As a professional landscape photographer I travel a lot. It goes with the job! In fact, there are some months when I’m only home for a few days between trips. If I’m travelling around somewhere like Ireland or Scotland, I tend to go by car, as this enables me to carry lots of different equipment. This is especially true if I’m running one of my workshops or doing commissioned work, when I may need a range of different camera systems.
However, I also often travel further afield and in this case, I usually need to fly to get to my destination. And this involves a totally different decision making process, as the last thing I need is a lot of equipment to check in or carry as hand baggage, so I almost always turn to my Fuji system.
I first bought a Fuji X100 three years ago and just loved it in spite of some well discussed idiosyncrasies. Around a year later I changed to the XE-1, as I wanted the flexibility of inter changeable lenses. However, it was really still just a second camera until I purchased the XT-1, a year ago now. This was the Fuji system ‘coming of age’ for me and my style of photography.
In fact, my Fuji XT-1 along with a range of lenses is just perfect. Not only are they light in weight, but the quality that they can deliver is superb. While I see my cameras as the tools of my trade, there is something about the Fuji that makes me want to use it. I’m not quite sure if it’s the return to manual controls, its retro styling, excellent lenses or the look of the images it produces, but its probably a mixture of all of these things.
On my most recent trip to Spain and Morocco, from which I’m just back, this was the ideal chance to use my Fuji kit as I wanted to travel light. This was a trip where I would be shooting landscapes in the South of Spain before moving to Chefchaouen, the blue village in the Moroccan hills for some people photography. So what was in my bag and why did I take it?
Well, I’ve already mentioned my XT-1, which has a Really Right Stuff L bracket attached, along with three batteries and a charger. I brought the 14mm lens, which is my ‘go to’ lens for landscape and is the equivalent of 21mm on a full frame system and the quality of images from this lens are top class. Also, I brought the 18-55mm and the 56mm lens, both great lenses for street photography. Between these three lenses, I had everything I would need for this particular trip.
As I’m first and foremost a landscape photographer, I always travel with a tripod and in this case, the Gitzo series one lightweight carbon tripod folds down small enough to go into my hand baggage if necessary. Another essential part of my kit is my LEE filters. I have a full size set for my Nikon system, but I have just started using the LEE Seven5 lightweight system, which is designed specifically for compact cameras. I can easily carry a set of neutral density soft grads, Big Stopper and polariser along with the holder and adapter rings. I’ve used different filters over the years, but consider that LEE make the best quality filters available in my opinion.
A cable remote release, range of SD cards and my iPad complete my travel photography kit. All of this packs into a Billingham 335 bag, with room to spare for anything else I want to carry when out and about.
When I’m using the Fuji, I love the fact that it’s small and light and the bright EVF and large LCD screen make it much easier to compose my images. When I’m doing people photography, the camera doesn’t shout ‘photographer’ and enables me to be more discreet when out and about around the streets. It just feels so ‘natural’ and the design ergonomics are top class.
Of course, it’s an important aspect of travelling to absorb the culture of the place you’re visiting. As such, I always like to find a local café that serves good food and coffee and enables me to just sit for a while and watch the world go by. This trip was no different and I discovered a great place in Chefchaouen in Morocco in the main square. A lovely warm spring day sitting outside is a pleasant change from much of my work, shooting moody landscapes in Scotland and Ireland, but more of that in a future post!
So the Fuji XT-1 system is well nigh perfect as a great travel system, but it’s equally as good when I’m closer to home as well. Next month I’ll be talking about the images I captured in Spain and Morocco. If you want to know more about my workshops, please check out my website at www.johnmiskelly.co.uk.