My first shot with a new camera is an important one, even if I know I’m being silly. First, a little back story.
Photography is my most important form of self-expression. I’m grateful for the gifts that photography has given me, the most important being the ability to express to others just how beautiful I find the world. Photography is the art of seeing, and I’m thankful I’m able to ‘see’ so many beautiful things in the world.
So, for some silly reason, the first real photograph I take with any new camera has to be a good one. I’m not a spiritual guy but I want to infuse the beauty of the world into my cold, heartless (even if beautiful) machine.
I purchased the Fujifilm GFX50S II recently and, after setting it up and taking a single shot to make sure the shutter worked (it did!), I headed out after a storm to get my first photograph.
I purchased the GFX50S II for several reasons. First, I wanted a high-resolution camera in order to begin building a library of images that can be printed extra-large. Although most of my 24 or 26-megapixel cameras can do enlargements just fine, I want to offer clients the ability to go much bigger than normal.
Secondly, I want to slow down. I recently went on a photo assignment with a friend of mine who needed to photograph something in western Nebraska. We were gone for a full day and part of the next, but I managed to take over 100GB of photographs with my X100V and various other cameras. That’s too many.
The more deliberate speed of the GFX system and 50S II is one I’m going to lean into as I continue my journey as a photographer. I am going to take fewer photographs but make more intentional ones, not always relying on fixing everything in Lightroom.
This brings me to the moment of driving down Country Road 15 in rural Nebraska. An old schoolhouse sits on a slight hill and the sky looks amazing after a storm.
I’ve photographed this beauty before, but never with the ‘right’ sky and the ‘right’ light, and I was hoping to find it during my quest to get a good first shot with the newest GFX camera.
I found my spot and smiled; the light was great and the sky very pleasing. I looked behind me and saw the sun about to dip into a large cloud, so I focused on the scene at hand.
After walking around, I picked a spot and dialed in my settings: ISO 100, shutter speed 1/250s, aperture f/5.
This is a shot that makes me happy and I think it was a successful infusion of artistry I want to project into my GFX50S II.
I do realise that I’m being a little ridiculous. These light-capturing boxes don’t care what we point them at. However, I’m a big believer in good vibes. I’m trying to project positivity into the universe in order to get some back.
Just seconds after that first shot, the sun ducked back behind the clouds, sealing off the great light from the first image. For the rest of the night, the sun would mostly remain hidden save for a few moments here and there. So, for my first shot, I felt kind of lucky. Kind of like the universe was smiling at me.
From here, satisfied that I had sufficiently ‘broken in’ my new GFX camera, it was time to take photos and get used to the controls and behaviour of the camera.
As I photographed, I was pleasantly surprised at how responsive the camera was. I had read that it was a much slower experience than most people are used to and while I agree that using it is much different than the X-T4, for instance, it’s not really slow. It reminded me of the pleasant experience using the original Canon 5D. Slower, clunkier, but just fine.
I turned around to see how the camera would perform on a more difficult scene: the sun behind clouds and the foreground cast in shadow.
Some curious cows enjoyed watching me work:
I photographed a bit more of the old schoolhouse:
I shouldn’t be surprised but the resolution is impressive. Zooming in allows me to make out the stop sign in the image. This is probably not surprising for regular users of the GFX system!
I moved on down the road a few miles, heading toward another schoolhouse. This one stands on a hill with the sunset behind it. I was hoping to see how something like this would turn out after editing it later on. I’ve taken this shot before and had trouble with noise when recovering the shadows, so I wanted to put the GFX through a little bit of a workout for this scene.
I purposely underexposed this shot in order to try out my hand recovering details from the old school at ISO 400. I’m impressed!
Just a kiss of colour on the clouds from the sunset after the sun broke through for a moment:
A 120-megapixel photo stitch:
Another image stitch, this one weighing in at 150 megapixels:
And then with the light fading, finally, I headed home.