Eugene Tan's big print of the Amalfi Coast installed in Bondi.
Photo by Eugene Tan.
Canon has launched a new initiative that challenges us to do, well, anything at all. Called Show Us What's Possible, the idea is to push the boundaries and pitch some remarkable projects to Canon.
To kick it off, Aquabumps’ Eugene Tan brought an Italian influence to Sydney. The Bondi-based publisher and aerial photography pioneer unveiled his most audacious project to date. The result of a 12-month journey, and with the support of Canon, Eugene achieved his long-held dream of producing a ‘huge’ print of one of his aerial photographs for everyone to enjoy.
Over a 24-hour period, Eugene installed a 49-metre long, 13-metre wide, 700 square metre print of ‘Peppermint Fresh’, one of his most popular shots taken above the Italian Amalfi Coast. However, it was where Eugene placed it that was most interesting: on the bottom of the famous Bondi Icebergs swimming pool!
“The Icebergs exhibition is a melting pot of my passions: aerial photography, Italy, the beach, Bondi, and large-scale prints,” says Eugene. “I pioneered aerial beach photography in Australia over 10 years ago and have always wanted to produce one of my aerial images publically in a huge format. Icebergs was a logical location choice and the closest replication of the famous Italian beach clubs on the Amalfi Coast, which has become one of my favourite locations to shoot.
“For this to be at the iconic Icebergs pool in Bondi Beach, where Aquabumps started 18 years ago, is really a dream come true. I started Aquabumps because of my passion and love of the beach and to share my images with more than 300,000 people daily all over the world – to be able to show them this will be pretty cool.” Eugene Tan’s documentary film of the making of his art installation will be launched on Canon's Stories website (https://www.canon.com.au/explore/stories) and Aquabumps’ channels.
Graham Morgan is also no stranger to winning photography awards and once again, his stunning work has risen to the top of the judges' estimation.
Talking about his winning photography, Graham explained, "The image was taken at Chitake Springs in the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. The spring is the only available water and runs through a sandy, steep sided gorge which is ideal ambush country for predators.
"The Cape Buffalo stampede down the side of the gorge kicks up chokingly thick clouds of dust to minimise their risk. You can see the dust settling in the background of the image. A large herd will drink the spring dry, but within an hour it’s up and flowing again, waiting for the next group of punters. Being the only source of water means all the wildlife is concentrated in a small area.
Chitake Springs is a truly wild place with very few human visitors. The animals are in an extra tight tussle for resources and their senses and temperaments are balanced on a knife's edge. The lions roar all night and the elephants, harassed by the lions, are constantly trumpeting. The baboons and impala are regularly making alarm calls.
"The local wildlife wandered right through our camp day and night. Two hyenas joined us one evening whilst we were seated on camp stools, eating dinner in the dark. The only available light was from our headlamps. They lay down like family dogs, paws outstretched two metres from our feet. The fact that lions were roaring close by probably had something to do with it.
"The sand is so hot and Tse Tse fly so prolific that the lions climb Kalahari Apple Leaf Trees and make a resting place similar to a cat basket, so as to escape the menace. That’s right! At Chitake the lions climb trees! Every roar, trumpet and screech means something and affects the behaviour of everything else. It’s such an intimately entwined, confined system that we do our clumsy best to tap into it. You can constantly feel the tension, everything is nervous.
Vineyard east of Middlehurst, north end of South Island, New Zealand.
80mm lens on Phase One XF 100MP, 1/3200 second @ f3.2, ISO 200
Join Tony Hewiit and Peter Eastway on Middlehurst this June for an art photography workshop - details on website.
The human mind loves patterns and repetition. And when we talk about composition, pattern and repetition are key elements in this sometimes vague and mysterious art. However, there are a couple of things that I look for when composing pattern shots.
The first thing I try to do with a pattern shot is to fill the frame. By filling the frame, the viewer is lead to believe the pattern goes on forever - it is limitless. If the above photo of vineyards included the surrounding edges of the vineyard, it would create a completely different image.
The second thing I look for is variation. After filling the frame, there needs to be some point of interest for the eye to land on. In the image above, there's the secondary colour pattern of reds and blues, but this is quite subtle. More obvious is the roadway that cuts through the image. It is a centre of interest, a dynamic line, a break in proceedings.
So, which do you prefer? There's no right or wrong, just a preference - but at least it can be a creative decision.
Check out our Middlehurst video, created by Animoto.
Check out the book we created on the last Middlehurst workshop.
It's a 16MB download file you view in Adobe Reader or Acrobat (PDF eBook).
Once again, it's is a strong, powerful and dramatic composition that has found its way to the top of the competition. It's not that more 'normal' sport photographs are lacking, rather that in a photography competition, the judges are often swayed by a more pictorial or artistic approach, something that stops them in their tracks and gets them to ask questions.
Michael Pilsworth has done just this with his rowing study, taken in an inlet near his home in Bunbury, Western Australia.
"This inlet is where I spent my childhood - swimming, camping, fishing off the little jetties which used to be placed along the rock wall. It is still a very popular location for dragon boat teams, the odd horse swimming race, boats bobbing about on Australia Day for the fireworks and the die hard fishermen. I took this image late afternoon when the lines of the rower and the kayak caught my eye."
Long Reef at sunset, Fujifilm GFX with 63mm f2.8 lens
40 seconds @ f16, ISO 100, 10x B+W ND filter, processed in Photoshop.
So, what is the GFX and why should you be interested? The GFX is Fujfilm's first medium format digital camera. It features a 50-megapixel sensor in a compact, mirrorless camera body that isn't much larger than the smaller X-Pro2 and X-T2. The lenses are obviously bigger (to handle the larger format sensor) and the camera body is deeper too. It looks like this is where the sensor sits, but this is not the case, so I figure it was just a sensible place to cram in all the electronics needed for the larger sensor.
However, we're comparing the GFX to what are already very small cameras. Put the GFX up against the 50-megapixel Canon EOS 5DSR and there's not much in it. Weight and volume are very similar, so what Fujifilm is presenting is access to medium format photography without the penalty of size or weight.
Let's get the elephant in the room out of the way first. The body is retailing for AUS $9995 and the lenses will cost around $2-3000 each on average. So I expect $15,000 for a camera and two lenses.
Compared to Hasselblad, the Fujifilm GFX will be several thousand dollars cheaper, a little more expensive than the Pentax and considerably less than the Leica or Phase One systems. For photographers wanting to take the step up to medium format, two of the biggest hurdles - size and price - have been overcome. Sure, it's still an expensive camera compared to a CSC or entry-level DSLR, but for those in the know about medium format, it's a step in the right direction for sure.
After opening the test photos I shot in Fujifilm's Raw File Converter, I can confirm that the image quality is stellar. The colour is excellent (as you'd expect of an X-Series Fujifilm camera) and there is plenty of exposure latitude. However, for me the big change is the camera's usability - its ergonomics and versatility. This is a small camera with a big sensor, meaning you can use it hand-held in places that are troublesome for more fulsome medium format cameras.
Don't take this as carte-blanche for single handed shooting from the hip. Sure, you can do it, but this is still a medium format sensor. When you enlarge your image up to 100% on your computer screen, everything is magnified including missed focus and camera movement. You will need to know what you're doing to make the most out of this camera. Of course, if you view your images at 5O% magnification, it's just like using a 24-megapixel sensor and maybe your technique deficiencies will be hidden after all. Shooting medium format is a skill that isn't difficult to learn, but mustn't be forgotten.
You will be excused for thinking you're shooting with a CSC or DSLR camera when you pick up the GFX, and I imagine this was Fujifilm's intention. And where it is priced, no doubt Fujifilm is hoping to attract both professional and enthusiast photographers, so it is important that the camera is easy to use.
And it is. Shooting with the camera is a beautiful experience. Apertures are controlled on the lens, shutter speeds and ISO on the camera body with generous dials that can be locked into position (very much X-Series design). The detachable electronic viewfinder is large and very bright with a 3.69 million dot screen, but you can also use the 2.36 million dot touch-screen LCD on the rear of the camera. On the top of the camera is another LED screen detailing important camera settings, but this information can also be seen on the rear LCD or in the electronic viewfinder itself. Personally, I'd prefer another dial for exposure compensation, similar to the X-Pro 2, but maybe that's just me!
When it comes to autofocus, the mirrorless design allows Fujifilm to offer up to 425 autofocus points spread across almost the entire image area, meaning it is very unlikely you will want to focus on something that is not covered. Importantly, you can adjust the focus point very easily, even with the camera to your eye, using an eight-direction focus lever. The GFX also offers Face Detection and Eye Detection AF so suddenly the camera is looking very appealing for professional wedding and portrait photographers.
One of the challenges faced by wedding photographers is exposure latitude. Whether shooting from inside a dark church to a bright outdoors, or simply maintaining detail in both the bride's white dress and the groom's black suit, medium format sensors benefit from a generous exposure latitude. The GFX is claimed to have 14-stops (EV) dynamic range and this is one the prime reason for switching from a DSLR or CSC up to medium format.
Some reviewers have wondered why Fujifilm didn't carry the X-trans filter system across to the GFX's sensor. Probably because it wouldn't be needed on the larger medium format sensor.
Tiny red, green and blue filters are placed over individual pixels on a sensor, thus creating colour sensitivity. The standard Bayer pattern has blocks of four filters, two green, one red and one blue. However, on small sensors, the Bayer pattern can cause problems with colour fidelity and moire , so an optical low-pass filter is added on top to correct for this. Unfortunately, the low-pass filter slightly blurs the image, hence the need for image pre-sharpening when you process your raw files. So, with the Bayer design, you blur the image to fix the colour and moire, then sharpen them up after, but it's never quite as good.
In comparison, the Fujifilm X-trans filter system, as found on its APS-C size sensors, uses a block of 36 filters which has no issues with colour fidelity or moire, so there's no need to use a low-pass filter and the resulting images are much clearer and sharper, straight out of the camera.
However, the Bayer pattern on a medium format sensor doesn't suffer from colour fidelity issues or moire. The physics of light that create problems on small sensors simply aren't seen when the sensor is larger, so as I understand it, there was no benefit in introducing the X-trans filter system. (N.B. Moire can still be seen from time to time on medium format camera files, but in practice, it is a much rarer event than on smaller sensors.)
So in summary, the medium format GFX has excellent dynamic range, no low-pass filter over the sensor (meaning super sharp images) and 50-megapixel resolution, all packed into a small camera that is fully automatic and easy to use, but I would be remiss if I didn't list just a few of the many other features.
The Fujifilm G format image sensor measures 43.8x32.9mm, so not quite the 60x45mm of a true medium format camera (the same can be said about all the current 50-megapixel medium format sensor cameras), but nearly double the area of a full frame DSLR. On top of this sits the X-Processor Pro image processing engine, which also handles Fujifilm's Film Simulation modes if you're happy to work with JPEG files. The X-Processor Pro will also process the camera's raw files into 8-bit TIFF files on board if required.
Capture can be set to a range of different sizes and frame ratios, but the largest is 4:3 at 8526x6192 pixels as compressed raw, uncompressed raw files and/or JPEGs. HD video is also available.
ISO ranges from 100 to 12,800, with extended sensitivities from ISO 50 up to 102,400. ISO 100 to 800 work brilliantly well, but at ISO 6,400 and 12,800 you can clearly see the effects of the higher settings. Nevertheless, you need to remember you are looking at a 50-megapixel file, so if you view at 50% magnification on screen, this will approximate what you'd see from a comparable 24-megapixel DSLR and suddenly you realise there's a lot you can do with these files. The high ISO settings are a boon for medium format and you can certainly enjoy low light shooting with the CMOS sensor.
The camera body is weather sealed against dust and moisture, there's a dual SD memory card slot and both support the UHS-II format. The rear LCD screen can be tilted up and down and you can add a vertical battery grip as an optional accessory.
Top shutter speed is 1/4000 second, although an electronic shutter gives you access to 1/16,000 second. At the other end, you can set time exposures up to 60 minutes - and this sensor will handle them as well. You can shoot at 3 frames per second for up to 8 frames in raw, 13 frames in compressed raw and until the memory card fills up with JPEGs.
In the studio, the flash sync speed is only 1/125 second, although you can choose between first and second curtain synchronization. There are five types of bracketing, including white balance and ISO, you can capture multiple exposures or set the camera for interval shooting, and there's a voice memo function built in for note taking. You can also take control of your camera using the Fujifilm Camera Remote app on your smartphone.
On release, there were three lenses: a standard 63mm f2.8, a 120mm macro and a 32-64mm zoom. Another new lens is on its way and you can also mount Hasselblad H lenses.
In many ways, I think the success of the Fujifilm GFX (and any other new camera to the market) lies with the lenses available for it. If the GFX is to become a favourite for wedding and portrait photographers, for instance, then Fujifilm needs zooms the equivalent of a 24-70mm and 80-200mm, which are standard fare in these genres. For landscape and travel photography, wide-angles are needed.
In comparison to conventional medium format cameras, the Fujifilm GFX handles exceptionally well, but it's not as yet as consummate a performer as the X-Pro2 or X-T2. The smaller X-series of cameras went through a series of refinements and I expect the GFX will need to do the same. However, I am being very picky and, like most reviewers, I don't necessarily have better suggestions either!
However, what I am sure of is that the quality you get from this camera is exceptionally good. The lenses have no trouble resolving fine detail on the 50-megapixel sensor and as a package, the GFX system will allow you to shoot medium format quality with the convenience of a small, compact camera. And it is as automatic as you want to make it.
For more details, visit http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/gfx/fujifilm_gfx_50s/
Capture without the 10X ND filter.