Standing in an air-conditioned outdoor sports goods retailer in sunny and warm South Africa, contemplating the 32 degrees Celsius outside while about to try on a winter fleece jacket I realised two things: my wardrobe may not be ready for a European winter, but my X-T2 would be…
My wife is from Poland and she’s giving me one of those all-knowing looks – “Love. You don’t know how cold it gets there”, she reminds me. I’m still not sure if I needed the jacket or if this was just a good excuse for a shopping spree but needless to say, I got a new jacket. As it turns out, my wife was 100% correct about the cold….
Rzeczpospolita Polska is home to my wife’s family and many great friends we have met on previous summer trips. As a professional photographer, I was excited about the different photo opportunities that would present themselves. Different light, different moods, different memories to capture. Poland is a beautiful country with a rich (if painful) history, and vast array of sights to see and I was looking forward to the taking images of a landscape different to Africa and truth be told I was hoping for a fair amount of snow.
My style of photography can best be described as a “documentary” style. I love recording images of people that are as natural and un-posed as possible. Recording memories of them doing what they do best – being human. So, having moved over from a DSLR camera to Fujifilm about two years ago, I knew that the Fuji system was perfectly suited for what I wanted to do.
Since I knew weather conditions may not always be ideal, my X-T2 was my first choice of camera to take. I removed the battery grip to reduced size and weight and decided on taking only two lenses… but which two? Again, weather sealing and size was a determining factor. Most of the images I wanted to capture would be hopefully candid shots of the people I would be meeting, but images of the architecture and perhaps some of the beautiful landscapes on offer were on my list too.
My final choice… the XF23mm f/2 R WR prime lens and the XF10-24mm f/4 OIS zoom lens. Although the XF56mm f/1.2 is my favourite lens and a “go to” for portrait work with its dreamy bokeh, its bigger size made it not ideal for travelling and I already had decided on taking one “larger” lens in the 10-24 zoom.
And yes, the 10-24mm is not weather sealed, but it seemed a better choice for those really wide shots. As it turned out though, I hardly used it and I fell in love (again) with the 23mm and how it worked on my X-T2.
This little prime is amazing! Weather sealed, compact, silent and with excellent build quality and blisteringly fast autofocus.
And while I would have loved the XF56mm f/1.2 for some of the portrait work I did while there, the 23mm prime did a great job and worked well even in low light situations.
Home base for our travels was the small town of Gryfino in Pomerania, north-western Poland. Approximately 35 km from Szczecin – the nearest large city, and 145 km from Berlin.
As a photographer, I approach most things from a viewpoint of the type of image that can be created when captured… as such my camera goes everywhere with me. I was not disappointed… people, places, moments… So many great images to capture.
My move from a bulky DSLR to the Fujifilm system has made me love and enjoy taking photos again. Looking for that different angle, that different perspective, from the peaceful calm of Classic Chrome to the moody joy of Acros Black and White, all driven by my passion for photography and wanting to capture and amazing image.
Back home my workflow is to shoot in RAW and JPG, and primarily in monochrome (a throwback to my film days when I learnt my craft…), with editing done in Lightroom and Luminar, which makes the X-T2’s ability to transfer JPG images to my phone immediately via the App hugely beneficial. Making minor tweaks on my smart phone meant that even though I was “out of the office” I could still post to various social media and keep clients and friends up to date with my work.
Back home I’m asked about my journey and my experiences, the standard “… did you enjoy it…” question – I loved it! Winter days made for different lighting conditions than I’m maybe used to in Africa but still magical.
And the people… The people are just people the way we are meant to be…. Humble, generous and hospitable. And I loved having my camera with me to be able to capture these moments gifted to me.