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6 minute read

Eye in the Sky

Aerial specialist Dinesh Boaz on how his smaller, lighter GFX100S will help him reach even greater heights

“For almost four years now,” says photographer, Dinesh Boaz, “I’ve worked over different landscapes, different seascapes, and different cities.”

‘Worked over’ are the operative words here. As an aerial photographer who captures the Earth from helicopters, Dinesh creates a unique perspective including fascinating abstracts, richly detailed studies of human life and the beauty of nature. Along with his FUJIFILM GFX gear, these images have placed him at the top of his game.

Like an aircraft gaining altitude, Dinesh’s work started as just “a social media thing,” but “I’ve now graduated to become more of a gallery artist,” he says. “I’m showing my work in several different galleries, and I have some clients collecting my work and buying editions of the pieces I’ve been printing.”

But with more people photographing from drones than ever before, what has made his own work so sought after? Dinesh believes it’s partly down to the human element of actually being present as the photographer. “I do think there’s an investment in the artist, as well as the art,” he explains. “The kind of work I do is very specific, and for a collector it can be very important that the photographer is actually creating the thing they buy in a tactile way. Rather than the emotionally detached remote control view of a drone, these are pictures that I’m making with my own hands and from my own eyes.”

Of course, that’s a vital part of the process for any photographer. “It inevitably means your voice and vision are clearer in the picture, and therefore there’s more connection for the viewer,” says Dinesh. “In my case, there’s another advantage because literally being there in that aerial position means my vision is more expansive, and not composing through a screen thousands of feet away. That lets me notice things I’d never see otherwise, like patterns, moments, and chance compositions. So, as an artist, I think it’s very important that I have control of that camera and be present in that time and that space.”

Much of that versatility and creative freedom comes from building relationships with pilots, according to Dinesh. “In the air, you have a headset, and you’re in constant communication, so while you obviously talk about a route before you fly, and have some basic ideas about what you’re going to get, a lot of stuff will happen en route, too,” he explains. “You’ll see things from the air that you just didn’t plan for, but when working with a pilot you can approach them more effectively as a photographer.”

That sense of discovery and making the most of unexpected sights, is “one of the things I really love about the work I do,” enthuses Dinesh. “It really makes me focus on the art, but at the same time, the craft of working with a pilot and making the most of their talents, so we both get to be part of the unfolding story that’s taking place below. You’re not just looking for some well-worn tour of a location’s greatest hits, but instead getting something that’s really special to you. Of course, you’re also limited by time and cost, and can only cover so much in an hour-and-a-half flight. But I love the challenge of that and I think that’s part of the art of it.”

“Of course,” he admits, “it’s easy to think of it being cost prohibitive to get up in a helicopter like I do, but there are other benefits, too. Drone restrictions are fairly complicated these days in terms of where and when you can fly over cities, beaches, national parks, and so on, but flying lets me bypass a lot of those restrictions and do things differently. In fact, there are lots of projects I’ve been able to develop with different pilots that I’d never been able to have done with a drone. For instance, flying over Downtown Los Angeles or over LA International Airport in the middle of the day at 2500 ft.”

Then there’s the professional concerns about traveling with a drone large enough to carry a professional stills camera like Dinesh’s GFX body. “Compared to traveling with just a couple of camera bodies and lenses, getting around with that large a kit has its own set of logistical problems, and then you also need to get different permits for each new location,” he explains.

Of course, the other big advantage to creating aerial images with a dedicated, high-resolution stills camera is the pure image quality Dinesh is able to harness. He began using GFX bodies with GFX 50R, then graduated to GFX100 for his larger print work. Now he’s taking another step up with the new GFX100S, which he got to try out in late 2020, before its launch.

“Just like the original GFX100,” Dinesh says, “pictures from GFX100S have this whole other level of quality and color, which is vital for my print work. These cameras have really changed the way I look at the world, and I think that’s down to knowing now what I’m capable of achieving with them. This is particularly true when I look for patterns and abstractions, it makes them more dramatic, and when reviewing images, I find there’s a depth of color and detail in shadows that I’ve never been able to get in the past.”

But it’s in some of the new camera’s design changes that Dinesh has found the greatest gains. “I’m a huge fan of GFX100,” he admits, “but it’s obviously a fairly large camera. With the smaller and lighter GFX100S, I can work much more easily in a cramped helicopter cockpit. In those spaces, you can have literally a chair’s amount of room, and for my project with the new camera over LA, I had two bodies with me, one with a GF100-200mmF5.6 R LM OIS WR fitted and the other with a GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR. There’s no way I could do that as easily with two GFX100 bodies. It honestly felt like I was working with a regular DSLR, but of course it’s also making these amazing 100-megapixel files.”

Belying its smaller size, GFX100S still packs in the same level of in-body image stabilization as its predecessor – something that’s vital for wringing every drop of stunning detail from the 100-megapixel sensor when shooting handheld, whether that’s from a helicopter or not. “Six stops of stabilization is a great clutch in terms of working in these conditions,” Dinesh says, “because while a typical helicopter session is windy and bumpy, I still want the fine details that make my large prints stand out.”

He concludes: “You really notice that working with the right type of cameras and lenses helps you tell these stories without missing a beat. And they help me add those elements that create impact and emotion in my pictures, so they become much more than just everyday aerial shots.”

FUJIFILM GFX100S is coming soon to your nearest FUJIFILM Authorized Dealer. Learn more and read the full specifications here.

Find out more about the project, the camera, and Dinesh’s creative process with this exclusive behind-the-scenes video!


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