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Christmas Countdown

Dear Santa - Food & Home Entertaining Magazine

Dear Santa - Food & Home Entertaining Magazine

Gingerbread House - Your Family Magazine Stylist:  Leila Saffarian

Gingerbread House - Your Family Magazine Stylist: Leila Saffarian

Christmas Wreath - Garden & Home Magazine 

Christmas Wreath - Garden & Home Magazine 

And so the Christmas countdown has begun!

It has been such an awesome and blessed year for me, and I trust it was for you too. The season is upon us and there is no time more fitting to thank my family and friends for all their support throughout the year.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe and see you in 2014; it is going to be another colossal year. 

X100s One Small Camera, One Big Heart

X100s in action!

X100s in action!

It's been an awesome past two weeks with the Fuji x100s - wow is all I can say! A huge shout out to the kind folks at Fujifilm South Africa for letting me test this specimen out. I want to stress that this is by no means a technical review; there are plenty of resources out there that cover those aspects in-depth. I will however, highlight a few things I found interesting and thoroughly enjoyed about this camera.

After looking forward to shooting with the Fuji x100s for so long, I'll admit that I was slightly bummed -within the first five minutes of switching the device on I wanted to toss it against the wall... There - I said it… One can forget just how accustomed you become to using a DSLR, which I can pretty much operate with my eyes closed. After fumbling around with the controls and dials for a little while it all clicked (ha - pardon the pun). I was particularly impressed with the menu layout and the Q button (a real life saver); which allows you to access some of the most used controls. 

Anyway, rocky start aside, the x100s has a quick learning curve and is ergonomically very logically laid out. The amount of customization is astounding; in a couple of minutes everything was set up to my specifications. It was at that very moment that a gold ray of light shone upon me and the x100s (A-Ha moment possibly). This suddenly felt like a photographer’s camera. I managed to set up three different custom profiles that I could access on the fly. I got pretty close to my usual Photoshop look just by tweaking white balance and curves clippings. If you prefer the old-school vibe there are three focusing modes to choose from; standard, split screen and the Jedi-like focus peaking mode - which is the best thing ever. Accessing the menu without removing your eye from the viewfinder is genius thanks to the optical viewfinder (OVF), which is good news for all you chimpers out there - no one will ever know your secret antics.

Once I set up my profiles, I roped in a stylist- Leila Saffarian for a quick collaboration to put the x100s to the test. I popped the camera into macro mode to get a tight, square crop and a quick focus check using the focus peaking mode (just because I can) - it worked flawlessly. I also had no problem triggering studio strobes with the little camera.

RAW Series - X100s with studio strobes. Styling:  Leila Saffarian

RAW Series - X100s with studio strobes. Styling: Leila Saffarian

The x100s is small…stealthily small, silent and oozes retro sexiness! Funny how so many people mistook the x100s for a film camera - dismissing it as a serious camera is a big plus for any photographer. It’s nice to work on a scene without getting noticed. I'm sure this will quickly change as people become more aware of these retro styled cameras. I spent a very short amount of time with the XPro1, another fantastic camera. It would be ideal for more serious jobs; I would definitely reach for it with its interchangeable lenses.

X100s with a 3 light studio setup.

X100s with a 3 light studio setup.

I thought I would prefer the XPro1 to the x100s for everyday use but I'm a sucker for the latter. Apart from the x100s being a very capable camera, the x100s can fit perfectly into my personal workflow. Imagine this; behind the scenes with the x100s partnered with an Eye-fi card shooting directly to your phone/tablet where you are able to 'spam' all relevant social media channels with epic images - keeping your audience in the loop of your current projects. You can even set up a square mode to upload directly to Instagram.

I've created more personal shots with this camera than I have in a very long time, as it travelled with me daily. Not having to ponder what lens to pack is a big plus in my books, a fixed lens frees you up when shooting, so that you can actually focus on what matters... your subject. And boy is the 23mm F2 Single Focal Length Lens a crisp little gem! The images look great out of camera and on screen. I was constantly reaching for the Fuji when I was out and about; it truly is an everyday companion.

In closing; the x100s is fun and easy to shoot with, stick with it and embrace its limitation and you will be rewarded for your efforts and time spent with it.

Have camera, will travel!

Fisherman's boat - Long Beach Hotel

Market  - Port Louis 

Sushi Platter - Sugar Beach Hotel

Any photographer will tell you that landing a travel assignment will always be right on top of their career bucket list. While studying photography we were often told that the photographic industry is not what it used to be. Gone are the days of extravagant travel assignments and large-scale production sets. The thought of being commissioned to visit exotic locations as a photographer soon vanished off my list.

I was however, fortunate enough to land a travel assignment in Mauritius early in my photographic career, and despite the smug feeling, it is not what you would come to expect. Nervous excitement quickly fades and by the time you board that airplane you are shaken into reality. The only thing running through your mind - DON’T screw this up! Imagine returning without any decent images. That thought is a sure winner to shake you out of your travel assignment virginity. Getting up at absurd hours to capture sunrises, risking expensive gear in dodgy markets and making sure you back-up all images late at night quickly becomes the norm. To quote the famous MasterCard ad – the feeling you get when boarding your flight back home with the right shots in the bag: Priceless!

Having said that, it was a magical trip; one of my fondest memories is shooting a couple of food dishes right on the beach with the sun setting over the ocean (who knew golden hour could be applicable to food as well). Personally, that trip served as a wake-up call. It is important to establish goals - be it a bucket list or to start collaborating with other creatives. It is so easy to become discouraged by the negative comments from peers. My advice; get out of your comfort zone and produce something unique and meaningful.