Jade Ferguson

I’m Jade Ferguson. Heartist, Time Traveler and Observer (aka Photographer). I’ve been chasing light since I was a teenager but didn’t fully realise my dream of becoming a full-time lens assassin until a string of unfortunate events in a Covid-dominated world led me to it.

After spending over 15 years in the Advertising and Media industries as a Producer, I like to think I learned somewhat by osmosis by witnessing some of the industries best at work.

It was only ever a matter of time until I turned my eye to the creative side, and in 2019 and after many years of “side hustling” Photography – I leaned into the dark side after a final blow of redundancy made me take my final bow from the world of PAYG.

I have never really subscribed to a definition by category like most photographers. Instead, I call what I capture Visual Poetry. I like to think that I am a facilitator of time travel – I can connect a person to moments past in a visceral and emotive way through the press of a button. I think that’s a pretty nifty skill to have.

My work is mostly in the Performing Arts space which is a pretty niche area. This was adult graduation from years of low light boot camping at live music gigs and shooting for media outlets which I still do for the love of it now, on occasion.

I also like to capture human beings. Doing things. Making things. Just generally being themselves. Perhaps it’s portraiture, or perhaps it’s just a moment in time that doesn’t necessarily define. Either way, I’d consider my style erring on the side of low-key and a bit hauntingly romantic – pretty much how I’d describe myself really.

I’m a Nikon gal through and through. Don’t come at me with your Canon rants. I’m a fiercely loyal human and my first foray into photography was with a Nikon F2 film camera at around 16 years of age. I’ve stuck by Nikon ever since and couldn’t find it more reliable and user-friendly.

The evolution of my gear started with my first DSLR purchase. The crop sensor Nikon D90 and boy was she good to me. I took her on trips across the globe and back and learned the entire Nikon system inside out, she only fell short when I became interested in moving on from kit lenses and using quality glass.

Graduating to my first full-frame sensor, the D750, I was blown away at the combination of good glass plus a full-frame. The low light capabilities were everything I had seen but until then couldn’t capture. That D750 body took me through years of grimy, dimly-lit dive bars and I still use it as my second camera to this day.

I’m currently working with a Nikon D850 body. Again the decision to upgrade was based on low light performance. Given that most of my work involves unknown, erratic and often mixed lighting conditions, I needed a responsive and reliable body that delivers every time.

Cameras

The Nikon D850 is my workhorse. She’s my primary go-to for all of my work.

The Nikon D750 I use for my second camera at live shows. I usually chuck a wide lens on this body for all of the audience and wide stage action.

The Nikon F4 film camera is my analogue bestie. This bad boy takes most of the thinking out of the equation with its auto-wind and AF options along with its digital info panel that helps me make quick decisions in various conditions.

Polaroid ImpulseOriginal 600. Because despite its exorbitant film costs, there really is nothing like the colours that come out of an original Polaroid. The tactile nature of having something instant to keep is also something that the old romantic in me gets a bit misty-eyed and nostalgic about.

Lenses

Sigma Art 85mm f/1.4 – My go-to for portraiture and a really crisp image. I love everything about this lens – its unique fixed focal length makes me work for the shot and I often like to pull it out at live shows for its unbeatable low light performance.

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 – I’m fond of the old spy approach to documentary-style images. As an introvert I like to hang back in a crowd and shoot with a long lens, capturing candid moments. It’s not a subtle lens, but I love the fact that I can capture extraordinary details from a distance.

I also throw a 1.4x Sigma TC on this lens when I am shooting close-up stage shots. I lose a couple of stops of light but in a quality venue with great stage lighting, I can afford it for the distance gained.

Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 – This baby is my all-rounder. You can’t beat the versatility of a 24-70 for most occasions. Great for covering an entire room at a show and for grabbing some more intimate moments. If I could only take one lens travelling with me, this would have to be it.

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 – Everyone needs a nifty fifty and this Sigma is definitely a beaut. I love it for its sharp images and f/1.4 capability. A beautiful 50mm to own.

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 – The oddball of the bunch. This was a last-minute purchase before an international trip where I would have the chance to discover and experiment with astrophotography. It’s in my kit solely for this purpose but I’ve surprisingly used it for some larger venues and on sweeping landscapes for a dramatic impact. The vignetting on this isn’t great though.

Lights/Triggers

Godox DP400III Studio Flash – A really reliable studio strobe that I use for indoor portraiture and product work. I reviewed this for Shotkit earlier this year if you’d like to read more here.

Godox X Pro (N) Flash Trigger – Paired with the Godox DP400III for a reliable and fast fire.

Nikon SB900 Speedlight – For indoor scenes and event opening nights. Occasionally I use it off-camera for studio portraiture.

Gary Fong Lightsphere – At first I was sceptical about the Gary Fong Lightsphere but it has proven time and time again to provide a very naturally flattering flash bounce that has saved some not-so picturesque indoor scenes.

Yongnuo Universal Flash Trigger – Universal. Easy to use. Nuf’ said.

Phottix M200R RGB Light – This fairly recent addition to my kit has been a little lifesaver. A handy little portable additional source of continuous light for those unexpected situations. I also dig the full spectrum colour capability if I’m feeling creative.

Bags/Straps

Lucky Straps personalised Leather Neck Strap – For singular use.

Holdfast Camera Swag – For dual rigs.

Tripods

Manfrotto BeFree is my go-to travel tripod. Its light, portable and sturdy and the ball head mechanism is fluid and highly functional.

Hardware & Software

Photo Mechanic – For culling, it speeds up the processing time tenfold. I’m also currently trialing Narrative Select for culling and loving it so far.

Adobe Camera Raw – For processing.

Adobe Lightroom -For the majority of my editing.

Alien Skin Exposure X6 – For the more creative of my edits.

Adobe Photoshop – For finishing touches. I don’t use it a lot, I’m perfectly fine with flaws.

I don’t use presets. I’ve tried many of them over the years and I find them to be very limiting and trend-driven. My work demands attention to detail and I can’t just have a one-size-fits-all approach to images. After all, the lighting conditions are different every time.

I truly believe that part of developing one’s own style comes from learning how to edit your images the way you want them to look and feel. Presets stop this process right in its tracks and I highly recommend NOT using them and finding your own approach.

I save my own original edits as presets to keep a particular style consistent across client work, however, I definitely don’t use the same look across all of my clients and I adapt my edits to suit the desired outcomes.

Misc.

Never leave home without earplugs and a spare fully charged battery.

If I never did it, I never would have done it. Just get out there, get shooting, get good, get bad, get better. But never stop.

One day you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come and thank yourself for starting when you did. Oh, and break all the mother flipping rules – cause that’s exactly what they’re made for.

www.visualpoetssociety.com.au | @visualpoetssociety

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