In this second and final article about a recent trip to Japan, X-Photographer Chris Weston takes a more mindful approach to photography, producing some stunningly artistic, unplanned shots of swans at Lake Kussharo.
We often hear or read the quote, “It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer”, meaning the creation of great photographs is not dependent on having the latest or most expensive gear but on having a keen eye, an open and inquisitive mind and the artistic skills to turn vision into a reality that is a photograph. After sixteen years as a professional photographer, I can attest this is absolutely true. Continue reading “Art and Mind – 10 Days in Japan [Part Two]”
After falling in love with Japan and its culture, X-Photographer Chris Weston visited Jidokudani Yaen-Koen, a reserve for wild Japanese macaques, to capture the diverse emotions of these animals and to tell his story through the power of photography.
When I first became interested in wildlife photography, I harboured a deep fascination with Japan. I used to study the work of some of the great Japanese nature photographers – Michio Hoshino, Mitsuaki Iwago, Nobuyuki Kobayashi – and found, in their images, a hidden depth, an elusive something that I could only describe as “soul”. I also noticed many of my early photographic heroes, photographers such as Art Wolfe and Jim Brandenburg, as well as my favourite artist, Monet, had been inspired by immersion in Japanese culture. Continue reading “Photographers, We’re Storytellers – 10 Days in Japan [Part One]”
After falling in love with the FUJIFILM X-T2 in his first guest blog, Ben Osborne is back to tell us all about his favourite photography tour around Scotland’s West Coast, through images taken on his new Fujifilm kit.
X-Photographer Chris Weston combines the magnification power of his telephoto lenses with the X-T2’s Panoramic Drive Mode to reveal a unique perspective on the wildlife of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest.
Wildlife photography isn’t just about frantic action shots and animal portraits. An important area of the genre is capturing a sense of place – images that show the subject in the landscape.
Photographing animals in their environment is a critical area of my work because such images serve to further the cause of environmental conservation, which is a driving force behind my work. The primary cause of decreasing wildlife populations is habitat loss, so revealing the beauty of the land in which animals make their homes is, for me, an important aspect of my storytelling. Continue reading “Wildlife Photography: Creating a Sense of Place”
I first moved to the X Series four years ago because I was carrying too much equipment on trips and I wanted to switch to a smaller, lighter alternative. Now with X-T2s and the superb range of lenses available it is often difficult to decide what to take on assignments or trips, making sure it all fits in one backpack. But my kit is still smaller item for item than what it used to be before, its just a question of knowing exactly what you’ll need for each job (not always easy, particularly with nature photography). Continue reading “Springtime at 50 megapixels”
Struggling to catch the near-perfect wildlife shots you have seen in top magazines and exhibits? Now that camera technology has become more accessible, many people are branching out into nature. Wildlife photography isn’t for the faint of heart, however, and plenty of professionals and enthusiasts alike encounter challenges.
Photo by Ben Cherry (@benji_cherry), Fujifilm X-T2 with XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens
Fortunately, with the right equipment, research and mindset — and of course, plenty of practice — you can make major improvements. The following are 10 tips you can use to take better wildlife pictures today.
Study Your Subject
What kinds of environments do your local fauna love most? Which animals live within driving distance, and what are their migratory patterns and schedules? Will your subjects even be awake when you go to shoot? Wildlife photography is all about catching those fleeting moments that most people never get to see, and being there at the right time and place is a numbers game. Study your subject matter to give yourself the best chance of being in position for a great shot.
Stand Back, Zoom In
Animals are tough enough to shoot in urban environments; in nature, they can seem impossible to catch up close. To capture wildlife acting as naturally and unafraid as possible, you may need to rely on a long telephoto lens. When dealing with the most skittish creatures, the longer the focal length, the better.
Photo by Vincent Yuhiko, Fujifilm X-T1 with XF18-135mm R LM OIS WR lens
Broaden Your Horizons
As helpful as a long, narrow focus can be, you don’t always need to catch creatures up close — nor do you need to isolate them from their environments. Some shots are actually more powerful when taken with a wide angle that gives the viewer context. Experiment with both broad and narrow focuses to see which suits your tastes and subject matter. You’ll probably find that different shots are best for different situations.
Nature is unpredictable. Even if you rigorously study the animal you want to shoot, you’ll probably have to play the waiting game once you get into position. In fact, patience is one of the defining factors of a great wildlife photographer, and some of the most iconic shots have only been possible after hours or even days of waiting and returning to the same spot.
At the same time, patience isn’t everything. You can’t always wait for great shots to materialise, especially when you only have a small window of decent lighting and weather. If your only goal is to capture a specific animal in a specific moment, then yes, you’ll need to wait. But if you just want to capture interesting shots within an environment, make the most of your time and seek out opportunities for great shots.
Simplify Your Backgrounds
Photography is all about using depth and contrast to highlight your subject, and wildlife photography is no exception. While some photos will be inherently “busy,” you can often create a dramatic effect by simply capturing an animal against a non-distracting background.
Photo by Daniel Bradford (@dbrad1992), Fujifilm X-T1
Keep Both Eyes Open
When you control neither your environment nor your subject matter, you’ve got to be ready for anything. To stay aware of your surroundings, keep both eyes open as you look through the viewfinder. If you’re only focused on what’s in the frame, you’ll miss far more opportunities than you see.
Focus and Exposure
A few setting tweaks can make all the difference between a clear shot and an indecipherable photo. If your camera allows, set your focus mode to “continuous” and your focus area to “zone.” Use a larger grid setting for larger animals and a smaller setting for small subjects. As for exposure, you’ll want to choose a small area for a shot that emphasises the subject and de-emphasizes the background.
During a daylong shoot, you’ll encounter — at best — mere minutes of photo-worthy material. What’s more, each moment of interest may only last a few seconds. If you’re not familiar with the capabilities and settings of your camera and lens, you could miss once-in-a-lifetime shots. Know your equipment’s shutter speeds, memory card speeds and focal lengths, as well as all the options you have for toggling focus points and modes.
(Perfect) Practice Makes Perfect!
Last but not least, practice, practice, practice! Analyse the shots you take, and consult experienced photographers for advice on how you can improve. The more hours you can spend, the better you’ll become, but you can fast-track your progress by seeking feedback and making the most of each shot you take.