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5 minute read

A Fairy-Tale Session

For photographic artists making extraordinary images, not just any lens will do. Fortunately, fine-art photographer Claire Rosen found FUJINON XF50mmF1.0 R WR went above and beyond her creative expectations.

When we make photos and share them, we show a little of ourselves. What inspires us, how we see the world, and maybe what we’d like the world to be more like, too. Imagine these unique scenes, formed through experience, experimentation, and expectation. Then stir in a little dreamlike wonder, and you might find something close to Claire Rosen’s striking fine-art compositions.

Her elaborate fine-art vignettes often feature, in her words, “anthropomorphized animals, dreamlike archetypal heroines, or timeless still lifes.” Claire adds: “But they always evoke the aesthetics of classical painting.” There is purpose beyond the imaginative scenes she makes, too. “My work is decorative, but it also aims to raise awareness of environmental and animal rights issues in a whimsical and unexpected way,” she explains.

So, how did she come to work in such a rich and expressive style? “From an early age,” Claire says, “I had an affinity for animals and the world of fairy tales.” This fascination now finds form through her photography, and after graduating in the subject, and working in a series of apprenticeships, her pictures have graced numerous exhibitions and been covered across global media, including National Geographic and the Washington Post. These successes aside, “principally” she says, “I make photographs because the creative process enriches my life. People, places, and scavenger hunts… they all become part of a whirlwind adventure to build the world of my imagination into images.”

Making pictures allows Claire to explore the world, work out how she feels about it, and find her place within it. “The process of making my ideas visible is therapeutic, too,” she adds. “Once pictures are made and released into the world, they create relationships with viewers, and hopefully an escape from the everyday world — even if momentary — which can transport them to a whimsical place where anything is possible.”

To turn her ideas into reality, Claire uses FUJIFILM cameras and lenses, with her choice of optics defining the distinctive style of her images. “Many parts go into constructing an image,” she explains, “and when all the elements come together seamlessly, the viewer forgets the fabrication and becomes lost in the narrative of the story. Creating these conditions for a viewer is the art of the photographer using all the tools at his or her disposal, including, critically, the camera lens.”

For Claire, the lens is the key instrument in helping her tell a story. “What I look for is fine detail and beautiful fall off in focus, which help me create images that feel more like rich paintings than digital photographs,” she says. Using a shallow depth-of-field “can yield a more dreamlike quality to the image, and the way that a lens renders the light makes a vital contribution to the feeling and the tone of the stories I want to tell.” Claire adds: “When working in that way, the lens needs to be accurate and fast to focus, particularly when I’m capturing moving animals in their native habitat.”

For her most recent project, Claire used XF50mmF1.0 R WR along with FUJIFILM X-T4 to create “images of storybook Beatrix Potter-esque creatures that live in the countryside going about their daily lives.” She also used the lens to create a series of unicorns and knights, mermaids, floral still lifes, and some dramatic landscapes of the natural beauty around her.

Excited to see what the speed and depth-of-field that the F1.0 aperture would add to her imagery, Claire wasn’t disappointed. “XF50mm made ordinary spaces feel extraordinarily dreamy,” she says, “while still providing great detail and sharpness where I needed it. I love that level of control over the depth-of-field, and the way the lens renders objects that are out of focus, too.” Of course, such extremely shallow focus needs careful management, “and I had to be particularly mindful of what was actually in focus once scaled to 100%.” Fortunately, Claire found that X-T4’s AF systems allowed her to shoot accurately “even with the lens at its widest.”

XF50mmF1.0 R WR also won Claire’s favor in low-light conditions; its huge maximum aperture enabling her to make some of her storybook images “in the middle of the night using only moonlight.” She adds: “With their brightness, you would think they were created at dusk or during the day. The amazing amount of natural light that the lens lets in, allowed me to make pictures in those dark situations without using high ISOs, long shutter speeds, or flash.”

While she normally shoots with zoom lenses and working with a prime “took some adjustment to see the scenes as I would have usually planned them,” Claire found the lens’s quality far superior. “It’s a bit bigger and heavier than FUJINON XF50mmF2 R WR, but the weather sealing meant I could use it in the wind and rain of a recent hurricane that blew past us, and it also easily stood up to the normal bumps and jostling of use. As for the little extra weight,” she jokes, “perhaps I shall eat more spinach!”

So how would Claire sum up her time with XF50mmF1.0 and what sort of photographers does she see benefiting from the new lens? “With its 75mm equivalent focal length I’d recommend it to anyone shooting portraits or headshots, and it would also be a fantastic lens for wedding photographers. The F1.0 aperture offers so much control in turning backgrounds into a pleasing blur, regardless of where you are, and the light gathering abilities mean you can shoot almost anywhere, too.”

She adds: “But I was also able to get a lot of very interesting still life and full scene images from the lens, so I’d say it lends itself to lots of other subjects where a shallow depth-of-field aesthetic is needed, too. Overall, XF50mmF1.0 R WR is a superbly engineered and versatile portrait lens with unexpected applications for artistic photography.”

The XF50mmF1.0 R WR is coming soon to your nearest FUJIFILM Authorized Dealer. Learn more and read the full specifications here.


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