Since May of 2013, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Fujifilm X-Series Cameras and XF lenses, and during that time I’ve managed to shoot with them in more than 20 different countries, spanning nearly every possible photography condition. In the process, I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting many Fujifilm shooters from around the world and what I’ve discovered is that people love their Fujifilm cameras and, like me, they’re excited to talk about them. There have been quite a few times, where I was completely immersed in a sea of tripods, riddled with shooters toting every type of camera brand known to man. People with Canons, Nikons, Pentax, and Hasselblads, all sizing each other’s gear up—in typical photographer fashion—while never exchanging a word. Fujifilm shooters on the other hand, just seem to smile at each other, as if they have a shared secret that no one else knows. It’s the strangest thing, but even during photo walks, Fujifilm shooters seem to congregate; proud to be carrying their cameras and excited to talk about their favorite lenses and what is to come. There’s a sense of community and shared love for these cameras that I find absolutely delightful…….
It was a typical Wednesday morning until I received that call. About 10:43am my phone rang. It was my mother calling to notify me that that my father had to stay at the hospital and have a neurosurgery consult. I was instantly shocked with disbelief as my father is as healthy as a horse. He’s 69 years old but he’s the kind of man that hasn’t really slowed down despite having been retired since the age of 65. It turns out my father (a retired physician) had been having some slight headaches on the right side of his head for the last few months and he really didn’t think much of them. As a family, we were all going through a trying time as my uncle, my father’s younger brother, had been battling cancer for about a year already and he simply attributed the headaches to stress. But my mother, always one to be top of things had requested a doctor’s appointment so that my father would go and get an MRI. To the surprise of everyone, the radiologist that interpreted the MRI said my father couldn’t go home and that he must go get a neurosurgery consult immediately. Its turns out my father had been diagnosed with a “subdural hematoma”……..
Now we all know that Jimi had many things right. I mean a generation of people learned a new and brilliant way of thinking. Well, Jimi said one thing that I find as an untruth. “….ain’t no life nowhere….”. Well, here in Philly with Andre’ the Fuji X100s, if you look around “….there’s life everywhere….”. When I was younger and had more innocence, hmmmmmm well innocence for sure, I would see the world as interesting place photographically. I adopted a premise for my work while in VietNam. See, I was surrounded by life of all forms but in a fraction of a second, the world was transformed to a place where nightmares are real and not dreams, friends I talked with and ate with and smokes with were no longer a part of this world and now they would be memories that would haunt me to my elderly age and still live inside my soul and mind…..
There are more similarities between photographing landscapes and people than you think. When working with people, a photographer must achieve a certain level of connection and trust that allows them to relax and open up emotionally and visually. On many levels, a similar dynamics plays out when photographing landscapes. You must “feel” the place, connect with it and give it time to reveal itself to you. So often I see photographers running around stunning landscapes fixated on a few photographed-to-death spots and rushing from one location to another. And I know what I am talking about – I have done it myself! Slow down, look around and don’t fixate on the most popular spots. “Be there” before you take out your camera. Very often you will notice different elements and visuals, but be warned – you may come back from your trip with images you didn’t plan to take. It may well be the best imagery you have ever created…….
In my last post I talked about what photo gear I brought to Italy for one month and the reasons behind those plans. So how did reality compare to expectations? Which gear earned another trip and what won’t make the cut next time? The good news is that the planning paid off and most things worked very well. There were a couple exceptions though and an uncertainty that might seem familiar/tiresome to some Fuji fans. Let’s take a look……..
Back in the Spring I visited Italy with the family. It was my first big trip DSLR-free, traveling just with the Fuji X-T1 and X100s. It was so pleasant not lugging around heavy gear all trip. I didn’t get hardly any dedicated photography time this trip, with most images taken quickly on the go. A lot of the street photography images were even shot “from the hip”. We visited Venice, Montepulciano (and some nearby Tuscan countryside), and Rome. The trip was too short by half, but it whet the appetite and I anxiously await visiting the country again in the future…….
The Old Forge at Welbourn, Lincolnshire. All images taken with the Fuji X-E1 and Samyang 12mm NCS CS F2.0. I’ve had an ideal opportunity to put my Samyang 12mm X-Mount lens to good use. The confined space of this wonderful old forge in Welbourn was both challenging to photograph and captivating to see as a working piece of history. The forge would have been the working home of smithy’s and farriers, serving the local community with everything from horseshoes to wheel rings. It’s a heritage site and is full of interesting old pieces from a bygone era. I had very little space in which to manoeuvre and the lighting was supplied by a couple of windows and little else. I’m guessing the room size was in the order of 20ft on the longest side. I used upto ISO 1600 and shot mostly between F2 and F4.0……
Chettinad, the name reminds one of tasty spicy south Indian food loaded with chilly and peppers guaranteed to set your mouth on fire. Ask most people and they will be hard pressed to point out Chettinad on a map. It does not exist. Chettinad is the name of a `group of villiages sourrounding the town of Karaikudi in the south Indian State of Tamil Nadu. Villages such as Athangudi, Devakottai, and Kanadukathan located in the heart of Chettinad have a large number of traditional homes. The Chettiar community who inhabit this region are a wealthy group of businessmen who made their money in banking, trade and business. Starting around the late 1800’s and early 1900’s their prosperity and fame grew and over time they moved out of Chettinad to larger cities such as Chennai and overseas to Singapore and Malyasia with the aim of expanding their business. Having hear so much about the lifestyle and the homes of the Chettiar community, I decided it was worth a trip to see for myself and make some photographs of a dying lifestyle. Armed with a X Pro1 and a 18~55mm Fuji f2.8 lens I set off. The Fuji X Pro has been with me a short while but I hadn’t really found my way around the various controls. Most pictures were are ISO 400 and for the dark interiors pushed to ISO 1600. I could not hav dreamed of using such high ISO on my now ancient Nikon D100…..
… more pictures by Ashok:
On Saturday 26th July 2014 I travelled to Nottingham to attend a workshop run by local photographer Karl Bratby. The workshop was to be called “Shaping The Light” and be in his studio and based around learning to use natural and studio flash to get the most of of your images. A lot of the top professional photographers use only one light to create their images and when done correctly can produced stunning results and this is what Karl was going to be teaching us. Karl’s studio was absolutely amazing, based on the top floor of an old converted victorian factory it was surrounded by huge glass windows with oozes of light flooding in. If Carlsberg did studios then this is what they’d come up with. Along with myself there were 5 other photographers taking part in the day and after everyone had arrived and we had all made our introductions Karl put us to work. This wasn’t going to be one of those workshops were everything is set up for you and the model put in place and you just push the shutter, oh no right from the word go Karl asked us where we thought in the studio had the best natural light coming through and told us to grab some props and compose a scene…..