Around this time of the year, two things are pretty constant in my diary; The Photography Show & Ladies Day at Cheltenham Races.

This year, the races came a few days before TPS and I decided to take my Fujifilm X100F with me, as opposed to the X70 that I took last year, or the X30 that I took the year before.

For some reason, perhaps the economic climate, perhaps the weather, I’m not sure, but the course didn’t feel as alive as previously and I decided upon arriving at Cheltenham to shoot as much of the character of the people, as opposed to those gambling.  I never concentrate on the horses when I’m there.  For me, I’m totally interested in the people.  Much to the annoyance of the group of friends I go with as I’m always disappearing during the races with my camera.

I didn’t shoot much to be honest.  It was a struggle.  The light was harsh and the ambience a little muted.  In total I took around 300 frames.

I’ve been using Alien Skin Exposure more for my personal stuff recently and I had been dabbling with a very high contrast black and white recipe based on the Kodalith film simulation in ASE.

Kodalith is a high contrast film sometimes used to create art for backlit animation on an animation stand.  – PrintWiki

With that in the back of my mind, during the early part of the day when the sun was high, I shot a lot trying to make use of the harsh shadows and light.  In some cases, I was happy with the results on the LCD and in others, I was disappointed.

I shot almost everything from the hip, zone focused, and as others have spotted, it’s slightly annoying that the X100F resorts to about 2 metres focus point every time the camera is reset.  Hopefully, this is something that will get addressed in firmware as I’m not aware of any technical reason the camera should do this.

I’m a huge fan of filmic (is that word?) looks.  I try and achieve a film look to all my wedding photography even though I’ve never shot with it professionally.  In fact, I have no experience of shooting film of any kind.  And double in fact, I didn’t even pick up a digital camera until eight years ago so I offer no advice on whether the Alien Skin film emulation is accurate, or not.

What I do know, is that I like the look of this.

The images are not necessarily artistic, but I do like the simple fact that it reminds me of a fun day.  And that’s what photography is about to me; memories.

If you’ve ever been to The Cheltenham Festival, you’ll know it’s a blend of serious racegoers and serious party goers.

As mentioned, I tried to get in close, zone focused and I really wanted to fill the frame where possible to get an idea of the event.

The processing is kind of extreme.  I like it, though.  It’s a high-contrast reminder of a pretty high-intensity day.

When I moved into the drink tent, later on, the light was flat and low – almost garish, and actually, any kind of black and white (for me) would be preferable here (or some may have used flash I suppose).

These images aren’t edited from the camera.  By that, I mean, I’ve double processed them directly in Alien Skin from the raf files from the camera.  I haven’t (purposefully) tried to recover shadow etc as I was trying to get this high contrast look.

Anyhow, a different perspective maybe, of behind the scenes at Cheltenham Races.

Here are a few of my favourites. Exif is intact.

x100f-alien-skin-exposure-1 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-2 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-3 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-4 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-5 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-6 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-7 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-8 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-9 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-10 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-11 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-12 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-13 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-14 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-15 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-16 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-17 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-18 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-19 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-20 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-21 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-22 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-23 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-24 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-25 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-26 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-27 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-28 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-29 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-30 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-31 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-32 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-33 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-34 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-35 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-36 x100f-alien-skin-exposure-37

A quick reminder that I still have spaces on my Fujifilm Day in Lausanne, Switzerland in May.  It’s only £70 and is a full day event, being put on by Fujifilm Switzerland.  Maybe see you there.

Happy Snapping

  • Kevin
  • Gilles Courtemanche, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Hi Kevin,
    I enjoy to follow F 16 , a while ago I bought a used x 100 that’s the only one I could afford an I use your color setting for street photography and I enjoy it thanks to you.

  • Cliff Hughes

    Hi Kevin

    Very much enjoyed your talk on Saturday at the show having seen you in Hatfield previously. Anyway must have worked as I walked out with an XT2 and more!

    Best wishes


    • Thanks Cliff….. & thanks for coming to the talk.

  • Drimé

    Hey Kevin,

    You’ve mentioned in the past rely upon the camera to do what it does, and shoot jpeg. Is that the case when you intend to use Alien Skin in post?


    • Hi Drime – blimey, no. These are fully processed in ASE.

  • Hi Kevin.. loving that high contrast look (I currently use an Eric Kim pre set) perhaps you could make a Lr pre set?


  • Hi Kevin,

    I’ve been following your work and posts for a while now. You are a great source of inspiration for me. Well done! Your work is so emotionally engaging. I came across this explanation for the 2m reset in manual focus mode. ( -Karl Edwards):

    The front element of the 23mm f/2 lens moves forward and back when you focus. Previous models of the Fuji X100 would remember your focus position after a power down making it possible for the lens to collide with the lens cap when the camera is powered on. When this happened, the camera would throw an error and you’d have to remove the lens cap and restart the camera.

    To protect the AF motor, the Fuji X100F now resets the focus distance to 2 meters (or around 7 feet) whenever the camera powers down or enters sleep mode.

    • Hi, Sean – thanks for that. Yes, I can kind of see that…..though I don’t think that should happen if the camera is in Manual focus mode when its switched on. It depends when the focus reset occurs. I totally understand the lens element pushing against a filter or hood, but if I’m honest, in MF mode – it shouldn’t do it.

      • Yes, I’m not sure how that would happen in MF mode either. I’ve had the x100s for years and this lens behaviour has never occurred to me.

  • The depth and intensity of the blacks and shadows make for a very different finish in each picture. I am sure it is not to everyone’s taste but I think they are amazing and it is a similar look to how I like my street photography to appear. Thank you for the inspiration with a great set of pictures and a story of the day.

  • Great stuff! Makes me want to take out my original X100 again. Cheers! 🙂

  • Hi Kevin,
    I noticed the same thing, it’s very annoying when turning off the camera it resets to 2.0 meters, the hole point of zone focusing (and economizing batteries) is lost

    • Yes….hopefully something Fujifilm can address. Who knows though.

  • You are to blame!:-)
    You single handedly convinced me that I needed to upgrade my X100s to the X100f. It just came and I walked through the settings video to configure my brand new camera!

    Stories like this one continue to inspire! Love the deep dark tones of your work.

    “For some reason, perhaps the economic climate, perhaps the weather,…” perhaps the mood of a Brexit Uk?

    Thanks for everything!

  • it highlights something i’m struggling with atm. these would get absolutely panned in camera club comps. I love them. judges have highlighted the aesthetic this is photography to me. awesome

    • It’s an interesting point you make David.

      When Fuji Rumours shared this (and he shares most of my posts here, kindly), I received some pretty shitty comments about this post. And not only about this post, but about my photography in general.

      At the same time, I was reading those shitty comments, I was on my way to shoot my highest ever earning wedding and it was in Portugal. I wonder what those who were negatively commenting were doing at that point? Probably stuck in a 9-5 with a boss they hate and living with their mum.

      My point is, photography is very subjective. If my professional work makes my clients happy, and my personal work makes me happy…..then it’s a happy medium.

  • I’ve been close to losing it a few times. If I hear one more comment about putting my subject on an intersection of thirds, or it not being”tack sharp front to back ” with bloody “lovely leading lines” “oh it’s a shame the highlights are blown” I could end up doing time for a comp judge.

  • This is not only great journalistic / street photography but superb sociology. And no, I don’t think my description is far fetched, the author himself mentions economic climate…. I love the final result.