Ooh La La
My first workshops in France for over 10 years got off to an amazing start. The Fuji X-T10 arrived the day before we left and that gave me the time needed to set it up just how I wanted (or so I thought). I’d spent a couple of hours working out how I was going to set the ISO without a top plate dial and how I was going to trim my exposure to 1/3 stop increments. I thought I had it sussed then I started shooting for real in France. It was only when I had shot with the big zoom, the small primes, in the dark and with flash that I had gathered enough experience to make the final changes to my X-T10 set up. All will be revealed below. Every shot I took in France was with the X-T10 camera (in silver).
Locations: La Romieu and environs in the Gers region of France
Models: Chantelle and a guest appearance by Maxime Paquet
Location Scout: Simon Whitten
Event coordinators: Laura Haskins and Blaise Parsons at Lovegrove
Styling: Dresses by Molly Mishi May and Lisa Keating
Camera: Fujifilm X-T10 with 16mm, 23mm, 35mm, 56mm and 50-140mm lenses.
01. It was hot, around 36° as expected for mid July and the shady places in the sun drenched back streets of La Romieu made perfect shoot locations. I love simple compositions like these that utilise the primary colours of light and pigment. These three photographs were all shot with my favourite lens the XF16mm.
I was in France to lead a portraiture and fashion workshop event over three days. We had delegates from Oklahoma in the US, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Surrey and Bristol. The group gelled really well and it’s fair to say we have all made new friends. Here are 80 or so portraits from our three days in paradise. Enjoy
02. The beautiful towns in the South of France have seen little change in their layout over recent years with many of the Medieval structures still in good repair. There is a charm and quaintness in the back streets that reminds me of Tuscany.
03. The harsh midday sun reveals wonderful texture in the architecture while the hat I bought at a market in Rimini came to good use too in France. These two shots were taken with the XF23mm lens for a more natural perspective.
04. The delicate curve on these stairs, the colour of the woodwork and the small details like channelled in drainpipes blend well with a shabby chic patina. I took these background shots with the X-T10 on the recce day I had with Simon ahead of the workshop. It was important for me to see the play of light on the buildings and to get used to the new X-T10 camera that I was using for the first time.
The X-T10 camera behaved really well however I kept accidentally pressing the ‘Fn’ button with the palm of my hand so I reassigned the button by pressing it for 3 seconds and selecting ‘none’ from the drop down list of options. That left me without a function button for ‘WIFI’ but I can live with that in the main menu system.
05. I used a single Cactus RF60 to light Maxime and triggered it with a Cactus V6 transceiver. This is by far the best set up I’ve used for the Fuji system to date and it worked fine on the delegates’ Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras too. We started by setting the ambient exposure and added flash to taste. These flash shots were taken with the XF35mm lens at f/8.
I programmed the video function button on the top plate of the X-T10 camera to toggle ‘Exposure preview in manual mode’ on and off. This makes it fast to switch viewing modes to ‘on’ when I’m working with natural light and ‘off’ when flash is the dominant light source.
06. I showed how to shoot street portraits with modelling in the bright overcast lighting conditions that prevailed for the first hour or so of day three. All of these shots were taken with the stellar 50-140mm lens. You might imagine that lens on the X-T10 would be awkward to use but in reality it is fine. I just hold the lens in the left hand and the camera hangs on the back. I really enjoyed using this combination. Look at the bokehlicious shots in panels 31 and 32 below for more 50-140mm examples.
I set the front control wheel of my X-T10 to ISO and set the shutter speed dial to the ‘T’ position. This gives me control of the aperture on the lens ring, control of shutter speed in 1/3rd stop increments on the rear control wheel and full control of ISO in 1/3rd stop increments on the front control wheel. This means that all parameters can be changed in a jiffy. It’s just like using an SLR again. In the late 1990s camera makers changed from old fashioned top plate dials to new style control wheels with LCD menus and we took the time to learn new motor skills but it was worth it. The cool retro look of the Fuji X cameras initially limited usability to a pre 1990s level, but now with the two control wheels on the X-T10 and X-T1 cameras, SLR users can use the new Fuji X cameras in familiar ways. There really has never been a better time to make the change.
08. Maxime is the son of one of the delegates and I persuaded him to model for us on the creative day. He is a great footballer so I expect him to replace Ronaldo at some point soon. The centre shot has carefully controlled rim light and I pushed the exposure for the shot on the right to burn out the buildings in the distant background. The shot on the left was taken with the XF56mm and the shots centre and right were taken with the XF50-140mm lens.
09. Chantelle and Maxime were game for a few natural light and flash pictures together. The simple use of an off camera Speedlight really added some punch to the shot on the right.
10. The tones produced by the Fuji X-T10 are sublime straight out of the camera.
11. I showed the delegates how I work foreground and background into couple shots. X-T10 with XF35mm lens at f/6.4
12. XF35mm at f/4
13. XF35mm at f/4
14. I love the colours and textures that prevail in the South of France.
15. “Push, push, push the exposure until the camera screams at you and then knock it back a click” was my direction to the delegates. That’s what I did for the sun drenched shot of Chantelle on the left. Being able to see the exposure in real time before pressing the shutter is a key benefit of the Fuji X system over an SLR as it takes all the guess work out of the process.
16. One more frame for the ‘Girls In Hedges’ series that I’m shooting that may or may not make a collage or book at some point.
17. We negotiated our way into the abbey cloisters and chapel to shoot a few frames for an hour at the start of day one. This gave all of us the opportunity to get set up and shooting. Shots on the left were taken with the 50-140mm lens and the one on the right was with my XF16mm lens.
18. The sunlight coming through the stained glass gave a distinct Lupolux with Scattergel type look to these portraits even though these were all shot with natural light.
19. Location two on day one was Galerie Va Bene set in an ancient house with medieval ruins. This dress by Molly Mishi May was a perfect match or the tones and textures in this stunning location. I used the XF50-140mm lens for the shots on the left and the XF23mm for the contemporary fashion shot on the right.
22. The shot on the right of Chantelle in another creation by Molly Mishi May was lit with a hand held reflector at about 15m from the subject.
23. Day two started at Château de Lisse. I used a pair of Cactus RF60 Speedlights to light Chantelle. The key to success for this kind of shot is to get the balance of subject and background right. This is unmistakably a shot of Chantelle and the chateau in the background is an accessory in the shot. I used the XF35mm at f/16.
24. The chateau interiors were perfect to show off this corseted dress by Lisa Keating. I used the Lupolux LED 1000 sparingly with the Scattergel on some of these shots taken with the wonderful XF23mm lens.
25. These three shots were all taken with the 56mm lens with the shot bottom right being taken at f/1.2 with 1/40th second at ISO 400 using a monopod.
26. The extensive interiors at Château de Lisse offer days of shooting opportunity however we had the wonderful French countryside to explore so our time spent inside was kept in check. The shot top left with Chantelle at the piano was shot on the XF56mm lens and lit with the Lupolux LED 1000. The other three shots were taken with the XF23mm lens and lit with finely controlled window light.
27. The chateau is in splendid condition and has many exciting details to shoot from romantic rooms in turrets to suits of armour. I didn’t ask Chantelle to put on the armour as I’m sure the idea wouldn’t have been well received.
28. A stroll in the noon day sun to test the AF tracking on our cameras. This location was particularly challenging but if it was easy everyone would do it.
29. Things hotted up when we went to the gently rolling corn fields. The morning haze had burned off and the temperatures were soaring to 38° in the shade. Out here there was no shade so this became the physical challenge to overcome for Chantelle and the photographers alike. I love the way blue skies are rendered in black and white. The shot at the top was taken with the XF23mm at f/1.4 and the one at the bottom was taken with the XF50-140mm lens at f/5.6.
I could see the EVF of the X-T10 quite clearly even in this intensely bright light. I did find myself shielding my eyes from stray sunlight from time to time so I’m sure a deep eyecup accessory like the one Fuji make for the X-T1 will be welcome.
30. I particularly love these two shots of Chantelle. The top one was taken with the soon to be classic XF50-140mm lens at f/4 and the one at the bottom was taken with the 23mm lens at f/1.4. I used an ND64 (6 stops) to get me from f/11 down to f/1.4 whilst maintaining my flash sync speed of 1/180th second). I lit Chantelle in the bottom picture with the Elinchrom Quadra kit. This is the Quadra kit I recommend.
31. The shot on the left of this woodland scene was taken with the XF16mm at f/4 while the shots on the right were taken with my bokehlicious 50-140mm lens at f/2.8.
32. The bokeh on the XF50mm – 140mm is a work of art. The delicate grasses are rendered in the most pleasing way. The punchy highlights aren’t the hard edged spots that I’m used to from my SLR 70-200mm lenses and at f/2.8 on APSC I can get the same depth of field as I could at f/4 on full frame meaning from the tip of Chantelle’s nose to the back of her hair is perfectly sharp while the background is beautifully rendered out of focus.
33. Rural France has lots of little abandoned farm cottages to explore. The shot on the right of Chantelle in the doorway was shot with the XF56mm at f/1.2 through the bushes to give the dreamy look.
34. I used a similar technique as in the shot above for these shots too.
35. The cottage was small inside so I used the XF16mm to create the shot on the left and the 56mm lens at f/1.2 for the shot on the right. I wanted the bottle to be delicately blurred.
36. The South of France is known for fields of sunflowers so no shoot here would have been complete without a shot or two.
37. The last setting for the final day was a wonderful field of straw bales. The top frame was with Velvia simulation and the bottom frame was with Pro neg S film simulation.
How much fun was that? We all got on so well we are planning to be in Tuscany next September for a follow up event. If you would like to take part on a Lovegrove 3 day shoot event email Laura and she will ensure you get kept informed with what’s coming up.
I shot Rome earlier this week exclusively with the X-T10 again but this time with the compact zooms, the 18-55 and the 55-200. Both of these lenses are super sharp and have OIS. That combination makes them perfect for travel. My Rome blog is up next.
Please feel free to comment on these shots or your first experience with the Fuji X-T10 below.