Tag: x100t

An Interview with Adam Baidawi after a Trip To North Korea with the FUJIFILM X100T

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Can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you enjoy crafting a story using the imaging medium?

I’m a 26-year-old writer and photographer. The bulk of my work is a combination of celebrity profile pieces and long form reportage. I’ve reported on stories from Iraq, Colombia, and all throughout Europe and Australia. Most recently, I travelled to North Korea to write and shoot a feature for the Australian edition of GQ magazine. I also do a little brand consulting and wedding photography.

As a younger freelancer, I started to realise that the more ambitious stories that I wanted to tell needed to be supported by imagery. We’re visual creatures. Photos stimulate us and pull us into a story. Now, my best features prioritise words and photography equally.

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Based on your first impressions before going to North Korea and what you know now, are you surprised by the way people live there?

This is a tricky one. Tourism in North Korea is so impeccably controlled, so micro-managed, so on-rails, that it’s impossible to say whether or not what you see represents the reality.

We spent most of our time in Pyongyang, the city of the elites. You don’t make it in Pyongyang unless your family has paid its dues. It’s not representative of life there.

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For me, the closest we came to seeing regular life in the DPRK was in the in-between moments: The famers carrying heavy loads on the side of a rural highway. The kids being petulant to their parents on the way home from school in a little country town. The way our tour guides would relax and go a little red in the face after a few beers. I loved those mundane moments. People still go to work, and save up for the clothing they want – they still get a little sleepy in the mid-afternoon and like bragging about accomplishments. They’re just people. Those moments meant more to me than any choreographed events on our itinerary.

You mentioned to us you were planning on taking a Digital SLR to North Korea. Can you tell us why you chose to take the Fujifilm X100T instead?

I actually did take a full DSLR kit to North Korea – I had a full-frame Canon and a slew of lenses. My big ol’ kit. But, by chance, I’d bought an X100T a few months earlier. I’d been craving something smaller and snappier. I bought it along to North Korea too.

I was a few months into owning my X100T and was starting to fall in love with it a little. I’d just shot a feature all over South Africa with it – I was feeling confident. I loved its small size, its silent operation, and its insanely pretty straight-out-of-camera colours.

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But this was a bigger, once-in-a-lifetime assignment. I never expected to use the X100T as much as I did. After a few days in Pyongyang, I couldn’t help myself – I benched my bulky DSLR, and made the X100T my go-to. Seeing the end product, I have no regrets.

How did you find the Fujifilm X100T for capturing spontaneous and candid moments? Was there any stand out feature(s) you loved using?

This will sound a little naïve, but coming from DSLR land, I was totally blown away by the viewfinder. To see, more or less, precisely how an image will look – exposure and all – before I even take it? Unreal. It gave me so much confidence. It also meant that I could pay way more attention to the moment that was unfolding in front of me. The X100T’s viewfinder has improved my framing dramatically.

The whole experience has me teetering on the edge to switching my professional kit to a Fujifilm mirrorless system. Maybe the X-T2. We’ll see.

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When capturing photographs in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea did you ever think the officials would take the photos away from you? Was there any moments where you were a bit worried or became paranoid?

Totally. I was paranoid the whole time I was there. After I Facetimed my girlfriend from Beijing airport to say goodbye, I had no way of communicating with my friends or family for a week. Not being permitted to wander off alone, and a persistent, sinking feeling of being watched takes a mental toll on you.

Without an invitation from the government, travelling to the DPRK as a journalist was risky. Despite working for a magazine, I embarked on this story as a lone freelancer. If everything went to hell, I’d be in it on my own, and I’d only have myself to blame.

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As tourists, we were told not to photograph any military officials, nor residents in poorer rural areas. Happily, the tiny, unassuming design of the X100T helped me operate a little more stealthily. Aside from being super pleasing to the eye, its retro styling conceals the power it has under the hood.

There was one moment that I do regret – while travelling on a bus en route to a rural destination, I snuck a photo of a soldier at a security checkpoint. I didn’t even have the camera up to my eye, but he instantly knew I’d photographed him. I was pulled off the bus and grilled for a few minutes. I was lucky to get away with it.

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On the journey back to Beijing – a 24-hour train-ride – we were stopped at the Chinese border and had our belongings inspected thoroughly. They went through every camera and every phone, shot-by-shot. I’d deleted every incriminating photo off my camera, and had the whole week backed up on several SD cards, which were stashed all through my luggage.

Looking at your photographs what did you want to portray as an overall body of work?

I hate dehumanisation. I hate it when a population is painted with the same brush that its leader is. That thinking has been the cause of so many horrific things. When I chatted to people in Iraq on the ten-year anniversary of the invasion, I was astonished at how gentle, considered, thoughtful and empathetic they were. Yet the citizens of Baghdad had been painted uniformly as America-hating, dictator-worshipping would-be insurgents. That thinking is dangerous – I want to counter that.

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I was determined to show a different side of the DPRK – something beyond the marches and mass dances and the iconic leader. Something more dull and mundane and familiar and warm. It’s a little cheesy to say, but humanity always finds a way to show through, especially in adverse situations. I wanted to show that humanity.

You were there to participate in a marathon, did you end up capturing any photographs in the stadium and surrounding areas? What were your observations and reaction when taking photos of the people?

I did. The citizens of the DPRK were as fascinated by us as we were them. The whole thing was like a symbiotic zoo – staring at each other with amazement, but wholly unable to communicate meaningfully.

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If you were to change or add one feature on the Fujifilm X100T to make it a better camera what would it be and why?

Can I be greedy and ask for more than one? It’s so close to my dream camera.

My priorities would be:
• Improving the battery life. I’m the type to get serious battery anxiety – I remedy that by bringing a portable USB powerpack around.
• Increasing the megapixel count (I love printing photos at ridiculous sizes).
• Giving the video functionality a little more love. The film simulations and viewfinder give it an unbelievably cool foundation. I’d add smart autofocus, OIS, and a high FPS mode for silky, filmic slow motion.
• Add the ACROS film simulation!! I’m dying to try it.

To view more of Adam’s work we suggest following him on Instagram or visiting his website.

How to Capture the Beauty of Nature in Flatlay Photography

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By Ja Soon Kim

I was a graphic designer and an art director in advertising for many years.

I hold a BFA in fine art. Photography is my passion.

Photography is an art form in that you are able to create or captures images that are uniquely your own vision. But first, you have to have the right equipment that is perfect for what you envision.

I used to shoot with an iPhone camera until I saw the color quality in the images shot with Fujifilm cameras. I knew I had to switch in order to achieve the subtle tones, colors, textures and depth that would enrich my images.

I had been considering several cameras. When a friend showed me his Fujifilm XT100, I knew this was it.

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You don’t have to go somewhere special to find things to shoot. If you take a closer look, there are things you never noticed before that are beautiful. These are leaves I found while walking my dog.

I have been shooting with Fujifilm cameras for over a year. I started with a borrowed X100T and now I shoot with an X-T1. It is the perfect camera for me, just the right size and surface texture, not too heavy, great retro look, and it fits perfectly in my hands. It’s fun to shoot with. It didn’t take me long to learn the basics but there are endless possibilities with this camera. It has given me exactly what I was looking for in a camera.

One of the handy features I love about X-T1 is that I can transfer pictures directly, via WI-FI, from the camera to my iPhone. This is perfect for Instagram users.

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I found all this beautiful spring growth on a walk in the countryside. I arranged them with a sense of movement using a variety of plants. Against a black background, they look elegant with their vibrant green stems.

 

Flatlay, or tabletop photography, is different from landscapes or portraits in that you are creating your own subject to shoot rather than shooting what is already there. It provides a totally different experience, creative control and it shows in the resulting images. This process has been deeply meditative for me. I work alone, without a crew, as I used to as an art director.

Shooting flatlay gives us total control over the subject and allows us to be creative in our own unique way.  You can use any material you find interesting. I work mostly with found or foraged props from nature that we all see every day and are readily available all around us. I don’t purchase props for shooting.

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These fallen leaves were collected under an old cottonwood tree. I was fascinated with bug-eaten holes and the varying stages of fall colors. I used a simple arrangement for these. 

Light is everything in photography. I almost always set up my shots near a big window in my house. My typical background is a piece of plywood painted black on one side and white on the other or foam core boards in black or white. A very simple set up.  I use a tripod whenever necessary.

When I travel, I shoot on what is readily available: sandy beaches, beautiful rock, etc.

The lighting is the most important component of photography. I don’t use artificial lighting. I’ve tried them but it doesn’t have the depth and subtle variations that natural light offers. I love the shadows that appear with natural light. Shadows give depth and dimension to images.

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These wilting flowers were found in my neighborhood and in my garden. Some are wildflowers.

This is a simple grid with various stages of fresh to wilting late summer blooms. I frequently save and reuse props as they dry, mixing them with other things to make new and different images. Nothing is wasted and ultimately all goes to compost.

 

Often they are more beautiful when they dry, so be playful and experiment.

My subjects are almost always found or foraged. The process of collecting, imagining how they might look together in my mind is part of my creative process. Ultimately, they do need to be selected and arranged in your own creative way that makes the picture beautiful and compelling.

Cultivate Your Own Style

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These varieties of wild sunflowers bloom everywhere in the Southwest in late summer. All of them are collected from the sides of the road and arranged while still fresh in a very simple vertical design. I use reusable plastic containers to keep them fresh until I get home. Shot on silver PMS paper. 

Most of my pictures are shot with the XF35mmF1.4 R lens, a great everyday lens. I shoot with other lenses but I love the honesty and zero distortion of this lens.

I love shooting with wide angle lenses XF16mmF1.4 R WR or XF18mmF2 R when I am out shooting landscapes. I also shoot with the XF60mmF2.4 R Macro when I want to play with close ups or create different affects.

More recently, I’ve began shooting with the X-T2 and look forward to the types of images I can create with this beautiful camera.

Discover more of these images created with FUJIFILM X Series in my instagram feed!

 

Flight of The Swans – Final Chapter

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X-Photographer strip BLACK

Recap – My name is Ben Cherry, I’m a Fujifilm X-Photographer focusing on environmental photojournalism. Currently I am part of the WWT Flight of the Swans conservation project, where Sacha Dench is flying from Arctic Russia back to the UK; following the declining Bewick’s swan as they migrate to overwinter in warmer climates.

You can find the first blog explaining how I got involved in this unique project and what I’ve brought along with me here.

While the second installment, talking about incredible Russia can be found here.


Well we eventually got out of Russia, after a 19 hour border crossing. Estonia was instantly different. It had a significantly different feel to it, from seemingly greener, richer forest to just a different culture. It was all quite refreshing!

I broke off from the core team to focus on finding Read More

El Camino with the Fujifilm X100S

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The Camino de Santiago (also commonly known as ’The Way of St James’, or ‘El Camino’ in Spanish) is the name given to the pilgrimage routes that start all over Europe, but all lead to the same destination: the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Northwest Spain).


By Danny Fernandez

Since moving to Spain in 2011, I had heard many people talking about doing ‘El Camino’, and each of them saying how incredible the experience is (life changing for many). For the past few years, it has been on my ‘to do’ list, and this August, I decided to combine three of my passions (travel, cycling and photography) and see what all the fuss is about!

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The first choice I had to make (although it wasn’t really much of a difficult one) was whether I should walk, or cycle. As a keen cyclist, the choice was simple; I would do a cycle tour. By cycling, it also meant that I could see much more of the coast in a shorter time, and also easily take detours if I wanted to explore the area.

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The second choice that I had to make was which camino to do. It was a toss up between the most popular, but easier and better facilitated route; the Camino Frances, or the more difficult and less crowded Camino del Norte. I decided to do the ‘Camino del Norte’. This is the route which follows the northern coast on Spain. I chose to do this route as I had heard it is the most beautiful but also one of the most difficult routes due to all of the mountains! I decided to start in the beautiful coastal town of Castro Urdiales (50km west of Bilbao), and had approx 17 days to cycle the 780km to Santiago de Compostela.

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The third choice that I had to make was where I would stay. Typically walkers (commonly known as Pilgrims during the camino) stay in Albergues (which is like a simple hostel, solely for pilgrims). However, cyclists get the last priority of beds in Albergues (walkers first / those on horses – yes, horses – second / cyclists third). As I had no guarantee of a bed, I decided to bring a tent and camp where possible.

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My Way

There seem to be as many reasons for doing the camino, as there are pilgrims. I met people from all walks of life, including entire families, married couples, adventurers, grandparents and even one guy who had walked out of his front door – in the Netherlands – 11 months ago, and is still walking now!

At the start of my camino, I overheard people saying things like “The Way gives you what you need”. I rolled my eyes and blew this off as some hippy thing, but after 17 days of cycling, I agreed with this.

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I think that the nature of any repetitive action (in this case ‘wake up/eat/cycle/sleep/repeat’), gives you a lot of – almost meditative – headspace, and can teach you all sorts of things about yourself. I had a lot of time to ponder on things (I was, after all, cycling by myself for on average 5 – 8 hours a day).

I also feel that the challenges taught me a lot about myself, and man, there were challenges! It was way more difficult than I could imagine. Some days I would battle a constant uphill mountain for more than 2 hours without escape. On average, I was ascending and descending between 800 – 1000 metres of altitude a day. And when it’s 32 degrees, and your loaded bike weights 30kgs, you feel every meter.

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Before starting, I expected to have many highs, and many lows (such is the beauty and the curse of solo travel), and the camino gave me both of these. I had extreme highs after making it through hours of rainy mountains to be rewarded with parted clouds over the most breathtaking views. And I had extreme lows when I questioned my reasons for this ‘stupid idea’ and was 90% sure that I was going to quit and just hang out on a beach for the remainder of my trip.

Each persons experience of the Camino is unique and I feel that if you listen, you can learn a lot about yourself during this journey.

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Why I chose the X100s

I’m not sure if other photographers are like me, but I spend so much time in a constant debate over which camera equipment to bring before any trip.

Since selling my Canon gear 3 years ago and slowly building a collection of Fuji (X100s / X-T1 / X-T10 / XF16mm / XF35mm / XF56mm) I was fortunate enough to have the choice of what to bring for this trip.

x100sI had narrowed it down to the X100s, or the X-T10 + XF16 and XF35 lenses. After changing my mind on a near daily basis, I eventually decided to simplify EVERYTHING on this trip, therefore I would only bring my X100s. I had previously spent 3 months backpacking around India with this camera and think it’s an incredible travel camera.

My reasons for bringing just the X100s was that I wanted simplicity. This was very much my philosophy behind the entire trip – to get away from every day life of choices and go back to basics (this was also the basis for my terrible decision of bringing only 2 pairs of socks for a 17 day cycle trip). I was clear that this was not a photography trip; it was all about the experience of the camino, and the X100s was always at hand to document it.

And if I had to choose only one reason why this is still my favourite travel camera, it’s because it doesn’t interrupt your experiences; but instead is there to complement them. Photography has taught me how to see, and when a camera fits in so seamlessly with your life, it can help deepen your appreciation of that moment.

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