I woke up on Sunday with considerable angst.
The nagging feeling I had Saturday night, before I went to sleep, festered. I had made a decent enough photograph the night before, but it wasn’t as good as I hoped. The colors looked good, but it didn’t have that breakthrough detail and clarity that I thought I should get. Was I expecting too much? Did I make a mistake getting this really expensive camera? Was medium format really as good as they say it was?
I went downtown, determined to make high-quality urban landscapes. I was going to do it right, no fooling around this time. With tripod in hand, I got to my destination, on the western edge of the Central Business District, about an hour before sunset.
With great resolution, I needed great technique — or at least that’s what I read. I set up my tripod, meticulously framed my composition, and adjusted all the settings. f16 aperture, which I never used before, manual focus, and a 2-second timer. ISO started at 100 but edged up to 400. The focus adjusted so that everything would be in sharp relief. I started snapping as the blue hour approached, and continued until it faded.
Loading the RAWs into Capture One 20 was going to validate my technique and the camera; I crossed my fingers. Was the cumbersome effort and expense worth it? To my delight — yes!
Staring at my 5K iMac screen, I got such sparkling details, I sat there dumbfounded. Every window, completely sharp. At 100%, I could even make out the metal railings on the balconies. Shooting on a tripod and with a low ISO completely changed the game. I realized what proper technique can do with 51 megapixels on the Fujifilm GFX 50R.
Here’s the thing. While this urban landscape is executed competently, it’s not going to win any awards. If anything, it looks like a commercial photograph and has nothing artistic about it. The super-detail that got me excited? Impossible to show at these small web sizes. However, the important thing is, it made me happy. That, in my head, the camera had achieved — even bested — what I thought was possible. It gave me renewed confidence to continue.
I made this photograph back in January, and there was still a lot to learn. Tripod shooting harkens back to the old days where I used to make, now gaudy, HDR cityscapes. This was a specialized camera, not for quick snapshots or street photography. But, that didn’t stop me from trying to push its limits. With proof in hand, I was infused with excitement to explore the world in high-resolution.
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