My wife and I first visited Venice about 5 years ago , around the same time I discovered photography armed with a Nikon D70 which I had found gathering dust in a wardrobe. We had a great time walking around Venice and visiting the island of Burano. I took some shots which I was very happy with at the time and had them printed onto canvas, unfortunately those canvas prints was all that I had to remind me of our trip as a few years later one of my hard drives gave up the ghost.
My wonderful wife surprised me with an early birthday present, by booking us a weekend stay in Venice during the start of their annual carnival. In the 5 years since technology has moved on at lightning speed, I was now taking along a 51MP medium format camera in the shape of the Fujifilm GFX50S compared to the 6MP offering from the Nikon D70. To accompany the GFX, I took along the Fujinon GF 23 mm f4 and 32-64 mm f4, which suited my street and landscape photography needs.
Coming straight from the Fuji X-T1, I was extremely impressed at both the speed and the accuracy of the GFX's autofocus, even in demanding lighting conditions. I found that the 32-64 mm lens was my most used for both landscapes and street photography as it was such a great focal length offering beautiful native images which required very little editing. I primarily used single point AF with face detection and found this gave me the best in terms of speed and accuracy. Many people would think I was nuts to use a medium format camera for street photography but I found it to be a very pleasing experience as the camera body and lens combination was not that heavy and was extremely well balanced. My favourite thing about the design was the generous hand grip, it just feels right, with all the dials and buttons at your command. What was even better as an ex DSLR user was the ability to customise the front dial to mimic Nikon's aperture control, these little touches made using this camera intuitive.
My love for long exposure photography has reached addiction levels since I last visited Venice, and it would be wrong not to come home with at least a couple of shots for the collection. I have been using Formatt-Hitech filters ever since I got into long exposure, and feel very honoured to be one of the Featured Artists and was very keen to try out their latest range of Firecrest Ultra glass ND filters. The potential drawback of any ND filter is the possibility of colour cast and the loss of sharpness, any weakness in these filters will be found out by the GFX's resolving power.
I am happy to report that the unique way in which Formatt-Hitech manufactures their Firecrest Ultra line that there was no colour cast and sharpness was maintained. In the following example, I was using their 10 stop ND filter to capture sunrise along the Grand Canal. Traditionally with the Nikon D800, I would aim to under expose by 2/3 of a stop, but with the GFX I have found that I didn't have to do this as it loves slightly over exposed highlights.
If you look closely at the original image you can see there is a red house all the way at the end of the canal, I have zoomed in and taken a crop of this area which can be seen in the second image. This clearly shows how much detail the GFX and GF 32-64 mm can capture, but also how the Firecrest Ultra ND filter is able to maintain sharpness. For those techies out there, the shot was taken at ISO100 at 32 mm f8 for 120 seconds.
From here things start to take a slight turn for the worse as a combination of human forgetfulness and mechanical failure followed by redemption. I was enjoying getting up early for the sunrises and waiting around for sunset as Venice is such an amazing place with its grand old buildings and interesting faded colour façades acting as a perfect canvas for the soft light found during those hours.
After 3 years of owning a 3 Legged Thing Brian tripod, I decided to clean it for the first time prior to the trip, as the leg locks were becoming rather gritty from all my seascape shots. That was a big mistake as that initiated arthritic type changes to the legs as they became progressively harder and harder to pull out or push back in, until they seized completely. On top of that, on the last day I got up early and caught the water bus across to one of the islands and had finished fighting with the tripod enough to get it into a suitable shooting position when it dawned on me that I had left the remote shutter release back at the hotel. There was no time to go back, so I went through the different shooting modes on the camera to see whether I could go beyond the normal 30 seconds as the associated phone app couldn't. Luckily I was saved by the T mode which allowed me to shoot way beyond 30 seconds, but it was limited to full step increases in time, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 4 minutes etc... By adjusting the ISO and aperture I was able to compensate for this and achieve the results that I wanted.
As you can clearly see, I pretty much used the the GF 32-64 mm most of the time, the 23 mm did come into its own when I decided to take a long exposure vertical 8 shot panorama of St Mark's square. As it was so crowded with tours and people milling about the place despite it being only 8 in the morning, the only way was to take long exposures of 4 minutes using the Firecrest Ultra 16 Stop ND filter. I was happy with how easy it was to focus and the clarity that it gave to the resultant 144MP image.
Venice remains one of the most beautiful places to visit, especially during the carnival, where locals and tourists embrace the tradition of wearing costumes and elaborate masks. As demonstrated, the Fujifilm GFX50S and the 32-64 mm f4 lens is just perfect as a travel camera combination, offering flexibility and uncompromising image quality. A system such as this requires the highest quality filters to do justice to its incredible resolving power. I have no hesitation in recommending the Formatt-Hitech range of Firecrest Ultra filters.
As part of my association with Formatt-Hitech I am able to offer 10% off your total order by clicking on the link below and entering TUAN10 at checkout.
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