On behalf of the 35mm or 50mm lens

These three black and white images were shot with the Fujifilm X-E2 and the Fujinon XF 35mm F/2 lens. Being an APS-C sensor camera, the 35mm lens is equivalent to a full frame 50mm “standard” lens. The 50mm lens way back in the day of 35mm film SLR’s was the “kit” lens of its day. It roughly approximates the human field of view, which meant that people new to single-lens reflex photography found it easy to adjust to composing their images in the viewfinder.


Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 35mm F/2

The reasons for its popularity then still stand firm today. The standard 50/35mm lens is fast. It has a maximum aperture of somewhere between F/2 and F/1.2 dependent on cost. The optical quality of standard lenses is also very good indeed, the design has been around for decades and the optical arrangement of the lenses in the barrel is pretty simple. It doesn’t have to cater for zooming.


Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 35mm F/2

The standard lens also has the ability to blur the background beautifully and smoothly when you use the lens wide open. This is very useful for portraits for example or for creative uses to isolate your focal point.

The lens itself is usually small and of lightweight construction which means they can be carried around all day with no effort and a small camera bag.

Now the more astute may say, that you have a zoom lens which covers the standard focal length. That may be true, however, unless you have the professional grade of zoom from your camera manufacturers catalogue, you are not getting the best possible quality. If you compare a shot taken at 50/35mm with your consumer-priced zoom and compared the same scene shot with a standard lens, you would see the difference.


Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 35mm F/2

A moderately priced zoom lens will also not have a maximum aperture that can compare to the standard lens. Most non-professional line zooms will have a maximum aperture of f2.8 to f/5.6 which means that you would have to use a tripod in low light.

If you like zooms, then bringing your subject closer by zooming is par for the course, however, with a standard (as with any prime lenses) you have to walk and move around to get the shot. I believe this does help in planning and composing a photograph.

People, once they’ve started to use a standard lens, love them. Some people base their photography on using almost nothing else. If you’re a Fuji user there is even a website called 53mm (35mm extrapolates to 53mm when multiplied by 1.5 for the APS-C sensor) which highlights photographers using the Fuji standard lenses.

If you don’t have a standard lens, get yourself one. It may not be the only lens you need, but your photography will benefit from its use.


Detail and atmosphere

This week, all three of the images concentrate on texture and detail.

Getting in close to a subject for detail or abstract shots is an ideal way to isolate parts of the subject. In the first photograph, I wanted to really show the wonderful texture and splits in the grain of the aged wood and the large gap balanced nicely with the iron bolt going through the wood underneath it. Extra interest was added to the bolt by the spider’s web that hung from the end of the bolt.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 35mm F/2


The second image was again of wood and iron, but this time I wanted to show the difference between the two substances. The greater part of the image is taken up with the wood, whilst the metal is reduced to the top left of the frame. However, the vertical and horizontal seam lines in the wood push the eye towards the iron and the stud that goes through the metal plate. The stud is situated on a third and this ensures that the image retains visual balance. I was also careful to ensure that the wood and the metal were not the same tonally.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 35mm F/2


The final photograph is of a baseball hat that was taken exactly as I found it in a thorn bush by the side of a canal. The sight of the cap bearing the words Battle of Britain and the RAF Wings Appeal was very sad, as though its condition and abandonment was a statement on how some people may have forgotten the sacrifice made by the men and women of the RAF during the Second World War. The thorns of the bush laying across and digging into the fabric of the hat gave this scene a very strong feeling of Pathos.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 35mm F/2


Give it a rest

As photographers, we all have our favourite subjects and type of photography that we like to shoot and as creatives, we can all feel a little nervous when we are taken out of our comfort zone into a different place.

I am not an urban photographer, and never have been but for this month the club project was “Cities in black and white”. So, I set off into town early one weekend during the month to get images for the project.
Initially, I found it difficult to get motivated, but gradually the mood and feel of the city began to permeate and I started to get photographs. Two hours later I put my camera away, had a cup of coffee and sausage batch (you can tell I’m a midlander) and felt pleased with my mornings’ work. I had really enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone.


Fujifilm XE-2, Fujinon XF 35mm F/2

Back home, the images were downloaded and I went through them to see which ones I could use for the monthly project. I was disappointed. I found a couple that seemed OK but most of the pictures did not fill me with enthusiasm. I decided to leave them for a couple of days and then have another look at them.


Fujifilm XE-2, Fujinon XF 35mm F/2

A couple of days later and I was looking through the pictures again in Lightroom. This time I found another image I could work on and then another. Coming at the photographs with a refreshed outlook really helped. In the end, over the next few days, I pulled out a total of ten possibles. Now, I will not work on all of them, I know that once I start looking at them closely I will find problems with some of them and I will not use them. But this just goes to show, that sometimes you have to step away from your work to actually see it clearly.


Warts and all.

This week I have three colour photographs for you, although the third has been processed using two different split tints.

The first image is a found still-life of some warty pumpkins that were sitting on a ledge in a National Trust garden. I liked the colours which stood out against the dark background of the wooden shelf. The choice of photographing three of the pumpkins (there were much more on the ledge) was a nod to the “rule of odds” which states that framing your main subject with 2 surrounding objects can suggest balance and harmony. Whilst this can be true, in this instance I moved the left-most small pumpkin to the extreme edge and left a gap between it and the other two. This caused an implied tension in the structure of the image which was balanced by the size of the other two pumpkins acting as one object on the opposite side of the frame.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 R LM OIS



The second photograph was taken in a field that had just been harvested. I was drawn to the single large tree in the distance and the lines of crop stalks in the field. I moved around the field until I got the lines lining through to the tree and took the image.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 R LM OIS



The final image is a split-tinted photograph. Shot in woods near my home, there was a slight mist and the sun was trying to get through. I shot up into the light ensuring that the bottom third of the image was left darker and the thin branches of the trees were backlit by the weak sun.  In Lightroom, during the processing, I gave the image a split tint with the light tones receiving a very weak yellow tint and the dark tones a “dirty” green tone. This gave me the slightly ominous air I wanted and together with selective sharpening in NIK, helped enhance the depth of the photograph. The eye is drawn into the image near the bottom of the frame then the light area at the top pulls the viewer up to the branches near the edge. The whole image has a mysterious air to it and to me, those branches at the top of the frame can almost be seen gently moving.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 35mm F/2 R WR


Field and Frost

I have three colour photographs for you this week all based around a winter theme.


The first is a leaf that I found in the garden after a frost. I loved the way that the frozen moisture coats the edges of the leaf. Tiny frozen droplets of moisture can also be seen on a grass stem on the left of the frame. The photograph was taken with a 35mm APS-C lens so it shows what can be done with the ubiquitous standard lens.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 35mm F/2 R WR


The second image of trees on a skyline was taken in the morning on a winter’s day. But I felt that I would like to change the feel  and so using the temperature sliders in Lightroom, I converted it into a sunset photograph. I wanted the sky to feel like those heavy skies you can get in the UK on some winter days. The winter sun as sets can bathe everything with an incredible light. The temperature slider was increased to +48 making the scene more orange. Various other little tweaks were made both in Lightroom and Photoshop. It wasn’t a difficult task to convert this ordinary looking field scene into something different.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm F1.8 G


The last photograph shows a lone tree in a field with furrow lines running towards it. The sky was very heavy and brooding at the time and I wanted to show it looming over the scene. I used Lightroom to do the initial processing and set parameters and then Photoshop to arrive at the final image. I used multiply and screen layers with masks then Nik Sharpener Pro 3 to sharpen.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm F1.8 G




Knowing ones place.

For once the sun is shining and its nice and warm. Time to catch those rays and get rid of the ubiquitous British pallor.  So, it’s the sunbed out in the garden. Hold on, I’ve forgot the cold drink. Back inside and then cold coke poured, its back into the garden.

The problem is Lily the cat has decided in my short absence that the sunbed looks nice and comfortable and she is going to make the most of it. Annoyed I approach her and and as usual she she takes no notice of my imposing presence, in fact she doesn’t even deign to open her eyes, So I go back inside to grab a camera. I’ll need proof for Mrs M of the sheer audacity of the undisputed boss of the family.

Camera in hand, I once again quietly approach Lily and once again she doesn’t open her eyes – but her claws extend. Of course she knows I’m there and she’s sending me a quiet yet firm message.

“Back off mate, this bed’s mine”.

I retreat to the garden chairs, once again strangely content in knowing my place in the Marshall household pecking order.


Taken with my Fujifilm X-E2 and 35, F2.0 lens.



Out and About: Batsford Arboretum


A trip down to the Cotswolds today and to the Batsford Arboretum. Mrs M and I haven’t been down there for a few months so it was time to re-acquaint ourselves with the fabulous arboreal shapes and colours at the arboretum.

The first surprise was that it wasn’t busy. Perhaps the appalling weather of the last few days had put people off. We also managed to grab some sandwiches and coffees without having to queue. Normally the excellent meals at the restaurant draw the crowds in at lunchtime.

Once amongst the trees proper, the air was warm and damp and the small streams that meander through the trees gurgled happily. The bird song was incredible, I can’t imagine how loud the dawn chorus is.

I took the Fujifilm X-T1 and the 35mm f/2.0 lens. I’m glad I did as the light amongst the dense trees (everything has just got larger and greener with the warm wet weather we have been having) was quite low and so ISO’s of 1600 and 3200 were common on the shoot with apertures of f/2.0

The picture below however is an exception as it was taken against the light looking up under the leaf with the sky behind so the auto ISO kept the level at 200. The exposure time was 1/80 second at f/6.4 aperture.