Friday, 30 September 2016

REVIEW: 100% Natural Ingredient Lens Cleaner



As a photographer occasionally I am asked to try new products that offer something different from their competitors or sometimes offer a different solution.  I was asked to try a lens cleaning product that claimed to use 100% natural ingredients and be 100% safe for pets and children.  Lens cleaning products contain chemicals and I try to minimise my use of harmful chemicals in every part of my daily life where possible.

The RCS Products lens cleaner is described on their website as 'made from natural plant derivatives, organic salts and minerals and is a non-smear product that absorbs dirt rather than chemically breaking it down'.

I decided to test it on an X20 lens and LCD screen.  I made a greasy thumb print on the lens to see how it would cope in removing it.  I have to say I noticed no different between the ease of removal between the usual chemical based lens cleaner I use and the RCS Products lens cleaner.  I then cleaned the eye piece and the LCD screen (shame it can't remove scratches) and have to say it performed brilliantly.  I left the camera on the shelf for two days to see if there was reaction after cleaning and there is nothing to report, the lens and LCD is spotless.

Now this product doesn't clean the lenses any better than the chemical based products but that's the point of the post, it does the job really well without leaving any smearing or residue and uses 100% natural products that are safe.  For me this is a winner and I will now be using this product in the future.  I just need to find a similar product for wet cleaning the sensors on my Fujifilm cameras now!

A bottle of the RCS Products Lens Cleaner is £3.49 + P&P but they have a special 3 for 2 offer at the moment.  CLICK HERE to go the RCS Products website.

And I have just bought three more bottles because I think it is that good!







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In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE


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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Fujifilm X100T - not just any old camera!

Reigning FIA World Endurance Champion Mark Webber being interviewed during the event in Texas
In November 2014 I had the opportunity to test the Fujifilm X100T alongside my original X100 Black Limited Edition (CLICK HERE to see the blog).  At the time I thought the X100T was a big step up from the X100 and that I might be persuaded to upgrade from the camera that started my X Series journey.

However I never did.  Not because the X100T wasn't the leap forward that I eluded to in my test, it was just that funds needed to be spent on my X-T1s and XF lenses for my work and I couldn't justify the expense when the X100 was still a great camera to use (it still is!).

Anyway, nearly two years later I have finally got an X100T and it is still superb.  The small body, the build quality, the 16mp X-Trans sensor and that sublime Fujinon 23mm f2 lens all go together to make the photographic experience a joy.  

Yes, compared to my X-Pro2 and X-T2 the AF is a lot slower and the newer cameras have the new 24mp sensors compared to the older 16mp X-Trans in the X100T, but that is not the be all and end all as far as I am concerned.  Taking photographs is more than just spec sheets and stats, it is about how you feel when you pick up a camera and that translates into how you approach your subject.  I liken it to when you drive a car.  You don't concentrate on changing gear or accelerating or decelerating, it should be automatic for the experienced driver and this is the same with a camera. The operation should be automatic so you can concentrate on interacting with your subject and composing the image.  And this is the X100 / X100T for me - the operation of the camera is second nature.

I took the X100T out for the autograph session at the World Endurance Championship event in Texas earlier this month and also took it on the pitwalk and the grid at last weekend's European Le Mans Series event at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.  

Another thing I had forgotten was the silent leaf shutter which allowed me to take pictures in quiet locations, like during the TV interview with Mark Webber.  And its ability to sync with the Nissin i40 flash gun at any shutter speed - I must remember to pack that when I travel to Japan in 10 days time.

I think the results speak for themselves and even though the X100T is now two years old, it is still a great image making machine.  What about my original X100?  Well that is still going to be kept and used, it is a camera that will never be sold.


Mexico LMP2 race winner Filipe Albuquerque signing autographs in Texas

Baxi DC Racing Alpine driver David Cheng signing autographs
They start young in the European Le Mans Series
Current LMGTE Points leaders - JMW Motorsport - Rory Butcher, Rob Smith and Andrea Bertolini
On the grid in Belgium

All images taken on the Fujifilm X100T


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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE


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Saturday, 24 September 2016

Rigging the Shot

As well as shooting high resolution trackside and pitlane action, European Le Mans Series official photo agency Adrenal Media are always looking to provide the series with some very special images from each of the events.  Creative Director John Rourke invited Proton Competition to bring both of the Porsche 911 RSR 991 race cars to La Source at Spa-Francorchamps to photograph them using a rig.

The rig is a 6 metre carbon fibre four section boom made by UK firm Car Camera Rig that is fixed to the car using high powered suction clamps.  The camera, which is a Fujifilm X-T2 fitted with a 10-24mm ultra wide angle zoom lens, is then fixed in position to the end of the boom.  This allows Adrenal Media to take images from a position that would not be possible to take when the cars are on track.

Using a long shutter speed of between 8 to 10 seconds the movement in the shot is achieved at walking pace by pushing the cars and the result is an image that makes it look like both Porsches are moving at racing speed.

The image is then edited by John Rourke in Photoshop to remove the boom and other elements that shouldn’t be in the final shot.  The result is a dramatic image that highlights the excitement of racing in the European Le Mans Series.


Here are some pictures from behind the scenes of this photoshoot at La Source in the evening of Thursday 22 September that I shot with my Fujifilm X-T2 and XF16-55mm f2.8.








And the final image by John Rourke / Adrenal Media looks like this - 


Here is the story on the official European Le Mans Series website CLICK HERE

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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE


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Friday, 23 September 2016

Sunrise in the Ardennes


This weekend I am in Belgium for the fifth round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series at Spa-Francorchamps. On arriving at the circuit for the first day of track action this morning, we were greeted with a beautiful scene over the Ardennes forest with mist hanging just above the trees.

Using the Fujifilm X-T2 and the XF50-140mm f2.8 I captured these images before the light changed.



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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE



If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Warp Speed

Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm  0.5s @ f22 ISO100
As regular readers of this blog will know I love pushing the boundaries with the performance of my equipment and also the exposure.  A good motorsport image will portray the sense of speed and the slower the shutter speed used the more the sense of speed is enhanced.

While working trackside on Saturday evening at the Circuit of The Americas in Texas while the sun was setting to the west of the track, I decided to push the shutter speed from the usual 1/30th second to 0.5 seconds for a few laps.  The sun had just set and the sky was a vibrant orange.  The light reflecting off the red, white and blue stripes at the edge of the circuit and the metal barriers provided the framing for the cars speeding away from me across the frame.

With the cars traveling at over 150mph at this point of the circuit, the intention was to get a lot of movement in the car, to almost get an impressionists view of a race car traveling at speed. This shot of the Audi R18 was the image I saw in my mind.

Now I know this image will not be universally liked - the car isn't sharp and there is a lot of movement - but art is subjective and it is the image that I wanted to make.  

Let me know what you think in the comments below.


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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE


If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Lone Star Le Mans


The fourth edition of the 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas, which is the 6th round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship, took place in Texas yesterday in sweltering conditions.  The thermometer hit 96 degrees F / 36 degrees Celsius - it was VERY hot!

I took the opportunity to get some shots during the build up to the race and then capture some track images as the sun went down and the race finished under the stars.

Once again the event was organised very well by the US crew and Austin is a great place to visit.  Next stop on the WEC calendar is the 6 Hours of Fuji in Japan but before that I head to Belgium for the next round of the European Le Mans Series at Spa-Francorchamps next weekend.

Here are some images from the build up and race taken on the Fujifilm X-T2.
















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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Under the Floodlights with the Fujifilm X-T2

Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 (140mm) - 1/60 @ f2.8 ISO1600
Racing after sunset is part of the DNA of endurance racing and presents the photographer with some fantastic photo opportunities but also with some unique challenges.  I went trackside during the night practice session for the FIA World Endurance Championship event at the Circuit of The Americas in Texas with the Fujifilm X-T2 and the XF50-140mm f2.8.

With floodlighting and car headlights getting the right exposure is going to tax any automatic exposure system so I set the shutter speed, aperture and ISO manually to ensure that the variation in light doesn't affect the end image.

Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 (50mm) - 1/30 @ f2.8 ISO400
The image above of the no42 Strakka Racing Gibson is a good example where I exposed for the pool of light and waited for the car to cross into the correct place.  The autofocus system on the X-T2 was able to track the car perfectly, in fact I used the AF-C setting for all of the pictures on this page.

Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 (50mm) - 1/60 @ f2.8 ISO1600
One of the major issues with night photography during a racing event is flare from the headlights, which are VERY bright.  The trick is to expose for the ambient light, not the lights themselves, and then shoot just before or just after the lights are head on into the camera.  The shot above of the no8 Audi R18 is a good example of this.

The beauty of the Fujifilm X-T2 is the Electronic View Finder that shows you the exposure of the image before you press the shutter release.  This enables you to set the right exposure for the conditions.  If you want to have a car in silhouette under the floodlights you can adjust the aperture or ISO accordingly. Or if you want to see the details in the car, as in the no44 Manor Oreca at the top of the page, the settings can be adjusted.

Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 (140mm) - 1/80 @ f3.2 ISO800
Night photography is all about using the available light to the best advantage whether it is floodlights or car headlights.  It can certainly produce some dramatic images.

Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 (140mm) - 1/80 @ f3.2 ISO800
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 (140mm) - 1/8 @ f2.8 ISO400
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 (140mm) - 1/15 @ f2.8 ISO800
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 (140mm) - 1/60 @ f2.8 ISO1600
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 (140mm) - 1/30 @ f3.6 ISO1600
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 (140mm) - 1/30 @ f3.6 ISO1600
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 (140mm) - 1/15 @ f3.6 ISO800
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 (140mm) - 1/8 @ f2.8 ISO400

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Colours of Texas


After Mexico City the FIA World Endurance Championship headed north to the city of Austin in Texas for the 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas, Round 6 of the FIA WEC.

This is a shot I took in the first Free Practice session of the no7 Audi R18 of Andre Lotterer negotiating some of the fast corners on the track which are bordered by the red, white and blue lines that are a hallmark of this track in Texas.

The second shot below was from the same position and is of Gianmaria Bruni in the no51 AF Corse Ferrari 488.

The images were shot on the Fujifilm X-T2 and XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6, with the exposure of 1/200s @ f11 ISO200.  The camera was set to continuous AF and I was able to follow the car at high speed through the corners to capture this image.


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Discovering Mexico City


I have to be honest, I did travel to Mexico with many preconceptions on what I would find there, views that were mainly formed by what I have read in the UK media and advice from the Foreign Office.  However I was pleased to discover that many of these preconceptions were unfounded thanks to the fact that we were given a tour of real Mexico by friends through Fujifilm. The people of Mexico were welcoming and proud of their country and their culture.

On the first day in Mexico City Jaime Pastelin, who runs the FujiX meXico Facebook group, invited myself and fellow X Photographer John Rourke to join him and some fellow group members on a photo walk of the historic part of Mexico City and also out to the suburb of Coroycan.

Now with any city around the world parts can be dangerous if you don't take care.  Try not to look like a tourist, don't have cameras and expensive watches on show and try to blend in. Also find out where the no go areas are and don't go alone.  This advice applies equally to London, Paris or Rome as it does to Mexico City, Sao Paolo or Shanghai.  

One thing that always sticks me when I visit any large city, whether it is in Mexico, China, South Africa, Europe or the USA, is that the similarities outweigh the differences.  

People are usually doing the same things as at home.  In the park people were sitting chatting, listening to music on iPhones or just lying down enjoying each others company or reading a book.  I have taken similar images in every city I have visited.  People the world over are doing the same things, have the same ambitions and goals and want to live their lives in peace.

Another thing we discovered is Mexican food is so much more than Chilli Con Carne and I have come back to Europe with a new respect for real Mexican food, it is wonderful!!

Being with locals also helps as we got to see things that we wouldn't have had we been traveling around Mexico City with a paid guide or alone.  Jaime and the others really made our first visit to Mexico City a fantastic experience. We can't thank them enough for the introduction to Mexico and we look forward to returning very soon.





















All images taken on a Fujifilm X-T2 with a XF56mm f1.2, XF35mm f1.4 or Samyang 8mm f2.8


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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE


If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'