Ah, the simple pleasures of life. They invigorate the soul! Changes and new experiences are great but it’s nice to do what you enjoy. It gives us you a lift. Genesis, my favourite band of all time, summed it up nicely when Peter Gabriel lent his unmistakable voice to, “I know what I like” and I am, sure many of you reading this will feel the same.
We are all ‘routined’ to a point and I suppose I fall into that bracket. Whilst I may be laid back I am never complacent. I regularly slip out of the ‘comfort zone’ and push myself, but if there is one thing I do not like to disrupt, it is enjoying a good night’s kip! A comfy bed with clean sheets, bit of a read, lights out and I am off.
I awake, have an invigorating hot shower, get dressed and breakfast. Then it is time to attack the day. I definitely know what I like and I approach my photography in exactly the same way. I love the mountains and great views. I will never tire of them but it would be easy to keep going along to regular haunts never being bored with them and marveling at what they give me. That won’t change. After 40 odd years of shooting professionally, I am still learning my craft and I enjoy exploring new ways to enrich my skillset. It was on one of my, “what can I do now?” days that I thought about wild camping. Read More
By now its common knowledge that Fujifilm are famous for bringing the best functionality to X Series equipment through firmware updates.
Today is a day you most likely have been waiting for – a huge release of updates to a range of X Series cameras and lenses. Online right now, you will find a total of 18 different updates, which have been released for a line up of current and older camera bodies and lenses. These products range from the older X-Pro1 to the newly released XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens.
In order to get the most from your Fujifilm X Series camera body or lens it is recommend you update the firmware as soon as possible. Below you will find a short summary of what you can expect when you perform the firmware update on the relevant piece of gear. If you are unsure on how to perform a firmware upgrade read this article here.
Summary of updated change to X Series Cameras
If you own a X-E1, X-E2, X-E2S, X-Pro1, X-T10, X-T1 or X-Pro2 and you update the camera body firmware (see firmware link section below) to the newest version plus you update the firmware for the listed lens (see firmware link section below) you can expect the following changes…
XF35mmF2 R WR & XF90mmF2 R LM WR- The accuracy of the manual focus adjustment to be enhanced when photographing using manual focus.
XF10-24mmF4 R OIS
XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS
XC16-50mmF3.5-5.6 OIS II
XC50-230mmF4.5-6.7 OIS II- The accuracy of the manual focus adjustment to be enhanced when photographing using manual focus.
– Tracking performance of AF will be enhance when zooming
– The accuracy of the image stabilization will be enhanced on various shooting scenes.
XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR- The accuracy of the manual focus adjustment to be enhanced when photographing using manual focus.
XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR
XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR- The lenses will deliver superior performance in combination with FUJINON Tele Converter XF 2X TC WR.
– The accuracy of the manual focus adjustment to be enhanced when photographing using manual focus.
Please note all improvements will only work if you update the camera body firmware as well as the lens firmware (see firmware links below).
Not many people realise it, but before I started travelling and shooting Motorsport, photographing pets was a major part of my business. I would shoot a lot of equine and dog portraits with the odd cat, snake or rat thrown in now and then. I still run Pawfolio, but it’s now more a project of love, or reserved for when people who know me as ‘the pet photographer’ really want me to shoot their most beloved….. not the kids, yep it’s always the dog!
I see a lot of people posting photos of their pets on instagram lately, with some pets even having their own pages. So I thought I would put a few tips together that might be fun to try out if you want to get a great shot of your own pooch…. some of the tips might even work on pictures of the kids too!
For my doggy model, I’m going to use Bria aka ‘The Beast’, my beautiful Sprocker Spaniel. These shots all involve natural light as I wanted this article to be of use to everyone. As long as you have a camera and a lens you can get stunning shots of your beast without expensive lighting.
In my ‘Pawfolio’ bag. Don’t panic! You don’t need all of this! this is just some of the equipment I use on various shoots… If you have only one lens and a camera you’ll be fine 🙂
Camera: XPro1, XT1, XT10
Lenses: 18mm F2, 35mm F1.4, 10-24 F4, 90mm F2, 50-140mm F2.8
Lighting: Ambient/Natural Light
Extras: Dog, lead, willing assistant (wife, kid, person you met on a dog walk?), dog treats / squeaky toy / bouncy ball / whistle, silly voice, insurance (if you want to shoot other peoples dogs!), mobile phone
Top Tip! Things become massively easy in life once a dog knows how to sit, stay, and look at food!! this is where all that training pays off! You will need a few basics such as;
Sit, Paw, Down/Sleep, Stay, Come…
(We had to learn some of these commands in polish once for a clients dog we photographed.)
A food-orientated dog is perfect, if this isn’t working then it’s down to the favourite toy, bouncy ball or failing that, making stupid noises…..dogs love this! The right noise will get a dog to tilt it’s head in a way that looks cute but whilst saying ‘what are you doing, human?’
Play with your beast first;
this builds a little trust between the dog and yourself.
It’s fun for both of you,
it burns off the dog’s energy reserve
A few minutes playing around the kit isn’t a bad thing either, it lets the dog know that the camera is nothing to be worried about and not something strange and dangerous…
Around the house – Your own dog
Ideal for practice and often the easiest of images to shoot are where the dog is relaxed in their own surroundings or favourite spot. I normally wait for ‘Beast’ to find somewhere nice to settle or I encourage her to sit roughly in the right place. Quite often I’ll pap her as she drifts off to sleep. These are candid based shots but can turn into gorgeous intimate photos.
I use any of the following 18mm f2, 35mm f1.4 and the 90mm F2 mostly to achieve the shallow depth of field for this type of shot. The XF35mm f2, XF16, XF23 and XF56mm would be amazing also. Any lens at F1.2 – F2 will make a stunning image. I often use the X-Pro1 and X-T1. The OVF on the X-Pro1 can be really useful in hybrid mode during low light if the EVF wont preview the shot.
#Tip – You can put the Fuji camera to silent mode if the dog is too distracted by the shutter sound. Beast used to hear the shutter then pounce on me because she thought the sound meant that the shoot was over.
The candid shots I usually try to get for every dog shoot are:
That big snuffler is amazing. Shot at 1.2 or on a Macro it makes a stunning detailed image.
The texture of the pads or the hairy paw is beautiful. If it’s your dog, hold the paw and capture a paw & hand selfie #TooCute
Like any face or portrait I shoot, I always focus on the eye closest to me. If you shoot the furthest one and the closer one is blurred, the image just looks wrong – please don’t do it!!
#Tip – Try shooting the dog from ‘a dogs view’ or from below the dog looking up. Crawling around in the dirt is just an everyday thing for me, but I think it’s really worth getting the unusual perspective. This is also now where the flip out screen is genius and the X-T1 or X-T10 becomes king.
That said, don’t rule out the standing up traditional viewpoint. Sometimes if you stand right over the dog looking down, you get that ‘puppy face’ beaming back up at you, and there is nothing cuter.
For outdoor shots, choose a nice spot your dog is going to love and that has some features or atmosphere about it. The beach is an awesome place for dogs, and one of our favourites, with lots of space, great light, and lots of zooming. For this a 90mm, 50-140 or the new 100-400 is ideal because the animal can move around freely but you can still fill the frame. This situation is ideal for the X-T1 or X-T10 because of their high frame rate. I would probably go for the X-T1 more to help keep the sand, salt and spray out of the camera. I would also recommend the weather resistant lenses for this type of shoot. A rogue wave splash or a shake down from the Beast can spray your gear from a surprising distance.
Rivers are great too, but always check the current is safe. Look for a spot on the bank with space and great moody lighting, perhaps between some trees. You should make sure your beast can get in and out easily, and I always have someone with me to throw a ball or something safe for the dog to chase, or I sometimes just sit and watch the animal play and have fun on their own.
My favourite lens for outdoor dog shoots has to be the 50-140 F2.8. With good flexibility and a shallow depth of field at F2.8 there’s always gorgeous bokeh in the background. I try to keep the shutter up between 2000th and 4000th of a second to keep the motion frozen. If the light is changing or the dog is running through light and dark patches, try ‘auto ISO’.
Set the the auto ISO range function to work between ISO 200 and 6400. To control the aperture, try to stay in the range of F2.8 – F4/5.6 or if you want some amazing textural shots and there is loads of light, dial in F8 – F11. Again get low… I have the tilt screen for this, or just get in the dirt and sand and the shots will be amazing.
You could also try the 16-55 F2.8 if you want the shot to be a little more environmental, shoot wide and get more of the landscape in your photos. When you print this type of shot they look great printed large.
If you want to get really creative try ‘panning’ the dog. This is a technique we use on the track to shoot cars at the races. Select a shutter speed between 1/8th (very creative) up to 1/200th (suggest you start there and work your way down to 1/8th), and rotate your body at the hips following and tracking your dog as it runs past. You want to work your shots at slower and slower shutter speeds to create a wonderful action arty shot…
More about the author
John Rourke has been shooting professionally for 15 years and is the owner of Adrenal Media, the Official Photography Agency for the FIA WEC (World Endurance Championship), and the ELMS (European Le Mans Series) including the world famous ‘Le Mans 24hr’. He shoots all of his professional and personal work on Fujifilm X series cameras.
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 in the scene
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
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.
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.