Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A Walk from Blackness Castle to South Queensferry


The John Muir Way winds its way across the south of Scotland from Muir's birth place in Dunbar and ends in Helensburgh 133 miles away on the north side of the Clyde, which was the place that Muir family set sail for the United States.

We have walked small parts of the John Muir Way, which isn't very difficult as it passes a few hundred metres from the front door of our house in Dunbar, but in September this year we decided to head out to a section of the pathway on the south bank of the Forth River, west of the road and rail bridges.


The part of the John Muir Way we decided to walk was from Blackness Castle in the west along the side of the Firth of Forth, past Hopetoun House and onwards towards the beach near South Queensferry which gave a great view of the three bridges.


We also had a view across the water towards the naval dockyard of Rosyth, where the new Royal Navy aircraft carriers are being built.  HMS Queen Elizabeth is nearly complete and will sail out of the Forth sometime in 2017, while the HMS Prince of Wales is a couple of years behind.



We parked the car in the village of Blackness not far from the 15th century castle.  Blackness had been built as the main port for Linlithgow, the residence of the Scottish kings in the 1400s.  Over the years the castle has served as a prison, a major barracks for the British army in Scotland and an ammunition depot. Blackness Castle has been characterised as "the ship that never sailed" because of its site, jutting into the Forth, and its long, narrow shape. 



The John Muir Way then cuts through woodland along the banks of the Forth which home to plenty of flora and fauna.  In the autumn sunshine parts of the woodland were picked out by the sunlight piecing through the trees. 

After a couple of mile the woodland opens up into the country park attached to Hopetoun House, the grandest of the country houses in Scotland.  Built in the early 1700s it is now a National Monument and one of the best preserved Georgian houses anywhere in the UK.



Walking past Hopetoun House were had a picnic on the beach with great views of the three bridges spanning the Firth of Forth with the new road bridge, which is still under construction, the nearest to us.



After a bite to eat, we headed back the same way as we had come but once past Hopetoun House we walked along the shore of the Firth of Forth rather than through the woodland.  The total length of the walk was around 8 miles.  We will be walking more sections of the John Muir Way in 2017.

All images on this blog were taken on the Fujifilm X-T2 and either the XF16-55mm f2.8 or XF50-140mm f2.8, which was also fitted with the 2x converter for most of the shots.

CLICK HERE for more information on Blackness Castle

CLICK HERE for more information on Hopetoun House

CLICK HERE for more information on the John Muir Way.

















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



Jeff Carter is an Official Fujifilm X Photographer and was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador in June 2015. In 2016 he worked with the company on the launches of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in Tokyo and the Fujifilm X-T2 in Paris in July 2016.  You can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Tranquil Sunrise at Barns Ness



Since the end of August I have been on a whistle stop world tour with the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series with eight events in eight countries (France, Mexico, USA, Belgium, Japan, Portugal, China, Bahrain) on three different continents (Europe, North America and Asia).  

I do love my job but it is hard, long work and I look forward to go somewhere quiet closer to home.  It is why we decided to relocate to East Lothian in the South East of Scotland in 2013.

On Friday morning the chance of clear skies had me heading out to White Sands on the other side of Dunbar to capture the sunrise at one of my favourite places - Barns Ness Lighthouse.  It was 3 hours past low tide and the shoreline was perfect for a long exposure image and the waves lapped the beach.  

The temperature was below freezing and the sand dunes at the back of the beach were covered in frost.  It was certainly very different from the sunsets I was taking in Bahrain a few days earlier!

The shot was taken on the Fujifilm X-T2 and the XF16-55mm f2.8 lens fitted with a Lee 0.9 ND Soft Grad and a 10x 'Big Stopper' ND filters to give a 46 second exposure at f16 ISO100.


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

Jeff Carter is an Official Fujifilm X Photographer and was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador in June 2015. In 2016 he worked with the company on the launches of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in Tokyo and the Fujifilm X-T2 in Paris in July 2016.  You can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE



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Saturday, 26 November 2016

REVIEW: Manfrotto Professional Backpack 50


I have to admit that as a photographer who spends a lot of time on the move I have yet to find the perfect camera bag, but I may have come very close with the Manfrotto Professional Backpack 50.  

A camera bag is a considered purchase and something that shouldn't be skimped on.  Why spend thousands of hard earned pounds on a camera system and the protect it with a cheap bag - it doesn't make sense to me.

For the past five years I have used a Lowepro 350AW Pro Runner backpack which has been a great all round carrying system. I originally bought it for my Nikon DSLR outfit and when I switched exclusively to Fujifilm in 2014 I continued to use the Lowepro.  However it was starting to show its age with some of the plastic couplings breaking or becoming detached, so I started the search for a new bag.

Because I take a lot of flights - I've taken 84 flights in 2016 - the bag has to fit in with the most stringent of carry on rules for the major carriers.  I tend to fly with British Airways or other One World partner airlines or with Air France /KLM.  I also wanted a bag where the depth was enough to take the Fujinon XF50-140mm f2.8 could stand upright.  In the Lowepro both the 100-400mm and the 50-140mm zooms had to be laid flat and this means there is less room for other cameras and lenses.



After much deliberation I went along to Calumet in Edinburgh to have a look at the shortlisted bags I had decided on.  One bag stood out and that was the Manfrotto 50.  I have been using Manfrotto tripods and clamps for many years but had never considered buying a camera bag from the Italian manufacturer. 

The staff at Calumet were very helpful and after trying several options, putting cameras and lenses in the bags to see what could fit, the Manfrotto 50 was purchased.  The main reason was the fact that it was the only bag that could fit the 50-140mm upright. I did consider the new version of my existing Lowepro Pro Runner but I still couldn't get the 50-140mm upright, so the bag was discounted as an option.



I have been using the Manfrotto 50 since the end of September and it has been on several overseas trips including to Shanghai, Japan, Bahrain, Portugal and Belgium as well as on several shoots closer to home here in Scotland.  I can report that this is definitely the best camera bag I have used in 20 years.

The materials used are excellent, the zips are strong, the internal compartments are well padded and so are the straps, which can be adjusted to find the most comfortable position when it is on my back.  The waist strap is also well padded but can also be removed which is very handy when flying.  I usually put it in my checked luggage and the fit it if needed when I reach my destination.

Now for each photoshoot I only take what I really need and when flying I also have a Samsonite laptop case for the extras.  But for the shot below I wanted to show what can actually fit if I needed to take everything with me in the Manfrotto 50.




In the bag is -

Fujifilm X-T2 + Battery Grip + XF16-55mm f2.8
Fujifilm X-Pro2 with grip
Fujifilm X100T
XF10-24mm f4
XF50-140mm f2.8
XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6
XF18mm f2
XF35mm f1.4
XF56mm f1.2
XF90mm f2
XF 1.4x Tele Converter
XF 2x Tele Converter
Samyang 8mm f2.8 fisheye
10mm and 16mm Extension tubes
Fujifilm EF-X500 Flashgun
Lee Filters 100mm system - 0.3, 0.6, 0.9 ND Grads + 10x ND 'Big Stopper'
Hoya Pro 52mm, 62mm 3 stop ND filters + 77mm Circular Polariser
Spare Batteries (6 of) for X-T2 and X-Pro2
Spare Batteries (2 of) for X100T
Battery Chargers
Peak Design Slide and Slide Lite camera straps + Peak Design wrist strap
Nikon ME-1 Microphone
Manfrotto PIXI EVO Mini Tripod
Spare SD Cards in waterproof case
Misc items - Cable release, Cleaning Kit, Camera covers, step up rings for filters
Manfrotto 190 Tripod
Lenovo 15.6" Laptop 



All of these items fit in the cleverly designed compartments and pockets in the Manfrotto 50.  Because the compartments are deep I can stack the smaller lenses / converters and this is where the lens bags that Fujifilm supply come in very handy so the lenses are protected from rubbing.



One of the good things about this bag is the quick access area at the top.  By just unzipping the top of the bag I have quick access to the X-T2 and 16-55mm f2.8 lens plus two other lenses under the flaps on each side.  I can also access the top netted pocket in the lid of the bag.  I tend to keep the 10-24mm f4 and the 50-140mm f2.8 lens in the two area and the spare batteries in the netted pocket.



The two deep side pockets can take some of the miscellaneous items such as mini tripods, filters etc and I put the EX-X500 flash in here as well because it comes in its own padded case.   




The three netted pockets in the inside of the lid also fit a lot of smaller items, while the deep pocket in the lid, which is designed for an iPad / tablet is great for my Lee filters.





The laptop slot at the back of the bag can fit a large 15.6" laptop / mac book with ease.  I tend to not use the laptop slot for its designed use as I always take my Samsonite laptop case on the plane but it is good to know that my laptop will fit if I want to take just one bag.



A full size tripod can be strapped to the outside of the backpack.  The straps are removable and there is a pull out tripod foot mount.

The bag is certainly not perfect but I have only found some minor niggles in the past few months.  Firstly the tripod straps are not connected to the bag and if they are not done up they are easily lost.  Secondly the zips on the side pockets are upside down if you put the bag flat on its back to access the cameras and lenses.  If you stand the bag on its end the side pocket zips are OK but if it is on its back then items can fall out onto the ground.

These are very small niggles for how I use the Manfrotto 50.  All in all this bag is great and as I tend to keep my camera bags for several years I am sure this bag will be with me for the foreseeable future.  At £179 this is a small investment in the protection of my valuable camera gear. 

CLICK HERE to see more information on the Manfrotto 50 Professional Backpack

CLICK HERE to see this camera bag on the Calumet website


SPECIFICATIONS (from the Manfrotto website) 


Weight2330 g 
Collection/SeriesProfessional 
Types of GearProfessional DSLR 
Number of Lenses
Tripod ConnectionYes 
Storage for personal itemsNo 
ColourBlack 
MaterialSynthetic Fabric 
External Height50.5 cm 
External Length31 cm 
External Width28 cm 
Internal main compartment height(H)46 cm 
Internal main compartment length(L)24 cm 
Internal main compartment width(W)16 cm 
Laptop Compartment Height46 cm 
Laptop Compartment Length24 cm 
Laptop Compartment Width2 cm


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ALL IMAGES (UNLESS INDICATED) 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

Jeff Carter is an Official Fujifilm X Photographer and was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador in June 2015. In 2016 he worked with the company on the launches of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in Tokyo and the Fujifilm X-T2 in Paris in July 2016.  You can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE


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Friday, 25 November 2016

MacLean Photographic Gift Vouchers



MacLean Photographic workshops and tours have been well received in 2016 with satisfied clients traveling home with some great images and an improvement in their photographic knowledge.

On Monday 28th November the dates for the 2017 season were released on the MacLean Photographic website.  

Also available on the website are MacLean Photographic Gift Vouchers to the value of £25, £50 or £100.  If you are stuck what to get that special photographer in your life for Christmas then look no further.

As a special offer, all vouchers bought before the 31 December 2016 will have no expiry date, then can be used in 2017, 2018 or even 2025 should the recipient wish.  Also for all vouchers bought before the end of the year, MacLean Photographic will keep the price of the workshops and tours at 2016 prices for bookings made with those vouchers.  That way the vouchers never lose their value!

To book a MacLean Photographic Gift Voucher visit the website HERE

To review the workshops, which includes a short 60 second video, run by MacLean Photographic CLICK HERE


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Using the Fujinon Teleconverters for Motor Sport


no30 ESM Ligier-Nissan (Giedo Van der Garde) - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm + 1.4x conv (560mm) - 1/250s @ f8 ISO400
The Fujinon XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 (150-600mm equivalent) is the longest focal length lens in the Fujifilm X-Series arsenal and is more than adequate for most purposes when shooting sport and wildlife.  

When shooting motor sport I am able to get 90% of my images using the standard lens but most of the circuits the FIA World Endurance Championship visits have the latest safety standards, which means the run off areas are quite large and the trackside locations can be a fair distance away.  This is the case at the Bahrain International Circuit, which hosted the season finale last Saturday.

Luckily Fujifilm have produced two high quality teleconverters which increase the focal length of the 100-400mm at the expense of making the effective maximum aperture smaller. 

The 1.4x converter increases the focal length range from 100-400mm to 140mm-560mm, while making the maximum aperture f8.  The quality of this converter is such that there is no drop off in the quality of the final image and the speed of the autofocus is similarly unaffected.  The equivalent maximum focal length of the lens increases from 600mm to 840mm, which for most situations is more than enough. 


no26 G-Drive Racing Oreca-Nissan (Alex Brundle) - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm + 2x conv (800mm) - 1/1000s @ f11 ISO800
The Fujinon 2x converter increases the focal length to 200-800mm but drops the maximum aperture to f11.  The quality of the final image is slightly affected, but not to massive degree, but the AF performance is and can be sluggish when tracking fast moving objects.  The equivalent maximum focal length is 1200mm.  It is difficult to get a consistant result when using the 100-400mm with the 2x converter, but as the examples below show, it is possible.

The good news is that both converters are weather resistant like the two Fujinon zooms that can take them, so in the dry and dusty desert conditions it was good to know that the lenses were sealed (it is not just about getting caught in a rain storm!)

no8 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 (Oliver Jarvis) - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm + 2x conv (800mm) - 1/1000s @ f11 ISO800
In the field I prefer to use the 100-400mm lens with the 1.4x converter and use the X-T2s large 6000 x 4000 pixel image area to crop in post production.    

The image above of the race winning Audi Sport R18 was taken on the XF100-400mm lens with the 2x converter fitted. The image is not cropped so the full size image is still 6000 x 4000 pixels.

The image below was taken on the XF100-400mm lens with the 1.4x converter fitted. The image was cropped to give a similar field of view as the image taken with the 2x converter.  

The image below is 'cleaner' than the shot taken with the 2x converter.  The cropped image is 4800 pixels on the long edge, which is the same as a full size image from a Fujifilm X-T1 (16mp).  Bearing in mind the standard size for images made available for editorial purposes is 3500 pixels, the image below is still far larger than it needs to be.

no43 RGR Sport Ligier-Nissan (Bruno Senna) - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm + 1.4x conv (560mm) - 1/250s @ f16 ISO400

All of the following images are taken with the X-T2 fitted with the XF100-400mm and the Fujinon 1.4x converter.  

As I said earlier, I prefer to shoot without teleconverters if possible but I know that if needed the 1.4x converter on the XF100-400mm will give me the extra pulling power if needed. I also have the 2x converter in my camera bag which I will use when necessary.

no97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage (Darren Turner) - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm + 1.4x conv (560mm) - 1/250s @ f16 ISO400

no83 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia (Pedro Lamy) - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm + 1.4x conv (560mm) - 1/250s @ f16 ISO400

no5 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid (Sebatien Buemi) - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm + 1.4x conv (560mm) - 1/250s @ f16 ISO400

no35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine A460-Nissan (Paul Loup Chatin) - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm + 1.4x conv (560mm) - 1/1600s @ f8 ISO400

no78 KCMG Porsche 911 RSR (Joel Camathias) - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm + 1.4x conv (560mm) - 1/640s @ f8 ISO640

no51 AF Corse Ferrari F488 (Gianmaria Bruni) - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm + 1.4x conv (560mm) - 1/320s @ f8 ISO640

no36 Signatech Alpine Alpine A460-Nissan (Gustavo Menezes) - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm + 1.4x conv (560mm) - 1/400s @ f8 ISO640

no8 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 (Lucas Di Grassi) - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm + 1.4x conv (560mm) - 1/500s @ f8 ISO640

CLICK HERE for more information on the Fujinon 1.4x TC WR

CLICK HERE for more information on the Fujinon 2x TC WR


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ALL IMAGES (UNLESS INDICATED) 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

Jeff Carter is an Official Fujifilm X Photographer and was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador in June 2015. In 2016 he worked with the company on the launches of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in Tokyo and the Fujifilm X-T2 in Paris in July 2016.  You can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE


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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Tree of Life



The Kingdom of Bahrain is starting to attract more tourists and one of the attractions on the island is the Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life (Shajarat-al-Hayaf) is a 400-year-old 10 metre / 35 ft high tree that is growing out in the desert.  It is the only large tree in the area and there are no water sources nearby and with little to no rain throughout the year the Tree of Life attracts a lot of attention, including tourists with 50,000 people traveling to the site on the south side of the island.

The trip down from Manama takes you through the gas and oil fields, with workers campsites all around the site of the Tree of Life.  


We decided to travel down at sunset before heading back to Manama to catch our flights back to Europe after the 6 Hours of Bahrain weekend.

I captured these images on the Fujifilm X-T2 as the sun went down behind the tree.  Sunsets in the Middle East are pretty quick, lasting several minutes at best.





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ALL IMAGES (UNLESS INDICATED) 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

Jeff Carter is an Official Fujifilm X Photographer and was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador in June 2015. In 2016 he worked with the company on the launches of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in Tokyo and the Fujifilm X-T2 in Paris in July 2016.  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'