Pete has served in the military for over twenty years and, during that time, won three Olympic gold medals in rowing at the last three Olympics for Team GB. He has had a passion for digital photography since buying his first camera in 2006 with which he documented his Olympic training and service all over the world. He bought into the X-Series cameras with the X100S in 2013 and has shot exclusively Fujifilm with a range of bodies and lenses since then. Pete is now documenting life in a wheelchair with an X100V since having a spinal stroke in 2019. The mindful pursuit, capturing images of his healing, is helping with this life-changing injury.
As a former athlete, I know that life is 99.9% training and only 0.1% race performance – this is also true for photography. Fortunately, the training time is so much fun! There is a tangible satisfaction from improvement, and the anticipation of capturing that 0.1% is a real thrill.
Through very unfortunate circumstances, most of us have the time to dedicate to that 99.9% to improving and enjoying our photography again. So, pick up your FUJIFILM camera and head to whatever garden/windowsill/plant-potted area that you can safely access, and read on for some tips on how to find a new perspective in a place that you’ve probably already shot quite a lot in recently…
1. Find a new angle
So many photos are just taken on phones from eye level. We’re awash with them. Make your professional-quality cameras work for you by simply changing where you shoot from. You can shoot from directly above, or even get low and shoot upwards. If you get up close, even a common dandelion can look magnificent. Most FUJIFILM cameras have tilting screens to help you compose your photo from this interesting, bug-eye view. Why not also try getting eye-level with the grass to add a different dimension to the shot?
2. Morning dew
Getting ready the night before to get up early and shoot in the morning’s golden hour is a photographer’s routine. You can also do this at home to capture some beautiful light and morning dew. If you have a macro lens, then you can isolate single blades of grass, but even if you don’t, there are magical opportunities to be had with a sunrise shining through wet diamonds in the grass.
No dew in the morning? No problem. Just wait for some inevitable British rain or, if we are having a really lucky with the weather, simply take a water bottle filled with some sugar water to replicate the natural water droplets on a plant. And don’t forget that there is a golden hour in the evening before sunset if you miss your alarm in the morning.
3. Translucent leaves
Light shines through leaves and petals, so exploit that by creating a backlit image. Shoot with the subject between the camera and the sunshine and don’t worry about blowing out the background for a nice high-key effect. If you want to create the high key effect yourself, use + exposure compensation settings. Try +1 to start with and go further to +2 or +3 for a more powerful effect!
4. Perfect flowers
From snowdrops to forget-me-nots to ferns, flowers are blooming at the moment. Look closely for petal perfection. It is hard to see with the eye, but a browning crinkle will show in your photos, so search for new buds and the most recent flowers to capture. Be mindful of composition so that nothing distracts from your subject, and play with increasing your Shadows setting to +2 or more to darken areas of distraction.
And be sure to look out for rogue blades of grass cutting across the frame before you press the shutter. If you want to create a nice impressionist effect, shoot two shots in multiple exposure mode: the first sharp, the second slightly out of focus from the same place to give a soft-focus halo. Multiple exposures are accessed through your camera’s Drive settings, either using a top-plate dial or a button.
5. Document these times
We are living in unprecedented times. The roads are quiet, the sky free of contrails, people talk to each other from the safety of two metres away… Notice the small differences between the time before and now. See what you can document outside your own house for the coming generations to study. Try creating a home skyscape without white lines all over the place.