48 hours in Venice with the Fujifilm GFX100 ~ High res samples

Jun 26, 2019 | Flash, GFX, Location, Travel | 20 comments

Last week I popped over to Venice for a recce shoot with fashion model, Hellana Mardasian and my co-tutor Radmila Kerl from Munich. The recce was to establish the locations, accommodation, and restaurants that we want to use for a foundation level workshop in street fashion that we are running in October this year. The shoot was fun, really simple and generally involved working a couple of streets away from the hordes of tourists that patrol the main thoroughfares at this time of the year.

All these pictures were shot with the Fujifilm GFX100 either handheld, on a monopod or on a tripod. There are four full resolution photographs linked to from the pictures below. So much has been written about this camera that I don’t want to repeat so please feel free to ask me anything you want to in the comments section below. I answer every comment and I say it as it is. I’m no fanboy and I’m not paid by Fujifilm. Enjoy…

01. The Grand Canal and a backwater offer spectacular scenery to marvel at and capture. [Click on the picture to open the bottom right shot taken on the Fujifilm GFX100 at full size]

The GFX100 camera firmware wasn’t final and my lenses didn’t have the necessary firmware upgrade to enable phase detect autofocus. The picture detail is outstanding and the lenses that I used were more than up to the task of resolving the extra detail the 100 gives over my 50s. These shots were taken using the GF 32-64mm f/4 and the GF 110mm f/2 lenses.

02. This is typical of the kind of images we will be shooting in the first session of the day on our workshop. This shot of Hellana was lit with a simple Godox AD200 flash unit and remotely triggered from the camera.

Although our workshop this October is at a foundation level we will work up to shooting with one off-camera flash to create stylish fashionable pictures. I’ll be explaining exactly how best to work with flash in a clear and logical way. No questions will be too trivial and we will keep the learning fun. Work hard, play hard is the signature of my workshops and over three days/ four nights in Venice we will have an amazing time. There is nothing better than meeting new friends, sharing great times together and enjoying the process of self-development.

03. The first sunlight of the day breathes contrast into the pictures. It’s not long before the gondoliers are plying their trade.

By 10 am in October the sun will be reaching the streets between the buildings. If we get sun that is. I don’t mind whatever weather we get on our workshop. Having shot over 400 weddings in the UK I’m very geared up to creating striking pictures in all conditions. We might be lucky and get autumn mist :)

Even in June, it’s easy to avoid the tourists. Just by walking away from the main thoroughfare for a couple of minutes we were in quiet areas with just a few locals for company. The tour groups from the cruise liners miss out on the real Venice. They say that the best way to explore Venice is to get lost and I wholeheartedly agree.

04. There is a photograph at every turn in Venice. It’s a place like no other. Venice is my favourite city in the world by a long margin. It has a rustic beauty that is like visual poetry. Achingly beautiful yet far from being a preserved museum. The authenticity is refreshing.

We will make the best use of the available light on the workshop and we will make our own sunlight where necessary.

05. This simple white dress from BooHoo flows well and Hellana knows how to get it moving. [Click on the picture to see a full-size jpeg from the shot on the left]

06. Into the sun, with the sun, reflected sun. Radmila, my co-tutor and I will show our clients how to get the most from sunlight when we are shooting portraits.

Our workshop will mix portraiture with other genres like long exposure, architecture, cityscapes and night photography.

07. Hellana will accompany us on our workshop if she is available. She is beautiful, kind, patient and kind. A real star indeed.

 

08. I asked the owner of a boat if we could use it for a quick shot and he obliged. It’s the nooks and crannies of Venice that excite me too. There are many ways to view the world and as a photographer, I see the opportunity for a shot just about anywhere.

 

09. Top: Playing Pooh Sticks Bottom right: a nice spot for lunch. [Click on the picture to see a full res version of the top photograph]

10. There are many fabulous restaurants for dinner away from the main piazzas. Quality time together in the evenings at workshops is priceless.

 

11. None of these photographs have had any skin retouching or body reshaping. I love natural beauty.

 

12. “Figure in the landscape” shots where the person is less than 10% of the frame are entirely possible to shoot in one frame with the GFX100. The resolution captured is outstanding. On a smaller format camera, I will teach the Brenizer method to achieve a compressed perspective, narrow depth of field look with a standard lens.

 

13. The weather probably won’t be quite this warm in October as we were shooting in 29°C. It still reaches 20° C at the start of October and rainy days are just 1 in 6 so it is a perfect time for us to visit. The tourists will be long gone. We need space to rig a flash and to shoot each scene. In early October we will have space for sure.

 

14. They love Lions in Venice. The lion of St. Mark with wings, often depicted holding a Bible, is the symbol of the city. I love the grand doorways to the churches and municipal buildings.

 

15. We will have plenty of time on our workshop to really cover the basics of portraiture and to capture the cityscapes as they present themselves. Three days of intensive learning and fun in the wonder that is Venice is going to be a life moment to savour.

 

16. Evening light in the summer is at the same elevation as afternoon light in October. It is both hard to shoot in and rewarding when the contrast is handled well. [Click on the picture to see the top right shot full size]

Join Radmila and me on this journey of discovery. We are hoping that Hellana will be modelling for us and a special guest model too. We will be working in two groups of 6 photographers at most times and swapping the groups every 30 minutes or so. That enables everyone to shoot everything and benefit from both of our teachings. To learn more, get in contact here. The workshop will go live on Lovegrove Adventures soon and will probably sell out fast.

Ask me about the Fujifilm GFX100, how I got on with it and what I think of it in the comments section below :)

20 Comments

  1. Jeremy Gilson

    A great set of images Damien! What are your thoughts on the size and weight of the GFX100? Do you like the new dials? Will you upgrade?

  2. Bert Buve

    Is it weird to upgrade from the 50s that is already a phenomenal camera?

  3. Damien

    Hi Jeremy,

    Thank you. The GFX100 is too big for me. The 50s is a bit too big but I’ve got used to it. The dials are a bit strange on the 100 but users will get used to them for sure. I found the pressure needed on the thumbwheel to turn it caused it to click in to magnify the image. I was using a pre-production camera so I expect they will increase the spring strength for the final cameras. I’ll probably be getting the 50s replacement when it comes out in a year or so. I expect it will be called a 100s and hopefully, it won’t have the block on the back. I don’t need IBIS but others might.

    Cheers,

    Damien.

  4. Damien

    No, not if you need the extra resolution or need the IBIS. There are many photographers who are waiting for this camera for whom the 50s has been a halfway house.

    Damien.

  5. Jay Mijares

    Stunning photos, Damien! Did you take up the shadows in the last set of shots?

    Venice looks like a wonderful place for a workshop. Can’t make it this year, but hopefully if you hold another one next year!

  6. David Edwards

    I was saying “stop it” all the way through this… stop, and give the rest of us a chance. They are just beautiful signature DL images… what we all love to see. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Damien

    Hi Jay,

    Thank you for the compliments. Radmila and I will be running the foundation workshop this October and that is aimed at getting the guests comfortable with all manual shooting and working with off-camera flash. I’ll likely do a full fashion workshop with a powerful flash system in the Springtime.

    Kindest regards,

    Damien

  8. Damien

    Haha, thank you David. The compliments are very welcome :)

    Kindest regards, Damien

  9. alexandreperigo

    Amazing photos, Damian! Congratulations from Brazil! Im a big fan of your work!

  10. Damien

    Thank you, my friend.

    I’d love to visit Brazil one day.

    Kindest regards,

    Damien.

  11. K

    Wow, Great photos! I have a sincere question:

    Would it be ridiculous to say that other than a few full spread photos here that would require very high resolution, most of these photos would be indistinguishable on the screen if they’d been shot with a X-T3 or even m43 camera? (with appropriate lenses of course). Or is there a significant difference in some area other than resolution that one would immediately notice?

  12. Damien

    Hi K,

    Thank you for the compliments. These shots would look almost identical on prints up to A3 from an X-T3. Out on the streets on a sunny day even an iPhone would produce decent shots. The only observable changes would be in the shadows. Above A3 then the GFX100 starts to show extra detail. Is it needed? Not for these shots for sure. I can read the make of cigarette butt that is discarded on the pavement. I’m not hankering after such resolution in my work.

    I shoot with the GFX50s and I love the tonality of the files. It’s not a resolution thing for me although I do print all my work on art paper. The GFX lenses are amazing and shadow tones are something else.

    For years now I have been assessing the pictures of my clients who shoot alongside me at workshops and I give them editing sessions over Skype. I get to process shots taken using cameras like the Sony A7R111, Nikon D850, and the Nikon Z7, etc. The GFX files are just so much nicer all round. Take a look at this set of shots taken on my GFX50s to see what I mean about the tonality: https://www.prophotonut.com/2019/06/24/riona-neve-in-france/

    I hope this helps,

    Damien.

  13. pathdoc

    Venice is number one on my list of places to shoot. Now I am obsessed!!

  14. David Cooper

    Hi,
    Not at all surprised to find the tension on the wheel is poor Damien. Fuji consistently get things like this wrong, they have a lot of innovation to contend with which is fantastic obviously, yet things like this slip through. Poor in my view.
    I have the exact same issue with my XT2. Compared to my XT1, the wheel is poor. 90% of the time I magnify rather than the other function. It is highly frustrating. Impossible almost to use, no matter how much I try.
    Don’t think, anyone, that it is going to get adjusted for production items.

  15. Damien

    It’s an amazing place for sure :)

  16. Damien

    Hi David,

    I’ve been largely lucky with my Fujifilm experience. The biggest problem I have with the cameras that I own is the buttons are in different places on each model so it’s a pain swapping between cameras but apart from that my Fujifilm experience has been better than Canon, Nikon and Hasselblad before it.

    Regards,

    Damien.

  17. billy cullen

    So, So beautiful Damien, I have been a full-time Pro for 54 years (although within Maritime Commercial sectors ) and can only dream and be inspired with your work, God, how I wish I was one-tenth
    as good as you Damien! YOUR work lifts my heart! Thank you!

  18. Damien

    Thank you Billy for your generous words. It lifts my heart to be appreciated.

    Kindest regards,

    Damien

  19. Mark Owen-Ward

    Fascinating to read this review. I hadn’t realised that you’d dropped the X series in favour of GF but can understand why given the gorgeous quality of these images. For someone (like me) that cannot afford (or justify! I’m not a pro) a gf and has just managed to procure an X-T3, what two lenses would you recommend (I think that’s all you’re using now?) I love portraiture but also urban/landscape but not “street”. I was thinking 35 f2 and either 18-55 or 16. Or maybe the 10-24? I might just stretch to 3 lenses as I do like the 35f2 but I’m also up for a change and challenge (per light room metadata 88% of my images are either 35 or 50 equiv and some f my favourite images have been taken at these focal lengths. But I’ve taken a few I love at 85 and 24). I guess I’m asking these questions because I feel slightly stuck and want to be challenged. I’d rather have less and go on a photo course such as you offer than sink more cash into kit that ends up sitting in a cupboard!

  20. Damien

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you for your comment. I’ve been shooting exclusively with the GFX50s for just over 3 years now. For an X-T3 I’d get the fabulous 18-55 and 55-200 combo. Then I’d get a 14 f/2.8 if I wanted a really wide lens or a 35mm f/1.4 if I wanted shallow depth of field and intimacy in my portraits. I cant over stress how perfect the 18-55 and 55-200 combo is. Quality, price and weight. Perfect in every way.

    Damien.

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