X-Pert 53 Interview
ben is an environmental photojournalist and Fujifilm X-Photographer from the uK.
Ben is fast becoming a prominent photographer in his field, being recognised by prestigious organisations such as National Geographic. Having acquired a degree in Zoology, this passion gives a clue as to what stories he is very keen to tell, merging a firm fondness for both science and image making. Ben is a fervent believer in conversation and is highly keen to make it his life work to help inspire more efforts to save the world's wildlife through the strong and captivating photographs he takes. It also involves educating people about the plights, the movements and behaviours of animals that most, outside of the natural world's radar, have little or no knowledge about. Ben recently took part in a project led by the World Wetlands Trust called Flight of the Swans. It's premise was to document the flight of the Bewick Swans on their 7000km migration trip attempting to discover why numbers of surviving birds have plummeted and ways in which efforts could be put in place to assist in these birds surviving this long and vital trip in the future.
53mm is proud to have Ben's XF35mm gallery share some unique photographs of some of the key moments and people from this important exhibition.
Here is Ben's X-pert 53.
1. What Genre Of Photography Do You Specialise In?
I call myself an environmental photojournalist as my primary interest. It is our relationship with nature and how we interact with it. I like to try and create photo stories, combining imagery together to give a more complete picture of a situation or location.
2. Why Do You Like Using The XF35mm Lenses?
Truth be told I'm a pretty recent convert. For the past three years I've had a X100S/T by my side for those fleeting moments. I still do, but having played with the XF35mm F2 (thanks Dave Kai-Piper!) earlier in the year I got a taste of what the focal length was capable of all over again.
I find that the 'standard' focal length keeps me focused on my subject and encourages my creativity. Using a prime helps me to not get distracted and focus on my composition, story and subject. I've found that this also applies when I'm creating video too.
3. What Do You Like Photographing The Best With Your XF35mm Lens/Lenses? Why Your Choice?
It is particularly helpful when covering the human side of my stories. The small size is great for not intimidating people and creates a nice working distance. I have the delicious XF56mm but it is so much more specialist than the XF35mm and the extra distance from my subject often somehow detaches me from the situation.
I also find that this focal length is wonderful for pulling out details from a location.
Why Your Choice?
As I am so fortunate to travel a lot with my photography I have to prioritise my kit. It is very rare that I'll be without the XF16-55mm, XF50-140mm and probably the XF16mm. The addition of the XF35mm means that I have two of my favourite focal lengths covered at F1.4. It also means that the likes of the XF23mm F1.4 and XF56mm F1.2 become more like luxury items so I'll opt to leave them if I need to stay as light as possible. Furthermore, I'm increasingly finding that less is more, having fewer options keeps my distractions to a minimum.
4. Do You Shoot Professionally With The XF35mm Lenses?
Yes I shoot professionally with the XF35mm lenses. I am just concluding a three month conservation expedition from Arctic Russia back to the UK following the migration of Bewick's swans with a paramotorist shadowing their journey! The project is called Flight of The Swans, created by the Wildfowl Wetlands Trust (WWT), I'm following paramotorist Sacha Dench as she covers the same migration via paramotor. The project has been covered extensively via international press and I'm part of a six-strong media team maximising content from the project, everything from stills, social media, virtual reality, times lapses and 6K film! You can find out more about the project via:
Website - www.flightoftheswans.org
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/flightoftheswans/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/WWTSwanFlight
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/wwt_swanflight/
5. Fuji XF35mm F/1.4 Or Fuji XF35 F/2? Why Your Choice?
For me it's the F1.4, a comparative oldie but a goodie, I just love the shallow depth of field and it offers two stops over the XF16-55mm in low light, that was the ultimate reason for choosing it over its much more refined sibling.
6. How Often Do You Reach For Your XF35mm Lens/Lenses?
It is pretty much attached to my XPro2, that the XF16mm, XF56mm, X100T and SP-1 printer living in my shoulder bag together.
7. Could You Live With Just An XF35mm Lens In Your Photography Bag?
Short answer is no. Because of the breadth of work I cover I need a range of focal lengths, but the XF35mm is quickly becoming one of my most used focal lengths, alongside 16mm and 400mm!
8. Do You Like To Use Available Light Or Studio Light With Your XF35mm Lens/Lenses?
I love using flash when I have the luxury of time but so much of my work is reactive so more often than not I try to not over complicate situations by sticking to available light. I'm not a light craftsman like Dave Kai Piper or Damien Lovegrove!
9. What Fuji-X Camera Body Do You Prefer To Use The XF35mm Lenses On? Why Your Choice?
X-Pro2 all the way!
Why Your Choice?
I just really enjoy the rangefinder style with the prime lenses. I find it makes me think a lot more about my photography and simply that the primes lend themselves to the rangefinder, keeping a relatively compact set up.
10.Do You Have Any Favourite Photographs Using The XF35mm Lenses?
Here is a small set of images from the Flight of The Swans trip taken with the XF35mm F1.4 - Everything from recusing stuck cars to portraits and little moments along the migration.
11.Finish This Line: The Fuji XF35mm Lenses Are…
…are invaluable for encouraging creativity, with a relatable focal length to the viewer's natural own viewing perspective, offering probably the most versatile prime lens social range.