I like to travel alone. Partners and friends are great, but they can also hold you back from really experiencing a culture deeply. Solo travel allows you a freedom and adventure rarely achievable for those rushing back home for dinner. So when a group of friends and I booked a house in a rather touristy area of Panama, I didn’t plan to spend much time shooting. I grabbed my trusted X-T1 and my favorite lens – the XF23mmF1.4 R.One of the local attractions in this area is a beach only accessible by boat or a long muddy trail through the jungle. After attempting the trail, we opted for the boat and were dropped at a small dock in a lagoon filled with mangrove trees. A short walk across the island towards the sound of surf led us to a beautiful beach. We were walking along the beach when a foreign couple approached saying that a man with a machete had tried to rob them, but they were able to run away. Suddenly. I regretted bringing my camera. We stopped walking for some time. We swam, did hand stands, and drank beer. Eventually, the allure of discovery won over and we continued along the deserted beach.
On my extensive travels, I often have a specific image in my mind when I’m shooting. Sometimes, the search for this image blinds me from all the other potential shots present. It’s refreshing to go out with no expectations and see what organically appears. When I saw locals on horseback approaching, I sank into the jungle looking for a frame to contain them as they passed. They had ridden the muddy trail, and were headed to the far end of the island to go hunting.This long strip of sand is interrupted occasionally by large trees overhanging into the ocean. They are a natural jungle gym, and soon we were climbing all over them. From the trunk of a tree,I realized there was a good shot and picked up the camera again. I tilted the LCD to get super low to the ground and avoided wallowing around myself.As my friend Laura was working on a new route for this particular tree, I switch on the Cinematic Mode; it’s accessible on your camera by turning the mode dial to CH and holding down the shutter release button. As it’s clicking away, I’m able to make slight adjustments to the composition. But, I’m mostly waiting on the subject to look at their best. Yes, it fills a memory card really fast. That’s why I use Lexar 128s, so I don’t have to worry about changing cards very often.Beyond the beach, we came across some boys walking around with machetes. They seemed to be out honing their skills with these essential jungle tools. One boy was carefully opening a coconut to drink the water. I sat my X-T1 on the ground near his feet, using the tilting LCD to compose. It must be great to grow up in a land where snacks fall readily from the trees.In the evening, we returned home to discover the hunt had been successful. It’s rare that I do a trip with no photographic objective. It’s refreshing to travel light and go with the flow – and it’s authentic and easy to capture with FUJIFILM X Series. On to the next adventure!
I’m often asked, “How excited are you for your next trip?” The truth is, the anticipation for adventure never really kicks in until the abrupt lift off from the airport runway – signifying the beginning of a new chapter on my photographic journey.
After a 4-day long tour traveling with musical artist Marshmello through several states, we ended our final show at 3:30 AM in Las Vegas on a Sunday night. Immediately following the show I rushed up to my room to grab my bags and headed straight for the airport. After a 5:00 AM flight, I arrived at LAX where I met my cousin Haroon and childhood friend, Joon. Despite running on no sleep, we made our way to our connecting flight. A short layover and a several hour flight later, we arrived in Cuba.From the moment we exited the airport doors of Jose Marti International, taxi drivers lined the terminal swiftly coaxing the array of people to follow them to their cars. Being able to speak Spanish has proven valuable on many occasions, and helped us find a fair deal for such a late time of the night. The 30-minute drive from the airport to our apartment in the city of Vedado felt like Havana’s version of Tokyo Drift, lead by an aggressive local cab driver in his beat up old school car. Weaving through pedestrians, alleyways, and several animals we made it to our apartment in one piece. Upon arrival the driver insisted the price was higher than he had agreed upon, introducing us to our first taste of the local Cuban hustlers. After relentless persistence from the driver, we settled for a new deal and made it up to our apartment to call it a night. As I went to bed, I couldn’t wait to explore the city of old Havana, Habana Vieja, in the morning.Before I visit a new destination, I always do my research to ensure that I’m well prepared, know what to expect, and plan out locations to shoot. After taking our first cab ride in an old school car, or coche viejo, to Habana Vieja, I quickly learned that Cuba is by far the most unique country I’ve ever visited. The shock factor of wandering the post-apocalyptic streets of Habana Vieja made it nearly impossible to comprehend what I was seeing. The streets were lined with colorful decaying buildings guarded by locals who spend much of their day on their front porch observing their surroundings. From stray dogs to barefoot kids running through alleyways playing soccer to the cigar-selling hustlers on every street corner, the ambiance of the city was something you have to physically experience to believe.The most exciting aspect of this trip was the addition of my Fujifilm X-Pro2 to my X Series arsenal. After my first day with the camera, I immediately fell in love with the system. My favorite aspect of the X-Pro2 is the aesthetic of the body. The sleek, classic design avoided the intimidation of the locals when I kindly would ask for their portrait or to enter their residence. Whether the body was accompanied by the compact FUJINON XF10-24mmF4 R OIS, XF35mmF1.4 R, or the XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, the camera always stunned the locals when they asked to see the images.While I did encounter a couple strict denials from potential subjects, the sketchiest moment of the trip took place when I noticed a very interesting opportunity for a photograph of a mother and her infant son. When I approached what appeared to be their home, I realized it was the gateway to an entire storage lot of bike taxis. Slowly making my way forward, I called for the attention of the mother to softly introduce myself and ask for permission to take a photo. As she shook her head no, a dog that looked like a hyena out of The Lion King on steroids emerged from the darkness and bolted towards me, snarling and foaming from the mouth. I took off, and after a few blocks I made my way back to meet with my friends, avoiding whatever plans the mutant dog had for me.As the day continued, we explored just about every neighborhood we hadn’t seen in the area. Thanks to my cousin’s strong sense of direction, we continuously encountered new people, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and a wide variety of subjects throughout the day. From the reflective puddles, to the daily life of the Cubanos, to the hissing hustlers of the streets, there were endless moments to photograph. We ended the day off along the seaside Malecón street for sunset. The array of classic cars, ocean views, and fisherman lining the Malecón made it one of my favorite spots in all of Havana. I was able to document the experience in all of its glory with the help of my X-Pro2 and FUJINON XF10-24mmF4 R OIS lens. After a very eventful first day in Havana, I could not wait to experience what the city would have to offer throughout the rest of the week.
X-series users from across the globe share their finest images and the stories behind them
Here’s a 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
VICENTE DASÍ LÓPEZ – STROLLING WITH MY X100
Vicente won his X100 in a Fujifilm-sponsored competition. “The theme was street photography and I entered an image taken in Valencia using my X10,” he says.
Now that I’ve got the camera, I often go walking around Valencia and take it with me; that’s where I took this image. I find the X100 is really comfortable to carry and delivers excellent results with the high-performance Fujinon lens; it’s perfect on detailed subjects like this. There’s very little noise when working with high ISO settings and I like the way the controls are distributed – the design helps me enjoy taking every shot and encourages my creativity.
This is my dog, Duncan. It was one of the first shots I took when I went out testing my new X-Pro1 in a forest near our home in Holland.
I love black & white photography, even more than colour. This image was taken using the Monochrome Film Simulation mode and I tweaked the colour temperature in Adobe Lightroom to give the image a real vintage look.
The X-Pro1’s size and weight are crucially important to me. My health limits how much photography I can do and if the camera was too heavy, I wouldn’t be able to take pictures at all. I also like the image quality – the pictures are sharp straight out of the camera. 90 per cent of the time, I shoot JPEG instead of Raw because the quality is that good. The ISO performance is magnificent, too
I don’t feel scared to push it to ISO 6400.
SHANEA GAIGER – FRECKLES AND SPECKLES
This is my daughter Derryn who has for a long time had some severe body dysmorphic issues. We had talked about a ‘demon-confronting’ shoot for a long time and the idea was to create a few images of her without make up, without retouching, just using natural light, so she could see how beautiful she actually was, despite her own feelings. It worked, so well, in fact, that she gained enough confidence to take up modelling as a part-time hobby.
I moved to the X-S1 from an S100FS and it feels much more solid and produces better results. I was recently asked to do a basic photography lesson with a young autistic lad interested in photography and we used the X-S1. He had never attempted to use a ‘real’ camera before but he found it really easy to get to grips with and by the end of the day he was talking about buying one himself.”