Interview with Scott Bourne

· 30.May.2015

I have been following Scott Bourne’s appearances on several photography related podcasts since 2002 or 2003. I have learned from him a lot and you can only imagine how pleasantly surprised I was a couple of months ago to find out that Scott also went the Fuji path. Scott has been involved with photography for more than four decades and is an internationally-recognized thought leader and artist. His work has appeared in more than 200 publications and he’s received hundreds of industry awards for his photography. Scott’s led workshops and seminars, taught for or spoken at conferences or events sponsored by Palm Beach Photographic Center, Cooperative Communicators of America, The National Association of Photoshop Professionals, CreativeLive.com, Lynda.com, the National Association of Broadcasters, North American Music Merchants, MacWorld, Washington Professional Photographers Association, WPPI, PartnerCon, PPA, Seattle Art Center, Marketing Essentials International, The Consumer Electronics Show and Olympic Mountain School of Photography.

Tomasz Trzebiatowski:  I have been listening to your podcasts and following your photography related blogs since the very beginning of this century. When I found out that you also discovered the Fuji X system and made a switch, I felt… happy! Do you remember what it was that made you make the switch?

Scott Bourne: My switch to Fuji was a surprise to even me, but you actually mentioned the key word “Happy!” I found real joy in using the Fuji X-system. It started a few years ago when I got my hands on a Fuji X100S. I was so impressed by that camera that I named it Photofocus camera of the year. That took a lot of people (including me) by surprise. But it was just such a capable camera and FUN to use that I had to recognize it. Fast forward to last Christmas when someone gave me a Fuji X100T as a gift. I went on a little photo walk around Santa Fe, NM and was just utterly amazed at the image quality. I had never seen such brilliant colors, such clean and crisp images. On a lark, I got ahold of a Fuji X-T1 with 50-140mm lens and that was it. I was hooked. I originally planned on keeping some of my Canon/Nikon gear but I sold it all, figuring I could rent it for the occasions when I didn’t have a long enough lens using the Fuji system.

Nearly every time I bring photos back to my computer and import them I go through this state of disbelief that the images are THAT clear, THAT crisp, THAT impactful. You’d think I would eventually get used to it, but so far I haven’t.

Monument Valley Sunrise – Photo Copyright Scott Bourne – Shot With Fuji X100T

Monument Valley Sunrise – Photo Copyright Scott Bourne – Shot With Fuji X100T


T.T.: Many camera manufactures still participate in the “megapixels race”. Meanwhile, Fujifilm is consequently sticking to their 16-MP X-trans sensor. What are your thoughts?

S.B.: I am so very sick and tired of the megapixel race. Way back when Canon announced the 30D (with an 8.2 MP APS-C sensor) I was pretty sure that was all the camera I would need. I sold lots of images made on that 8.2 MP sensor and never thought to myself even once that it was too small. Now the Fuji X-Trans sensor is 16 MP and I am certain THAT is enough. I am making 20×30” prints from images made with the 16 MP sensor. Looking at those prints (and some smaller 16×20” prints – another size I regularly print,) I that the prints are great. The 16×20” prints are museum quality! If I could sell images from an 8.2 MP sensor, then a 16 MP sensor – especially one this clean, well it’s a no-brainer. The quality is there and physics being physics, I am concerned that cramming more megapixels onto the same sized sensor will result in lower quality images overall.

I realize that many photographers want more MP but I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Based on polls we’ve taken at Photofocus.com, I can safely say that a vast majority of them will never publish their pictures anywhere but the web. Why do they need more megapixels for that?

X-T1, XF 10-24mm - Photo by Scott Bourne

X-T1, XF 10-24mm – Photo by Scott Bourne


T.T.: What is your favourite type of photography and does the Fuji X system fit the bill successfully in this regard?

S.B.: Well that is an evolving thing with me. Depending on how people have interacted with me, they may think of me as a bird photographer, a motorsports photographer or something in between. I love photographing birds and cars, and lots of other subjects. Now that I am retired, I am not going on many (as in none lately) big expeditions. I am finding other subjects close to home. The one weak point in the Fuji system for a guy like me is the lack of really long lenses. So I simply can’t photograph birds like I used to. I will give that another look next year when Fuji releases the long zoom. For now I have been enjoying an eclectic approach to photography, choosing different subject matter than I used to. Lately, I’ve been photographing “Americana,” which is old antiques, cars, advertising signs, etc. from America’s past. The lightweight Fuji system and incredibly sharp glass, delivering super crisp image quality seems to lend itself to anything I’ve thrown at it.

Goosenecks State Park – Photo Copyright Scott Bourne – Shot With Fuji X-T1 – Fujinon 14mm lens

Goosenecks State Park – Photo Copyright Scott Bourne – Shot With Fuji X-T1 – Fujinon 14mm lens


T.T.: I know you have a certain affinity to black and white photography. Have you been using the Fuji built-in b&w modes or do you still prefer converting the images into b&w yourself? If so, what’s your b&w conversion software of choice?

S.B.: I am an old guy so B&W is how I started. I shoot more images with a final B&W picture in mind than I do color. I love the Fuji B&W + Red film simulation mode. I also set the camera to record JPEGS with the following settings:

– Sharpness: +1

– Highlight Tone: +1

– Shadow Tone: +1

– Noise Reduction: -2

This gives me images I can use right out of the camera.

There are situations when a subject is strongly backlit, or there’s lots of dynamic range in the scene and I shoot RAW – then convert. I use a little bit of everything for those conversions but lately, I’ve really taken to MacPhun’s Tonality Pro plug-in. It has very nice presets but allows for very precise manual control during the conversion and also is set up for old coots like me who used to use the Zone System, popularized by Ansel Adams.

Shiprock, NM – Photo Copyright Scott Bourne – Shot With Fuji X-T1 – Fujinon 50-140mm lens

Shiprock, NM – Photo Copyright Scott Bourne – Shot With Fuji X-T1 – Fujinon 50-140mm lens

T.T.: What do you enjoy doing besides photography, to keep the balance? Are there times you don’t have your camera with you? 😉

S.B.: Now that I am retired, I am trying to find things to do that don’t involve a camera! I have had some health issues in the last few years that caused me to rethink pretty much everything, and for now, I am just trying to find ways to stay relevant 🙂

I play guitar, I go for long drives. I read. But the camera still has a significant pull for me. I usually have my Fuji X100T with me no matter where I go. There’s something about the joy of photography that keeps me coming back for more. I think for me, the hard core reality of life’s challenges is always balanced best by photography. After all, tough times will come and go for all of us, but the photographs last forever.