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.
Kicked off 2018 with my first workshop of the year the other week. It’s going to be an exciting year with workshops in Tuscany, Iceland and Italy, as well as trips to Lofoton, and possibly more, planned so far. I always enjoy meeting new people and sharing locations and photography tips with workshop participants is one of the best parts of the job. This time it was a local workshop with some time spent shooting on the west coast, a sunrise at Vasco da Gama bridge and then some street shooting around the old neighbourhood.
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.
Back in the autumn I spent a couple of weeks travelling in the Italian Dolomites, some of the most beautiful mountains in Europe. I’d planned the trip at this time of year as late September/early October is when the trees are starting to turn golden and when the tourist season has passed leaving the trails and many of the more popular locations empty.
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.
In a country of truly beautiful landscapes, the interior highlands of Iceland offers perhaps the most stunning scenery in the country. Surrounded by glaciers penned in between mountains, it’s a constantly changing alien landscape of black deserts, colourful rhyolite hills, snow-capped mountains, moss covered peaks, crater lakes and plunging waterfalls. After my first trip there 5 years ago whet my appetite I’ve always wanted to go back and explore it more.
Iceland is one of those countries that must be near the top of most Photographer’s bucket list, it has such a diverse range of incredible landscapes that it’s just a pleasure to go there to shoot. On my first visit about 5 years ago I tried to get around as much of the country as possible, spending a couple of days in the highlands, in the southeast, in the north and in the westfjords. It was a great trip, but Iceland has incredible changeable weather and for large parts of the trip I never saw the sun or had any decent light.
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.
The Fujifilm GFX 50S really is a game changer for Fuji. A medium format mirrorless camera, it combines the company’s heritage of classic medium format film cameras like the G690, GS645 and G617 with their retro mirrorless digitalX Series. It’s a fascinating combination and makes sense for a company like Fuji to fuse their decades of experience of medium format film systems with their brilliant mirrorless digital cameras to create a large mirrorless medium camera system that targets users of professional full frame systems like the Nikon D810, the Canon 5DR and the Sony A7R2.
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.
Carrasqueira is a location I've photographed many times, but not for a couple of years and not since I'd made the switch to Fuji. With the skies looking interesting I made the hour and a half drive down to the estuary of the Sado river hoping that even though the tide was going to be quite low, there would still be enough water to shoot long exposures.
As it turned out I was disappointed, the water had receded revealing the mud that the piers stand in. I'd also hoped to shoot some video, but the wind was so strong that it proved impossible, even with a microphone. The sky, however, was lovely and I passed the time there looking for alternative compositions and attempting to shoot the location in different ways to how I had done previously. It's always great to be out with the camera, particularly in such a peaceful place with a sunset like this, and while the images won't make it into my portfolio it was still a worthwhile trip.
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.
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.