being able to take pictures from ground level without having to lie on my stomach in the mud! Thanks to the huge three-inch tilt LCD screen on the X-M1, getting creative with low-level shots was a piece of cake. This is a picture of one of the old winch cable towers and the X-M1 has captured plenty of detail in the cables and the distant spoil heaps on the slopes of The Old Man of Coniston.

3.Old winch room

Old winch room
Lens: XC16-50mm at 30mm setting
Exposure: 1/350sec at f/6.4, ISO 320

Climbing up from the ruins you get a view down on the old winch room, or what’s left of it. The area below is known as Smithy Bank, which was one of the platforms used to transport the slate down the mountain. Here, I tried some of the X-M1’s in-camera filters. The first of these two shots was taken with the Miniature setting and gives an impression of the hut being a model, similar to the tilt shift function created by Photoshop editing, but much quicker and simpler! The second image was taken with the Toy Camera filter giving the effect of being shot with a plastic lens camera. The filters are fun to use and can change a simple image into something far more interesting.

4.Summit of the old man

Summit of the old man
Lens: XC16-50mm at 50mm setting
Exposure: 1/350sec at f/10, ISO 200

After a short climb from Low Water, which nestles below The Old Man, I finally reached the summit which stands at 803m. This view over the summit trig point is looking towards Wetherlam with the Eastern fells in the distance partly obscured by low cloud. I had been mainly shooting in the manual exposure mode up to this point, but here I took the opportunity to switch to the Landscape function on the camera. Comparing results to ones taken in Manual, there was very little difference so the X-M1 can clearly be relied upon for point-and-shoot simplicity. Again, the tilt screen was used to get a low down shot across the summit. My very first Fuji camera – the S9600 – had one and I’d forgotten how useful it could be!

5. View of low water

View of low water
Lens: XC16-50mm at 16mm setting
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/11, ISO 640

Time to start heading back down, and I took this picture looking over the edge towards Low Water below. The village of Coniston is visible nestled just at the end of Coniston Water with a glimpse of Windermere beyond. The colour reproduction is excellent with the greens in the distance well displayed. All the images today were taken using the standard setting as the light and natural colours were vibrant enough, but there are also a range of Film Simulation modes that replicate popular Fujifilm emulsions, should I have wanted to boost or mute colours. I’m sure in the future I’ll be pressing these into service.

6. The Scafell massif

The Scafell massif
Lens: XC16-50mm at 50mm setting
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/11, ISO 200

I descended via Goat’s Water, mainly because I love this view across England’s highest mountains; the Scafell massif. From left to right Scafell, Scafell Pike, Broad Crag, Ill Crag and Great End viewed across the dappled flanks of Grey Friar. The X-M1’s 49-point AF system with the ability to select your focus point was very useful when composing shots like this. Normally, I would select the focal point in the image, half depress the shutter then recompose before shooting. With this facility it was so easy to select the correct point without the need for recomposing. Just press the AF button on the back of the camera, then use the selector buttons to choose the focusing point on the rear LCD.

7.The cove

The cove
Lens: XC16-50mm at 16mm setting
Exposure: 1/125sec at f/14, ISO 200

After leaving Goat’s Water, the footpath leads you across the Cove. This shot was taken looking back at the imposing face of Dow Crag and the wonderful blue skies above it; I made no adjustment to the saturation on this shot, another example of the vibrancy of the images produced from the X-Trans sensor.

By this point, I’d spent some time with the camera round my neck. I usually store my DSLR in a camera rucksack as I walk because of the weight and the bulk, but the X-M1 is so light and compact it was no problem. It also speeds up picture-taking, as does the inclusion of the Q button, which provides quick and easy access to all the major features of the camera.