A Fujiholics Story – Rob Sanderson

Tell us a bit about yourself and photography:

My name is Rob Sanderson, I am a fujiholic, its been one hour since I last took a picture with my Fujifilm X-Pro2.

My interest in photography started from an early age and my fascination with my dad’s Halina twin reflex. Understandably he was protective of it and developing and processing made it an expensive pastime to let a a 5 year old go wild with a roll of 120. He did occasionally let me take pictures with it, I always gave it the respect it deserved and its still works to this day. It was quite some time before I got my very own camera (probably about 9), I’ve always owned at least one camera ever since.

I studied Photography and graphic design at college back in 1986 but somehow ended up as a graphic designer even though photography was a bigger interest. I later set up my own design company and instead of hiring photographers I started selling my photography as part of the service. Its at this point I realised my mistake, I was a photographer trapped in a graphic design job. 10 years on from that I’m a full time photographer and the only things I design are my branding and website.

Although I do have commercial work too wedding photography suits me in more ways. Firstly it’s all about people, I love watching people so actually getting paid for doing it is quite cool. Secondly people book weddings often years in advance, knowing what work I have a year or so in advance means i have the security of a job with the benefits of working for myself.

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So, you’re a Fujiholic?

YES!! How did that happen? It all started years ago with the fuji stx1, a great little camera which I still have.

My fuji addiction started to really bite with the advent of digital, to me the Fuji s1 pro was something special. It was brilliant, it recorded 3mp jpg’s onto a little spinning hard drive in a compact flash case. This was a revelation, I could shoot and go straight in to photoshop without needing to have film developed or send away for scans. It totally changed the way I worked as a designer due to the speed of workflow, it gave me an edge over my competitors as I could include relevant photography in visuals and concepts and no one else was doing that. I upgraded when the s2 came out, I remember going through cold turkey when Fuji pulled out of the dslr market after the brilliant s5. The Fuji s1, 2, 3 and 5 were of course Nikon bodies with Fuji sensors so I naturally switched to shooting Nikon and there I expected to stay.

Fuji had always been so innovative with their CCD sensor technology so I really shouldn’t have been surprised that they were channeling their film pedigree and innovation into the x-trans sensor. Not just a new sensor technology this time but an entire camera and lens system set to change the face of photography. I’m not a gear junkie, my Nikons were doing exactly what I needed so sadly I didn’t notice the birth of the x system. The x100, xpro1 all passed me by, I didn’t really notice until a friend who had a couple of xt1’s let me take them for a spin, I knew there and then I was off the wagon and back shooting Fuji’s.

The fuji’s have changed they way I work and seen me fall back in love with my photography. I love the way the cameras feel and work with all the controls exactly where they should be. Apertures on the lens barrel for example is something that disappeared with dslr’s yet works so much better than on a thumb wheel. I’m taking more pictures and embarking on more personal projects than ever before.

I feel photographically rejuvenated, my fuji’s don’t live in my camera bag they sit at the side of me so rarely out of reach – I’ve got it bad!

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Which is your favourite lens? Why?

With such an array of stunning lenses on offer from Fuji, choosing just one is a tough call to make. The lens I use the most is the 23 1.4, if I could own just one lens then the 23 would have to be it. However, most used doesn’t automatically make it my favourite, that would be the 56mm f1.2. The 56 has a sharpness like nothing else (until the 90mm f2 came along) the images from it are crystalline and f1.2 really isolates your subject and the speed allows for available light shooting even in dark places.

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When you next go travelling, what gear will you take?

I always take the x100t now.

I had stopped taking a camera on holiday when I went full frame with Nikon. The combination of the cameras getting bigger and heavier along with the massive full frame f2.8 zooms I used made it impractical for family holidays. I’ve bought a few compact cameras since then but never really found the image quality good enough so just stopped bothering. Then I bought the x100t and that all changed. I managed to find a small leather satchel in a street market in Spain that could have been made for the x100t, it fits both converters and a couple of spare batteries too, this is now my go anywhere camera.

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When out shooting, what are your settings? Why?

It really depends on what I’m shooting and the lighting situation. My work is mainly weddings, which generally takes in every kind of lighting situation from daylight of the bridal preps, artificial light of the churches, low light in the evening and flash for the first dance or creative off camera flash shot. If the light is constantly changing I’ll shoot auto ISO and aperture priority. If the light is constant or involving flash I go full manual.

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Can you tell us a little more about your flash photography?

Fuji x system cameras have an enviable reputation for being excellent cameras for available light and photojournalism. Rightly so, they excel in this area my work has taken on a more up close and intimate feel which I love. However I am best known for my flash photography so still being able to get great off camera flash was important to me and the Fuji’s didn’t disappoint.

To get to know its strengths and weaknesses I experimented on a few personal projects. To my delight I found that the EVF made things faster and more accurate. Firstly the live previewing allows you to see the ambient exposure meaning you don’t need any test shots to nail this. Previewing also lets you see how the ambient is hitting the subject too helping you judge the right amount of flash. The real bonus is being able to turn exposure previewing off making composition and focusing easier to see, I’ve been in some situations that were so dark I couldn’t see anything through the optical viewfinder of my dslr’s.

When it comes to flash photography the x100t is a hidden gem. What it lacks in focal length options it more than makes up for with its wonderful leaf shutter which syncs up to 1/1000th with my radio triggers. This has opened up creative possibilities previously unavailable with small flash systems like the ability to overpower the sun!

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What kind of tools do you use for post processing?

I have a mac pro running lightroom. The one item that is essential to me is my wacom tablet, I bought my first in 2001 and its now an extension of my arm, I’m lost without it. I only pick up the mouse to change its batteries.

Colour accuracy is very important to me and my work so I use an x-rite iOne display pro. Again, I have used x-rite screen calibration since 2001 because its never let me down.

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What is your favourite Film Simulation? Why?

I only photograph people and find Astia/Soft, which was designed for portraiture the natural choice. It gets the best skin tones and has a flattering softness right out of the box.

When it comes to B&W I want a full range of tones in my images, I also want punch and contrast. I hate heavy handed conversions with blocked in shadows and blown out highlights, for me Acros Ye is perfect right out of the bag, I love it.

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What’s next?

Dream up more personal projects, push myself creatively and technically. In short take more pictures, right I’m off to shoot something…

Website: Liverpool wedding photographer

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