On a recent photographic trip to Greenland. FujiFilm Switzerland loaned me the FujiFilm XT-1 and 3 lenses; XF 16-55mm/2.8; XF 50-140mm/2.8; XF 10-24mm/4.0. I was keen to test FujiFilm’s camera and lenses in the harsh Arctic conditions.
Tswaing is an impact meteorite crater in South Africa situated just over 35 kilometres north-west of Pretoria. It is estimated that it was fromed when a meteorite slammed into the earth’s crust about 220 000 years ago. It was a stony type meteorite between 30 and 50 meters in diameter. The impact formed a huge crater, 1.4 km in diameter and 200 m deep. This crater is one of the best-preserved meteorite impact craters in the world.
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I was skeptic at first, but in a fast paced life I couldn’t imagine going back to a bulkier camera.
I bought my first real camera when I was in Iraq, back in 2004, I was 20 years old. My job back then with the US Army was to be an infantryman. Meaning I was on the ground every day walking around, sitting in the back of tanks, conducting raids and searches, meeting people and seeing the country. When I first arrived I had a little Sony Cybershot, and I used it all the time. During my time there I decided to upgrade to a DSLR. I had the eye for shots, and the DSLR helped me capture better quality photos.
Since my time in the Army and owning my first DSLR my love and passion for photos has grown more and more every year. I’m clearly not a full time photographer, but no matter where I go or what I do I always have a camera by my side.
What has been difficult for me is the bulk of the camera and all the gear to come along with it. Not being a full time photographer means that I really can’t justify bringing a lot of gear with me.
6 months ago I started using a Fuji X-A2 (and currently an X-T1). At first I was a bit hesitant to use it because it was much smaller than what I was used to and I didn’t think it was going to meet my expectations. I was wrong.
I had to re-learn shooting on this new camera and it was a bit of a challenge. On my DSLR’s I shot on full manual, and with the X-A2 I had to learn my way around a new camera trying to figure out all the buttons. I enjoyed the challenge of learning something new and just about every night I would google/troubleshoot all my issues and they would get sorted out quickly.
I eventually got to know the X-A2 on a very intimate level and I was able to make it work exactly how I needed it to. It came with me and the family on our trips, monthly rides with #BonafideMass, used it with product shoots for Bonafide Beards and what I really fell in love with was the fact that I was able to carry it around my neck while riding the bike.
In December last year I hosted a motorcycle run called the Sabie Bubble Run. There were 25 of us that went to the mountains, and the theme of it was “If it doesn’t fit on your motorcycle, it stays behind.” We camped, we got to know one another, we talked bikes and most of all we got to ride.
On the second day of the run I happened to sling my Fuji around my neck on the way back from the store. My buddy was riding beside me and I decided to take a pic. When we got back to camp I synced a few of the photos directly to my phone, edited them and realised I was onto something.
For the next 2 days of the run I slung my camera with me no matter where we went. I’m a very skilled and confident rider so riding with one hand and snapping photos of the guys while riding through the mountains
was not a challenge for me. It was a thrill.
There’s no way I’d be able to enjoy my riding and photographing if I was using a normal DSLR. Having a light and mobile Fuji around my neck makes it very easy for me to do what I need to.
Along with the mobility of the FUJI, having the wifi capability really changed my life with taking photos. I now had the ability to work with these photos instantly. At our barber shop (here at Bonafide Beards) I’ve been able to take photos of clients that come in, send them to my phone, sync them instantly to my desktop, quickly edit and push them out on our social platforms.
This functionality is vital for our business in providing our customers with quality photos, real time.
A little while ago Eslie approached me about shooting some portraits of the artists at Dakota Lee Tattoo Parlour. I like working with other artists, so naturally I said yes.
I tend to approach each shoot differently or at least I try, because each subject, person or group is different. I did some research, checked out the artists and the parlour and after some back and forth on dates we finally came to a day that suited most of us. (Unfortunately Ryan (the owner) was off on holiday, so I didn’t get to photograph him).
On shoots where I am my own assistant I like to keep things really simple and use a minimal amount of gear. So my gear list was as follows:
- Fuji X-T1 with 35mm 1.4
- Fuji X100T
- YongNuo YN-560 IV Speedlights
- 1.2 meter Octobank
- 101 centimeter Shoot-Through Umbrella
I like using one light to create moody portraits. The problem with the umbrella is that light just spills everywhere so I ended up shooting with it half closed to help focus the light a little more.
So I jumped between those two modifiers on the shoot for the individual portraits, plus whatever ambient spilled in from the windows and I used two lights for the group image.
I wanted to shoot everyone at their individual work stations and use the environment to my advantage with it being a tattoo parlour by day and a rockabilly bar by night.
In regards to the retouching; I didn’t want to spend hours on it so I did the majority of it in Lightroom and then dragged it over into Photoshop for some colour toning and blemish removal.
So, those are all the technical details on how I approached making these images. Thanks to Eslie for roping me in and Dakota Lee, affording me the time to come and shoot in their awesome space.
Ryan Lee, founder of Dakota Lee traveled extensively and during these travels he would get a significant tattoo from one of his destinations.
He has seen many tattoo parlours during his travels but nothing comes close to Dakota Lee.
Dakota Lee is a mix of a venue, live entertainment, bar and tattoo studio.
Let's face it says Ryan, tattoos are painful and sometimes the odd drink helps, he decided to mix all the above elements to create a lifestyle culture whereby you cannot only mix a tattoo experience but you can hangout and mix with like-minded folks.
You can find Dakota Lee on 011 051 5267