Steps of Mirth. Dancing club, Scarborough Sunset Beach, Western Australia, 2021. Fuji X-T3, 16mm 1.4 @ 1.4
This is a little different from my other blogs. It’s not about gear as such, or any great earth-shattering observations around street photography or shooting ‘events’. I just want to show some interesting photos I took in the last few weeks. I now live in Perth in Western Australia and it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I just moved down from a small gold-mining town in the Western Australian desert called Kalgoorlie, where I lived for more than 15 years. I struggled there for many years trying to find subjects to photograph (I am a teacher, so I knew half the kids and families in the town) - being such a small town where one is known, ruins it in many ways.
Poles of Courage. Chinese Dragon Dancers, Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, 2021. Fuji X-T3, 50mm F2 @ F2
Now that my wife and I are living in Perth (a much bigger city), nobody knows me here, which is fantastic. I can freely cover all the events and shoot people who I don’t know. You may think it is easier shooting people who know you, but the opposite is the case. There is always politics involved and being a teacher, I’m not supposed to photograph my students and all that stuff made everything so ponderous. Now I’m in a great big city where I’m just another guy – it is really fantastic.
Mixing it with the Boys. Chinese Dragon Dancers, Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, 2021. Fuji X-T3, 50mm F2 @ F2
I think it is beginning to show in my photography. It has only been a month since our relocation, but I have already pulled in some magic shots – shots that I could never have gotten whilst living in a small, cloistered, claustrophobic, close-minded town.
The other thing that I am also beginning to realise (I introduced this topic in my last few blogs), that a very clear picture has emerged as to what gear will be in my hands. I won’t go into any detail here because I have gone over this all before, but my kit is now two Fuji X-T3’s – one with the 16mm 1.4 attached and the other with the 50mm F2 on board. As I have also written about at great length – I no long use the 16-55 (sold) and the 90mm is being used less and less. In fact, I am very close to the point of selling the 90mm and the X-H1 which it is attached to.
The legs tell the Story. Dancing 'girl', Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, 2021. Fuji X-T3, 16mm 1.4 @ 1.4
I never thought I would come to that point, but the 50mm F2 is just so light and small and I seem to be able to isolate the background with ease, and then I don’t have to carry around the huge 90mm attached to a big heavy X-H1. The 90mm has to have the X-H1 because unlike my 16mm and 50mm – it does need IBIS.
'Drama Queen' . Dancing 'girl', Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, 2021. Fuji X-T3, 16mm 1.4 @ 1.4
I am really enjoying my two X-T3’s now. I really think finally I have reached an ideal Fuji X camera that is basically future-proof (well, for me anyway). The AFC is now great and I never miss any photos of fast moving events because of the camera. I still do miss them but that is operator problems – me pointing the little green box at the wrong thing. As I said in my last blog – even though it has taken Fuji over 12 years, the autofocus in the X-T3 is now as fast as it was on my Nikon D3X. The images from the camera are absolutely brilliant (only on Capture One of course), the handling is great and because I NEVER use video – I don’t need that ridiculous screen that is on the X-T4. In other words – whatever the new X-H2 will look like, I don’t need it.
Starting Early. Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, 2021. Fuji X-T3, 16mm 1.4 @ 1.4
Most of the photos on here are from our celebrations last week for Western Australia Day. This is a big deal here in the West and it is deemed a public holiday for everybody. The event was held at the coast in Fremantle and the promoter asked me to shoot the event for her, so I had full access to all parts of the event where the public could not go. They had the Chinese dancers doing their Dragon Dance. They had dancing girls, rock bands, an Aboriginal dancing troop, and the highlight of the day was the New Zealand Maori Haka group.
In Step. Maori Cultural group 'Haka For Life', Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, 2021. Fuji X-T3, FX 50mm F2 @ F2
Now that I have fully embraced the wonderful 16mm 1.4, I am continually in there close, jamming my camera into peoples’ faces – just as I love to do (I think Bruce Gilden would be proud of me). The results are very powerful and give a perspective that most other photographers don’t embrace. This gives me an edge and that is why the promoter chose me above the other photographers on her books – she indicated that my pictures were more powerful than others she has used in the past. Kudos to Fuji and that fantastic 1.4 lens.
Maori Cultural group 'Haka For Life', Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, 2021. Fuji X-T3, FX 16mm F1.4 @ F1.4
It did rain for parts of the day, but for me that was a bonus. The Maori folk kept doing their Haka in the pouring rain, and my Fuji’s kept pumping out the images in the pouring rain – they never missed a beat.
Out of Sync. Maori Cultural group 'Haka For Life', Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, 2021. Fuji X-T3, FX 16mm F1.4 @ F1.4
Now that I’ve swapped over fully to Capture One, it was so easy to apply the ‘preset’ (one that I cooked up myself) to all of the images. Then I only have to tickle each photo up a tiny bit and all is done very quickly. I am very happy living here now and have so much to look forward to coming up, photographically. Through a contact at the school I used to teach at in Kalgoorlie, I am going down to a small farming community in the next school holidays (early July here in Western Australia), to photograph shearers. I may stay a day or two so I can get a complete story of them. I have phoned my contacts and I’ll be with two different shearing gangs. I can’t wait – the early morning light, the patina of the old shearing sheds, me up inches from their face with my 16mm 1.4, the rough sun aged skin of the shearers. I also want to get a shot very low down of the ‘sorters’ throwing the full fleece onto the table.
Warrior Challenge. Maori Cultural group 'Haka For Life', Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, 2021. Fuji X-T3, FX 50mm F2 @ F2
Watch this space because I think I’m going to have some more great images moving forward. Thanks to Fuji again for fantastic little cameras that really inspire. They pump out images as good as those from my full-frame Nikon D3X days, but one is carrying half the weight with lenses that look like toys. Now that I’ve got rid of the zoom (16-55), and I’m only shooting two fast primes, my images are all shot on much lower ISO’s and the final result tells the tale.
Watch Out! Aboriginal Dancing Troop, Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, 2021. Fuji X-T3, FX 16mm F1.4 @ 1.4
I encourage everybody to get out there. My wife tells me I’m too bold shoving my cameras into people’s faces, but if you do it with humour, a smile and kindness like I do, you will not be rejected. You will come away with images that are not ‘ho hum’, like so many others have, and you will be even more inspired to get out there some more.
Up Close. Aboriginal Dancing Troop, Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, 2021. Fuji X-T3, FX 16mm F1.4 @ 1.4
PS - I'm not supposed to be showing too many of these images yet, but here is a few more for those who are interested!