Welcome to One Camera One Len’s Photographers Spotlight Series, where we discover other photographers who you may find extremely interesting. They share their love for photography, their stories and a selection of their images. This is a regular feature, see the end of the article for details.
My name is Sebastian Boatca, a photographer based in Brussels, Belgium, editor at FUJI X PASSION – Inspirational Photography Magazine and former vice-president of VIEWFINDERS – The Photography Club of Brussels. I embrace life through my experiences as a man, husband, father, traveler and photographer.
For me, photography is a way to express visions and feelings, a way to connect people with different views of the same universe. A camera is a tool , which captures a fragment of space in a moment frozen in time. The way each photograph looks is a result of a genuinely unique inspiration, a set of factors that will never repeat again. This is why in photography it is essential to be aware of all the elements involved in building a photograph.
I have started my interest in photography with a compact camera. Then, as a passionate amateur photographer, I have felt I needed something more than what a Panasonic Lumix can offer. This was my first digital camera for photography. Later on, the most significant upgrade was getting a Canon APS-C DSLR along with a few lenses, both zooms and primes. From here, the ultimate dream for me was to enter the Full-Frame territory and upgrading to a Canon 5D was the natural way, when expecting significant improvements in image quality and technical performance. However, Fujifilm, with the revolutionary X-Trans sensors and their amazing lenses, proved me two essential things, which shaped the way I did photography since then:
- With a Fujifilm X system, there is no need to go Full-Frame, because you already have all the quality and the performance you need, in both their sensors and their wonderful Fujinon lenses.
- Fujifilm revealed the fact that there is beauty, performance and flexibility in shooting JPEGs while forgetting about post-processing RAWs. With a carefully customized colour profile, I have discovered I have more time enjoying shooting. From my limited experience with different camera brands and models, I find that Fujifilm delivers the best quality in a JPEG file, thanks to their color science behind the sensor and their film simulations.
I put a lot of emphasis on aesthetics. I have this organic need to see functional, yet pleasing design principles. After using beautifully designed cameras from Fujifilm, when I hold and use a DSLR, I just find it as if it was coming from another world I do not want to interact with. What is the point of manufacturing tons of different photographic tools if we leave behind the touch of influential history in great camera design and a final architecture that pleases the eyes and hands?
I like to travel and using a Fujifilm mirrorless system is the key to a more pleasant experience when traveling light. Lightness and elegance mix themselves in an exquisite way. Sometimes it is important to minimize the “photographer’s print” you leave on a group of people, or community. Many times “silence” is the defining word when you really need to be inconspicuous. This is why my photo bag is getting smaller, with only a “survival kit” inside, comparted to what I used to carry with me a few years ago.
Over the last 7 years, I have been using six models of cameras from Fujifilm. I have started with the one-of-a-kind X-Pro1, then moved to X100S, which I had in parallel with the X-T1. The rangefinder style was so appealing that X-Pro2 was the camera I loved the most. The last phase is the one when I use the underrated X-H1 and lately, X100V has become the most loved camera of all six.
Using and enjoying this amazing Fujifilm X100V means following the two major principles in the way I do photography lately:
- Smaller is better. The best compromise in price / performance / sensor size and image quality / size and weight of the camera + lens is when you use a camera like the X100 series from Fujifilm and X100V is the more matured iteration.
- JPEG means freedom of enjoying more photography. With the highest quality that I ever saw in an APS-C camera for a JPEG file, Fujifilm gives you the liberty to customize their film simulations. If you learn how to use the camera to its true potential, the results are outstanding. I photograph in RAW format only for specific reasons and needs (from the point of view of a non-professional photographer).
I have printed and exhibited my work done from both RAW files and JPEG files. Lately, I like to challenge myself and get it right in the camera, while playing with my customized colour profiles, trying to reproduce some of my favourite film emulsions character, or just looking for a more original and personal look.
Moving towards film photography was simply a dream come true, something more than a “photo project” limited in time. I feel like this is a commitment for life, while still enjoying the beautiful outcomes from Fujifilm digital photography.
Below, you will find a list of film types I have used until now:
Kodak Pro Image 100
Kodak Ektar 100
Fujicolor Industrial 100
Kodak Portra 160
Kodak Gold 200
Kodak Ultramax 400
Kodak Portra 400
Fujicolor PRO 400H
Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400
It is hard to build a “Top 5 My Favourites Film Types”, but if you would ask me to do it, I would probably try to nominate there (not in a specific order): Fujicolor PRO 400H (great character and immensely flexible, Fujicolor Industrial 100 (full of charm), Kodak Portra (both 160 and 400), Kodak Gold (a very underestimated film stock) and Kodak Ektar (ideal for landscapes and travel, with the finest grain). I would be happy to have these five emulsions for the rest of time, even if I truly like to experiment with different types of film and discover their personality.
For the moment, I have three analogue cameras and around eight interesting (some quite famous) prime lenses for film photography. It is a joy to slow down, get away from the worries related to megapixels, subject tracking while moving, focus points and autofocus speed. Going back to the roots of Manual Mode and responsible photography feels so rewarding. When I come back to digital, it feels like I have the fastest camera in the world; we are truly spoiled with technology and yet we continue to be unsatisfied.
If an analogue camera does not captivate you for a daily use, just borrow one and use it from time to time; it is a great opportunity to exercise your skills, your composition, taking your time to create your shot and manually focus on your subject. Using manual focus lenses will surely refine your abilities as a photographer, bringing real improvements to your compositions. You will focus more on the artistic side of the photography, while being careful how to overcome the technical limitations and still deliver great results. I find this to be a wonderful world, full of possibilities and creativity, filled with mysteries waiting to be revealed – and it is always nice to feel special and do special things.
Sebastian Boatca – October 2020
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