Photos & Projects

Shooting Snowdon with a Fuji x100F – by Pierre-Alix Favillier

June 9, 2019

My wife and I recently had the opportunity to walk to the summit of Snowdon. It was late April; the weather was “comme-ci comme-ca” and my biggest worry wasn’t which route or how many layers to take, but which camera and what focal length was the most appropriate for the day ahead.
Although I was originally tempted to take my beloved Nikon FM3a, and a fresh roll of Ektachrome, I for once opted for a lighter digital alternative in the form of a Fuji x100F; in light of the “changeable” weather that was predicted and the flexibility of an ISO dial which I could not get on my Nikon.

I also opted to take along my WCL-X100 II to go with it, which had been purchased but rarely used, in order to give me a slightly wider frame without compromising on resolution or optical quality (28mm equivalent). At the back of my mind, I was also very nervous about exposing the FM3a to the elements…

We set about the relatively progressive but longer “Llanberis Path” (9 miles there and back) with my trusty Billingham bag, food, water, waterproofs, spare batteries and a whole day ahead of us…

The path proved to be a very photographer friendly route, as the walkway loosely follows and crosses the Snowdon Mountain Railway track a couple of times; whilst the passage of the ancient locomotive and its puffs of white smoke was the perfect excuse to enjoy a short break in the otherwise slow and steady climb to the summit.

The history of the railway is long and distinguished, having consistently carried passengers and holidaymakers alike up and down the mountain since 1896, in all but extreme weather circumstances.

The bright red carriage and snaking railway track provided a really nice feature for some of my shots; not only adding context but also giving an idea of the scale of the vast lush green fields, towering peaks as well as the light sandstone, ochre and deep black coloured rocks of varying texture and geometry encountered along the way. The light turquoise of the minerally rich lakes, patch-worked on all sides of the mountain in which the abundant rainwater drains into contrasted nicely with the deep blue sky visible between the clouds at regular intervals throughout the day.

The final ascent was completed in a heavy, cold and humid fog; making us feel quite vulnerable despite our equipment; and we were pleased to make it to the top in just over 2 and a half hours. After a well earned rest and a sandwich, we could only marvel and the majesty of the region around us and only truly appreciated the amazing light, the wide spectrum of colours and the changeable, windy and cloudy weather which gave me the opportunity to shoot some rather moody scenes. The whole of journey down was completed with my camera in hand ready to capture combinations of rushing white and dark grey clouds, warm sunshine and steaming locomotives as they came and went past steadily, almost insolently when compared to my pounding, slow and laboured walk down the mountain.

For once, there was no overthinking about which ISO settings, lens, shutter speed to use. The day was perfect and the countryside was beautiful… a photographers dream, irrespective of the gear or the medium employed.

Best tip: go during the week to avoid the crazy crowds and pack some layers… waterproofs are essential.
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  • Reply
    Richard Bain
    June 9, 2019 at 10:11 am

    Sounds like a lovely day out, but would be nice to hear more about what you think of the camera. (handling, menus, viewfinder, lens, post-production abilities)

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      June 9, 2019 at 10:16 am

      Sometimes it’s nice not to hear about these things – for me, this is one of those occasions

      • Reply
        June 9, 2019 at 10:31 am

        It’s a top-selling camera. Very capable as seen above. The menus are a bit fiddly. Get one/don’t.

        • Reply
          June 9, 2019 at 5:26 pm

          ..or wait for the next instalment 🙂

    • Reply
      June 9, 2019 at 5:25 pm

      I shoot predominantly film these days because I just enjoy the process. All I will say is that the x100F is a perfect digital camera to have in most circumstances. it can do so much but also restricts you a little bit which makes you think a bit more about what you are shooting and I would argue helps you to be a bit more creative as a result. Basis all the updates which Fuji have made recently to the entire X line, I would not be surprised if the next instalment of the x100 series is announced sooner rather than later, so maybe wait for that if you don’t already have one. In my case though, I will NOT be upgrading. the x100F works perfectly for me and I am planning to use it for the foreseeable future.

    • Reply
      Louis A. Sousa
      June 14, 2019 at 2:12 am

      Having owned each version, it is a shooter’s dream. The controls are intuitive and in all the right places. The lens is sharp and contrasty. It feels wonderful in the hand. Manual focus is great with excellent focus peaking. Acros film simulation is close to if not identical to the real thing, with tweak-ables to make it so to one’s taste. If it matters, the camera is very retro-cool looking and always draws admiring comments. It is a great camera for all manner of locale, from street to landscapes. And it feels right for someone who also enjoys shooting film.

  • Reply
    June 9, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Honestly! I would take the Nikon with a roll of E100! Joking apart, the weather conditions are often an issue when you are stuck with low ISO, that’s why I prefer the versatility of Portra 400 for my days in the outdoors. Only a question… Is the Fuji much lighter compared to the F3? Probably the fixed, small lens made the difference here. I believe it really depends on which lens you’re planning to shoot with your Nikon!

    • Reply
      June 9, 2019 at 5:19 pm

      the x100F is pretty much instantly pocketable, and does not require it to be reloaded with film in inclement weather. If I had to do it again I would do the same tbh, and if I had to take film I would take slidefilm rather than Portra (although maybe both could be an acceptable compromise), for me the colours are perfectly suited to the vivid rendition that Ektachrome provides and although this is a personal experience, I’m yet to be fully convinced by Portra for predominantly green and cool coloured landscapes. (I think its great for warm colours and skin tones though). Lenswise, I think 28mm worked very well all day.

  • Reply
    June 9, 2019 at 11:46 am

    There are well composed and nicely captured images.

  • Reply
    Thomas Stewart
    June 9, 2019 at 11:56 am

    I know nothing about cameras. Just enjoyed the brilliant photos! Nice one PAF, thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      June 9, 2019 at 5:28 pm

      thanks Tom, all good fun!

  • Reply
    June 9, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    No you didn’t… digi. lol!

  • Reply
    June 9, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    I have a X100T and it feels and looks like the nearest I can get to a film camera that isn’t a film camera. I’m also very familiar with the rich and varied weather you can get going over the Llanberis Pass. I live nearer to the Golden Gate Bridge these days but would love to do that walk at some point. Great photos – great location.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2019 at 8:28 am

    Great shots with good composition, pleasing colours and a well written commentary, Pierre- The lens adapter on your Fuji must be very convenient, indeed.

    Many years ago, I spent quite a lot of time walking and climbing in Snowdonia and your images bring back many happy memories. In those days, I always carried a Minox GT or an Olympus OM-1 in the hills and the Zuikko 2.8/28 lens was probably my most used lens, although a 50 and 2.8/100 were nearly always in my bag, too.

    Although I still mainly shoot film, on LTM and M Leicas today, I nearly always have my Fuji X100 (first version) as a back-up camera and for taking casual shots of family and friends. I also still use the Olympus and a battered Nikon FM and I would not hesitate to take them with me to the hills. For their size and weight, 35mm cameras are much more convenient than middle of large format.

    On rare occasions I still make the effort to carry a Linhof Technika, tripod, lenses and film holders in the mountains, but those trips are usually for shots that are planned well in advance and dedicated to capturing images, rather than just enjoying the walk.

    When I review my photos after a trip, I struggle to edit the (usually too many) digital images and notice that I am lazy about composition and take a lot of wasted images. With film, I am more disciplined and find more keepers than rejects, generally because I expose fewer frames and have a more deliberate approach.

    Do you find that you take the same type or different images with digital vs film cameras?

    • Reply
      Louis A. Sousa
      June 14, 2019 at 2:20 am

      I know this is addressed to the author, but here is my two cents on your question. I shoot LOTS of film. And I shoot digital. Yes, I take more shots with a digital camera in my hand, but as I have evolved, I am much more selective in both mediums. From the discipline of shooting film, I get more digital keepers. As a means to the preferred end, I usually edit my digital images to look like film. I tend to leave the film images alone. After a digital shoot, and before downloading images, I go through the images ruthlessly. This cuts down on wasted time and computer space.

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