It's not everyday I find myself trekking through the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, wearing suade shoes and black Levi's. However, when there's a great opportunity to be had, you work with what you've got. For this trip I packed an X100T that the lovely FujiFIlm Australia folks have loaned me, and my own XT-1 and XF90 for something a little different to add into the photo mix.
After flying up to Sydney to present at an educational expo on virtual reality, I had a spare few days up my sleeve to suss out a little more than just the local tourist attractions. A quick recommendation from an expert rock-climbing friend to checkout Wentworth Falls, and I was on my way. The 2-hour ride from Sydney's Central Station is very comfortable, picturesque, and best of all, extremely accessible and affordable for anyone. Simply put, if you're ever in Sydney, a day trip here is very easy to undertake and highly recommended.
I took the path straight out of town through Charles Darwin Walk, which in itself presents numerous photo opportunities with stunning creeks, mini falls and wildlife - don't be afraid of the numerous skinks running across the path though, but always keep watch for snakes.
I have seen a fair bit of Australia over my 30 years of life and living here, but it's quite possible that this moment, this place, and this experience at Wentworth Falls was my favourite one of all.
It's hard to capture the sheer mastodonic scale of Wentworth Falls. From it's highest point looking down, the colours, textures, and shapes of the landscape take you back in time leaving you wondering and in awe of how nature carves such beauty. It's the kind of place that when I'd look back up from my camera or my steps, I would immediately be stopped in my tracks by a different angle of this ancient place. As the afternoon slipped away the colours of the landscape became more diverse and intense, with beautiful shadows creating stunning contrast in the scenery. The only thing I regret was not packing sufficient supplies to stay on until sunset. I'll be back though!
Ah the Fuji XF35 F2 WR and XF90 F2.
These two lenses are supreme and exemplify how FujiFilm continue to improve on an already outstanding level of quality with their X-series line up.
They absolutely slayed on a recent wedding in the streets of South Melbourne and are now my go to combos for portraiture. Yes, I still love the XF56 1.2, especially when light is hard to find, but these 2 lenses (as I've said before) are superior in AF speed and accuracy when compared to 'older' lenses from Fuji's X-series line up.
For this post I thought I'd share 2 recent shoots using these admirable lenses, as well as share some of my wife's snaps of Jess (the gorgeous blonde haired woman) with her favoured kit, the Sigma 35mm Art and Canon 6D. I may be a Fuji guy but the Sigma 35mm @F1.4 still produces beautiful images with a lovely artistic and hip vignette. The XF35 F2 was solely used on the train snaps with my wife.
Hanging Rock, Victoria, Australia. It's a truly remarkable part of the state, and what's great is it's readily accessible for inner-city folk like myself at only 1 hour's drive away. At the spark of inspiration, my wife and I took off on a drive out there one Sunday for a good bit of fresh air and stunning, natural Australiana.
As you'd expect for this time of year the weather was a somewhat warm 30 degrees celsius, however many areas of the reserve were very refreshing due to different wind tunnels and the natural chill of many of the large shadowy rocks.
For this outing I wanted to keep it simple, light-weight and tack sharp.
Can you guess what I took?
As you may have guessed by the title of the post, I packed the XF16 1.4 and my XT-10. Two extremely powerful pieces of gear that are light-weight, responsive, and can wrestle (and win!) with the big boys. They're also incredibly robust, based on my awful experience of dropping the XF16 from waist height onto concrete some months ago. Watching it bounce several times made my heart skip a beat. Literally.
The temptation to shoot at wide apertures with this lens is always there, but with so much detail going on at Hanging Rock, I chose to shoot just about all these images between F8 and F11. I'm sure you can pick the few that are shot nice and shallow at F1.4 though.
There's really not much I can say about this combo that I've not said or shown before. Every time I pull an image off from this combo I'm just amazed at how much detail there is in the RAF files. Being able to pull shadow details from the way I expose images leaves my Canon rig for dead. I must also add for fellow Fuji X users regarding sharpening with Lightroom. Don't go beyond ~80 the amount of Sharpening and start with Masking at 100 and pull back from there. I like to sit mine around 70-90 depending on the style of photo. Trust me, it'll do your images justice.
Thanks for viewing!
As the weather starts to warm up down here in Australia (Yes, we do experience temperatures other than stinking bloody hot) and the season to be wed kicks off, I have been out getting my eye trained up for some moodier portraits, and further venturing down that road of posing models to achieve the results I'd truly like to see. I also recently had the pleasure of attending an incredible 2-day workshop here in Melbourne with David Talley Photography, Rob Woodcox, and Kiara Rose Photography, all of whom are incredibly inspiring people and artists whose level of achievements and business savvy for their ages is somewhat confronting and mind-blowing. Truly awesome young creatives!
The love for Fujifilm gear continues on for me and I am so inspired by the XF90 135mm equivalent lens that I purchased a few months ago. It's a focal length that just works for me and the quality of the product itself demonstrates how much Fuji is still evolving, leaving me to wonder what 2016 will mean with the X-Pro2 and potentially, the XT-2. Of course, photography isn't all about gear, but having an inspirational piece of equipment or gear certainly helps!
As I look to the summer months ahead I am eagerly looking forward to a very special wedding that my wife and I will be shooting in Vietnam over Christmas, as well as some other lovely couples here in Melbourne, Australia. With the long days of shooting and travels comes preparation in the gym and good eating, which will hopefully serve me well in the more rural areas of Vietnam and some of long wedding days ahead.
To those of you who read and view my posts, and keep my website traffic at some pretty inspiring levels, I thank you for your support and hope that I can continue to keep you returning in the months and years to come.
Spontaneity is incredibly underrated. And sometimes, simply saying 'yes' to an opportunity is the best way to go.
I'm sure many of us feel our work-life creep into our weekend-life, which invariably leaves us feeling unrested and often stifled by a job that we otherwise enjoy. The idea of driving 6 hours on your 2 days off a week is often too great of a sacrifice, and one that we don't see the true value in doing until we finally do it. That was my weekend. A short Saturday getaway with a good mate to Victoria, Australia's south west to the Great Ocean Road and down to the awe inspiring Twelve Apostles.
Our trip saw us travel to some pristine temperate rainforests in Otway, where the endangered black snail can be found, amongst rich, moist forest floors. This experience provided ideal circumstances for me to use my favourite FujiFilm gear to get up close and really craft an image that I wanted, first time, using the ever useful EVF of the XT-1. As we walked among the native blackwood and ash trees, some 25 floors up, I got to capture native flora that I never knew existed. In one small reserve the biodiversity was truly something to behold and had me appreciating, yet again, the beauty that exists in my own backyard.
As the sun began to set low in the afternoon sky, we made a last hour drive to the legendary Twelve Apostles and were fortunate enough to arrive just in time for sunset, with thankfully low numbers of other tourists to be found or hinder the experience. The sea salts rolled in through the air and I took that breath that many of us forget to take in this working life of ever-digital-connectedness. That investment of an afternoon and an evening was worth more than 2 weeks away in a tropical paradise, and it won't be the last.
It's autumn in Australia! What better way to show it off than to head off into the temperate rainforests of Victoria with my FujiFilm XT-1 and X100S.
Rather than rattle on about 'performance this...' and 'sharpness that...' here are some snaps from some bush-walks in some amazing forests that are less than 1 hour's drive from Melbourne's CBD. If you're ever in Victoria, Australia, be sure to check out Sassafras, Ferntree Gully, and East Gippsland.
Massive thanks to my good bud Theo, for taking us well off track for some of these snaps and for the lovely collection of baby leeches that tried to burrow through my shoes.
Recently I was very lucky to spend 5 days cruising through the countryside of Victoria, Australia, soaking up amazing scenery that is unique to this part of the world, and experiencing some of the best light I've ever seen. There were many euphoric moments of awe and appreciation for my home country's beauty, beauty that I had never seen or made a strong enough effort to experience and appreciate properly beforehand.
Knowing full well that I had many kilometers of riding on rough tracks ahead of me, I packed a light day kit, which of course featured my FujiFilm XT-1, XF56, XF18, and the underrated XC50-230. With just about every focal length covered, plus a few spare batteries, I was ready to capture just about anything that caught my eye, which there was of course and abundance of.
My approach to capturing this experience was a little different than usual. I didn't want to think about taking a photo and consider how it could be improved in post-production later on. I really wanted to show off how Fuji's JPEG system is supremely impressive and let the pictures and lenses speak for themselves. All pictures in this post were shot in JPEG with the Chrome simulation, and had a global modification of slight sharpness and shadow boost applied to them in Lightroom. The only exceptions were the few black and white conversions that you'll see in my post.
I spent 4 nights camping in a local caravan park in the town of Yea, Victoria, which is not far from the alpine regions of the state. The locals were extremely welcoming and talkative, even the local wildlife let me get up close and personal with XF56 on a few occasions! Overnight temperatures were pretty mild at ~3 degrees Celsius, which helped provide some truly amazing sunrises that featured beautiful fog and mist peering through the native forests and rolling hills. I love the XT-1's solid metal construction but jeez, when it's cold and you've bare hands you can certainly feel it! That said, I quickly realised too that having all the analog dials were great when wearing gloves because the camera was still very usable and easy to adjust.
The XT-1 performed admirably as always. Having the electronic shutter capable of shooting at 1/32000 of a second was very useful during the early morning sessions when firing off the XF56 at F 1.2. The XF18 was an exceptional performer in the AF department and was comfortable to use on the fly whilst riding. However, the budget master XC50-230, really impressed me. Sure it doesn't quite have the unique 3D crispness of the XF series but to have the equivalent focal lengths of 76-350mm for ~$200 it focuses well, renders detailed and sharp images and is very light weight. Definitely a top contender for best value for money in the entire Fuji lens range.
Below is one of the locals to the caravan park I was camping in - Sexy Face.
Sadly, this fella has a virus known as Psittacine beak and feather disease, which causes progressive feather, claw, and beak malformation and necrosis. Immunosuppresion is a secondary stage of the disease and eventually the poor fella will probably die from a secondary infection of some sort. Sexy Face (as named by the locals) was a very friendly fella and didn't shy away from the camera though. I hope he has a few more years left in him.