My Lisbon / Nazaré adventure with the Fuji X-T4
Hi! Ronan here, I’m an airline pilot from Ireland, living in London, with a passion for photography. I took up photography just over two years ago, while furloughed during the pandemic.
My dad always had camcorders and cameras around when we were younger, and one day I took out his old Canon (EOS Rebel XTi) DSLR he had lying around on my daily walks and hikes to stay sane during that crazy time. Little did I know, I fell in love with photography and couldn’t get enough of it. I eventually broke that old camera, (specifically the old CF Card pins), and took the plunge and purchased my first camera, the incredible Fujifilm X-T4 on the recommendation of a close friend and I haven’t looked back since.
Portugal is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a long time, and as January 2022 approached, I found myself with time off from work with nothing planned. So, why not Portugal? My plan was simple: 4 days in Lisbon exploring the city and 2 days further north in Nazaré, the surf capital of Portugal. Photography and surfing, what more could I want?
THE CAMERA BAG
Firstly, let’s talk about what I packed for this trip, camera wise.
● Camera body: Fujifilm X-T4.
● Lenses: Fujifilm 18-55mm (f2.8-4.0) and Fujifilm 70-300mm (f4.0-5.6).
● Camera Bag: WNDRD PRVKE 30L Original Navy
● Other: Peak Design Wrist Strap + Capture Clip
My setup was pretty basic, my trusty 18-55mm stayed on my camera about 80% of the time while in Lisbon, and the 70-300mm mostly appeared while out on the coast. The images you see from this trip came from a combination of RAW files, edited in CaptureOne Pro 21, or SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) Jpegs shot with a Nostalgic Negative film sim from the guys at Fuji X Weekly. Most were SOOC Jpegs unless I got the exposure wrong, and felt editing the RAW file was needed.
Now, let’s get to the trip.
DAY 1 – A Travel Day Full Of Surprises
This was to be a trip of firsts for me: My first time travelling solo, my first time to Portugal, and my first time going on a dedicated photo trip, to name but a few. Excited (but slightly terrified), Lisbon awaited.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @40.70mm . f/5.6 . 1/1000″ . ISO 320
I flew from LHR (London Heathrow) to Lisbon early that morning, an enjoyable flight with some gorgeous views of the city and river Tagus on our approach into Lisbon. While flying, I decided to try and set up some custom film simulations for the first time to attempt to shoot some Jpegs and see if I’d enjoy the experience and cut out some time editing. At the very least, I thought it might be a great way to have some images for my social media to send across to my phone while on the go using the Fujifilm app. Worst comes to worst, I’d have the RAWS as backup.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @21.40mm . f/5.6 . 1/500″ . ISO 320
On approach Lisbon, I got this image of the beach and city below. It was my first introduction to the city and the colours, which would become a central reason I came to love Lisbon so much. I’ve always loved images framed by aeroplane windows. It’s a classic image, full of story and adventure – one we almost all take every flight.
As I touched down and turned my phone on, things took an interesting turn. I’d booked a room in an Airbnb to stay centrally for the four days in the city, but as I turned on my data, I was greeted with a message from my host to say she had Covid and that I couldn’t stay with her. She assured me she had found me a new Bnb to stay in nearby and that everything was fine, which didn’t convince me, to be honest, but I thought, “hey, what’s the worst that could happen?”
After arriving in the city en route to my new booking, led by Google Maps, I kept my camera out on my Peak Design Capture Clip (potentially the best piece of kit I’ve bought) and caught a few first impressions of the city.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @35.80mm . f/5.6 . 1/1000″ . ISO 320
This shot of an old man, framed by shadows, was the first shot I took on Lisbon’s streets. Instantly, I found the long narrow streets, flanked by tall colourful buildings of Lisbon, a dream to shoot in. The frames, shapes and shadows that the low winter light creates at this time of year is my favourite light to shoot street photography in, and Lisbon let me know immediately that I would enjoy my time there.
After settling in (at my surprisingly nice) Airbnb, I headed out to capture the afternoon/evening light and do some initial exploring. I took in the central streets towards the main square by the coast, got an opportunity to have my first Pastel de Natas (a running joke from my Instagram, I kept a tab of how many I ate throughout the trip), a trip up to the famous castle and after that, took a small walk up to a decent viewpoint to catch sunset over the city, beer and camera in hand.
Sunset high above Lisbon was the perfect end to my first day in Portugal.
Day 2 – General Exploration Lisbon
I’m a sunrise over sunset guy – it’s my favourite time of day, hands down. Day 2 I decided to wake up early to catch the sunset by the river, a couple of Pastel de Nata for breakfast, and to explore the riverside as the city woke up.
I spent the first hour by the main square once again, and decided after that to take the ferry across the river to the far side to get a new perspective of the bridge and the city. The 18-55mm stayed on and I found that focal range to be so versatile while walking around, and it’s such a light lens. Perfect for photographing somewhere new.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @37.40mm . f/6.4 . 1/1000″ . ISO 400
What wasn’t such a great start was being kicked out of the ferry port for not wearing my mask as I attempted to eat some food while waiting for the ferry. Thankfully, I was let back in once I’d eaten my food. Alas, the ferry trip turned out to be a great decision, as it gave a stunning view of the city. Unfortunately, this particular ferry had no open top seating, but was mostly empty and still allowed for some interesting images. Using the windows as frames (similar to the plane window photo) made for an effective composition tool.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @30.20mm . f/5.6 . 1/4000″ . ISO 800
Once over on the far side, I took a short walk along the river to see what I could find, (mostly derelict warehouses), but I did find one lone fisherman fishing by the river. Although the exposure was quite hard to get just right, I do enjoy how the fisherman gives scale to how grand the bridge is in the background. It would also be my first of many photos of fishermen on this trip.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @32.90mm . f/5.6 . 1/1000″ . ISO 200
Shortly after, I took the ferry back and went for a further walk up the river with the intention of seeing some more famous landmarks of Lisbon. The river/coast area yielded some gorgeous results. As the afternoon light began to fade, I stopped for some food and a beer and was greeted with the best sunset I’ve probably ever seen. Silhouetted against the sun, fishermen, boats and passersby became the perfect subjects, which paired with the 70-300mm created some beautiful images. Using the telephoto lens to compress the background, the sun stole the show as it set. Another great day of shooting and exploring in Lisbon.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF70-300mmF4-5.6 @300mm . f/7.1 . 1/1000″ . ISO 640
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @39mm . f/5.6 . 1/2000″ . ISO 250
DAY 3 – SINTRA
Day 3 took me to a real fairytale landscape, Sintra.
Sintra is an area of old palaces of Portuguese that royalty and aristocracy used to reside in, about an hour by train. As there’s many palaces of all different shapes and sizes, I chose three to visit and set off.
The palaces themselves are spectacular, each unique and full of history. Architecturally different from one to the next, most with incredibly lavish gardens to accompany them also. Exploring each was a dream.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @46.30mm . f/6.4 . 1/125″ . ISO 320
My favourite palace was the final one I visited; the Palácio Nacional da Pena. This is probably the most famous of all the Sintran palaces, due to its distinctly fairytale-like colours and beautiful architecture. It felt as if you had walked onto the set of a Disney movie when you walked through the palace grounds, the grandeur and colour awe inspiring. I love colour, golden sunshine and nature in photography, and this palace had it all. Despite being the most famous, it wasn’t too overcrowded at this late time, as thankfully most tourists had come and gone, leaving just enough to add a human element to some of the images captured, and subjects to provide scale to these superb scenes.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @32.90mm . f/5.6 . 1/2000″ . ISO 1600
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @55mm . f/5.6 . 1/250″ . ISO 200
Leaving this particular palace to the end turned out to be a great decision, as it sits high upon the hills with beautiful views towards the Portuguese coast and the surrounding Sintran area. The lush grounds and forested hills surrounding the buildings themselves were a joy to explore.
DAY 4 – CASCAIS / FERREL
Day 4 was checkout day from Lisbon and travelling day to Ferrel – a stunning surf spot a short drive from the famous Nazaré and only a couple hours drive north of Lisbon. Time to surf badly and take photographs.
Hire car picked up, I chose the scenic route and drove along the coast initially to a town called Cascais. A lovely little port town, I’d read that it was home to a gorgeous lighthouse. I only had a short time here before I’d have to head on, but I did have a quick walk around the harbour up to the lighthouse, and it was, indeed, a lovely spot and pretty lighthouse.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @21.40mm . f/22 . 1/15″ . ISO 160
Finally I came to Ferrell, and checked into my hostel and quickly headed towards the beach to try to get in a short surf before the rentals closed. I was greeted by a stunning beach and waters, although absolutely freezing. I finished up surfing before golden hour, to take best advantage of the light and hopefully catch some surf shots. And I was not disappointed.
A beautiful sunset greeted me, and I walked up and down the beach, with mostly the 70-300mm on my camera, trying to capture images of the beautiful sunset before me. The Portuguese sun shone with stunning colours and I tried not to get in the way of the scenes before me. An incredible evening of shooting.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF70-300mmF4-5.6 @239.80mm . f/5.6 . 1/1000″ . ISO 800
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF70-300mmF4-5.6 @258.40mm . f/5.6 . 1/4000″ . ISO 500
I’ve always loved the compression of the sun with a telephoto lens, and how it can help to frame subjects in the foreground. While not the fastest lens, the reach of the 70-300 allows for easy subject separation and isolation, even of surfers hundreds of metres out to sea. The range is so versatile, and like the 18-55mm, weighs relatively nothing for the reach. A favourite lens of mine.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF70-300mmF4-5.6 @300mm . f/5.6 . 1/1000″ . ISO 500
DAY 5 – NAZARE / FERREL
Day 5 was my last full day of this trip, as the following day would be spent travelling from early on.
I woke at sunrise, and headed out for a drive. Ferrel is set on a small peninsula, with a number of viewpoints to be found around it (according to Google Maps anyway), so I thought this would be a good way to start. After taking in a number of cliffs and a couple more lighthouses, I set off for the day’s main event.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @48.40mm . f/5.6 . 1/1000″ . ISO 400
My plans for the day were to go to the home of Portuguese surfing – the world famous Nazaré. I’ve watched countless videos about the place on YouTube, so I had to visit while staying nearby.
First of all, the scale of Nazare was fascinating. The size of the cliffs which the town lay below, the waves out to sea that looked tiny from above, and the way in which the famous lighthouse overlooked the arena of the surfers. Everything about the place was gigantic and humbling.
The 70-300mm once again remained fixed to the front of my X-T4 for this day trip, and hopefully the scale translates from these images. I walked around here in constant awe and amazement at what the surfers do, with even more respect for the sea than I had before. I couldn’t help but want to return already on a stormy day to this jaw-dropping place.
I spent my final afternoon and evening doing much the same as the previous – surfing and shooting. Conditions were just as good, my surfing just as bad and happiness levels just as high. A perfect evening to end this Portugal adventure on.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T4 . Fuji XF70-300mmF4-5.6 @127.10mm . f/5.6 . 1/500″ . ISO 200
A note on the gear used for this trip: it was all pretty great. My Fujifilm kit worked perfectly and easily, the X-T4 performing excellently throughout. Battery life, size, weight, film simulations, autofocus, the lot – great. If I missed any shots, it was user error, not camera error.
The 18-55mm was an incredibly competent-compact-travel lens. Looking back at these photos it was a great reminder of how capable a lens this is, as I’ve stopped using it really for a good months or so at this point. A great lens.
The 70-300mm continues to prove itself as a superb telephoto lens, again light and compact, yet sharp and far reaching. I love this lens, its weight and size making it perfectly suited to a simple travel setup.
The WNDRD PRVKE stayed on my back for hours on a daily basis, and never got heavy. Granted I actively chose not to take too much gear, but both as a camera and travel bag, I couldn’t have asked for more. This matched the Peak Design Capture Clips and straps made photography easy and simple while hiking, walking and exploring. Staples of my setup to this day, and I imagine they’ll stay that way for a long time.
And a final note on my RAW processing with CaptureOne 21 to finish. I’ve been using this since starting to shoot with Fuji cameras, and it’s never let me down. I used it slightly differently to normal on this trip, mostly attempting to recreate the Nostalgic Neg film simulation I had been using for my Jpegs, which I found to be incredibly intuitive to do.
“Hi! Ronan here, I’m an airline pilot from Ireland, living in London, with a passion for photography. I took up photography just over two years ago, while furloughed during the pandemic.”