6 minute read

Setting the Tone

Wedding pro Petronella Lugemwa explains the importance of perfect skin tones in her work, and how GFX50S II and GF35-70mm can together provide photographers with the next level of natural, vibrant portraits...

No matter what their cultural backgrounds, Petronella Lugemwa has built her reputation on delighting couples, and her commitment is as strong as any marriage vow. She’s passionate about the importance of color, and for skin tones to be captured accurately under all lighting conditions. It’s a tough job, but one that her GFX System cameras have excelled at in the past. Now, she welcomes a new body and lens into her wedding workflow. Can GFX50S II and GF35-70mm F4.5-5.6 WR continue the trend?

“Though GFX System cameras have huge resolutions, and the lenses are ultra-sharp,” Petronella explains, “for me that quality of detail has always been secondary to the colors they produce – and dynamic range they deliver. Across a wedding day, featuring a huge variety of lighting and faces, color accuracy is so important. I’m photographing people with different skin tones from morning until night, and if a camera can’t deliver on making them look as vibrant and amazing as the celebrations, I can’t use it.”

“There’s a cultural significance to skin tone,” she continues, “and you see that all over the world. I’ve traveled a lot and spent time getting to know the way other cultures want to be seen. Particularly in black culture, if you don’t have the right color reproduction in a picture, it can be very negative, making you look unhealthy – or implying that you don’t take care of your skin. And it’s not just black or Asian skin. For Caucasians, you want to avoid a flushed or reddish look. In a wedding photo, you can multiply the importance of that by a thousand times, because your client will have their whole life to look back on them.

“It’s way too easy for someone to completely mess that up if they don’t have the right equipment or settings,” she continues. “It’s certainly not just a problem in weddings and social portraiture. Even celebrities are photographed in a way that messes with their coloring, making them not look themselves. So, I’m obviously seeking a camera that’s going to portray my clients in a way which makes them proud of who they are – projecting positively to their culture and community.”

Previously using a FUJIFILM X-T4 alongside her GFX100S, Petronella swapped in the new GFX50S II and GF35-70mm lens, testing it live on several events with couples. No pressure, then! “Sure, I was nervous trying out a new camera and lens with no second chances,” she admits. “But, deep down, I knew GFX would come through. One of the things that struck me immediately was how well the new camera complemented my GFX100S,” she continues. “The body is almost identical in size and handling, but most important of all, the colors and tones are identical from each – and identically good!”

That trust is something all experienced wedding photographers aspire to – and Fujifilm has over 80 years of color science to draw from. Trust allows photographers to swap between bodies and lenses, equip a team with consistent kit, or simply have a reliable backup. “And, of course, it saves hours in editing,” Petronella chips in. “Using GFX50S II alongside GFX100S has been seamless, and that’s working in the morning, noon, with flash, in the sunset, evening, or under all sorts of artificial lighting. I still got what I needed – totally consistent color.”

But it’s not just the camera sensor that defines color. The lens you choose can affect it greatly. Despite being a lightweight, versatile zoom, GF35-70mmF4.5-5.6 WR draws on Fujifilm’s decades of gold standard optical design in pro filmmaking and photography, to produce images with pure tones with no shifts in color, flare, or other aberrations. “Though I most often use primes like GF50mmF3.5 R LM WR and GF80mm F1.7 R WR,” explains Petronella, “when I needed the versatility of a zoom, the new GF35-70mm was a revelation. It gave me options, which I always love, but without compromising what I need from an image.”

Petronella’s approach also relies on a camera with great control over dynamic range, letting her manage different skin tones in a variety of lighting conditions – without losing detail. Again, GFX50S II met the challenge. “I’ll often work in the middle of the day, or with strong backlighting,” she says. “That can make it difficult to balance darker skin with the rest of the exposure. My subjects are the heart of the image, so I always expose for the skin tones, but that can mean other areas burn out. The great thing about GFX50S II was I could pull all those details back, like highlights in a white wedding dress or in the background.”

Bride in white veil smiling

Photo 2021 © Petronella Lugemwa | FUJIFILM GFX50S II camera and GF50mm F3.5 R LM WR 1/400 sec at F3.5, ISO 320

Working with other wedding professionals to make client celebrations the best they can be, Petronella knows the benefits of being able to create photos where others can’t. “On a recent wedding, we had light shining through a window behind our couple as they exchanged vows,” she recalls. “It looked beautiful, but all of the vendors in the room were freaking out. They wanted to post their work on social media, but couldn’t get a good image because the light was so intense. No one was able to create this image, except me.

Bride's feet beneath flowing dress

Photo 2021 © Petronella Lugemwa | FUJIFILM GFX50S II camera and GF35-70mm F4/5-5.6 WR, 1/200 sec at F5, ISO 1600

“That’s an awesome feeling,” she continues. “Although the couple are my main client, the photography is also for those vendors – the planners, florists, and stylists. Good pictures make them proud about their work. And, ultimately, helping others succeed is going to get a photographer like me more referrals, and build my business. Creating those images that others can’t, thanks to a camera like GFX50S II, reflects well on me – creating good vibes all round.

“If you’re an exacting photographer, with exacting clients, the GFX System’s larger format sensor is going to bring all these things into play. The image quality is smoother, cleaner, crisper, and more vivid. Being able to pull out more detail, and work with perfect color straight from the camera, means workflow is more efficient – and you don’t have to do as much editing. Thanks to GFX50S II and GF35-70mm, I think a lot more people are going to discover that.”

FUJIFILM GFX50S II and FUJINON GF35-70mm F4.5-5.6 WR are coming soon to your nearest FUJIFILM Authorized Dealer.

Find out more about Petronella’s creative process and her experiences with the camera and lens in this exclusive behind-the-scenes video!