SHOOTING STARS ON LISBON'S WEST COAST - VIDEO

SHOOTING STARS ON LISBON'S WEST COAST - VIDEO

SHOOTING STARS ON LISBON'S WEST COAST - VIDEO

One of the things I’m most excited about doing in 2017 is learning how to use video more.  There’s such a massive potential now with so many really portable high quality video cameras on the market, as well as the fact that Fujifilm have well and truly nailed video in their new cameras.

Of course this means learning a whole host of new skills, from shooting video and capturing good audio, to editing the footage and cutting music in.  Then there are screen recordings, time lapses, there’s just a lot to learn and it’s going to take a long time till I’ll feel remotely competent.

LISBON'S WILD COAST

LISBON'S WILD COAST

LISBON'S WILD COAST

Since I switched to Fuji last summer my passion for just going out and taking pictures again has been completely rekindled.  When I first started photography around 10 years ago my first inspiration and images came from the coastline around where I lived.

It was photographing the local coastline that I learned about using a tripod, about long exposures, and about using filters.  I loved the energy of the sea, and would head out to the beaches around Lisbon with my first dSLR and try to capture the water moving around rocks.  It's a wonderful place for landscape photography, although some of the locations here can be a little challenging to get to.  At Cabo da Roca, mainland Europe's most westerly point, a lighthouse sits atop 100 meter high cliffs that are constantly battered by the wind and waves of the Atlantic Ocean.  

PRAIA DO GIRIBETO

PRAIA DO GIRIBETO

Over the course of this year I've been to some incredible beaches on Portugal's coast.  While researching and shooting with my friend Rob for the Alem Lisboa guide book and hiking project we've been working on we've headed out to some pretty off-the-beaten-path locations, and Praia do Giribeto is certainly one of them.  Located at the foot of what at first seem to be sheer cliffs, the beach is described on a local website like this:  

"The access is via a dirt path by the villages of Assafora and Magoito that ends in a high difficulty trail on the cliff top, towards the sand. It's advisable to access the beach by sea."

On closer observation however there is a clear path going down which the fishermen use, and in the particularly steep places there's a rope to hold on to.  So access isn't super easy, but it's not as tricky as beaches like Ouriçal and Aroeira further down the coast.

MAAT - LISBON'S MUSEUM OF ART ARCHITECTURE & TECHNOLOGY

MAAT - LISBON'S MUSEUM OF ART ARCHITECTURE & TECHNOLOGY

Lisbon's newest museum opened recently and I've been there a couple of times now to photograph it and see how it would work as a location for street workshops.  I've walked and cycled past the site many times since it's been under construction and it always looked as though it was going to be a fascinating building.  The sweeping curve of the roof, and it's location right next to the Tejo river within sight of the 25 April bridge really are perfect for photography, and facing south it works both as a sunrise and sunset location.

It gets pretty busy, so it's a great place to photograph people, but also it works well for long exposures with moving clouds, or to do close up architectural abstracts.  It's a great place to shoot, and somewhere I'll be returning to in future

MY X-T2 HAS ARRIVED!

MY X-T2 HAS ARRIVED!

I got a great parcel in the post today!  Fuji sent me an X-T2!

In the middle of last year when I made the switch from Nikon to Fuji, it was apparent that Fuji were on the edge of releasing their "second generation" of X Series cameras as the X100, X Pro1 and X-T1 had all been around a while.  Earlier this year we got the X Pro 2, and playing with it at the launch I was blown away by the sensor, however I never expected Fuji to release the X-T2 so soon after the X Pro 2, and I certainly didn't expect them to pack it full of so many features that elevated it above the X Pro 2!  Obviously it shares the same beautiful 24mp sensor, but it also has an improved AF system and shoots 4k video.  Added to that it has so many tiny improvements over the X-T1, a camera I really love, that it already looks like the X-T2 might be my perfect camera.

Things like the dual SD card slots, the tilt screen which now tilts out in portrait mode, the lockable ISO dial and much better integrated video are all features which will really improve the camera for me, especially as I'm keen to start shooting a lot more video.  

I'll put together a review over the coming weeks and months as I put the camera through it's paces.

FUJIFILM 2017 CALENDAR

FUJIFILM 2017 CALENDAR

I've been so busy with projects recently that I haven't been updating the blog...I haven't even finished editing the Azores photos.  There's lots happening though, quite a few projects that will be coming to fruition throughout next year that need all the seeds planting now.  

In the meantime though, I've just received my official Fujifilm calendar for 2016 from Fuji. It's a massive honour to see my image from Bali on there.  They selected 6 landscape images from all their X Photographers for the A2 sized calendar and mine was chosen for November/December.

Lots more images and news coming soon.

AZORES PART 2: FAIAL

AZORES PART 2: FAIAL

On our trip around the Azores we'd planned three nights in Faial, mostly because I was fascinated with the view it had of neighboring Pico and its mountain, but we soon realized that it was a beautiful island in its own right.

On our first day there we drove over to Almoxarife, a small village on the coast on the other side of a headland from the capital Horta. It's a reall pretty little town and we spent a large part of the afternoon diving into the sea from the concrete piers with the the locals.  The beaches here are all pretty steep and rocky, and there's something incredibly enjoyable about leaping into the ocean like that.  The water in the Azores is much warmer than in mainland Portugal and in such a hot and humid place it was great to jump in.

AZORES PART 1: PICO

AZORES PART 1: PICO

This year Teresa and I decided that we'd like to see more of Portugal so instead of booking an exotic trip to someone far away we've gone on short trips to different parts of Portugal, from Porto in the winter to Alentejo in the spring. For the summer we decided to spend 10 days travelling around some of the islands of the Açores, a place neither of us had ever visited and didn't really know much about. The Açores is an archipelago of nine volcanic islands pretty much in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean midway between Europe and the USA.  

The first part was planning which islands to visit. São Miguel is the obvious one, but it's also the most touristed and best known.  I spent some time researching the islands and it quickly became apparent that Flores, one of the western most islands, was the one I wanted to photograph most, and next to that is the tiny island of Corvo which also looked stunning.  I also wanted to photography Pico, Portugal's highest mountain, which can also be viewed from the neighboring islands of Faial and Sao Jorge. Both of these islands looked lovely, but as there are direct flights to Faial from Lisbon it made sense to spend some time there. So our final plan saw us flying to Faial, picking up a rental car and then catching a ferry for the 30 minute trip to Pico.

A LIGHTWEIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY KIT

A LIGHTWEIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY KIT

It’s been a little over a year since I switched to using the Fuji X System and one of the many things I still love is how small and lightweight the system is, and of course a small, light camera and lenses means that other equipment can also become smaller and lighter too.

Like many landscape photographers I’ve gone through my fair share of backpacks since I started, and one of the main criteria has always been that I want the bag to be as small as it can possibly be and still fit my needs.  When I’m out on a landscape shoot my kit typically consists of an X-T1, the 10-24mm and 55-200mm lenses, a couple of spare batteries, three filters, a cable release and a tripod.  Additionally I’ll have a bottle of water and some kind of outer shell for if the weather changes, along with a head torch, a fruit bar or two and wallet, keys and phone.  When I’m travelling I tend to use a Lowepro Photosport 200, which I’ve reviewed on my blog, and while it’s a great bag it’s still larger than I need to carry the dayhike kit I outlined above.  So, when I switched to Fuji I started to look for the smallest backpack I could find but pretty much anything smaller than the Photosport doesn’t have hip straps, which for me are vitally important as I like to get the weight off my shoulders as much as possible.  Then it occurred to me, if I wanted a small bag where I could carry the weight on my hips, why not just look at waist packs?  I’d always ruled them out before as they are not really effective for carrying a full frame dSLR kit, even if it’s only two lenses, but for the Fuji system it’s a different matter altogether, so I started to look at what was available.

CARRASQUIERA - PORTO PALAFITA

CARRASQUIERA - PORTO PALAFITA

About ten years ago now, not long after I'd first got seriously interested in photography, I made the hour and a half journey down to the small fishing village of Carrasquiera on the edge of the Sado estuary.  I'd seen pictures of the fishermen's piers there, the cais palafita, and wanted to see if I could make a good image there.  Piers are the kind of subjects that work really well with long exposures, so I took a thick neutral density filter and my tripod and arrived just before sunset.  

That evening I was fortunate enough to get some of the best light and colour I've ever seen and took a couple of images that changed my perspective on photography.  In some ways it was the beginning of my photography journey, when I realised how powerful photography could be and how much I enjoyed waiting for the light.

EURO 2016 FINAL

EURO 2016 FINAL

When Portugal played France in the Euro 2016 final, win or lose, there was no way we could stay at home when half the city of Lisbon would be out cheering on their team.  We walked through some of the main squares and thoroughfares of the city, as well as stopping off at a couple of bars and locals tascas to soak up the atmosphere with the tiny X-T10 and a couple of prime lenses. <!--more-->While the majority of people were congregated infront of the huge screen in Praça do Commercio, we ended up watching the extra time when Portugal scored the winner in a small square with an outdoor kiosk and lots of packed tables.  By the end of the evening it was too dark to properly capture the action, and besides, by then I'd got so completely caught up in the game that I kind of forgot about taking any photos.

FUJI X PASSION

FUJI X PASSION

It's almost a year now since I ditched Nikon and started my relationship with Fujifilm and their fantastic X Series cameras.  I haven't regretted the switch for a moment and have loved using the cameras since I first got them.

It's also been my most productive year photographically with plenty going on, one of which is hooking up with Hugo and Mauricio at Fuji X Passion magazine.  They've invested so much time and energy in their website, as well as producing a couple of magazines; the FXP online magazine and this beautiful portfolio print magazine, which I was honoured to be featured and interviewed in.  You can purchase it at their website, which is packed with useful articles and some great interviews.

A FEW DAYS IN ALENTEJO

A FEW DAYS IN ALENTEJO

Alentejo is a large rural area between the industrial heartland of Lisbon and the developed coast of Algarve. We spent five days there over Easter to unwind and spend some time hiking in the countryside.  

We spent the first couple of days in a small town near Sao Luis where we did a few hikes.  The first was through dunes along the coast near Almograve. While we were walking there the light wasn't really conducive to landscape photography, although I did note a few excellent locations for coastal photography and the dunes that I'd love to return to photograph another day.  I did spend some time photographing the flowers and plants that grow in the sand near the sea.  I don't have a macro lens, but with some careful composition and a bit of patience I managed to get a few close ups I was happy with.

CHAMPALIMAUD FOUNDATION FOR THE UNKNOWN & LISBON PORT AUTHORITY

CHAMPALIMAUD FOUNDATION FOR THE UNKNOWN & LISBON PORT AUTHORITY

In the last couple of weeks I've been out to Alges, a superb of Lisbon right next to the river that I wouldn't really associate with shooting landscapes, but there are a couple of interesting locations there, the Champalimaud Foundation for the Unknown and the Lisbon Port Authority building, which I was really interested in photographing.

The Champalimaud Foundation, or "Centre for the Unkown" is a beautiful building next to the river on the outskirts of Lisbon.  I've passed by it on the train hundreds of times but only recently got around to shooting it.  It's a fascinating structure with some interesting architectural aspects and water features.

I always think architectural shots work well with long exposures against and fast moving clouds, and I as we've had a lot of rain recently I liked the idea of being able to include reflections made by the wet stone in the images.

A FEW DAYS IN PORTO

A FEW DAYS IN PORTO

Despite having lived in Portugal for around 17 years I've spent almost no time in Porto, and as one of my plans for this year is to spend more time shooting different parts of my Portugal Teresa and I decided to spend a few days between Christmas and New Year in the second city.  

I wanted to pack as light as possible, and this meant taking a minimal amount of photography kit.  Fortunately with the X Series it's really possible to travel light as with my old dSLR system just a camera body and two zooms (a wide angle and telephoto) along with a tripod would already start to take up a lot of space and add a fair bit of weight.  I took the X-T1 body instead of the X-T10 because of its weather resistance as I expected rain and also planned to do a sunset on a local beach.

PHOTOGRAPHING LELLO BOOKSTORE IN PORTO

PHOTOGRAPHING LELLO BOOKSTORE IN PORTO

Lello & Irmão bookshop in Porto was voted the third most beautiful bookshop in the world and the beautifully elegant gothic staircase and carved ceilings make it easy to see why.  It's also become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Porto, thanks in part to the story that JK Rowling conceived the idea for Harry Potter whilst passing time in the café there. It's a tiny place and is constantly full of people, indeed you actually have to queue to get in, which makes photographing it quite problematic. 

TRAVELLING WITH THE FUJI X SERIES TO INDONESIA

TRAVELLING WITH THE FUJI X SERIES TO INDONESIA

I've just returned from 25 days in Indonesia, my first trip with Fuji cameras and my first trip without a large dSLR.  We traveled the entire length of Java and Bali overland so it was important to me to have a camera that wouldn't feel heavy and cumbersome to carry around, but also one I could completely rely on to produce excellent image quality.

The experience of traveling with Fuji cameras has been a revelation! Not only in how much lighter, smaller and easier to carry around it all is, but how I've not once missed my old Nikon in terms of image quality or autofocus in any of the many situations I've encountered, from fast moving street scenes to dynamically lit landscapes.  They've been brilliant, reliable and a consistent pleasure to use.

LOWEPRO PHOTOSPORT 200 REVIEW

LOWEPRO PHOTOSPORT 200 REVIEW

The search for the perfect camera bag is one that lasts many photographers years and can cost a fair amount of money.  For a long while I was pretty happy with my Lowopro Primus, which could happily fit my old Nikon D3 along with a wide angle zoom and the 80-400mm.
When I upgraded to a D800 though, I also switched to using a 70-200 f2.8 as my telephoto lens, and all of a sudden my kit wouldn't fit in my bag. It's also a pretty heavy bag so I started looking around for alternatives.

There were quite a few frustrating "this would be perfect if only..." and "this is great, but why didn't they..." moments, but over the last couple of years I've owned a couple of bags that  pretty much ticked all the boxes, the F stop Kenti and the Lowepro Photosport 200, and after using both bags extensively on trips I thinks it's time I got around to reviewing them.  I've also now switched to the considerably smaller Fuji X system so I'll try and write these reviews from the perceptive of a full frame dSLR system and also a smaller mirrorless system.

INDONESIA PART 6: UBUD

INDONESIA PART 6: UBUD

Ubud is the cultural capital of Bali, an artist's town set amongst the rice fields and hills of central Bali. It's a place we planned to unwind and catch some culture like Balinese dancing, and although I had a couple of locations researched I wasn't really planning on much photography here.

One of the things that Ubud has is a wide range of incredibly stylish, sophisticated, but affordable accommodation. We'd booked 5 nights in a place called Alam Indah, on the outskirts of Ubud next to the famous monkey forest. It didn't disappoint, the room was beautiful with great views out over the forest and proved to be a fantastic place to relax (and write this blog). 

INDONESIA PART 5: MUNDUK

INDONESIA PART 5: MUNDUK

We were sad to leave Pemuteran. It had been a relaxing four days, but it was time to move on to our next location, Munduk, high in the central mountains of Bali. It's a tiny village surrounded by clove and coffee plantations with rice terraces cut into the side of the hills.  The journey from Pemuteran took a little less than an hour and a half, and after we left the town of Seririt we seemed to be constantly rising in twisting roads.  The landscape is so green and there is so much water. It's incredibly fertile land and so much grows here.