I am a fine art, portrait and wedding photographer based in Berkshire ( UK ). I shoot with the Fuji X system mirrorless cameras. This is my blog site and contains a lot of information for photographers, especially those interested in the Fuji system.
For some reason I’ve always shied away from engagement shoots, even though I love photographing weddings. But I thought I’d give it a go and started by signing up for a Creative Live class with Pye Jirsa ( https://www.creativelive.com/courses/incredible-engagement-photography-pye-jirsa?via=site-header_0). I was really impressed with this course, there was a ton of new stuff I learnt about posing couples, but also the approach to using flash was very cool and quite different to how I normally use OCF ( off camera flash ). A lot of the special effects I was already familiar with from my fashion shoots, but it was very cool to see Pye apply them to engagement shoots, plus he is a very funny and engaging presenter. I’ve watched a lot of online tutorials but this is the best I’ve seen. Of course the most important thing to do with something like this is to go and practice, so I did two engagement shoots for free this weekend and I’ve got a few more in the pipeline. I make it clear from the outset that these are slightly experimental shoots and just for my ( and the clients ) portfolios, but these are real couples, not models. Here are a few shots, all taken with the Fuji X-Pro2, various lenses and my Godox 360 flash system.
So on the first shoot there was quite a bit if light rain. I was really pleased as one of the shots from the course I wanted to try was a back lit water shot and the couple ( Evan and Amy, a super chilled out lovely Canadian couple )were happy to help. The godox 360 is right behind them and lights up the water nicely.
We found a nice tree with overhanging foliage for the next shot. I had an assistant with me by the way, Tim Davis, super nice guy and very helpful. I really needed an assistant for these shoots as with the godox flashes there is a fair amount of gear to carry a round. Tim is off to the right holding a godox flash with a CTO ( colour tint orange ) gel to make the light look like sunlight. We are diffusing it through the leaves and I think it works quite well. The idea was to make it look like the sun came out for a bit and I think we succeeded. I made a mistake with Evan’s posing here, he is wearing a long sleeve top so I should have asked him to just hook his thumb in his pocket and leave more of the hand out.
This is just a natural light shot, using foliage to frame the couple, I did a few more of these and they are super quick to do. Normally I wouldn’t use as much OCF as I did on this shoot, but I was trying new techniques and the couple were totally cool with that. Hope people find these interesting.
Its football season again ( soccer to any yanks )! That means for us parents many months of getting up early on Saturday and standing around in all sorts of weather watching our kids play. It’s even more full on this season as my seven year old daughter is now in a football team. Luckily I have the camera to distract me and can try and get some cool shots for the other parents. Here are a few from today.
OK now I’m far from being a master of wedding dance shots, they are something a lot of people find challenging, especially with the Fuji series which is not known for it’s strong flash support. Back in the early days I used to get by just using natural light and lens wide open ( the 56 1.2 even got used a few times, which I would never even consider now ). A couple of things happened in recent years that have helped me personally.
Fuji released the 16mm 1.4 lens. This for me is the perfect lens for dance shots, you can step back and get a wide angle view…
Or you can get in close and get some cool close ups ( you will get elongated limbs but sometimes that doesn’t matter ).
But mostly I’d end up bouncing the flash off the ceiling to raise the ambient light. This worked well sometimes, and then along came the Godox 360..a flash system so powerful that you could bounce flash off even very high ceilings.
It’s recycle time is also great, you need to take a lot of pictures on the first dance, as you never know how it will turn out. So what do I use now? Well, it can be a mix. The xpro-2 is so good at focussing and its high ISO shots look so good that it’s tempting just to tick the camera on burst mode and fire away using natural light. Sometimes I use both flash and natural light to give a mix of results. The last wedding was a good example. I started off with using the Godox and looking at the back of the camera it didn’t seem to be working that well. Luckily the dynamic range of the Fuji is awesome ( thanks to the Sony sensor ) so when I got the shots in post they turned out pretty good. Here are the flash ones.
At the time I took these I was having a mild panic, as I thought these had not turned out very well. So I grabbed a Cactus flash and a sync cord and tried that next. For some reason the batteries which I’d fully charged the previous night were now showing as flat. Curses followed! So I switched the xpro-2 to auto iso, spray and pray mode ( continuous focus, 8 frames a second). Most of these were shot at between 8000-12800 iso.
Some people will prefer the atmosphere of these, some the cleaner look of the flash shots. I like both and in future will try and shoot a bit of both. I’ve also got to try dragging the shutter more and getting some crazy light trails, that’s next on the list:)
Apologies for the lack of posts on the blog. I’ve been away on holiday and when I came back from holiday I had a horrible eye infection which meant I couldn’t look at a screen of any type for a week. Before I went on holiday I put together another of my big shoots involving a team of people. In this case it was two models, one make up artist and one hair stylist. The venue was the Buckle Factory in London, which is a sister studio to Beltcraft. It’s a natural light studio but I took along my godox flashes ( one of which has now died grrrr ) and also a smoke machine. It was a great day although the drive to and from the studio was hideous ( London traffic ). Here are some of the images, all taken with the xpro-2 and my collection of now very well used lenses. For model shoots I tend to use the big zoom ( 50-140 2.8 ) and the 56 1.2 quite a lot. Here are some shots, as usual the camera did great.
Just a quick article on how I shoot this kind of stuff. I still see a lot of moaning on various forums about how the AF on the Fuji X cameras is still way behind the competition. I really don’t think that is the case these days and a lot of reviews are written by people who don’t really get to know the camera and how to shoot with it. There is a definitely a steep learning curve with these cameras and practice makes a huge difference. These days I’m more confident shooting my son’s football matches with the X-Pro2 than I would be with a DSLR simply because I’m used to it and how it works. Give me 6 months shooting with the DSLR and I’m sure I could get better results, but the gap is not as big as it used to be. I’ve been shooting football and other sports with these cameras for a few years now and the frustration level used to be pretty high with the X-E2 and the 55-200 for example. Even with the X-T1 and the 50-140 when it first came out, it drove me nuts how low the keeper rate was.
Firmware 4 improved things greatly but I still found the tracking quite poor for football, but ok for people running in straight lines. Alot of reviews of the XPro-2 seem to think the AF is not much better than the X-T1. My personal experience is that it is a lot better for tracking movement, even football matches. I think it is down to the increased processing power, and the blackout between frames basically disappearing as the camera is now so fast. Which lens you use also makes a massive difference, the newer lenses are noticeably quicker, my favourite being the 50-140 f2.8. I use Tracking as my AF-Mode, put AF-C on the front ( continous ) and use high speed burst ( 8 FPS ). The buffer on the XPro-2 is quite deep, much better than say the D750, but no where near the top end DSLRs. Still, it’s plenty for most uses. Here are a couple of shot sequences. For the running one I shot 20 frames and 2 were out of focus. For the football, I get more out of focus but its still a very satisfactory amount that are in focus and I no longer wish I had a DSLR. I’ve not tested face detection yet, but I hear the Sonys do a much better job. For something like a wedding I still can’t trust the camera, no matter how good, to decide the focus point.
Now some shots of my kids running around the garden this afternoon. I used a mix of the 50-140 zoom and the 35mm f2. The camera nailed almost every frame. Granted this was good light, I know indoors it would be much harder, but that goes for most cameras.
Now I’m not saying this camera is as good as a DSLR at tracking shots, or better than the Sonys or other brands, all I’m trying to say is..
it’s significantly better than the X-T1 ( I shot 100k plus frames on my X-T1 so I know that camera very well ) at tracking shots, probably due to the processing power bump
it’s good enough for me. I prefer 5% less performance than a big DSLR for all the other benefits this camera gives me.
So I shot my second wedding with the XPro2, a few months after the first one. When I shot the first one I was very new to the camera and made a few mistakes in how I set it up. I set NR to -4, which is just too much for me, and I forgot to enable high performance mode. I also hadn’t worked out how to get jpegs writing to the second card. It’s been 3 months and 13000 images since that wedding and I really know this camera well now. I took along a D750 as a security blanket really, thinking I’d use it for the fast bits ( the processional can be quite speedy, the confetti, and most of all the dancing ). After about half an hour of trying to use the D750 I realised two things..
the XPro-2 is more than capable of everything I need it to do for a wedding, its FAST.
I’m so used to the Fujis after 3 years that I totally suck at using a DSLR and I was getting way better results with the XPro2 as a result.
So I packed the D750 away and shot the rest of the wedding with the following:
Fuji XE-2 with firmware 4.0
The lenses I used were…
16mm 1.4: 30%
35mm f2: 40%
23mm f2 on the X100T: 10%
56mm 1.2 :10%
50-140 2.8 :10%
What surprised me was how little I used the 56mm, which has been a staple of previous weddings. Not sure why, it just didn’t get used that much, I think because the 35mm f2 is so fast, I used that way more. I was also surprised how often I used the 16mm 1.4, that thing is just awesome. I got on average 500 shots per battery. The camera performed flawlessly, no restart issues, no overheating issues, it just did its job and didn’t get in the way. It rained, and that didn’t slow it down ( I wouldn’t have used the D750 in that rain!). Anyway, here are some images…( the dance shots were lit by bouncing a flash off the very high ceiling, it was a Godox 360 so way more powerful than a normal speedlight ).
Plenty of good stuff on here from all sorts of photographers. Some of them do get a bit emo but if you can get through that its very useful. One of my favourites is Sue Bryce for how to pose models and Brooke Shaden for general floaty inspiration/creative stuff.
I went on a family break down to the lovely Dorset Coast last week. I must admit to having a private laugh at all the people lugging huge cameras around, it was a hot day and hilly terrain. I was quite happy with the little X100T, which did a great job of capturing the day for me. Given that we ended up walking 14 miles, I was very glad of the weight saving over a traditional DSLR. Here are some shots.
I had the opportunity to do some bird photography with the 100-400 and finally this lens showed me what it could really do. I was very impressed with its performance and can’t wait to use it again. I’ll do a proper review shortly but in the meantime here are some of the shots ( they did need a little sharpening, to be expected on a lens like this ). Also please bear in mind I’m a beginner bird photographer and also new to using this focal length.