In South Korea With Fujifilm X-T1

· 15.August.2017

My involvement in Fujifilm world started in 2013 ago with film products like Provia and Velvia. At that time I was Nikon user/shooter with digital (D700) and film (F80 and FM2) cameras. Since I like to take my camera everywhere with me, Nikon D700 felt little bit heavy (1 kg body plus lens…) and for sure it was chunky. F80 and FM2 are great cameras but not for carrying around every day. At that point, I read plenty reviews about Fujifilm cameras (X-Pro, X-T1, X100 series) – how small they are and how well they perform. So I sold my D700 with lenses and bought the X-T1 with XF35mm f/2. I cannot express how easy and fun shooting became with this new system. I was excited with the new camera, and the enjoyment of shooting with the X-T1 lasts till today. Earlier, with my Nikons I kind of forced myself to take camera outside and start shooting, with Fuji I want to go outside every day or travel somewhere to get pleasing pictures. Besides, X-T1 with XF35mm f/2 weights like nothing, so all day around with it is not a problem at all.

I absolutely love the experience of using my Fujifilm system. X-T1 itself represents for me one of the best designs of the camera body (along with Nikon FM2): everything you need is right here – exposure, aperture, shutter speed.

As an amateur photographer I am always jealous, that pros can travel around the world, visit incredible places and take amazing photos. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to travel to South Korea to visit my wife’s parents. By far the best trip in my life. People, nature, culture, food – I love everything. Korea is a crazy place in a very, very good way. I was totally overwhelmed by this beautiful country. It is so alive, breathing and chaotic. We stayed in Anyang, which is nearby Seoul. For Korean standards it is a “small town” with 600 000 people… One of the first things you will appreciate in Korea are free toilets – they are everywhere. This helps a lot if you all day outside!

It is nearly impossible to meet tourists in Korea if you are not in Seoul. You are from foreign country – you look is different… so be prepared, that people will kinda start starring at you. Basic knowledge of Korean language is a huge advantage, even if it’s like „hi“, „thank you“ and „good bye“. If you want to take a street portrait you should talk to people and they will be more comfortable in the front of the camera if you can say something what they understand. Please, be a nice guy and learn couple new words before visiting another country and don’t be a mumbling monkey with a camera.

For a street photographer South Korea is like heaven. Firstly, because from the outside it may look like the West took over traditional Korean culture… luckily it’s not the case, this land is so charmingly authentic. Secondly, people here are different in comparison to Europe, they were very cautious and shy when I wanted to talk with them, but after couple words in hangeul (Korean language) ice was always breaking.

My favourite thing is Korean “fast food”. Grannies on the streets cooking all kinds of national foods on their tables, and if you like what they cook you just sit down at the table and enjoy the food. In Korea this kind of meal is very popular, because it’s very cheap and so tasty! Many children after school buy something at those places.

My next favourite place was the farmers’ market – chaotic and so authentic. Usually no one cares about you until you decide to buy something. Take photos as much as you want, if they spotted you just smile friendly and greet them respectfully or say “hello” or “sorry” – they laugh immediately and maybe you can ask about a portrait.

In Korea completely different things exist in absolute harmony with each other. This country has a very dramatic history. It is located between Japan and China, and through the ages Korean people preserved their country from enslavement by their neighbours. So they respect very much their traditions. And so they teach their children.

During this trip I was using Fujifilm X-T1 and the XF35mm f/2 lens and from time to time – my wife’s X100T. With such a compact combo like X-T1 and XF35mm I never felt tired, this small digital jewel keeps you alive and calls you to explore new things. Going home and sitting there felt almost like a crime to me. I never felt to be limited by my camera. It was never in my way. Thanks to the WR feature of the camera and the lens I never worry if it’s raining or snowing outside (in Germany in April…yeah!), I just grab the camera and go out to take pictures. From the beginning, I am very satisfied with the results. Everyone is talking about great Fuji colours. Since I shoot RAW, I use different film simulations or presets, mostly black&white, just as preview option to preview the scene and how I want to post process it later.

When doing street photography I shoot in aperture priority mode most of the time. Everything on the streets is happening so fast and if you spot a scene you want to capture, there is no time to worry about your settings. If you shoot people on the street, keep in mind they don’t have 10 minutes of their time for you, so first explore the street, a square or whatever it is to find good place for your picture. The hardest part is to ask someone to about taking their picture, but don’t be shy. If he or she says “no” – move forward and forget about it. And always be the nice guy, if you want take photos on the street you must be able to find common language with everyone, even if it is a drunk football fan. With landscape and architecture, I am 99% of the time shooting in full manual, so I can slow down, test different settings (not always f8 and a tripod) and check how the images look on the screen. Some of my favourite architecture photos were made with 16mm lens at f1.4. With landscape it’s the same – slow down, think what you want to say with this picture or what is the most important element of the scene, try various settings, sometimes even some “crazy” ones can deliver great results if you know what you doing.