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.
If like me, you love shooting wide angle landscapes then the Fuji XF8-16 f2.8 lens with weather sealing has probably been on your radar since it first appeared on the Fuji roadmap last year. I’ve been happily using the 10-24mm since I switched to Fuji about three and a half years ago, it’s my most used lens by a long way, so I’ve been wanting to have a look at this lens for while now and see if it can replace the 10-24mm as my go-to wide angle zoom.
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.
Back at the beginning of March I headed to the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway with Kostas and Konstantinos, my colleagues from Light Explorer Photography Workshops, to spend some time shooting in this incredible place. There’s something about snow covered landscapes that’s so incredibly evocative, especially since where I live in Lisbon winter just means grey clouds and rain.
Earlier last month I took the Fujifilm X-E3 with me on my trip to northern Norway’s Lofoten Islands to put it through it’s paces shooting landscapes. The X-E3 is a really similar camera to the X-T20 and recently I’ve been getting a few questions about which to get and what the differences are, so after Fujifilm kindly offered to lend me one I took the X-E3 with me on the trip in place of my usual X-T20.
Back in the autumn Teresa and I spent two weeks in the Dolomite mountains amongst some of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe. The gateway airport is Venice, a 2 hour drive away from Cortina d’Ampezzo, and it seemed silly to pass through the airport and not spend any time in the city. I’d never actually spent any time there, and Teresa had been there back when she was inter-railing in her 20s, so we booked a few nights in a hotel there after we returned from shooting in the mountains.
My first Fuji camera back in 2015 was the X-T10 which I bought at the time with the intention of using as a back up camera to my Nikon D800E. I was immediately impressed with what a pleasure it was to use and how good the image quality was. It also struck me that it was laudable of Fuji to give exactly the same sensor and image quality from their flagship cameras to a lower end model.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.