Giuseppe Foti is a Fine Art and Landscape photographer based in York UK, who constantly travels the world in search of his next photo opportunity. His aesthetic is based on his love for simplicity, minimalism and beauty. Find out whether it was love at first sight for Giuseppe in Venice, Italy with the FUJIFILM GFX 50S.
It was at the end of September 2017 when I had the opportunity to jump on a plane and fly all the way down to Venice.
I’ve always been fascinated by the “Floating City” and I wanted to photograph it for a very long time. After seeing hundreds and hundreds of photos, paintings, videos portraying every angle of Venice, I was excited to finally experience the city with my own (photographic) eyes.
This is why I wanted the FUJIFILM GFX 50S with me for this trip. I didn’t want my vision to be limited by my gear but, rather, to be inspired by it.
Before using the GFX, my experience with Fujifilm was limited to my love for the X100T. Over the past few years, in fact, I’ve mostly used full frame DSLRs for the majority of my Landscape and Fine Art work. Using the GFX for a couple of weeks, however, really opened my eyes about the advantages of shooting professionally using Mirrorless cameras. Features like the Electronic Viewfinder and the Autofocus points coverage made everything smoother and enabled me to focus solely on the shots.
So, why FUJIFILM, and why the GFX 50S?
For whatever reason, I’ve always felt inspired by Fujifilm cameras. It might be their look, the photographers using them or the unique tactile experience, I don’t know. What I do know is that I always feel refreshed and inspired while shooting with a Fujifilm camera, and that’s exactly how I wanted to feel, particularly in a place so famous and highly photographed like Venice.
The choice of the GFX also came quite naturally. Having a medium format sensor inside a body the same size as a DSLR opens new and exciting possibilities. I was able to get 51.4 megapixels, 14-stops of dynamic range and an astonishing level of detail, still being able to use my usual camera bag, filter kit and tripod.
As soon as I set foot in Venice though, I knew five days would not have been enough to fully capture the essence of the city.
The first evening and the day after really only served me to get to know Venice. I discovered that, during the day, there were too many people around for me to work comfortably. The streets were so crowded I was struggling to connect with the city. I wasn’t able to stop walking and look around and I felt like I was constantly missing something.
So, I decided to go out early in the morning and try to capture the city during the first hours of light. I would say it worked out well. It was still dark when, walking towards St Mark’s Square the next morning, I finally felt Venice was mine. I wasn’t walking through thousands of people anymore, I was alone. Even the smallest details were now jumping to my attention; I could feel the silence around me, broken only by the footsteps of the few people already awake echoing in the distance. I was finally ready to start taking pictures.
St Mark’s Square was, as I had imagined, populated only by other photographers and film crews. At this hour, it was easy to find a composition and, before I realised, the sun had risen.
I am really impressed by the colours and details I was able to get with the GFX. Even with the sun pointing straight at the lens, I didn’t see any flare or low contrast images. All of the photos taken were pin sharp, full of detail and rich in colour.
For this trip, I had two lenses with me: the FUJINON GF32-64mmF4 and GF23mmF4. To be honest, I was expecting the 23mm to be clearly sharper, as a prime lens, than the 32-64mm but, I’m happy to say, I was wrong. The results from both lenses, in fact, were quite similar – another huge plus for anyone who, like me, likes to work with both prime and zoom lenses.
Sadly, the weather was not ideal, or at least not for me. What I was hoping for was a dramatically dark, rainy overcast sky but, what I had instead, was a clear, bright, boring blue sky. Too bad, but this is how it works, isn’t it? You can’t decide what the weather is going to be like, so you have to work with what you get. That’s one of the reasons why having a camera as versatile as the FUJIFILM GFX 50S was so important for me. I wanted to be confident my camera could give me the best possible results in any given light or weather condition.
So, I was waking up early in the morning, shooting while the light was good and the streets not so crowded, and then I was roaming around the city, discovering new places and searching for new compositions. I already knew that was just the first of many trips to Venice and, for me, getting to know the city was almost as important as photographing it.
One thing I realised almost immediately was how changeable the city is. You have to think about shadows as much as you need to think about light. The canals in Venice in fact, are so narrow you can see various degrees of shadow for the most part of the day.
If you are planning a shot with gondolas in, you also need to keep in mind they constantly move. You will be surprised by how much gondoliers actually work and it might not be easy, especially while shooting a long exposure, to catch a moment without a gondola (or another boat) entering or leaving the frame.
If you’re planning to shoot long exposures then I’d like to offer the following advice; first of all, bring with you as many ND filters as you can. Sometimes 10 stops could be too many, sometimes too little. I had with me the Little, Big and Super stoppers by Lee Filters (respectively 6, 10 and 15 stops) and I would say I’ve used them in equal measure. Secondly, be careful where you set your tripod on. Some surfaces like bridges or docks may not be stable enough to hold a long exposure.
Additionally, and unfortunately; be aware of thieves and pickpocketing. Standing still for a long period of time fumbling with filters, tripods and bags won’t only draw tourists’ attention. Keep your eyes open and don’t let anyone distract you. Finally, consider ships. Before opening the shutter always check if a boat or a huge slow ship is about to enter your frame.
Another thing to keep in mind while you are in a place like Venice for a short time is that you can’t photograph everything. You need to be very selective and focus only on compositions you truly love. Don’t feel obliged to photograph a location just because it is famous because you could miss out on shots that are more important for you.
Overall, I’m very happy with the photos I came up with. I feel like I’ve just started scratching the surface of Venice and I can’t wait to go back already.
The FUJIFILM GFX 50S proved to be everything I was expecting and even more… lightweight, tough and reliable.
I absolutely loved having the EVF. It was easier to compose having a true 1:1 preview without the need to cover it before pressing the shutter. I also loved the customisable top screen, having hours, minutes and seconds showing up during Bulb mode, being able to shoot exposures up to 60 minutes without using a remote and having the dials and the tiltable screen.
But what I loved the most, what I loved above all, are the files. Editing these photos was almost cheating. The amount of detail and information held in the RAW files from the GFX made post production refreshingly easy. I was able to get 38 megapixel files after cropping square, the colours were absolutely amazing and faithful and I just loved the black and white tones deriving by them.
In the end, I can say that, with both the city and the camera, it was love at first sight. I will come back to Venice over and over again during the rest of my life and the FUJIFILM GFX 50X turned out to be one of the best cameras I’ve ever used and, for sure, the best one for my needs. It does what you need, when you need it, better than you need it.
It’s definitely a system in which I would recommend and one in which I will be investing.
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The FUJIFILM GFX 50S delivers the world’s best image quality. It combines outstanding resolution of 51.4 megapixels with exceptional tones, advanced color reproduction and high-performance lenses. This level of image quality is purely motivational. The world around you changes the moment you hold this camera in your hand. Appreciate all that can be achieved with Fujifilm’s new medium format mirrorless camera system, GFX.