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Shapes & Textures

Snow-covered foothills, Icefields Parkway, Canada
Phase One XF 100MP, Schneider 240mm with 2x converter, 1/50 second @ f12, ISO 50.

This is one of my favourite photographs from a trip up the Icefields Parkway in Canada. Why? I'm not exactly sure, but I think it is a combination of me loving snow, of moody light, and of the beautiful textures created by the trees and the way they fold themselves over the foothills.

A lot of travel photography is taken from the side of the road. Even if you're heading off on a trek, you'll drive to the starting point and there are invariably opportunities along the way, especially if the light is changing. On a one to two week trip, I'd expect at least one, two or maybe three weather systems to push through, creating cloud and lighting opportunities - so you need to be ready.

On this occasion, as I've written before, we had early snow. When we started out in the morning in heavy snow, we didn't think we'd get to see anything much at all because visibility was poor, but later in the morning the clouds lifted a little and, using a telephoto lens, I was able to isolate the simple shapes of the tree-covered hills. The telephoto lens lets you simplify your composition and while it won't be very apparent in this small reproduction, there is some beautiful detail in there.

Detail in a photograph remains important to me. I'm happy to capture images that are soft and blurry, but that's a different head space. Part of what makes a photograph a photograph is the way the lens resolves detail. The closer you look, the more you see. So most of the time I'm travelling, I use a tripod. David Oliver laughs at me, saying he's taken his shots by the time I have the second leg of my tripod extended - and there's an argument there. On the other hand, usually the landscape isn't going to run away and spending a little time to set up the tripod can be well-used as you reflect on your subject. The resulting composition is generally more considered than a hand-held one - and I like that. It's not a better way of shooting, rather a different way - and each to their own.

If you'd like to join Tony Hewitt and me in Canada in October this year, we need to hear from you by the end of May. This part of Canada at this time of year is really popular, so if we're to book accommodation, we have to get cracking. For more details, check out the Better Photography website here.

Phase One IQ4 150MP

How many pixels are enough? The Phase One XF IQ4 camera systems are built upon a new and expandable Infinity Platform and three 'full-frame' medium format camera models are offered, including the IQ4 150MP (151-megapixels), the IQ4 100MP Trichromatic (101-megapixels), and the IQ4 150MP Achromatic (151-megapixels).

Most interesting with the Infinity Platform, Phase One has moved the core of Capture One’s imaging processor into the IQ4 back itself. Called ‘Capture One Inside’, this offers raw file control in your camera. Image editing and processing – once possible only in the Capture One software application on a computer – can now be controlled within the IQ4 – although you will only be using the back's relatively small LCD screen, so you mightn't be doing a lot of retouching! However, it's a start of what could be a wholesale change in the way cameras are built and used.

Capture One Inside enables:

• improved preview quality;

• JPEG processing;

• IIQ style integration;

• improved Live View, faster frame rate, and new tools.

Phase One is known for its modular, open-platform approach. Like the Phase One XF camera body, introduced in 2015, the Infinity Platform of the IQ4 has been engineered to anticipate developments in technology and expand functionality to support changing workflow demands.

The IQ4 150MP and IQ4 150MP Achromatic models feature an ultra-efficient pixel design (the Backside Illuminated (BSI) sensor) that delivers unprecedented image quality and detail. It's a world first in full-frame medium format photography.

Wireless, USB-C and Ethernet offer greater control of connectivity and workflow. It means users will be able to interface directly with accessories such as hard drives, NAS storage, network solutions and mobile devices, while the new Ethernet and USB-C ports can offer charging capabilities of the camera system or sustained power from compatible devices. Support for both XQD and SD memory cards can be combined with the above tethering options to provide a multitude of workflow solutions.

For full details, visit www.phaseone.com

Capture To Print With 150MP

The print of Camel Rock, South Coast, NSW
Phase One IQ4 150MP back, 32mm Rodenstock lens, Epson SC-P10070, Canson Rag Photographique

The week before last, I picked up Lau Nørgaard from Sydney Airport at 7.30 a.m. and bundled him into my car for a drive down south. Lau is Phase One's Chief Visionary Officer and the man behind the Phase One XF camera. I'd met him at the launch of the XF a few years back in Copenhagen and was very impressed when he told me that, after watching me use the camera, he'd made some adjustments to the firmware and updated the camera. I think it's pretty cool that we can change the way our cameras operate to work better.

So, what do you talk about on a five hour drive south with one of the world's leading camera designers? It didn't take us long to get into all sorts of topics, from the decisions that go into designing a lens to how far sensor design might go in the future. In fact, for three days I gave Lau a grilling and I'm sure he was delighted to see the back of me when I dropped him off in Sydney on Sunday night!

One of our projects down south was to take a few photographs, using the new Phase One IQ4 150-megapixel back and today, I completed the process by making a 1x1.5 metre print on my Epson SureColor P10070 and Canson Rag Photographique paper. The result is sensational, not just because of the image detail, but also the colour and the tonality. There's a clarity and a depth that I don't see in smaller format cameras, no matter what size print I'm making.

The photograph is of Camel Rock near Bermagui, but from this angle, the rocks don't look like a camel at all, but I think there's a better foreground. I've photographed this location many times before, but not with so much sand in the foreground. In fact, being the end of summer, all of the locations we visited were completely different to what I had seen at the end of winters past.

I took lots of notes over the weekend and will be writing up a story for the next issue of Better Photography - there will be lots more to report!

Oh, and here's the photograph. I've gone for a lighter, more colourful rendition - and even included a sunrise sky!

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