Martina in Lazio

Mar 21, 2021 | Flash, GFX, Location | 6 comments

A Road Trip To Remember

I took these photographs on a personal road trip to Italy. I was supposed to be running a workshop in Tuscany but Covid had different plans. We were between lockdowns in the UK at the time and my flights had been canceled. Rather than just mope around in Somerset, I loaded up my Alfa Romeo and drove it home to Italy.

Having stopped off at the Alfa Romeo museum near Milan I headed south to Rome to meet up with Martina Belacima for a couple of shoots. We have shot many times before and although Martina doesnt speak English we get on just fine especially with her friend Francesco translating for us.

01. We started our shoot in a woodland with big boulders and it gave us an opportunity to reconnect and put some shots on the SD card. I used a Godox AD200 flash and a Scatterflash attachment for the top and right hand shots.

Martina Belacima at the waterfall

02. I used my favourite shutter speed for moving water of 1/15th second and I added a spash of flash from a Godox AD200 pro fitted with a Scatterflash attachment. The flash was rigged in the water in order to get the direction of light far enough away from my camera angle.

I’m so glad this shot made the front cover of the 20th March 2021 edition of Amateur Photographer Magazine in the UK. They used a vertical crop from a horizontal image and flipped the shot for the best fit with the text. I like to ensure that I have space to breathe in my pictures. It is far too easy to crop in on shots at the taking stage but by using the wider field of view I can leave the crop until the page layout or printing stage.

An Amateur Photographer magazine cover featuring a photograph of Martina Bellacima by Damien Lovegrove

This behind the scenes video shows my flash rig and Francesco wafting the smoke using my Scotty 11 smoke machine that I bought from ‘The Smoke Factory’ in Germany.

Click on the magazine picture to read what I had to say in the feature article. It was a small part of a larger item on the camera settings used by professional photographers. In the piece, I describe my setup to ‘get it right in camera’ and the strategy behind those settings.

It’s always a pleasure to get my work published in magazines and especially so when the editors are super experienced, talented, and have been in the industry nearly as long as me.

03. Downstream from the waterfall, through the tunnel of love, are the ruins of an old mill. I popped a bit of smoke in and used the same AD200 rig to light Martina. Now, you might be wondering “Why does Damien shoot the gold dress a lot?” Well, it’s because I’m working on a book and a boxed set of photographic prints called Gold Dress. More details will follow shortly.

Martina Belacima at the waterfall

04. This abandoned convent was a spectacular location to shoot in. I popped the AD200 behind the pillar and rigged it with Scatterflash in my usual way. I set the exposure for the deep blue daylight in the forground shadows.

Martina Belacima at the waterfall

05. I decided to include a couple more behind the scenes shots in responce to requests for more of this kind of thing. I always use a tripod so taking a frame with the flash in shot and then taking another identical shot but without the flash is an easy process. It takes seconds to remove the flash from the hero image in Photoshop later.

While I was in the Rome area, I met up with a friend Dave who flew in from Munich to join me for a couple of days of shooting and a few nights of drinking the fine wines of the region. I find it’s good to share experiences in life.

Martina Belacima at the waterfall

06. I was intreagued by the hole cut in the limestone pavement and then it dawned on me. This is where they cut the mill stone out of the bed rock and then they had to break away the side piece on the right to free the stone. I asked Martina to relax there for a while so that I could get this shot. The dappled light here was created by sunlight coming through the trees beyond.

Gear list

  • Fujifilm GFX50s camera
  • Fujifilm GF32-64mm and GF110mm lenses
  • Nova T20 tripod, Benro ball head, RRS quick release plate
  • Godox AD200 Pro flash head on a Lowel Grand Stand
  • Scatterflash attachment for the Godox AD200 fresnel head

Come and Join us! Martina and I, along with a bunch of other passionate photographers will be attending my workshop in Tuscany this September. At the time of writing, there is just one place left. Failing that, there is always next year, so please do check out Lovegrove Adventures from time to time or join my mailing list to be kept up to date when something new gets announced. I don’t spam, I just message out one or twice a month.

Please leave any comments or questions in the section below.

Thank you for getting this far, Damien.


  1. Karsten Schilling

    Superb photography! What are your thoughts on the new GFX 100S? It would be great to hear from you about it in comparison to the GFX 50S.

    • Damien

      Thank you Karsten,

      I’ve not seen a GFX100s yet. I took a GFX100 to Venice to try out alongside my 50s and I must say I prefer the 50mp files. 50mp is the sweet spot for me. I print up to 3m wide and the 50mp files are perfect for this. I am waiting for the new GFX 50s mk2 later this year and that will be my camera for the next four years.

      I wrote about this at length in the GFX Facebook group. Here is a cut and paste:

      “I’m getting quite a few private messages asking my opinions on the new GFX and lens. Fujifilm 100s and GF80mm so I thought I’d share a few thoughts here.
      1. I’m not a Fujifilm ambassador or X photographer. Those days are long gone. I am now free to express my opinion openly.
      2. I’ve shot GFX from pre-launch over 4 years ago and I’ve owned the GFX50s from the day of release. I’ve shot with GFX100 too so I have a bit of experience. I’ve never seen or used the GFX100s or the GF80mm lens but I’ve read up about them and seen the movies etc.
      The Fujifilm 100s…
      This is a great looking camera and the best proportioned of the GFX cameras. The specifications of the 100s look great. It has everything one might need in seemingly the perfect package.
      The size and weight of the 100s are about spot on for a decent camera of any format. This really does matter for photographers shooting out and about.
      The 100s battery hatch is in the right place allowing for ‘L’ plates and cages etc. This might seem petty, but the 50s battery position is a nightmare. It’s a faff having to use an Allen key to change a battery when used with an ‘L’ plate. Luckily this is only needed once a day.
      Now we have four GFX cameras to choose from. Not a bad achievement in four years. Well done Fujifilm…
      The best value and the best performer is undoubtedly the 100s. The highest specification is still the 100, just. The most flexible with its tilt screen and evf is the 50s and the budget camera is the excellent 50r.
      One of these GFX cameras is going to meet the needs of most pro shooters, except sport and wildlife photographers. Those genres require specialist glass anyway.
      If I didn’t have the 50s already, I’d jump straight in and get the 100s. It ticks all the boxes. But having owned a decent 50mp camera for the past four years, I now know that I’d find the extra detail in the 100mp files a pain in the arse when shooting portraits and head shots. I also know that Landscape and architecture shooters will love that kind of resolution and this camera must seem like heaven sent to them.
      I bought the GFX50s on launch day. I got a discount as a brand ambassador but for the purpose of clarity the regular price of the GFX50s at launch was £6200
      My plan was to keep it for 4 years which is up right now. I guess I could get £2400 second hand for my 50s camera. That leaves a cost of ownership so far of £3800 or £950/ year.
      If I wanted 100mp I’d jump right in with the 100s right now, but I’ve decided to wait another two years before choosing what camera/ system to buy next. In two years time, I should be able to get about £1600 for my 50s and the cost of ownership will have been a respectable £760/ year. Not bad at all.
      The 100s is preselling for a remarkable £700 less than the 50s was at launch and it certainly represents great value. Both cameras are groundbreaking and not just incremental upgrades and as such they deserve respect.
      The GFX100 launched at a mighty £10000 and was ‘reassuringly expensive’. Perhaps this was to target potential Phase One and Hasselblad users. For some strange reason the price point of the 100 has remained artificially high ever since. This failure to drop the price in the usual regular small increments has led to the big problems that I’m now reading about. Some recent purchasers of the GFX100 are disgruntled and feeling robbed. The real value of the 100 is considerably lower than the current RRP. Perhaps as much as £3000 lower, maybe more. Having said that, it is the ‘flagship’ camera, for what that’s worth, but it’s not the best GFX camera in my opinion. The GFX100s is the more complete package.
      The tilting viewfinder has been useful on my GFX50s shoots but it has been temperamental, especially when a flash trigger is attached and it needed the ‘ribbon cable replacement’ fix. Fixing these tilt hinges under warranty must have been a pain for Fujifilm so it was a probably a good move to drop the tilting viewfinder for the 100s. The tilting LCD is what I use 90% of the time anyway and I’m not too fussed about the EVF.
      The PASM and D pads of the 100s don’t really bother me either. It never takes long to adjust to a new camera when I only ever use manual exposure anyway.
      My thoughts on camera development for what they are worth…
      Olympus hit the the end of the road with the micro four thirds format a couple of years ago with no more breakthrough options left on the table. Tweaks here and there are always possible, but no doubling of IQ is waiting to be achieved.
      X series is near or perhaps at the end of the development road too with the excellent XT4. Maybe there is something left to fettle with but no big gains are yet to be had.
      The latest GFX100s with 6 stops of IBIS is a camera that has it all in the perfect package. If anyone has been waiting for the right time to get into medium format, (now called large format by Fujifilm) now is the time. The 100s is now at or near the potential of the GFX system.
      I only managed 15 shoots in 2020 and I don’t expect to do many more this year so if I was after this camera, I’d probably wait until my business picked up again in 2022.
      There are many testers of Fujifilm kit out there but I know I can absolutely trust Jonas Rask. I’ve worked alongside him and I am honoured to call him a friend. If he waxes lyrical about a camera or a lens, I know it is good. On the other hand, there are so called experts out there who waft their opinions around without even using the kit. So some care is needed when researching kit online.
      GF80mm f/1.7
      I’ve not used this lens but I fully expect it to be amazing. Having read Jonas’s preview. I’ll certainly put it through its paces when I get the chance.
      I have used just two lenses for nearly all my work over the past 4 years. The GF32-64mm and the GF110mm. I own three other GF lenses, The GF23, GF45 and the GF63. There was a time I was going to go back to shooting all primes hence picking up the other lenses when opportunities arose but the 30mm at f/3.5 doesn’t excite me and the 63 is painfully slow to focus so I’ve decided to keep using the excellent zoom instead. I’ll pick up the 80mm at some point because the gap between 64 and 110 is quite big and I have a spare slot in my camera bag. I will sell off the other unused lenses and several other bits and bobs to buy the 80mm. I’m hoping it will feel like shooting with the XF56 as I really liked that lens. There is an intimacy from shooting closer to the subject that I love. Maybe the 80mm will make my 110mm redundant but maybe I don’t get on with the 80mm. Time will tell.”

      Since I wrote that the 50s mk2 has been announced.

      Kindest regards,


      • Karsten Schilling

        Thank you for your detailed answer! Right now I’m on the verge of buying a new camera. I’m looking in all directions and it doesn’t have to be necessarily a medium format. The most important aspect for me is the accuracy of the skin tone color because I shoot mainly portraits. I also compared some camera models with the test shots at dpreview. The Canon 5D Mark IV for example did poorly in comparison to the Nikon D850. And the latter did come out more reddish in the skin tone in comparison to the Nikon Z7 II (saw the light of day in October 2020). So, at this very moment, the Nikon Z7 II is a hot contender for my next twinge of GAS. Right now I still shoot with my familiar Canon 5D Mark II. With the right light the results are still very pleasing. Especially in the skin tones department.

  2. Paul Harrison

    Excellent work as always Damien, these locations are stunning, I am looking at doing a lot more location work now so these are a great inspiration

  3. Petre Miuta

    Perfect lighting. Interesting story in a captivating photo!

    • Damien

      Thank you Petre :)


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