I get many positive reactions on my photos and i have received a couple of questions about how I shoot, what kind of cameras and lenses i use and post-processing.
First of all, i am not a pro shooter or what the definition of that may be. This is an article about HOW I shoot photos. It is not a guideline nor a tutorial, I just explain here how i do my things. Second, for me, cameras and lenses are tools. I am not a brand-boy i don’t stick to 1 brand. The cameras and lenses I use is for each job different, i select tools to fit the job.
Mostly, I use Fuji X (X-M1/X-T1 and Canon 70D/5D Mk3). But in the past I shot with Nikon D200/D90/D5200, Olympus OMD EM5 and Lumix GF. Lenses: i look at focal length. Meaning that I need to cover a field of view from 14mm to 200mm or something. Within that focal length you got zoom lenses (fast and normal) and fixed primes (also fast and normal). Just choose what is the best for the job to do.
So let’s take an example. Recently I was with my girlfriend on a trip to Ebenalp in Switzerland. A fantastic scenic place and a real challenge to shoot photos. I did some homework to get to know the area and scenery. Internet, Google Images, etc. is very helpful. Checked the weather and it was bright sunlight and blue skies in the morning with overcast and rain in the afternoon.
There was not much choice…. 🙂 Since most of my camera gear is back home in Thailand, i decided to bring my Fuji X-M1 with a 16-55mm and Hama CPL. Second camera was a Canon 70D with 18-135mm. I choose the Fuji because it is light, compact and easy to use. 16-55mm F3.5-5.6 covers most of the focal length that I need. No need for ‘Fast (F2.8 and beyond)’ lenses. I also have a Gripped Canon 5D Mk3 with 24-70mm F2.8 II, but you don’t want that hanging around your neck when you need to go 1670m high…. It’s just to heavy/bulky. Also the JPEG output from Fuji is so good that you don’t need to shoot RAW. The Fuji files are extremely flexible, making post processing a breeze. The scenery was hard and bright, giving you loads of contrast. That is why it is important to know what your camera is capable of. The dynamic range and file flexibility from Fuji is better than Canon. The Canon is actually my girlfriends’ camera. It is a nice camera, good focus and with the 18-135mm we had a better zoom range. But the 70D is heavy/bulky… Remember that you have to carry all that gear with you ALL THE TIME !!!
Off we go !!
So arriving at Ebenalp was spectacular. The mountains, the scenery as a whole is just amazing. The color in the landscape just stunning. Check out the photos on my portfolio. The weather was great, clear blue skies and bright sunlight. Another reason why i shoot with Fuji is that it offers the Fujifilm simulations. As i like and want bright vivid colors, i set my X-M1 for Vivid simulation. Combined with the CPL, this gives you bang-bright color !! This is a personal choice btw…
The way I work is like this:
1 Preset the camera in A mode (Aperture Priority). I always shoot in A mode, only when I need a fast shutter I switch to S.
2 Adjust ISO to its minimum setting. (in my camera 200ISO, in the Canon 100ISO).
3 Since we shoot landscape, the F-number is somewhere between 5,6 and 10.
4 EV (exposure compensation) I left it on 0, but changed regular to -1/3 or even -1.
5 Focus point, I use manual selection of Focus Points. The Fuji offers 49 selectable focus points, which can be changed in size too. Mostly I used center focus point.
6 Set the Film Simulation to Vivid. (Fuji only).
Reason why I work this way it’s because it’s easy. When i need more depth-of-field i increase the F number with the back dial. When i need more ISO i just bump up the ISO with the front dial. Due to the camera lay-out (i’m talking about the Fuji) i can quick adjust the settings. Its got a 2 dial system, which allows me to quickly increase-decrease F stop and ISO. With 4-way selector at the back i can quickly choice my focus point. EV control got a separate dial on top. With the Canon, I have a slightly different workflow, due to the different lay-out.
Then it’s walking and looking !
A good photo is in my opinion a good composition, color and detail. So I just keep on walking and looking for scenery. Light is very important, good light that is. The conditions on the top of Ebenalp were ok, but haze and hard sunlight spoiled it a bit. In post processing much can be fixed but not all….
As the scenery is so impressive you tend to shoot your card full in seconds. Just clicking away… More nicer is to look for a great spot giving a great scenery and then make a couple of shots. It also gives you the opportunity to see more. With that i mean that it is important to look beyond what you see. Try to see more. It’s hard to explain, but try to soak up the environment and look beyond. You will compose better and make nicer shots.
When you look at the scenery you will see bright areas and dark areas, meaning that when you take a photo and focus/meter on the bright area that area will become properly exposed, but the dark area will be completely dark, not matching the scene that you see with your eyes. That can be corrected in post-processing. So it was a lot of walking and enjoying the spectacular scenery. Tons of good photo opportunities, from all kinds of different angles. When i shoot a photo i always have in mind what i want with it and what i want to do with it in post-processing.
For post processing I use various software.
1 Lightroom 5.7
2 Photoshop CS6
3 NIK Software PSD plugin
4 VSCO Film
5 TOPAZ filters
After a nice day shooting you want to see the results. So I import all the photos in Lightroom. From there I make a selection which ones I want to process. MY Workflow is as follows:
1 Adjusting shadows, or fill light
3 Whites and Blacks
7 If needed WB (white balance, Fuji needs that, since there is always to much green in it, Canon not. )
8 Crop and balance.
After that i export the whole lot to a new folder and the ones i want to enhance more, I import in Photoshop. I LIKE to enhance detail and contrast. That is a personal choice. Now there is a very nice plug in that is called EZ panel, and it actually boosts all the fine contrast details in your photos. The photo on the left is enhanced with that tool (well i did it manually) and gives exceptional detail. That photo has run through the complete workflow mentioned above.
So this a bit how i work and how i shoot my photos. I hope you like it. Remember that photography is very personal, you create something. It’s like art, like painting. Ones likes Monet others like Picasso. And don’t worry if one don’t like your photo. It is your creation 🙂 and if you like it, that is what counts.