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. Continue reading “A Quest to Capture the Golden Hour: Wild Camping in the Lake District”
X-Photographer Jeff Carter gives his guide to capturing great sports images with the FUJIFILM X Series without the need for a media pass – in this final blog in the series Jeff gives you all his top tips for photographing cricket.
In a series of articles X Photographer Jeff Carter will be shooting at sports events in the UK and showing how to capture great images with the Fujifilm X Series without the need for a media pass. In this final blog of the series, Jeff gives you all his top tips for photographing cricket.
Photography is all about the light and, as landscape photographers, we are constantly searching for the most interesting and evocative lighting conditions. Without it our pictures can be dull and lacklustre but when Mother Nature performs her magic, the landscape is transformed enabling us to capture some stunning imagery.
Some of my favourite conditions are shooting into the sun to capture those dramatic sunbeams, starbursts or beautiful back-lit scenes. Although this is counter intuitive to everything we are taught early in our photographic journey, this technique helps emphasise, shapes, lines and silhouettes to produce some striking images.
I’ve been using the Fujifilm system since its inception back in 2011. My very first Fujifilm camera was the Fujifilm FinePix X100 (remember when it was still called the FinePix?).
I’ve been honoured to be a part of theX-Photographer community since those early days and even after nine years or so find the X Series range of cameras the tools that I still use for all my work.
As the system has grown from the embryonic MLC that was the X100 to the high-resolution machine that is the GFX 50S, I’ve witnessed a system that has taken its first baby steps to winning platitudes and awards every year.
Going right back to the FinePix X100, this was one of the first images I took with the camera:
I was smitten with the camera, but I think it’s fair to say that the original X100 definitely had some teething problems.
When I was shooting with the FinePix X100 I felt a deep assimilation with the JPEGs that the camera was producing. However, trying to achieve focus, especially in low light situations, proved challenging.
And then something quite unheard of happened… a firmware update. Not only did the firmware update fix small bugs, it made the whole camera more responsive and even added a feature or two.
This was the sign of things to come, of course, and I think one of the things that define Fujifilm’s success is their unwavering support for the photographic community via firmware updates.
Ironically, according to my Lightroom Catalog, the last personal photography I took with my FinePix X100 – which I still have (I never sell a classic camera!) is this shot of it’s successor, the X100S (note, FinePix no longer in the name):
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trawling through my archives of personal family snaps that I’ve taken with the X100, the X100S, X100T & X100F.
I had over 10,000 images that I considered good enough to keep.
Of course, these are family snaps, nothing particularly arty about them and absolutely the most important thing is the memories for me and my family.
Anyhow, here are the 100 family snaps, taken with my various Fujifilm X100 Cameras and in chronological order. I have a huge debt of gratitude to the original X100. It’s the camera that made me realise photography is fun rather than just for work. Here is my little homage to the X100 and all its incarnations.
This was really when things started changing with the little X100 format cameras, but before the X100S came out, we were bamboozled by the X-Pro1.
Now, my introduction to this camera was somewhat forced. I was writing a monthly business column for Professional Photography magazine when the editor asked me to review the camera;
Him: “Would you like to review the new Fujifilm X-Pro1?”
Me: “Well, not really, the reason I love the X100 is because it’s fixed lens and I don’t want to invest in another interchangeable lens system as I still have my Canon cameras”.
Him: “We’ll pay you £200 for the review”.
Me: “Oh, go on then….”
Fast forward five weeks and I have to take the review copy back to Archant House in Cheltenham. As I hand over the review packages to them, the editor asks me what I thought. I showed him a copy of my order email from WEX where I’d just pre-ordered the X-Pro1 and the three launch lenses.
Not too long after I took delivery of my X-Pro1, XF35mm, XF60mm and XF18mm lenses I sold off all my Canon gear.
At this point, we were then beginning to see new sensors and later, new Film Simulations too but really, what everybody in the photographic world was realising was that these new breeds of mirrorless cameras from Fujifilm were: smaller, lighter, cheaper and crucially, performed very well compared to what we had been used to using.
Of course, there are still some rare situations where a DSLR might be a better option for a particular shooting style, but with the emergence of the X-H1 I think even that is becoming mitigated and the Fujifilm system is catering more and more for all types of photographers. It’s not true that Fujifilm cameras are “only for Street Photographers”.
At some point in 2013, I was in Tokyo and I was using another new Fujifilm camera, the X-M1. The X-M1 used the same X-Trans CMOS sensor as the X-Pro1 and X-E1 but didn’t have a viewfinder. It had a tilt screen and was actually the first camera to have Wi-Fi too.
To be totally honest, I never really got on with this camera. It was too fiddley, and I really missed the viewfinder. I’ve never been a huge lover of tilt screens, and I’m pleased Fujifilm continue to pacify people in both camps with cameras that have tilt screens and cameras that don’t.
The camera did yield me an image on that trip to Tokyo which went on to win SWPP Landscape photographer of the Year award though.
When the X-T1 arrived, the game changed for many people. The X-Pro1, X100S where good cameras, but they were perhaps not quite sharp enough for many to consider for professional work.
However, when the X-T1 came along with its continuous focus and high-speed shooting, this was when I first started seeing a big influx of shooters coming to the Fujifilm stable.
Some of my favourite images to date have come from the X-T1:
And of course, later came the X-T2 and the X-Pro2 and little curve balls such as the X70.
The X70 remains one of my favourite cameras; despite what I said about the X-M1, the X70 is also an LCD only camera and it has ergonomic issues too, but that camera has so much character and is so small that it is still one of my most use cameras when shooting. I shoot with my X70 at weddings as well as personally and I really hope there is a future for that line of camera.
And, as we come to the end of this whistle stop tour of my time with the Fujifilm X Series of cameras, I can’t possibly leave out two of the new guys in the stable; the GFX 50S and the X-E3.
For me, the GFX is all about prints. I use in mainly in my family photography business which is prints only and I find it incredible that I can shoot with a medium format camera, handheld, in a candid way.
It’s a big camera of course, and that’s why it’s not really suited, for me at least, for fast paced shooting, but anything where the pace is slower, and the images may end up in print, then the GFX is the way forward. I can’t wait to see how this branch of the series matures.
Here is a little snapshot of my own summer, all shot hand held with the GFX 50S:
The Fujifilm system is now at a stage where the last lenses needed to make it, in my opinion, a ‘complete working photographers system’ are on the roadmap and set for launch at some point this year. With the recent announcements of the FUJIFILM X-H1 and the MKX lenses, the system can really cater for a wide variety of needs. One of the lenses I had been missing, until its launch in 2017, was the XF80mmF2.8 Macro OIS.
I regularly work in close proximity to my subjects. In the past I have used the Fujifilm extension tubes to get up close and personal. These were super, ‘get out of jail’ add-ons for lenses like the XF56mmF1.2 and XF50-140mmF2.8. You can find a blog I did on these handy accessories, while working as a researcher in Costa Rica here.
As well as these lenses, I have also been using the ever adaptable XF16mm F1.4 for close up wide angle shots. This truly is one of my favourite lenses. I have used it to photograph lightning storms and stars, elephants in rainforests and the release of baby turtles. I find it incredibly adaptable; one of the reasons for this is down to its incredible close focusing distance. So, when I had the opportunity to spend 24 hours in the Black Mountains of South Wales, I grabbed some zooms and my three favourite primes: XF16mmF1.4, XF35mmF1.4 and the XF80mmF2.8 then headed off.
I spent the night in the mountains in a remote cabin, which was made all the more remote by a fair sprinkling of snow.
It was a relaxing trip so had to stay hydrated and cosy…
When daylight hit, I went for an explore around the surrounding valley, taking in the magical scene. All the while I was looking for suitable circumstances to test out the XF80mm. Then, tucked around one of the many hills, I stumbled across a small waterfall with natural steps built into it. I thought this would be a good place to start.
Macro photography usually requires large amounts of light as you often have to use large F-stops to ensure a decent depth of field, which is proportional to the distance from the camera. To compensate for this, I added an extra level of creativity, I brought along two mini portable LED lights. These allowed me to illuminate the icicles whilst keeping the background dark.
The bokeh of the XF80mmF2.6 lens is really pleasing. Even when stopped down to F8, the light glistening off icicles in the background was beautiful.
I deliberately underexposed the above image to keep the light subtle on the air pockets, highlighting the tiny but beautiful detail of this icicle. The XF80mm had so much to give, the issues I experienced were down to me! I was hand-holding this set up, camera in one hand, LED light in another, whilst my feet were slipping on the rocks as icy water flowed over them. Health and safety would have had a field day! But the camera/lens combo was easy to handle. Because of my instability, I had to use very fast shutter speeds. The autofocus was snappy, which is not usually a strong feature of macro lenses.
At one stage I put the LED light in the water (thankfully completely waterproof) and was able to brace for some slower shutter speed images. I was very impressed. With the addition of the X-H1 (can’t wait to pair these two together) the potential to go even slower is very exciting!
Being able to get two different macro perspectives from two fantastic prime lenses was fantastic. Here is a shot taken with the XF16mm F1.4 showing how the focal length makes a huge difference to the image, despite the close focusing.
All in all, I am very impressed with the XF80mm F2.8 OIS Macro. I think it will replace the XF56mm F1.2 in my backpack. X-T2, X-H1, XF16mm, XF35mm, XF80mm, XF16-55mm, XF50-140mm, XF100-400mm, plus accessories like some lights, batteries, etc makes for a fantastic set up which is still suitable for airline carry on. The prospect of the impending XF200mm F2 OIS makes the set up near perfect for me. I can highly recommend the XF80mm, I’m sure it will make for a brilliant portrait lens too.
The first 1.0x magnification mid-telephoto macro lens for X Series
This lens features a focal length equivalent to 122mm (on a 35mm format), a maximum aperture of F2.8, and 1.0x magnification factor, a first in the X Series interchangeable lens range. By achieving high resolving power at the focus point and beautiful bokeh, this lens is optimal for shooting flowers and nature photos. Combine this lens with Fujifilm’s unique Film Simulation such as Velvia, for truly stunning close up images.