Jenny Fisher in Spain ~ GFX50s high res samples

Apr 6, 2017 | Flash, GFX, Location, Travel | 24 comments

Here are 46 pictures of UK model Jenny Fisher that I took on a recce in Spain. I used the new Fujifilm GFX50s together with the Fujinon 32-64mm f/4 zoom lens for every picture. Some of these blog images are links to full resolution versions of the pictures for you to see the kind of detail I capture on a real world shoot. I’m not a pixel peeper, I’m a photographer striving for the highest quality of output I can realistically achieve whilst keeping photography fun. Enjoy…

01. I lit Jenny with a single Godox AD600BM with a grid reflector and I used a splash of sunlight as my back light. GFX50s, 32-64mm lens at f/4, 1/125th second, ISO 100, Hoya ProND8. Click on the picture to open the complete full resolution image in a new tab.

02. I’ve included this wider shot to show just how far the AD600 flash was from Jenny. I think it was about 8 metres. The flash was just out of the right side of the shot. If I had used HSS I would have needed a 1200Ws flash head at least to achieve this look. Instead I used my ND filter method.

Back in January Radmila Kerl and I had a meeting in a steak bar in London to discuss the possibility of running a workshop together in Spain in September. Radmila is a former student of mine who has gone on to become one of the top portrait and wedding photographers in Germany. Based in Munich, Radmila is a great communicator and an excellent photographer sharing my passion for beauty, fashion and form. We chose Spain because it is one of the few countries with many abandoned properties giving wonderful textures for styled portraiture and nudes.

03. Texture and light like this excites me and Spain has both in bucket loads. The morning sunlight boosted the contrast and gave this shot an etherial glow.

04. The cupboard is bare. All these interior shots were taken with the GFX camera on a tripod. It’s the best way to achieve the potential image quality. I placed the Rioja bottle in the cupboard to provide somewhere for the eye of the viewer to drift to. I wonder if it will still be there when we return in September?

Locations like these need scouting out because access to some of them is difficult and others have been restored or demolished by the time we get there. We used a combination of Google Earth and Google maps to plot suitable candidates for this recce adventure in the Granada area of Spain. We were a bit unlucky on the whole but we did stumble across some real gems. Being there gives us an understanding of the light direction and what time of day each location will shine. Out of 30 or so potential locations we found six fabulous places that will form the basis of our workshops in September. I still have another 8 or so potential shoot spots to check out in the days prior to the start of the workshops.

05. This room is bright blue but I chose to keep the shot calm by selecting the Acros film simulation in camera and then in Lightroom at the edit.

06. I used the trip to get to know my new flash systems. The shot on the right was lit with the Godox AD200 on 1/32 power and triggered with the X1n transmitter.

I asked Blaise my PA to source a model that I’ve not shot with before for us to test with and Jenny Fisher, a fashion model was recruited. The first time we met was in Malaga airport. This kind of meet up is tough as it’s hard to build rapport while negotiating with a hire car company.

It took us about an hour of driving before we stumbled upon our first abandoned farmhouse in an olive grove. A bit of off road driving by Len, got us to the location. I first met Len 22 years ago. He is my neighbour and a Mamiya RB67 owner who likes beer. We still share regular beers together and the odd trip too. In fact we’ve been to France, Germany, Italy and now Spain shooting together. The good things in life are best shared with friends.

07. A roadside cottage was our second location. I love this capture at the exact moment a car was passing. It was luck not judgement ;)

08. The dynamic range of the GFX sensor is amazing. I’m sure you’ve read about that before but high key beauty imagery like this is a delight to capture without resorting to the use of reflectors etc. Picture on the right: ISO 500, 1/60th second at f/4

I had a few other reasons to test shoot; I had a new camera with a new lens, the Fujifilm GFX50s with the 32-64mm zoom, two new flash units, a Godox AD200 and a Godox AD600BM, and a new tripod by Novo. I needed to establish a slow, calm shooting pace for the GFX system to work at it’s best for me. I’ve been there before with medium format digital capture and many years of shooting 120 film so a calm, considered shooting process is nothing new to me. It just takes a different approach to capture the fine detail and subtlety in tone that the GFX can deliver. You can shoot a GFX like an XT-2 but what’s the point? The X-T2 is faster, lighter and delivers a great image quality. The GFX is more refined and realising it’s true potential requires more care and precision from the photographer. Put simply the X-T2 is like a Mini Cooper S and the GFX is more of a Bentley Continental.

09. This shot taken with the Fujifilm GFX50s at ISO 4000, using 1/30th second at f/4 shows just how versatile the GFX is when capturing detail in low light situations. Click on the picture to open the complete full resolution image in a new tab.

10. We returned to this cottage in the afternoon on day three to see how the light had changed. It was wonderfully cool out of the afternoon sun.

So what’s the Fujifilm GFX50s like to shoot with?

It’s a delight to work with the new GFX50s but if you are joining me on that GFX adventure there are a few things you need to know. The level of detail that the GFX can capture is only achieved with the camera still or with a high shutter speed selected. I know it sounds obvious but it needs saying. I chose to shoot everything on a tripod with the exception of a few street shots where I used a monopod instead. In my opinion this is the best approach to high resolution photography. It’s such a breath of fresh air using a tripod. I love giving myself time to carefully compose a shot. It’s great being able to leave the camera on the tripod while I adjust the styling, dress the scene and give direction to my model/ sitter knowing that the composition is already established.

11. The charred remnants of country living.

12. There’s nothing like a big crack in a wall to give the DIY enthusiast something to do. Bamboo was engulfing one of our locations.

The GF 32-64mm f/4 zoom – Really?

“You went for the zoom”? Wrote someone on Facebook. “Yes”, I replied “and I love it”. There are photographers online right now whipping up a frenzy for fast aperture primes to marry with the GFX but most of them have yet to discover that even at f/4 focus accuracy is critical. The GFX has a sensor that is four times the size of the X system sensor. This makes a big difference. Marry that sensor size increase with a doubling of the resolution and you have a very finely tuned focus zone. Even at the 32mm end of the zoom you are deciding what eye to focus on. Forget wide area zone focussing at f/4. The GFX requires precise focussing. I knew I needed a 32mm lens as my core optic so the zoom was my only option. Wow! what a great lens it is. The 32-64mm zoom completely exceeded my expectations. The bokeh is calm without swirls or busyness. It renders the background in a low contrast manner that lets the picture pop effortlessly. The background still tells the story, It’s not obliterated but it supports the subject in a subtle, beautiful way. The lens is heavier than the 63mm prime though but that is not a problem when using a tripod or monopod for every shot like I did here.

13. Another shot for my book “Tutu”

14. The light from a window was all I used for this low key shot.

15. Classic three point lighting gives this shot depth.

16. Intimacy is one of the most important parts of the process when I’m working with eye contact.

I have also bought the 63mm lens in anticipation of moving to an all prime setup. It arrived just after I returned from Spain. I like having a lightweight camera and lens combination. I just need the 23mm, a 35mm and the 110mm primes to complete my system. I’ve bought a 210mm f/4 Zeiss T* lens for the Contax 645 system to use with a ‘smart’ adapter. It was an Ebay bargain from Asia in EXC+++ condition. There are several smart adapters currently in development for the Contax 645 system that allow full autofocus operation and aperture selection from the camera. I’ll give it a go and if it is not up to scratch I’ll sell it again on Ebay. The Contax lens may well have the name Zeiss on it but I’m pretty sure a new Fujinon will far outperform the older Zeiss lens design. I hope a 210mm f/4 appears on the roadmap soon.

17. Finding and using natural light is my forte. I used the light from windows in the front and the back of this cottage to give great two point lighting on Jenny. The curves that transition from Jenny’s neck to her shoulders and those formed by her collar bone are sublime.

18. It was Jenny’s idea to mount the pillar of stone so we went along with the concept.

19. The small but punchy Godox AD200 was perfect for this shady place portrait in one of our top locations.

20. I used the Godox AD200 at 90° to the camera for this mysterious shot at the foot of the ‘Staircase To Ruin’.

The Novo Explora T20 carbon fibre tripod

I spent several hours scouring The UK Photography Show for a new tripod. I looked at Gitzo first, because in the past they have set the benchmark for durability, stability and build quality. I have a Gitzo 3225 monopod and I love it, so I’m right on brand. I knew the £800 price tag was enough to put off most people but I’m thinking this will be the last tripod I buy so I better make it a good one. I felt the collar on the central column of the mountaineer series was awkward and unnecessarily stiff. I tested the bendiness of the legs when the sales assistant had his back to me and I wasn’t overly impressed. It claimed a superior multilayer custom wrap but it was no stiffer than some of the other brands that I tried at the show. I moved over to Manfrotto as they were on the same stand. I have an aluminium 055 tripod that I bought in the early 1990s and it has been a good servant over the years. I still use it as my principal tripod for video productions with a fluid head and levelling base. The new version of the 55 was too blinged up for my liking and I prefer the rotating clamp system of the Gitzo, Sirui and Novo rather than the lever lock system of the Manfrotto. I already have one of the Sirui carbon traveller tripods for my X-T2 and it’s great but the Novo was the best option for the GFX and it performed brilliantly on location. I’m delighted with my choice. It goes high enough, low enough, is really well made, folds in on itself for packing away and is a rock solid support for the GFX.

21. The light from a East facing window was perfect for this simple portrait.

22. Every room had textures to love and there was too little time to shoot with them on this trip.

23. The top shot was lit with the Godox AD600BM and I added the Godox AD200 as a kick light for the bottom shot.

The Godox AD200 and AD600BM flash heads

These latest generation flash heads form the basis of my location lighting for 2017. I’ve been using a X1N trigger in ‘centre pin’ mode on all my Fuji cameras and it works really well. Rumour has it that Godox are currently working on a dedicated Fujifilm version of this transmitter that will be plug and play with TTL and HSS functionality. It’s due out by the Summer so I am led to believe.

24. I love buildings that are so bad they are good again.

25. The old town in Granada has many different streets and alleyways to shoot in and during the afternoon siesta they are deserted.

26. High key fashion is right up the GFX street.

Post production of GFX files

In the latter stages of Lightroom development for GFX compatibility I was sharing my RAFs from a pre production camera with the Adobe team and giving them feedback on the ‘look’ of the images processed from RAW files. They were in the process of fine tuning the default values for sharpness and noise reduction. Everything else was in place and now that Adobe have hundreds of files from their beta testers with final production versions of GFX to work with the next refinement of settings will perfect a near perfect output.

I happen to love working with Adobe Lightroom as it is fast and easy to use creatively. There is a lot of talk about Capture One etc but with a RAW file processor this good I’m happy to stick with Lightroom.

27. Click on the picture to open the one on the left as full resolution colour image in a new tab.

28. The f/4 zoom lens renders backgrounds delicately without a confusing bokeh. This natural rendition of a scene is a joy to produce. I’ve never been a fan of a super shallow depth of field selective blur look. Even at f/4 it is easy to see the exact point of focus when looking at a GFX image at 100%.

29. A few of the many portraits I shot on the street to really get to know the camera and what it is capable of.

The workshop

On the 12th, 13th and 14th September I will be returning to Spain with Radmila to run a three day workshop for a maximum of 5 photographers per model/ tutor. There will be two models, two tutors and 10 photographers in total. In the usual Lovegrove tradition we will swap groups often to ensure that everyone gets to shoot every setup and works with both models and both tutors. The details of this workshop will first be published on the Lovegrove Creative Shoots Facebook group. Then any remaining places will appear on our Passion Photography Experience website.

30. The Alhambra in Granada is a must see tourist spot that requires advanced booking. We suggest that workshop goers add on a few days after the workshop to take in the sights that this region of Spain has to offer.

Please feel free to comment on or ask questions about the GFX, GF lenses, the workshop in September or these pictures below.

24 Comments

  1. Steve

    Hey Damien,

    Haven’t been over for a nosey at this site for a while now; Came to look at your thoughts on the GFX 50S. Interesting to see that you adopted the Godox flash systems – We had a chat about them quite a while ago (not these units) as I was interested to hear your thoughts on RS600P (also 600WS) compared to the 400WS Elinchrom Quadra you’d been using for a long while.

    I see you ended up with the AD600, which has the battery pack attached to the head rather than in one you’d have at the base of your light stand like on the RS600 or the Quadra. How’s that work out for top-heaviness (if there is such a word!) at going on 4Kg plus sofboxes and modifiers etc on there too, or do you just use it on a heavy duty light stand / c-stand or something? I see the AD200 is half the weight, but 1/3rd of the max power. Did you go for the Godox for your travel shoots to help keep your total baggage weight down?

    Cheers,

    Steve

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Steve,

      I love the latest generation of Godox flashes. I use the AD600 with the lead and separate head when I’m on a boom arm or really high on a stand. That’s what sold it to me. The flexability of the Quadra when needed plus the normal mode of without cables etc that I use 90% of the time. It’s about the same size and weight as a regular studio head so it’s perfectly fine on a stand with a softbox.

      The AD200 is much less than half the weight of the AD600, perhaps you saw the weight of the complete kit with accessories and case etc. It has a wonderful light pattern from the Fresnel and the small reflector and grid on the bare bulb unit is great too. The AD200 is just a bit bigger than a Speedlight and not much heavier despite being 3x the power. I’ve got rid of all my Speedlights now :)

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  2. Frank Williams

    The images from the GFX are just amazing. I’m looking forward to getting mine in the first week of May as it’s on back order. I’ve been following your work Damien for may years now and you work is second to none.
    When I need a bit of a kick up the backside to shoot I look at your images. Even though now I shoot wildlife and landscapes.
    Keep up the great work and one day if you pass Chiswick Camera Centre pop in and say hi and have a tea, coffee, Biscuit.

    Frank

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Frank for your kind words.

      I may well pop into your shop for a coffee and that biscuit. I hope your GFX arrives soon. You are certainly in a great part of the world to appreciate the detail and image quality it can deliver. Stay inspired.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  3. Paul

    Damien – location, photographer, and model worked together to create exquisite images. GFX and Godox did their part too. Can’t wait for a TTL and HSS version of Godox/Flashpoint (here in US) for Fuji.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Paul,

      Thank you for your kind words. The HSS trigger is in development ;)

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  4. Lulú

    Bellísimos retratos! Beautiful!

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Lulú :)

      Reply
  5. Frank MacDonald

    Another stunning detailed piece of information for all of us Damien. Loved your talk at TPS. No one I know shares information as freely as you. Thank you always.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Frank for your compliments and for coming to see me at TPS. Have a great season with the photography and stay inspired.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  6. Peter Brehaut

    Stunning as always :) you are going to have a ball with that set up on the US trip.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Peter,

      The USA trip will be immense. I fully expect it to be a life highlight. I might have a few more lenses by then too. :)

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  7. Dave Shore

    These are class Damien…

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Dave :)

      Best regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  8. Alfredo Garza G.

    Un gran articulo, Damien. Me gusta esta cámara, lastima que este fuera de mi presupuesto! Me gusta mucho tu trabajo, soy tu fan. Saludos desde Mexico.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Alfredo, Gracias por sus amables palabras. En un par de años, cuando la gente como yo están usando cámaras de 100 mp esta gema de GFX estará disponible para el dinero razonable. El tiempo será tu amigo. Atentamente,

      Damien.

      Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Tracy. You made my day :)

      Kind regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  9. Mike Duffy

    Nice review Damien… meat and bones pictures instead of snaps and incomprehensible data and graphs… thats why you will always be the reference point for reviews on new products :0… oh! the models are pretty too! :) Mike.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Mike,

      I do like to get out there and shoot. As you say, real pictures can reveal far more about a system than a technical review.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
      • Mike Duffy

        I used several medium format systems myself over the years… Bronica ETRS, Mamiya C330, Rollei, and others but going back to a tripod? hmmmmm…. I do like the extended tonal range it offers also but is it really a huge step in what it offers against the XT2/ XPro2 ? I do not do huge prints anymore and when I crop my XT1 images I find little falloff of quality. For myself I think it would be buying a Bentley when a Mini could do the job for me . A nice system though :) How are you finding the AD600’s? The more I use mine the more I love them… I bought a spare as backup but so far have never had to use it even to change tha battery. It simply keeps going! :)

        Reply
        • Damien

          Hi Mike,

          I completely agree with you with regard to the capability of the X-T1 and X-T2 etc. The GFX has come at the right time for me as I was up for a change and my style for placing my subject in about 10% of the frame is very pixel hungry.

          The AD600 is a rock. It just keep flashing. I’ve yet to exhaust the battery on a shoot. The AD200s are my favourite unit at the moment though.

          Kindest regards,

          Damien.

          Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you David :)

      Cheers,

      Damien.

      Reply

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