Megan Lewis is a Walkley award winning Photographer, author, public speaker and Fujifilm X Ambassador with over 20 years experience in the industry.
In her early career she worked as a full time staff member for Reuters International news agency and then The Australian newspaper. During her time with Reuters her work appeared in national and international publications such as front cover of Time Magazine, the Washington Post and the International Tribune.
At The Australian newspaper Megan covered national and international stories, including the Tampa, riots in Indonesia and East Timor’s bid for independence.
In 2002, Megan left The Australian newspaper to live full-time with the Martu people, one of the last indigenous groups in Australia’s Great Sandy Desert to come into contact with Europeans. Her book Conversations with the Mob (UWA Publishing) was the product of eight years continuous involvement with the Martu, including several years living with them.
This work won Megan a 2005 Walkley Award and her peers voted her winner of the Nikon Photographers Choice Awards in 2006. Her work has been exhibited in Australia and Europe.
Megan is a documentary photographer and a Fujifilm X-Photographer Ambassador.
Ripples In The Ocean
Calm and dreamy waters can become raging seas and nightmares in a matter of minutes. But the thing with nightmares, there is always an opportunity to wake up.
I came close to death last year, I also lost my father, my mother got diagnosed with breast cancer and friends passed away.
It has been tough but not as tough as others have had it… Breathing to stay present and appreciation of what is, is important…
And it helps to have gratitude, for the good in life, the small things like Fujifilm’s X series X-T5 camera. It is so small, smaller even than the X-T4, making it more unobtrusive and easy to create images of people doing good stuff.
And there is a lot of good, especially in the small Australian coastal town of Ulladulla. Based in the commercial fishing harbour there is a small group of Marine Rescue volunteers who patrol an area roughly 3,500 square kilometres of ocean and travel as far out as 30 nautical miles off shore.
And because of people like them, who volunteer to risk their lives 24/7 to save others, there are many families out there who still have each other to hug.
They are invaluable members of society who are predominately retired and from diverse backgrounds, such as chefs, salesmen, council workers, maritime skippers, merchant navy and aircrew.
They are humble people, like Marine Rescue Unit Commander John Samulski, a former Air Commodore in the Royal Australian Airforce. John’s career spanned 35 years with deployments in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan just to name a few.
His set of skills are invaluable and come from years of high level training and assessment in the Airforce.
As John says, “That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t daunting at times, very much so…I have faced far more challenges, emotionally and physically with my Airforce friends than I have with my family…”
And people like retiree Leslie Kelly, who forged her career in the male dominated maritime shipping industry and who at a level 4 Master is the highest qualified skipper at the Unit.
Leslie, like the X-T5, is small but tough and can handle herself in rough weather conditions. If we are lucky, life teaches as to hang on even in treacherous weather.
On the way out to open seas to do rescue training there was no choice but to hold on tight as the 38ft Steber rescue boat, named Ulladulla 3-0 powered at 27 knots through the big swell.
The Steber carved the waves into white spray, saturating the weather resistant X-T5 along with the Fujinon XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR lens. And this wasn’t an issue.
I remember as a child I wanted to be a photographer so that I could show people other ways of looking at things — deeper things in complex stories.
However in this life’s moment, I saw the light on the ocean’s spray carved by a boat— it didn’t point to anything in particular, but it didn’t need to…
Fuijfilm’s Acros Ye film simulation setting was too good not to indulge in in this environment.
On the open sea deputy Marine Rescue Commander Barry Clapson, who comes from a merchant navy background, skippered the boat with Warwick Haslam, while John and Leslie demonstrated a simulated rescue of someone over board. They did this with the help of a water logged 44kg dummy named Warnie.
Experience, practice, wisdom and intuition saves lives in unpredictable conditions as Leslie knows too well.
And her advice, “Remember mother nature and the ocean will always have more power than you… and never turn your back on it,
never become complacent and never think it won’t happen to you…treat it with respect.”
Shooting on boats with big cameras has been a challenge in the past, but with the X-T5 it was incredibly easy. Being so compact, with fast autofocus along with the quality of the Fujinon XF18mm F1.4 R LM WR lens meant I could literally shoot one handed while I held on.
And because of its X-T series classic on top dial based mode it fits right into my intuitive zone. I shoot manually so adjusting quickly is second nature to me.
The Native base is now 125 ISO as opposed to160 ISO in the X-T4.
And incredibly, the X-T5 has a shutter speed of 1/180,000 of a second! So in full sun it is possible to shoot wide open and have no need for an ND filter!
The X-T5 carries forward the X Series cameras tradition of no PSAM mode dials. It’s what got me hooked all those years ago — It’s a digital camera, that remains authentic to the true tradition of photography.
Marine Rescue comes under the umbrella of NSW State Emergency Services, and is a not-for-profit organisation. The volunteers get some grants but work hard fundraising themselves in order to stay operational.
They not only save lives but they also raise the funds to be able to do it.
But there are rewards as Leslie reflects.
“I remember when a woman first stepped on board (after being rescued), she was hugging me in a bear hug, crying thank you, thank you… To say, hey we got you, is a pretty good feeling.”
They are humans who utilise their accumulated life skills to give generously to their community but they do worry for the future as there is a need for younger recruits.
During this life’s journey it is more often than not the quality of the small things that we do along the way that create the biggest impact in life.
It’s stepping away from thinking and just being. It is clarity, like looking through the X-T5’s Electronic View Finder and feeling connected to the space.
And when matched with the Fujinon’s XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR, Fujinon XF30mmF2.8 LM WR Macro, Fujinon XF33mmF1.4 LM WR and the Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 R WR the quality of the edge to edge clarity is superb.
Back on land and with the wind raging outside, churning up the ocean, I made use of the Marine Rescue’s training room to create portraits of Barry and John.
With the natural light from the window I used the Fujinon XF30mm Macro and the Fujinon XF56mm — the quality from both lenses is nothing less than exciting.
I was especially blown away with the petite size of the lenses, the quality of the images and the versatility of the 30mm macro. There was a real sense of intimacy created by the X-T5 and the lenses.
Early the next morning I managed to coax some of the rescue crew into the water barefoot for a portrait.
Using the Fujinon XF18mm with a portable light to the right of frame for the wide scene and then both the Fujinon XF18mm and the Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 on the log.
While there is composition and reflection in the images, noticing the invisible in the visible is the most important.
Photography is a part of my life’s journey, it is a vehicle into a world of insights and finding the greater good.
The Ulladulla Marine Rescue Crew are part of the greater good. They are capable, resourceful and from an older generation who, as a society, we literally can’t live without and we need more of them!
And for a modern society that is so obsessed about being noticed, it is refreshing to have the X-T5 that doesn’t draw attention to its self but simply creates attention by the quality of
its work. And in so doing, pays homage to the tradition of real photography. Something else for me to have gratitude for.