Heptonstall Festival 2013

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On September 21st the West Yorkshire village of Heptonstall hosted a fantastic festival with various live acts and stalls selling local food. With my pro photographer friend Craig Shaw, I spent about 8 hours walking around taking photos armed with my X100 and X-E1. My go to lens for this kind of event is Fuji’s fabulous 60mm f2.4. It’s often maligned as being too slow to focus but I generally find it works a charm, especially with the most recent firmware update making it far faster. With its lovely smooth bokeh and decent reach, it’s ideal for capturing portraits. I’ve also been trying out the fabled 35mm f1.4, although I’m still not sure if it will earn a permanent place in my gear bag.

DSCF1819X-E1, 35mm f5.6, 1/640 sec

Heptonstall is the quintessential little Yorkshire hill-top village, with beautiful old buildings and narrow cobbled streets. Yet it has thus far managed to avoid becoming overly touristy like nearby Haworth. At the centre are two large churches, the oldest of which is now a well preserved ruin. That ruin formed the main stage for the days events.

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X-E1, 35mm f2.8 1/850 sec

With a strong family element to the festival, an Alice in Wonderland themed parade and Mad Hatter’s tea party were part of the lineup. There were performances from  local school children and CBeebies TV celebrity Mr. Bloom. Two actors enthusiastically portrayed the Queen of Hearts and the White Rabbit.

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X100 23mm f5.6 1/170 sec

Various musicians played for the crowd including several bands. The nice thing about small festivals is that you’re often able to get very close to the performers so you’re not reliant on monstrous zoom lenses or a press badge to get some of the action.

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X100 23mm f2, 1/320 sec

The X100’s 23mm  lens feels incredibly wide after you’ve been shooting with 35 and 60mm. It forces you to get much closer to your subject which can lead to more interesting compositions. I’m quite pleased with how this shot of guitarist James Paul turned out. The X100 actually performs very well wide open at f2 for portraiture.

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X-E1, 60mm f2.4 1/320 sec

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X-E1, 60mm f2.4, 1/1600 sec

The 60mm has lovely bokeh and avoids the fringing you see around highlights on the 35mm wide open. The 35 comes into its own in darker conditions like inside the White Lion pub where I took the shot below.

DSCF1926X-E1 35mm f1.4  1/100 sec

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X-E1, 60mm f2.4 1/70 sec

Dull lighting on the main stage during the day meant a bit of post processing was required to lighten performer’s faces and make things appear less flat.

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X-E1, 60mm f2.4 1/125

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X-E1, 60mm f2.4 1/100 sec

Nizlopi gave a rousing performance as it began to grow dark – a true test of the 60mm and X-E1’s autofocus system. Both performed well. The fairly dim LED spotlights didn’t do much more than add a bit of colour to the performers so quite a bit of brightening was required in post to make things pop. When shooting in these kinds of conditions I recommend switching over to manual or shutter priority and choosing the minimum shutter speed you feel will deliver you sharp results. With the 60mm I try and stay at 1/100 at a minimum.

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