Seth K. Hughes
Seth K. Hughes is a professional photographer who has been shooting commercial and editorial assignments for over 10 years. He specializes in travel, lifestyle and portrait photography. Seth believes that the best way to create inspiring imagery is to live an inspired life. So in 2014 Seth left behind his predictable routine to pursue a road less traveled. He became a full-time, nomadic photographer ― living, working and traveling across North America with an Airstream trailer as his home office.
Seth’s creativity is fueled by his experiences on the road. From backpacking through Denali National Park to shooting lifestyle on the coast of Baja, Seth requires an agile camera system that won’t hold him back. Since he discovered the X System, Seth transitioned to mirrorless technology, shooting exclusively with Fujifilm’s X Series cameras and lenses. This shed several pounds of weight from his kit without sacrificing image quality or lens performance. As the X-T10 is less cumbersome than a traditional SLR, the camera is with him at all times and enables a new level of fun and spontaneity to enter the picture. Since going mirrorless, Seth hasn’t looked back―except to see how far he’s come.
Making travel images stand out is an increasing challenge, but in FUJINON XF8mmF3.5 R WR, X-Photographer Seth K. Hughes has found an exciting creative outlet
It’s never been easier to travel without leaving home. A plethora of TV series, online channels and social media posts can transport viewers to locations in seconds, allowing them to sample the culture, soak up the sights, and experience what was previously out of reach. For adventure and travel creatives like Seth K. Hughes, that creates both an opportunity and a challenge.
On one hand, his images can help feed the public’s insatiable appetite to see every corner of the globe, yet on the other, his work needs to stand out from the homogeneity of the image-making influencer. “Even in some of the most remote places, I’ve run into Instagram tourists,” he admits. “I was in that mindset at one stage in my life where you visit a location, make an image, and move on. But I grew out of that phase, and looked at things from a different perspective. My goals and appreciation changed, I started to think deeper and had more awareness of what my images meant.
“Now, I set out to capture the spirit of adventure, exploration, immersing yourself in nature, and all of the extraordinary experiences out there,” he continues. “I want to inspire others to have a greater appreciation of that adventurous spirit. Photography and adventure pair so well together.”
Seth’s adventurous side was nurtured early. His grandmother, a keen photographer, presented him with a camera when he was just seven, and he would often be found poring over magazines filled with photographs of far-flung locations, imagining himself transported to those exciting destinations. Today, he’s the person creating images for those titles, and hopes to inspire others in the same way. “There are times my images speak to someone, and they’ve reached out and told me a photograph they saw inspired them to visit that location or do that hike. When I hear stories like that, it’s awesome!” he beams.
For a number of years, Seth, his wife, dog, and his Fujifilm kit traveled constantly, hauling an Airstream from destination to destination, living the American dream. But after seven years enjoying this nomadic existence, they decided to settle down, choosing Denver for a home. They still hit the road on a regular basis – when we speak, he is just back from a two-week trip around Colorado – proving that his passion to make images remains unabated.
“The experiences a person has while traveling can be transformative,” he enthuses. “Whether it’s acquiring greater appreciation for the planet and conservation, or having a shared experience with a loved one. Even just that immersion in nature is scientifically proven to reduce stress and have physiological healing effects. That is where I think the value is.”
Accompanying him on one of his more recent trips was the ultra-wide FUJINON XF8mmF3.5 R WR, paired with FUJIFILM X-T5. This compact combination proved the perfect companion for what Seth describes as a ‘true adventure’. Along with videographer Dimitry Koshutin and Product Technical Specialist Matt Weintritt, Seth made his way to Loveland Pass, 12,000 feet up in the Rockies, to record a breathtaking celestial event. “We have a shared experience, one that I’ll never forget; watching the Milky Way rising over the Continental Divide at 5am,” says Seth, taking up the story. “Temperatures plummeted to -23°C (-10°F), so we were fully wrapped up. A number of times, I had to take my gloves off to change camera settings. Without hand warmers, I don’t think my fingers would ever have heated back up!”
Naturally, when venturing out in such harsh conditions, preparation is paramount. Seth already knew the location, using a website and app to confirm conditions were favorable. “The app – PhotoPills – has an augmented reality feature, so you can use your phone and see where the Milky Way is going to rise at a given time. But it also tells you the exact moment the galactic center of the Milky Way is visible,” he explains. “Without that and the ClearDarkSky website, we would have ended up skunked.”
When it came to recording the event, XF8mm had some immediate advantages for Seth. Working in near-dark conditions demanded a long shutter speed, which can cause stars to lose sharpness as they move in the sky while the shutter is open. But the ultra-wide’s focal length helped enormously. “With XF8mm, I could use a longer exposure; the wider the lens, the smaller the stars appear and in turn the smaller the trails,” he explains. “It enabled a 30-second exposure. Had it been less of a wide-angle lens, I would have been inclined to use a 15-second exposure.”
The compact nature of the optic also played into Seth’s hands. “It’s comparable in size to XF14mmF2.8 R, which is my kind of form factor,” he smiles. “But it’s also a huge advantage that you can attach filters to the front of the lens. The fact you can add a polarizer or ND is pretty sweet!”
Optically, the lens delivered, taking full advantage of the 40-megapixel sensor on X-T5. “It didn’t disappoint,” Seth confirms. “For the Milky Way images, I was working at F3.5 and bracketed the ISO between 3200 and 6400. X-Trans sensors are great at handling noise, and while Capture One has some denoising, it’s always a trade-off. I was impressed with the results straight from the camera.”
While making images at night proved the highlight of the team’s foray in the mountains, Seth maximized the creative potential of XF8mm when the sun came up, too. While skiing, he saw the opportunity to use the lens for POV (point of view) images, strapping X-T5 to his chest while he made his way down the mountains.
“The lens is almost as wide as an action camera, so I experimented with the camera and lens on a chest harness as I skied downhill,” he explains. “You can see my hands on the poles, the tips of the skis, and the whole scene in the frame. I set the camera to fire every few seconds via the intervalometer. There are so many other possibilities for that kind of image.”
Seth’s desire to deliver new perspectives on adventure and travel photography remains strong, and XF8mm allows him to achieve just that. Its rectilinear construction makes it perfectly suited to a broad range of subjects; for Seth, that means it’s sure to find a way into his kit bag to help him tell stories from around the world. “I want to communicate what a precious resource we have, and how important it is to take care of it,” he concludes. “Nothing conveys that quite like an image.”
Learn more about FUJINON XF8mmF3.5 R WR and read the full specifications here.