Backyard Safari with X-Photographer Seth K. Hughes

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BASED IN: Colorado, USA
KNOWN FOR: Lifestyle, travel, and adventure photography that offers an illuminating view of life on the road
SHOOTS WITH: FUJIFILM X-Pro2 Camera, X-T2 Camera, X-E3 Camera, FUJINON XF14mmF2.8 R Lens, XF27mmF2.8 Lens, XF56mmF1.2 R APD, XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens, XF1.4X TC WR Teleconverter


It is somewhat ironic that Seth K. Hughes, a FUJIFILM X-Photographer who lives life on the road, has become an advocate of finding beauty on your doorstep! That is the subject of this technique article, in which Seth gives us some great tips for finding and shooting the natural world that is right under our noses all the time – although we don’t always stop to appreciate it. The first step, he explains, is all about slowing down enough to notice and appreciate the beauty of the natural world around you.

FUJIFILM X-Phototgrapher Seth K Hughes Back yard safari X Series Technique article
FUJIFILM X-Phototgrapher Seth K Hughes Back yard safari X Series Technique article

Seth K. Hughes

Tip 1: Slow down and pay attention.

I guarantee that if you slow down and look closely at what’s around you, you’ll find many interesting subjects. Whether it’s in your backyard, in the nearest park, or an adorable pet —these things are right there under your nose, just waiting to be noticed. As someone who has traveled 50,000 miles in the past couple of years, I’ve come to realize you don’t have to go far to have fun and make great photos. The truth is that, no matter where you live, all you have to do is step outside your back door.

Tip 2: Stick at it and don’t expect instant results.

While visiting Louisiana, I headed out with my weather-resistant FUJIFILM X-Pro2. However, I wasn’t feeling very inspired in the beginning. At first glance, there was nothing particularly interesting about my environment.

I walked out my door, down a paved road, and stumbled upon a nondescript path. I forced myself to slow down and peer into places I would otherwise have overlooked. Within just a few yards I found leaves, flowers, insects, frogs, and my beloved pooch Emma. By the end of the shoot, I was having a blast, so be sure to persevere for a while – even if great photos don’t immediately present themselves.

FUJIFILM X-Phototgrapher Seth K Hughes Back yard safari X Series Technique article
FUJIFILM X-Phototgrapher Seth K Hughes Back yard safari X Series Technique article

Tip 3:  Try moving yourself instead of turning the focus ring.

I chose to shoot with my FUJINON XF56mmF1.2 R APD. It is a prime lens known for its sharpness, clarity, and beautiful bokeh. The FUJINON lens lineup pairs perfectly with – and optimizes – the X Series camera system. This APD prime is the only lens I’ve ever used that ships with its own apodization filter, which creates smooth bokeh and enhances the three-dimensional feel of an image.

To maximize the bokeh capabilities and create a macro lens aesthetic, I opened the lens up all the way to F1.2 and manually set the focus to its closest distance. Then I just explored and moved the camera in and out on various objects. When I found something I liked, I framed up an interesting composition and further refined the focal point.

Tip 4: Look for subjects in the shade or go out on an overcast day.

Diffuse light is soft, which helps to enhance your colors and keep your exposure values under control. Shooting in strong overhead sunlight results in deep, harsh shadows and bright highlights, which can make it difficult to get a good exposure.

Tip 5: Stay open-minded and flexible so you are ready to respond to events as they unfold around you.

At one point my beloved brindle boxer, Emma, emerged from a bed of flowers nearby and I instantly had a subject. I was able to react quickly thanks to the venerable FUJINON XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR, which is one of the best lenses available for image quality and stabilization. I find this lens to be excellent and I’ve always enjoyed shooting portraits in this focal range.

I found close to a dozen pictures in under an hour while I was just meandering around. It really pays to take your time and tune in to what is happening around you. You will eventually see the beauty and details in everyday life. You’re certain to find something interesting.

Seth K. Hughes is a compensated FUJIFILM X-Photographer.

To see more of Seth’s work, visit his website.

To explore the full X Series lineup visit X Gear Chooser.

FUJIFILM X-Phototgrapher Seth K Hughes Back yard safari X Series Technique article