Back in May I visited the National Railway Museum in York, this is a wonderful place to visit, if like me, you’re interested in things like the industrial revolution, engineering in general or of course railway history. I took my X-T1 with me together with the XF35 f1.4, Xf56 f1.2 and XF18-55 f2.8-4 but I enjoyed using the 35mm so much I somehow completely forgot to use either of the other two lenses!
I shot everything in jpeg fine only as I didn’t want to do any editing at all – I find I shoot this way more and more these days, it’s so liberating and something I could never do with my Canon DSLRs. Wherever I went and whatever I was shooting I always shot in RAW only and would then spend hours editing and developing which took all the fun out of what I was trying to achieve.
I was also pretty much limited to ISO800 and below, rarely going any higher in an effort to keep images clean. The above shot was at ISO1600 and even though the conditions were very dark and dingy the areas in focus are crisp and clear. I’m no longer ‘afraid’ to bump the ISO up, ISO3200 is perfectly useable.
I shot this detail of a coupling at ISO800 at f2 and was very pleased with the rendition and detail.
I’m a sucker for beautiful engineering and the copper work here was simply outstanding. The skill and craftsmanship that went into this!
I really loved the way the light filtered down through the roof onto these people, taking the weight off for five minutes.
This area is what the museum simply calls “The Warehouse” and is stuffed with amazing things. I could spend many hours in there marvelling at the many thousands of items, including a working scale model of a Deltic engine:
finally here is another high ISO shot on the footplate of a beautiful old loco
You can see the rest of my images from the day here
Earlier today I had a little impromptu macro session using just the Fujifilm X10 set to ‘Super Macro’, which allows you to focus as close as 1 cm away from the subject. These shots a simple things found in the back yard and kitchen only shot in available light, nothing complicated. All images were shot as Jpeg only and I played about with them a little using Apple Photo. I wasn’t concerned with editing Jpegs as all it is is a little fun. No printing or pixel peeping was intended and I wasn’t worried about image quality, so I am more than happy with the results.
This first shot is actually a close up of a cheap bottle of mineral water, the beads and droplets are on the inside of the bottle. Shot in B&W+R, cropped to 1:1 and a blue tint added. If I use my imagination I can see all sorts of wonderful things in this picture, what looks a little like a sharks eye bottom right, a large cloudy planet with a moon orbiting it at the bottom… Photography doesn’t always have to be ‘off’ something, sometimes it’s good to get abstract and use your imagination. (By the way it’s alright if you don’t ‘see’ what I see in the above picture!)
Here we have air bubbles suspended in hand sanitiser. I used the window light coming through the bottle and shot in B&W+R. Slightly more contrast added in post.
Delicate moss growing on top of a wall.
This little guy is growing out of the garden wall.
And here it is in Velvia.
Another “weed” growing out of the wall, shot in Velvia. I love the depth of the blacks the Fuji can produce! I haven’t altered any exposure values in any of these images at all, this is what you can get if you’re creative and think ‘outside the box’, the ambient light was very dull and grey (this is Manchester after all!) but in close you can really get dramatic light and because the Fuji screen will accurately reflect how the end picture will look it’s really easy to get the exposure you want.
Earlier today I had to pop out earlier than usual, and for some reason I picked up my little Fuji X10. It’s been sitting on my desk recently but not really doing a lot. I kept grabbing it and trying out little experiments and what not but other than that it’s been pretty much neglected. I was only taking the puppy to the vets for microchipping, and then picking up my daughter from school, and so I had no reason to believe I’d end up taking any pictures yet I had a strange feeling I should take it with me. As it happened we had about an hour spare before end of school and so we popped into the local nature reserve for a quick walk around one of the lakes there.
Unfortunately I didn’t pick up any of my spare batteries and so I couldn’t take many pictures. All the Fujifilm X series cameras seem to eat through batteries and it’s always advisable to have some spare with you but on this occasion I didn’t and so I knew I would be limited in what I could achieve. That didn’t matter much though as I only had about an hour spare anyhow.
The weather was quite bleak, an icy cold wind blew across the water and through the bare trees and so I didn’t much feel like hanging around any one place for very long so I just snapped away, not really taking too much time to compose or think too hard about the images I was making. I like to use my X10 a bit like an old film camera – I always shoot in Jpeg only with this camera for instance, the idea being I want to be free of having to edit endless RAW files and just enjoy the experience. I like to see where the camera will take me in terms of composition, feel and tone. I switch the film simulations quite a bit and so that’s what I set to the function button. My favourites are the B&W+R, B&W+G and the Astia simulations. I’m not often keen on the Velvia simulation but it does sometimes come out well and so I use that when the emphasis of a picture will be colour.
Today though, for the most part I was happiest using B&W+G, even when I spotted the above fungus and went in for a closer look. It’s a not so pretty brown colour but in monochrome I really loved the tones, especially where the light shines though it in the close up:
The super-macro facility of the little X10 is great for impromptu close ups when out and about. Being able to focus so closely without having to bother with expensive macro lenses, tripods and the like is really nice. By the way if anyone knows what species this is please let me know!
A bit further around the path I spotted some mosses growing on the side of a tree in little round clumps and so I decided to have a closer look at these too.
I also tried a monochrome close up again
And another mossy close up
And finally I was struck by how the sky was reflecting on the water in an almost painterly way
I guess the moral of the story is it is always worth having some sort of camera with you. The little X10 got a lot of bad press when it first came out a few years ago, anyone remember ‘Orb-Gate’? My X10 is a very early release, before the fix was offered by Fuji and I never sent it away. I sometimes get the white blobs but I don’t let that bother me. The camera is purely for my own enjoyment and isn’t one I’d use for photoshoots generally so it isn’t really an issue for me. These days they’re incredibly cheap too, you can pick them up second hand for peanuts – I saw one recently going for £60 on a photography forum!
Finally I would like just to say. this blog isn’t just about Fujifilm cameras, I know that my posts so far have generally been about X series cameras but it won’t always be the case. I still own a Canon professional set up, at least for the forceable future and I want to write about photography in general, it’s just that my recent photography inspiration has come from, or been influenced by these great little cameras.
Again I have been looking through old Fuji .RAF files and I came across this picture, taken a couple of years ago with my Fujifilm X-E1 together with a very old (£3!!) Helios 58mm f2 lens, using a cheap M42-X mount adaptor. I originally over edited this image on an uncalibrated rubbish screen and had never been happy with the result. The original shot wasn’t spectacularly sharp to begin with considering it was a handheld shot using a manual focus lens, but it wasn’t bad. Today I stumbled on the original RAW file and decided to have another go at editing to see if I could improve on my previous result.
Firstly, if you would like to make pictures like this, I have found the best way to do it is as follows:
have as fast a shutter speed as is possible
pre-focus your lens (if you are using an auto focus lens make sure you switch it to manual focus otherwise the lens will ‘hunt’ trying to find something to focus on)
focus by moving your body closer and further away
take lots of shots. This technique is very hit and miss.
This way of working takes lots of patience and you won’t get many keepers – in fact you’ll find, if you’ve never done it before, you’ll need to practice moving in and out and holding your position when you find focus. Don’t try to hold your breath as you’ll find you’ll never get it right. What I do is time my shutter press to coincide with the moment I naturally pause breathing in between breathing in and out, it’s fine to try to hold that moment a split second but holding your breath fully will introduce ‘stress’ which then makes it harder to stay absolutely still.
I also find sometimes for fast moving subjects such as the bee in this case, a high speed continuous shooting can help, although in this case I shot in single shot mode and got away with it!
Back to the processing. This time around I have only used Lightroom 5.7. I haven’t done a lot, except brought the Blacks down slightly, added a small amount of Clarity (+20). I gave the colour of the Lavender a very slight boost in saturation (+3) and my sharpening was as follows:
Sharpening : default (25)
Radius : default (1.0)
Detail : 100
Masking : 30
I have found these settings the most pleasing for Fuji .RAF files in general, I use other settings depending on the subject and how I want the final image to look but you won’t go far wrong with the above settings, in my opinion.
Finally, I created a virtual copy and converted it to black and white, just to see what it would look like. I adore monochrome images and tend to try it for most of my images. I like to have different ‘versions’ of images so I don’t have to decide on one particular look. I also find clients like to have that choice too.
I have recently been revisiting old Fujifilm X Series RAW files I have sitting on my hard drive gathering virtual dust. A quick search on the internet will bring up a plethora of issues with Fuji’s .RAF files, how best to sharpen them, what is the best converter to even how to open them in the first place. Everyone has their own opinion on the hows and whys, I prefer not to get too bogged down with that sort of thing preferring to concentrate, at least for personal work like the above photograph, on the emotive and aesthetic side of the end result. I am a great believer in getting things right in camera, especially when I am using Fujifilm X series cameras, however as will become clear over time as I develop this website I am also very keen on the post processing aspect of modern digital photography. It is a duality I am perfectly at ease with and I can switch happily between the two depending on how I feel at the time or indeed where necessity lies.
One of the great joys of the Fujifilm X series cameras for me is how you can embrace both these different approaches. These cameras, as every X shooter knows, produce simply amazing and breathtaking Jpegs straight out of camera, and also the RAW files have great latitude and are fantastic for getting creative with, at least now we have the right support from the likes of Adobe and their latest Camera Raw plugin.
The above image was originally shot with a Fujifilm X-E1 together with the excellent Fujinon XF 18-55 kit lens. I was on a day trip to Bridlington with my family, I took a lot of pictures that day and it is a fond memory for me, I remember shooting RAW + Fine, using the wonderful Fuji film simulations and I was experimenting with the various aspect ratios built into the camera. I believe I originally posted this image straight out of camera in black and white + red filter at 1:1, which brings me to those RAW files again. Because I kept the RAW files I have now, almost two years after the original outing, been able to make another version of the same picture in colour and at 4:3 aspect. I also tweaked the image a little, using a subtle gradient layer to give the shot a calmer mood and to give it a completely different atmosphere.
I love the Fujifilm X series cameras and this image is a prime example of why. The retro design gives me that certain nostalgic feeling lacking in most modern cameras and the fantastic Jpegs coupled with the film simulations allows me to pop out on a photowalk and feel as close to the ‘good old film days’ as possible whilst also giving me the advantages of the modern digital world. I’ve had many digital SLRs but they’ve always lacked a certain something and I was never able to put my finger on it until I used a Fujifilm X camera, and of course I can still capture RAW files for when I want to get creative in post production.
I recently braved the harsh winter weather for a short visit to the Chinese New Year in Manchester City Centre. The intention was to do some street photography, in the end I don’t manage many images, in-between the rain and hail and trying to get through the crowds I decided to call it a day. Here are just a few of the images: