Village Temple, Tshangkha, Bhutan.
Phase One XF, 100MP TriChromatic back, 55mm lens, 1/40 second @ f2.8, ISO 3200
Time flies when you're having fun and the three weeks I spent with David Oliver, my wife Kathie and a great group of photographers in Bhutan flew past way too quickly. In fact, I think one of the best things about visiting Bhutan with people who have never been before is watching their faces light up with amazement, inspiration, awe and plain old happiness!
Now, I was pretty happy too thanks to Phase One. The kind people from Denmark lent me a new 100MP Trichromatic back, so at the risk of sounding a bit wanky, I jaunted around Bhutan with not one 100MP back, but two. One for the Phase One XF body (the Trichro), the other on my Phase One A-Series (since my own 100MP back and lenses have all been matched to work together). It just meant I didn't have to change the back from camera to camera when using my ultra wide-angle 23mm Alpagon which sits on the A-Series and is the ultimate wide-angle camera/lens combination, as long as you don't mind focusing and setting the exposure manually!
But back to the Trichromatic back which I had used sparingly in Canada last year (it was hard to wrest it away from Tony Hewitt) and more extensively in South West USA earlier this year. And now I really am starting to get it. I wouldn't say the Trichromatic is revolutionary, rather it's evolutionary. The way I understand it, Phase One has re-engineered how the sensor captures colours. Here's what Phase One says on its website:
'In the average sensor, the degree of color separation between the wavelengths of blue, green and red light is where the color compromise begins. The color filter array of the Trichromatic sensor, however, is designed to pick up exactly the right wavelength of light that allows us to get the most color nuances in the most natural way possible. This means that we achieve fully saturated colors, and that we can get every shade of blue, green, and red exactly as the scene reveals itself. The uncompromised nature of the color rendering from the sensor in the Trichromatic means that straight out of the camera, the possibilities in the RAW capture and color are wide open.'
Now, this at first sounded a little 'marketing speak' for me, but having used the back in a variety of situations and, most importantly, processed the files, I understand what it's all about. There's a certainly purity and clarity of colour that I haven't seen before. It's a bit like using a selective colour adjustment layer and cleaning out the greys. And when you're processing the files in Capture One, you don't need to (or want to) push the colour saturation slider nearly as hard. The colour is just 'there' and it is beautiful to behold.
So, yes, I'm a convert. I'm currently writing an article for the magazine on using medium format cameras for travel photography - and even using them hand-held. David Oliver was very pleased to see me running around without a tripod - most of the time. But there was always a tripod close at hand, just in case I wanted to use slower ISO settings or an ND filter!
The almost weekly photograph was taken during a day long ceremony in a small village temple - thanks to Namgay our guide for organising our special access as normally you can't photograph inside a temple, let alone the proceedings. The light was unbelievably challenging and not a lot of it - this shot was taken at ISO 3200 (which isn't at all bad for a medium format sensor)!
And if you're interested in a photography workshop in the next 12 months or so, I have places left on trips going to New Zealand ‘Middlehurst’, Antarctica, SW USA, Canada, Iran, and Bolivia. Full details on the Better Photography website!