Back in April I spent ten days in the Faroe Islands with my good friend and workshop co-leader Andrea Livieri as we scouted out some locations for our workshop there next year. The Faroes are an incredible place situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean midway between the Shetland Isles and Iceland, they have a little of both culturally, but the landscape is completely unique.
I got the chance to spend two weeks in shooting in the Dolomites with the Fujifilm GFX 50R earlier this month, and here's a video review I put together. Like all my reviews it's in no way technical or focused on specs or comparisons, but instead based on my experiences shooting with the camera and working with it in the field.
I borrowed the Fujifilm X-H1 last month and spent a week shooting with it in Tuscany comparing it with the X-T2, my usual landscape camera. This isn’t an in-depth review of all the cameras specifications and features, rather I focused on the practical differences I noticed between the two cameras while using them in the field.
Street photography is for me one of the most trickiest aspects of photography to do well. It’s one of those things that seems so simple until you try to do it. The best street images create curiosity in the viewer, there’s the suggestion of a narrative; who is this person, what are they doing, etc, and also there’s a clarity and simplicity of composition that’s incredibly difficult to achieve when photographing complicated and dynamic city streets.
Tuscany is one of those iconic landscape locations I’d longed to photograph since I first saw pictures of it in the first photography books I ever bought. It was one of the first photography trips I ever made back in 2009 and I immediately fell in love with the area. It’s a beautiful rural landscape, all gentle rolling hills, vineyards and medieval hilltop towns, and so I was excited to be heading back there again this spring with two good friends and fantastic photographers Konstantinos Vasilakis and Kostas Petrakis. We’ll be running a workshop there next year, so our plan for this trip was to finalise all the practicalities and ensure that everything we needed was in place, but of course we also intended to do plenty of photography.
Back in February, Hugo and Mauricio from Fuji X Passion joined me for a day of street photography in Lisbon. The plan was to spend a day, from sunrise to sunset recording a film while exploring and photographing in this beautiful city.
I wanted the film to show what an amazing place Lisbon is with its atmospheric neighbourhoods, winding streets, steeps hills and views across the river, so I planned out a day where we would see as much as possible, starting with sunrise looking out across the rooftops towards the river, and finishing with a sunset, again above the river, but this time next to the beautiful modern architecture of MAAT.
First off, this isn’t really a review, it’s more an overview of how I feel about the camera after using it since it arrived in November. After 4 months I feel I’ve got to know the camera pretty well, but like my blogs about the X-T1 and X-T10 when I first switched to Fuji, this is in no way meant to be a technical review or a full look at every one of it’s features. There are plenty of those already on the internet, DPreview has probably the best in depth technical review of the camera and all it’s features. Instead I’ll focus on the improvements over the X-T2 that I’ve found particularly useful, and how the camera feels to use for landscape and travel photography.
A little background to start: It’s been about a year an a half since my switch from Nikon to Fuji, and over those 18 months I’ve been constantly impressed by pretty much everything about the Fuji X System and Fujifilms approach to their cameras and lenses.
Back in October I got together with Hugo and Mauricio of Fuji X Passion to make a film about shooting landscapes on the coast of Portugal. We wanted to make a film that captured the spirit of photography, as well as covering all the practices in the field as well as post processing.
Despite being pretty unlucky with the weather, which is usually interesting in October, we had a lot of fun shooting at one of my favourite locations, the beach of Praia d'Ouriçal at Portugal's westernmost tip of Cabo da Roca. It's a tricky beach to access and carrying numerous cameras, a drone, heavy video tripods and 5 or 6 bags down to the beach was a lot of fun, but it's the kind of place that when you arrive it always feels worth the effort.
We shot the ocean here, looking at how to capture movement in the water and composition, and despite having heavy cloud and little direct light, it's still an atmospheric and fascinating location to shoot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After months of research and planning, Teresa and I are finally heading off to Indonesia for a around a month on Monday. It's a trip we've wanted to make for a long time and we'll be taking in a really wide range of places and locations, so it should provide lots of opportunities for photography.
We'll fly to Jakarta, before heading by train to Yogyakarta, the cultural centre, for a couple of days. Then we'll spend a couple of days at the huge Buddhist temple of Borobudur, before heading by train again to Surabaya and then on to Mount Bromo, the iconic volcano in the Tengger Semeru National Park. After that we head over to Bali for a few days diving and snorkelling in Permuteran on the north coast, then up to the mountains and rice fields in Munduk, before relaxing at the end of the trip in Ubud.