Pascal Bourguignon : The World from above with the GFX

Have you ever fancied aerial photography with a paramotor (ultralight paragliding with an engine) and a 4x5 inches view camera? Of course not, noone would! And yet, this is exactly what the GFX enables us today: its quality is just as unbelievable as the one you’d get with a view camera minus weight and size!

That is why I was really excited to take it in the air with me, instead of my usual X-T2 / X-Pro2.

A paramotor offers a very limited space, therefore the more you can forget about your camera the better: if it’s in the way and interferes with your commands, it would be extremely dangerous soon. Since the GFX is no bigger than a DSLR, it meets all the major specification I was asking for.

Once up in the air, the key is to use a lens that will allow you a maximum of different compositions since it’s obviously difficult to swap lenses: an excellent zoom lens such as the GF32-64mm soon turns out to be your BFF!

GFX 50S & GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR
GFX 50S & GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR

With aerial photography, you need to pay attention to light, indeed contrasts can quickly be quite important. The very large dynamic range of this large sensor is so efficient you can easily deal with the highlights and shadows recovery in case of major contrast. You also need to use a rather fast shutter speed to avoid any motion blur naturally caused by the ultralight’s movement. It also enables you to keep the horizon level to minimize cropping then and keep a maximum of resolution. All those potential limitations are swiftly handled thanks to the fully customizable buttons of this camera.

High ISO quality is crucial for me since the best flights are often the ones you do at dusk: on this GFX, it’s second to none. It’s so good I even turned my standard sensitivity to ISO 800.

The most important thing though is the camera’s reactivity and to be able to reach the settings easily because everything goes fast up there: the commands are exactly where the X-T2’s were and the fact that one dial equals one function is both simple and convenient. The AF is fast and precise and the continuous shooting is perfectly fast enough so I never miss anything that pops up during my aerial strolls.

GFX 50S & GF63mmF2.8 R WR
GFX 50S & GF120mmF4 R LM OIS WR Macro

Even though its price is quite high, the quality I was offered with this camera is definitely second to none and you do get images of a rare quality. I’m convinced it does make a huge difference and it enables me to maintain a real value to my images and to reach out to more demanding and connoisseur customers.

Many photographers need a pilot to shoot their aerial photos, which makes things quite difficult regarding availability and proximity. Others now use a drone but then you cannot carry a medium format camera and thus reach really high quality results. Choosing to fly on a paramotor implies two things: time and passion. However, it comes with an immeasurable gift: the ultimate flight, the one you can go on whenever you like, and almost wherever you like. Pure freedom… I still and often dream I’m flying low over the trees, almost touching them. Back in my studio, the extreme quality and realism rendered by the GFX enables me to go live on this wonderful experience. I even try and spot a bird perched on branch now! I had never ever had the impression I could almost infinitely zoom in a photo like I do now.

Today, with its 51MP, sharing my images is very much like sharing my flights for the photos are just filled with details and realism.

A paramotor is also the only flying machine offering such a wide field of vision since no structure comes in the way: therefore the GF23mm is just perfect once in the air for any ultra wide-angle shot.

GFX 50S & GF23mmF4 R LM WR
GFX 50S & GF23mmF4 R LM WR

When I go out shooting in the winter, wrapped in a warm flight suit and equipped with thick gloves, I can assure you you quickly get a precise feeling of your camera’s potential. You need to be able to handle everything as simply as possible. As far as extreme conditions are concerned, the GFX lives up to my expectations: from its long lasting battery to its weather-sealed body and believe me, it’s quite important when you take off in the mist.

I know for sure today that I could take my GFX with me everywhere, should it be on firm ground or in the air: there’s no way it cannot match my expectations.

About the Author

Pascal Bourguignon was born in 1961. Since his early age, he is enthusiast by wildlife photography in his country.

After an education in photography, he quickly launched its own activity orientated on human and social photography while continuing to photograph wildlife and landscapes with the Fuji 617 panoramic camera.

In 1996, he build, with few friends, the International "Festival of Animals and Nature Photography" in Montier en Der (52). An event that, after almost 20 years, attract many European Wildlife Photographers

In the 2000s, he published his first book of "pictures from above", " The Aube view from the sky ", then two years after " Der Chantecoq Country " Some few years later, to get more freedom, he obtained a microlight license then launched a work almost exclusively oriented to landscape photography, on earth or above. In addition to his commercial activities, he feels then very fond of abstract and graphic pictures taken from the sky. The freedom and autonomy given by the microlight allow him to wander in the purpose to find unusual points of view.

He is also manager of a inkjet "fine art" laboratory, "Declic Editions", and produces large size prints for the exhibitions of the most known wildlife photographers - enthusiasts as professionals.

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