PHOTOGRAPHER: Karen Hutton
BASED IN: California, USA
KNOWN FOR: Landscape and travel photos characterized by beautiful lighting
SHOOTS WITH: FUJIFILM GFX 50S Camera, X-Pro2 Camera, X-T2 Camera, FUJINON GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR Lens,GF120mmF4 R LM OIS WR Macro Lens, XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro Lens,XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Lens, XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens
Karen Hutton is a FUJIFILM X-Photographer who specializes in travel and landscape images. Creative by nature, Karen likes to find new ways to grow and improve as an artist. In order to further hone her craft, she decided to undertake a macro lens challenge. In this Technique article, she describes her experience shooting with the XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens and the images it enabled her to create.
I was invited to be the featured photographer for an XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens project. This involved creating macro images with a flower theme over the course of three weeks.
My initial response was one of great excitement. After all, I was being offered the chance to play around in one of my favorite genres of photography with a brand new FUJINON lens created specifically for that purpose. I was overjoyed at the prospect of getting up close and personal with a selection of beautiful flowers, all prepped and ready for their close-ups.
For this project, I decided to go entirely handheld. No tripods, clamps, or other paraphernalia. I wanted to keep it clean and pure, like an electric musician going unplugged.
Handheld macro photography is challenging but, to me, it just adds to the fun. It feels visceral and real. It takes timing, patience, and breath control to pull it off. I also decided to let the images be surprising, rather than to simply conform to an ideal. Guidelines are cool, but they usually result in something we’ve already seen. If you follow them too literally, you’re in danger of becoming a copier and not an artist.
As artists, we want to innovate and see things differently – to surprise, scare, or even delight ourselves. That’s what I wanted for this project. I also wanted to know if this lens would enable this kind of play and exploration.
Only a few shots in, I realized the XF80mm might just be the fastest, sharpest macro lens I’d ever used. Very quickly, it blew my mind and made me excited to shoot more. I felt that I could relax and let the gear do its job without fussing over it. This allowed me to concentrate on doing fun things like focusing on a small wildflower in a lively breeze.
At one point I encountered a native mountain wildflower that some people dismiss as a weed. I decided to try to transform it into a celebration of color and light. Sometimes you have to lean in and listen very carefully to illuminate the beautifully varied patterns of your chosen subject. I wanted to give each of my little subjects the chance to enjoy the spotlight.
I believe the earth has a soul and that it expresses itself in each of its brilliant creations. I love witnessing, capturing, and sharing them. I feel like each one touches my soul and enlivens it. For me, photography can become an emotional experience. Throughout this shoot I couldn’t stop thinking about Clint Eastwood singing the song “I Talk to the Trees” in the movie Paint Your Wagon.
The wonderful thing about shooting macro photos is that even when conditions aren’t photography-friendly, and even if you don’t have all the elements you need for a good landscape image, you can still tell an amazingly poignant story. You can make your image feel mystical or literal with the turn of an aperture ring. One shot can contain worlds within worlds. If you look closely enough, every corner is full of stunning variation and breathtaking detail that most people breeze by without ever noticing.
It’s a special feeling to be aware that you noticed these things. It makes you feel reflective and the images you shoot become a visual record of all that you found to be amazing, soul-stirring, and true. Flower macro is a kind of photography that I find completely irresistible and sharing this project with the world has been an utter joy.
Karen Hutton is a compensated FUJIFILM X-Photographer.
To see more of Karen’s work, visit her website.
To learn more about the XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens, visit the Gear Chooser.