Former Picture Editor of The Times turned landscape photographer Paul Sanders explains why he made the switch to the Fujifilm X-T1
This is not the first time going compact has been a feature of my life. Back in 2004 I was instrumental in the way The Times changed its view of photography, when it downsized from the traditional broadsheet to the more modern and convenient compact format. That was a change that required a leap of faith, commitment and patience.
I swapped to the Fujifilm X Series from a DSLR and 5×4 large format camera, because I found the cameras were getting in the way. The camera effectively became a barrier to my photography; but freeing myself up with a smaller and lighter body and limiting my lens choice took the indecision out of shooting landscapes. Without the camera acting like a brick wall in front of me, it made me connect with the landscape much more than I had before. Instead, the camera is now just something I see the landscape through and something with which I’m able to translate my ideas and imagination.
The lens I use most is the FUJINON XF23mm F1.4 – I absolutely love it. It stays on my camera quite a lot of the time, but I’m also very fond of the XF56mm F1.2 for landscapes. Everybody shoots wider and wider landscapes, but I tend to find that if I close in a little bit I get much more interesting compositions.
My favourite thing about the X-T1 is its electronic viewfinder. I utterly love it. I thought I’d hate it, but then fell for it almost straight away.
I really like the fact that I can see exactly what I’m getting before I press the shutter. It means I don’t spend a lot of time with my eye away from the camera, and I’m not constantly ‘chimping’ the back reviewing shots. I can see the tones change as I alter the exposure while I look through it, and the coverage and size are wonderful. So much so that if I ever use a DSLR, I completely forget to alter the exposure because it looks normal and I end up messing everything up. It’s just beautiful.
I’m happy I’ve made the switch and for the second time in my photographic life going compact will lead to interesting and challenging times – but I know that I’ve made the right move for me.
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Paul’s top landscape tips
Shoot for yourself. Take the pictures that please you. Don’t shoot for anybody else. If you start worrying about what other people want or like, you won’t shoot pictures that you’re happy with. It’s quality time by yourself usually, so invest that time in something you enjoy.
Don’t chase the light. Go out when you least expect to get a great picture. Go out when the weather is bad. Don’t always look for that fabulous, wonderful light, because from my experience, it rarely happens. It may mean always standing in the rain, but you’ll get completely different pictures to other people – most of them are fair-weather photographers.
Make it fun. Challenge yourself by setting yourself little tasks and projects that are only relevant to you. You don’t need to show them to anybody, but it’ll force you out of your comfort zone.
Challenge yourself. One thing I really enjoy doing is taking my least favourite lens and just shooting on that. Not allowing myself to shoot on anything else for a couple of weeks. It forces you to change the perspective from which you shoot and it makes you think about your photography, your positioning and the way the lens works.
Avoid your comfort zone. Try shooting landscapes at f/2.8; try a montage or multiple exposures. Just take yourself out of that comfort zone, that rut, that can make your photography become bland and predictable. You’ll get an absolute load of rubbish to start with, but all of a sudden it’ll click. You’ll start to see things differently, and then you’ll be inspired.
These tips came from Paul during his workshop at the Fujifilm X-perience day at AP’s offices. Attendees had the chance to shoot with a host of Fujifilm kit under the expert guidance of Paul and fellow X-Photographers Damien Lovegrove and Matt Hart. If you’d like to attend future events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org