Fuji X-T3 - Santorini, Greece - Photography Guide

This is a short article featuring a number of photographs taken with a Fuji X-T3 on the Island of Santorini in Greece. I have highlighted locations and maps for the images with additional information to help you discover these locations.

 

Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 18-135mm lens - Fuji Velvia Film Simulation
Bracketed Exposures merged to HDR in Aurora HDR 2019 and merged into a panorama in Adobe Lightroom CC

Fuji X-T3 RAW edited in Capture One Pro Fujifilm (ver 11.3)

Imerovigli

I stayed in the town of Imerovigli which is between Oia and Fira on the West side of the Island overlooking the Caldera. Santorini was once a fairly round shaped island until a huge volcanic eruption sank a high percentage of it below the sea.

The West side of Santorini is the location where the white walled houses and churches line the tops of 300m high volcanic cliffs connected by miles of narrow winding stairs.

I took around 2000 photographs with the Fuji X-T3 with a combination of JPG and RAW. I used the Fuji Velvia Film Simulation for the JPGs as this suits the bright whites and blues that Santorini is famous for.

At the time of writing Adobe Lightroom does not support Fuji X-T3 RAW files and I have been using a trial of Phase Ones Capture One Pro for RAW editing.

I’ll specify editing process and application used in the captions below each image in this article.

In all cases click on the image for a larger light-box version.

Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

Fuji are well known for their excellent Film Simulations and although I usually shoot pretty much 100% RAW, on this occasion I decided to shoot RAW+JPG Fine or in some cases only in JPG!

The shots below are examples of Fuji Velvia Film Simulation. In most cases these are straight from camera (via Adobe Lightroom for cataloguing)

Stray Cats

Santorini has it’s share of stray cats but the ones I found seemed well fed and healthy

Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 55-200mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

100% crop

Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 55-200mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation - 100% crop

Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 18-135mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

Anastasi Church, Imerovigili, Santorini

Do a Google Search for Santorini and you will be treated to a page of classic blue and white images. The many churches on the Island are pristine in their traditional white and blue colouring.

Anastasi Church, Imerovigli
Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 10-24mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

This is a photograph of the Anastasi Church in Imerovigli which is very photogenic and typical of Santorini.

It catches the light from both sunrise and sunset and is easily reached from the pathway that runs almost un-interrupted from Oia to Fira (Head up the stairs that are opposite to the trail that leads to Skaros Rock)

It’s a busy spot (especially around sunset) and in the case of this shot I needed to blend a couple of exposures together to clone out tourists.

I think that Anastasi is one of the better located churches for photography and is of itself a reason to consider staying in Imerovigli. Imerovigli is an attractive location with a number of good hotels and fine restaurants and notably is a lot quieter than either Oia or Fira.

 

Anastasi Church from the path above. There are compositions to be made from this wall and potentially from the roof of a room to the left of where this is taken. Take care when accessing the roofs. There are few railings or barriers. The area is popular for Parkour and a google search will show many references to this sport in Santorini and you can see why.

Anastasi Church, Imerovigli
Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 10-24mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

There is a handily located bougainvillea adjacent to the Church. I don’t think that it was at its peak at the time of my visit (mid October)

Anastasi Church, Imerovigli
Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 10-24mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

Little Church, Imerovigli

Fuji X-T3 with Fuji 10-24mm
Processed in Capture One Pro Fujifilm Version 11.3

There is a small, hidden Church in Imerovigli that can be found down the path towards Skaros Rock. (It is just below the Grace Hotel)

This Church makes for interesting foreground interest and is perfectly well for sunsets throughout the year. It is not easy to avoid including the mass of Skaros Rock in a composition and you have a choice of how to approach the shot.

I’d recommend shooting bracketed and edit for a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image. Utilising HDR you can keep some detail in Skaros rock and the winding steps to it’s summit.

Without HDR the Rock will Silhouette against the setting sun and while this is an option it is hard to avoid the top of Skaros from cutting across Therasia Island in the distance which is not ideal. I used a wide-angle lens (Fuji 10-24mm) to capture this scene.

Oia and Fira

Three Bells of Fira Church, Fira, Greece
Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 18-135mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

I used the village of Imerovigli as a base on my trip. It is a 20 minute walk to the village of Fira where there are many shops and restaurants. It is busy with cruise ships off-loading passengers at the port below the cliffs.

I recommend taking a walk there and be sure to stop off at the Three Bells of Fira church. This is a busy and popular spot especially with visitors from China who gather here for their traditional Pre-Wedding Photoshoots in there hundreds.

Three Bells of Fira Church, Fira, Greece
Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 18-135mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

 

The Port of Fira

The steps up from the port at Fira are steep and there are a number of donkeys available to hire should you wish (I would not) the donkeys and the weather worn owners are a good potential for Photography.

Donkeys, Fira, Greece
Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 18-135mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

Donkeys, Fira, Greece
Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 18-135mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

Church Bell, Oia, Greece
Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 18-135mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

The Town of Oia

Oia, pronounced Ia, is the most famous of all villages of Santorini. It is known throughout the world for its fantastic sunsets and is certainly the most beautiful and picturesque village of Santorini.

The village is situated on top of an impressive cliff and offers a spectacular views over the volcano of Palia and Nea Kameni and the island of Thirassia. Oia is situated on the north of the island, 11 km away from Fira.

Oia is a veritable mecca for photographers looking to bag a spectacular sunset and you can expect it to be elbow to elbow and tripod to tripod during golden hour. I didn’t visit Oia for sunset for that reason, preferring to locate in the far quieter Village of Imerovigli

Oia is very picturesque and there are photographs around every corner at any time of the day. Pristine White buildings, tourists browsing the local shops or models perched precariously on the roofs of Churches with long billowing dresses.

Windmills of Oia

These windmills will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen photographs of Santorini. They seem to appear in almost half of all photographs of Santorini. These can be photographed from Oia Castle with a standard lens. They are located perfectly for sunset which makes the relatively small area of the castle pretty busy at sunset so be aware.

Oia, Greece
Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 18-135mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

 


Photography Guide to Santorini in summary

Santorini is a beautiful location where there are countless opportunities for memorable photography. It is justifiably famous for its sunsets but don’t forget about sunrise (especially as this is a quieter time of the day)

Be prepared for crowds around the classic view points especially at the ends of the day. I suggest planning your trip at the end of the season if possible. The weather in October remains warm and sunny and the crowds are thinning out. Look at staying in Imerovigli village where you will get the picturesque white houses and churches but with less crowding. I stayed in the Aqua Suites and the image below was taken from the balcony of the room!

Don’t be tempted to book a room with a view overlooking a classic scene... you will find that there is almost no place that photographers, models or Chinese Wedding Couples won’t clamber at all times of day and night :)

Balcony View - Aqua Suites, Imerovigli, Greece
Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 10-24mm lens
Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

Camera Drones

I own a camera drone (Parrot Anafi) and I was tempted to take this with me to Santorini. It is in fact it is not permitted to fly drones on the Island. That being said, there where a few drones buzzing around in Imerovigli. You should decide for yourself if you want to fly a drone but I’d ask you to try and avoid invading the privacy or spoiling the tranquility of the sunsets for your fellow visitors.

Santorini Photography Gallery

This is a gallery of the images featured. Please feel free to get in contact if you have any specific questions

Aurora HDR 2019 - Examples

Skylum Software

Aurora HDR 2019 has been three years in development and builds on the previous iterations released by the company in 2017 and 2018. The new Aurora HDR 2019 uses an AI engine to process images into a high fidelity HDR render. The software does a great job of making HDR creation painless and the many pre-sets included help to tailor a style to each image.

This article is intended to demonstrate some real-world implementation of Aurora HDR 2019 and I encourage you to check out this brief review by the folks at FStoppers and also visit Skylums dedicated Aurora HDR 2019 page for more information

Fuji X-T3 HDR Examples

I took a Fuji X-T3 on a recent trip to Imerovigli in Santorini, Greece. I got up early in the morning and took a number of bracketed shots of the sun rising above the white rooftops to test out the capabilities of Aurora HDR 2019

I shot JPGs in Fuji Velvia Film Simulation mode bracketing -3, 0, +3 stops. I decided to shoot a panorama and took three sets of three exposures in total moving the camera to capture the wider view.

I exported each set of images from Adobe Lightroom into Aurora HDR 2019. The Aurora software can be easily installed as a Plug-In to Adobe Lightroom. Aurora HDR 2019 opened the JPG’s quickly and presented a strong initial preview. There are a number of presets available to tailor the ‘look’ of the rendered HDR and significant editing controls to tailor the image. The examples shown below represent a result base on a natural landscape pre-set.

Santorini Sunset HDR

I shot three more JPGs at sunset and again set the X-T3 to bracket -3, 0, +3 stops. The subject of the classic blue and white church against a dramatic orange sky suits HDR and again Aurora HDR 2019 did a great job of rendering a pleasing, well balanced image without fuss.

Santorini Sunset
Fuji X-T3 HDR

Additional HDR Examples

Aurora HDR 2019 did a good job of handling these challenging sunset shots. In both cases I played around with the filters to fine tune the output to create the look that I was after.

Santorini Sunset
Fuji X-T3 HDR created with Aurora HDR 2019

Santorini Sunset
Fuji X-T3 HDR created with Aurora HDR 2019

Aurora HDR 2018 - Example HDR

I have been playing around with the excellent Aurora HDR 2018 and recently tried it out on a set of three bracketed photos of the classic Watchman view in Zion National Park.

Three Bracketed Exposures Blended into HDR image in Aurora HDR 2018
Click on Image for Larger View

The Photos were on a Nikon D3 with 1 stop exposure variations (-1,0,+1) - Click on the images in the gallery for larger view.

Aurora HDR 2018 - Settings

While I have enjoyed testing out the large selection of pre-sets supplied with Aurora HDR 2018 I find that I usually cycle back to the 'Basic' Presets collection and the 'Realistic' and Realistic Vivid' presets specifically. Aurora HDR 2018 (and 2017!) allows for the applied pre-sets to be toned down by dragging back a percentage slider. I find that the 'Realistic Vivid' preset at about 70-75% is a good starting point.

Aurora HDR 2018 is a full featured and powerful application and encourage you to take some time to view the various tutorial videos to help you get some idea of the functionality available.

https://aurorahdr.com/video-tutorials

Fuji X-T2 - Dunstanburgh Castle (Part II)

Return Trip

I revisited Embleton Bay later in the week and experienced very different conditions. The morning was bright and clear and the wind had dropped. In some ways I had too much cloud on the first visit and not enough on the return.

I took the Fuji 10-24mm f4 on this morning to capture wider angle view of the castle with the magnificent boulders in the foreground

Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 10-24 f4
Dunstanburgh Castle at dawn

Right Place, Right Time, Best Conditions

It's not easy to capture the best possible conditions at your chosen location. I'm usually able to manage a couple of early starts on a weeks vacation. My wife is not that interested in photography and expects to be out and about during the day.. so early starts mean a long day with no chance to catch up on sleep.

Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 10-24 f4
Dunstanburgh Castle dawn in Black and White

Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 10-24 f4
Dunstanburgh Castle before dawn

Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 10-24 f4
Dunstanburgh Castle in early morning light

Embleton Bay

The Sandy beach North of Dunstanburgh Castle is beautiful. It was worth stopping on the way back to the car to capture the early morning light and handful of dog walkers crossing the sands.

Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 10-24 f4
Embleton Bay in the early morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fuji X-T2 - Dunstanburgh Castle (Part I)

I recently visited Northumberland in the North East of the UK and took the opportunity to visit Embleton Beach before dawn to capture the iconic Dunstanburgh Castle in the morning light.

Dark, Wet and Windy

Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 18-135mm
Dunstanburgh Castle just after dawn

I planned to drive towards Dunstan Steads where I knew there was some space to park by the side of the road with access to Embleton Bay.

I didn't have an opportunity to visit this spot before heading out at dawn and so was ready for some challenges in finding compositions. I arrived early (around 1 hour before sunrise) and getting out of my car it was very dark with a strong, gusting wind and light rain in the air. Often at this point (standing on a dark beach in the rain at 5:15am in the morning) thoughts of going back to bed inevitably arise.

Persistence and luck

I have been caught out by these thoughts before but I have more often than not been rewarded for persistence in the face of un-promising looking conditions.

Yosemite National Park in the Snow

Yosemite National Park

I remember an occasion back in 2011 when I was up before dawn on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park, California.

It was dark and very wet and I was more than tempted to return to bed and call it quits but I had travelled 1000's of miles to get to Yosemite and decided to drive into the park.

As I drove in, I found that the rain was falling as snow in the park and that the weather was clearing to a bright, misty morning. 

Slippery Rocks

To say that the boulders that litter the South of Embleton Bay are slippery is an extreme understatement. I would warn those attempting to gain access to the waterline at this location to take care. I almost gave up after losing my balance within about 30 seconds of starting my scramble towards the water. Stay low and test the stability of each rock that you step to.

Bracketed Panoramic

I ended up fairly close to the Castle and decided to try a panoramic composition to capture the castle and the cliffs.

I set the X-T2 to take 5 bracketed shots 1 stop apart. I wanted to capture the dynamic range of tones for merging to HDR in Lightroom.

It is often useful to have multiple exposures of a scene, especially when the lighting conditions are challenging. I often use Lightrooms merge to HDR feature as it results in a RAW file with very high range but I also use Aurora HDR 2018 for creative HDRs

I balanced my tripod legs across three rounded boulders while standing on a fourth. The wind was whipping up the waves and the sea was washing over my boots and in and around the boulders. It was tricky making the camera level and I was juggling Lee Filters while trying not to get blown over.

I could see that the thick clouds were starting to break up and took the chance to get some shots. I was hoping for some drama in the sky and although the morning started badly with thick cloud and rain it cleared enough to give me the shots I had hoped for.

Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 18-135mm
Dunstanburgh Castle just after dawn

Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 18-135mm
Dunstanburgh Castle just after dawn

Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 18-135mm
Dunstanburgh Castle silhouette

Looking Back

I find it difficult to judge the time to head back home after a dawn shoot. It is arguably easier in the evening because the sun sets and it gets dark and the colour drains from the scenes. In the morning the early light can stay interesting for hours.

I usually pack up on a deadline. I promise to be back at the cottage for breakfast with my wife by 8:30am for example. This forces me (often reluctantly) to leave the location. 

It is always worth a sneaky look back as you head to the car though. There are some worthwhile shots about in the early hours (Just don't take too long about it) :)

Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 18-135mm
Dunstanburgh Castle and wheat Field

Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 18-135mm
Dunstanburgh Castle over the dunes

Return to Dunstanburgh

I decided to return to this location at dawn later in the week. 

 

 

 

Fuji X-T2 - Northumberland Coast

I recently visited the beautiful Northumberland Coast in the North East of the United Kingdom. I took the opportunity to grab some landscape and seascape photos with my Fuji X-T2.

I took the Fuji 18-135mm for versatility and weather proofing (It was late September after all!) along with the Fuji 10-24mm f4 for wide angle vistas and the 16mm f1.4

I found the book 'The Photographer's Guide to Northumberland' by Ellen Bowness to be a very useful guide to plan some of my photography. 

Ellen features photographs, tips and directions to a large number of photogenic locations along the Northumberland Coast.

I stayed in Alnwick which is fairly centrally located and around 20-25 minutes drive to the coast. Alnwick has become quite famous in the last decade due to the use of it's castle in the filming of the first two Harry Potter movies. You can spend a happy afternoon touring the castle and hearing all about it's appearances in various movies and TV shows.

Embleton Bay

Dunstanburgh Castly from Embleton Bay
Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 18-135mm

25 minutes drive from Alnwick is the sandy beach of Embleton Bay. There is car parking space at the side of the road at Dunstan Steads which is convenient for the beach and located within sight of the iconic Dunstanburgh Castly ruins.

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Holy Island

A visit to Northumberland is not complete without a visit to Holy Island. This island is beautiful but access (by car or foot) is subject to Tide Times. The tide cuts off the island appx every 5 hours or so.

The Lindisfarne Castle on the Island is very photogenic generally although currently (until April 2018) it is surrounded in very un-sightly scaffolding :)

The only practical day to visit was a wash out for us but I can highly recommend a visit. There is something magical about the place especially if you plan to stay there. The Tide results in the Island deserting every 5 hours which would result in some very tranquil moments.

Lindisfarne Castle and Harbour
Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 16mm f1.4
 

Bamburgh Castle
FUJI X-T2 and Fuji 16mm f1.4

Bamburgh Castle

Northumberland has a very large number of castles and they all have photographic appeal from the ruins of Dunstanburgh to the majesty of Alnwick.

Bamburgh Castle is large and majestic and sits above the sand dunes of an expansive beach. This is a great location for both sun rise and sun set and well worth your time to visit.

Aurora HDR 2018

Aurora HDR 2018 is here and I thought I'd give it a try with a particularly challenging 5 shot HDR from Yosemite National Park in May 2011.

I arrived at tunnel view around dawn and the light was very challenging with an extremely bright sky deep shadows in the valley with a mist hanging over the Merced river.

I've edited these shots many times over the years using luminosity masks, Photomatix, Lightroom merge to HDR and all methods have struggled to resolve the shots into a realistic scene.

Aurora HDR 2018 did a pretty decent job, especially as I have not had a chance to learn any of the tools and features. This is a basic HDR with some small tweaks to masking.

Great stuff macphun.

Macphun Aurora HDR 2018
Five shot HDR example - Tunnel View at Dawn - Yosemite National Park, CA

Lightroom Mobile HDR

I continue to be impressed by Lightroom Mobile HDR RAW capture. There was some great light in London this morning as an early mist cleared. I didn't have time to stop but captured three interesting photos as I walked along Southbank towards London Bridge. The HDR and mist have made these shots reminiscent of paintings by Turner.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile HDR RAW - City of London

Adobe Lightroom Mobile HDR RAW - City of London

Adobe Lightroom Mobile HDR RAW - City of London

Adobe Lightroom Mobile HDR

Adobe have updated Lightroom Mobile to allow HDR RAW (in DNG format) from certain newer mobiles. I tried it out today on my commute in to London and it seems to work very well. The resulting DNGs have good range of exposure for post-processing and there does not appear to be much in the way of ghosting...

Adobe Lightroom Mobile HDR Example

Adobe Lightroom Mobile HDR Example

Adobe Lightroom Mobile HDR Example

One Photograph, four versions

I was on a once in a life time (hopefully not!) vacation to Iceland. I had arrived in the town of Hofn the night before and hadn't had the opportunity to explore the local area. I got up before dawn and headed out in the dark along Route 1

Read More

Fuji X-T2 - High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography

The Fuji X-T2 introduced improvements in Auto Exposure Bracketing allowing up to + or - 2EV across 3 exposures. Each time the shutter button is pressed the X-T2 takes three shots; one at the metered exposure the second overexposed and the third underexposed.

Setting up the X-T2

I set the X-T2 to shoot in RAW + JPG fine (RAW F mode) in the Quick Menu and set the Drive Dial to the BKT setting.

In the 'Shooting Menu' (indicated by a camera icon) select 'Drive Setting' -> 'BKT Setting' -> 'BKT Select' -> Select 'AE BKT'

Under the 'BKT Setting' menu you can select 'AE BKT' and change this to the +/- 2 setting

Bracketed JPG and RAW shots

I took this shot of a Robin in Regents Park, London. Taken with a Fuji 56mm f1.2 @ 1.2 - This is a challenging shot for HDR as the Robin might have moved a little and the camera was hand-held.

I understand that this particular scene does not necessarily require the latitude of HDR but it serves to demonstrate the principles and the advantages and disadvantages of file formats and HDR programs

Click on the images for larger versions

JPG images - Fujifilm Velvia Film Simulation

RAW images

HDR Editing

Adobe Lightroom

In April 2015 Adobe added an exciting (for some) feature to Lightroom that allowed multiple files to be merged to HDR (or Panorama)

This feature allows the photographer to merge multiple RAW files into an 'HDR RAW' file or JPG files into a DNG. Simply select the images that you would like to merge, right click and select 'Photo Merge' -> HDR

Lightroom opens a simple dialogue box that allows for basic auto tone, auto alignment and levels of De-Ghosting

  • Auto Tone balances the tone in the output file
  • Auto Alignment deals with any camera movement, De-Select if you shot on a tripod to save time in the rendering process
  • De-Ghosting attempts to remove any artefacts that would be caused by movement in the scene. In my experience low or medium work very well in most situations.

Merging JPG files creates a DNG file which looks pleasing without much further editing

DNG file created by Merge to HDR in Adobe Lightroom

Merging RAW files creates a 'Super' RAW whose pixels can take a lot of punishment. I made some basic edits to the merged file

  • Color Balance to 'Cloudy'
  • Gentle 's shaped' tone curve to lift the contrast
  • vignetting increased to burn in the edges slightly
  • Fuji Classic Chrome Simulation
  • sharpening

The resulting image works very well, and the added tolerance in the RAW file after HDR Merge allows for greater tonal control

Bracketed RAW files merged in Adobe Lightroom

Aurora 2017

New kid on the block Aurora 2017 is a full featured HDR Application developed by Trey Radcliff (Who put HDR on the map) and Macphun.

It works both stand alone and as a plugin for Lightroom. The multiple pre-sets and intuitive interface make this worth looking at for beginners but it also has depth with multiple high end features.

Aurora 2017 - HDR based on 3 bracketed JPG files

The number of HDR applications can be a little overwhelming but the new features of Lightroom will give you a good idea of the usefulness of this technique and the resulting RAW files give a huge amount of flexibility for post shoot editing. HDR does not have to be garish and over-processed although Aurora 2017 will happily let you 'play' in the surreal.

You should take a look at Trey's site for inspiration and also look at these HDR Applications which offer solid features. NIKs HDR Efex pro is now free!