Street and cityscape specialist Jordan Saunders took the FUJINON GF30mmF3.5 R WR on a tour of his hometown, Los Angeles, CA, and found it the perfect tool with which to simplify city life.
In many ways, photography is about making order from chaos. It’s about translating the complexities of life into a single image. It’s about distilling the world into a frame. And it’s a process that photographers like Jordan Saunders embrace.
Capturing street scenes and cityscapes with GFX 50R in his native Los Angeles, Jordan says: “I love the imperfection of cities. They’re rarely designed and built all at once and by the same people, so they tend to be cluttered and nonuniform. And I also love that you have little control over what’s happening in the scene. You set the time, the place, and make the composition, then whatever happens in front of your lens just happens. I used to look for scenes that were clean and ordered, but I’ve learned to enjoy tackling the mismatch and unknown events that may unfold in front of you. Documenting the city is also an excuse to explore and make sense of the place I live, as well as the parts of it I might not usually see.”
“It’s sharp, has fast, accurate autofocus, great clarity, and I haven’t had to correct any chromatic aberration or barrel distortion at all”
For the photos here, Jordan paired his GFX 50R with the new GF30mmF3.5 R WR wide-angle lens, in a project where he was looking to “use longer shutter speeds to capture movement in city scenes”. He explains: “I like to contrast the unmoving architecture with the speed of human life, and blurred by the longer shutter speeds, pedestrians, cars, and buses are simplified, while also giving the buildings a greater sense of scale and grandeur.”
Does he have a favorite photo from the project? “Yes, it’s probably one that I made just around the corner from where I live,” he explains. “It’s on a street called Hollywood Way, and I love the composition of the lines painted on the street in a ‘V’ shape. It complements the top of the building perfectly, and draws your eyes in. When I made this photo, the sun was setting and there were a few clouds left in the sky, which lit up in reds, yellows, oranges, and purples reflecting on the windows of the building. It was a composition that I had been thinking about for some time and I see the location almost every day, so I was so excited that it turned out so well!”
As a fan of prime lenses, using the GF30mmF3.5 fit right into Jordan’s regular way of working. “I generally prefer primes, because I think they force the photographer to be more creative with their compositions, and therefore you see things in ways you might not otherwise,” he says. “A prime’s fixed focal length means you need to move your feet and change positions rather than just zooming in or out, which can make you a little lazy sometimes.”
And as a wide-angle optic, it fulfilled a need for him, too. “The focal length really stood out for me,” he explains, “because when I’m using my X Series cameras, the XF16mmF2.8 is my favorite lens for these kinds of cityscape and street images – and on my GFX system body, the GF30mmF3.5 gives me an equivalent view.”
“The rendering of detail that came from using this lens with my GFX 50R was amazing”
Wide-angle lenses are enormously useful for architecture, landscape, and street photography and, for Jordan, the GF30mmF3.5 fit the bill completely. “In street photography, you need fast autofocus,” he explains, “and in landscape and cityscape photography, you want high resolution and great detail, so a lens’s qualities can really help set a tone and character for the image.”
“The GF30mmF3.5 really performed flawlessly in all those regards,” he continues, “and the rendering of detail that came from using this lens with my GFX 50R was amazing. Zooming in on photos became really addictive, because you get to see details in these scenes that you never would have noticed in person. And there’s no flaring either, which can be a problem with wide-angle lenses, because the view is so broad. I used the GF30mmF3.5 for long exposures or when framing towards the sun and had no issues at all. It’s sharp, has fast, accurate autofocus, great clarity, and I haven’t had to correct any chromatic aberration or barrel distortion at all. The lens is relatively small and light, too, so while most of these images were taken from a tripod, handholding the camera is not an issue.”
“Ever since I started using the GFX system, I’ve found it to be a high-quality, intelligently designed camera system. And the GF30mmF3.5 fits right into that mold”
Combined with his GFX 50R’s huge resolution, Jordan also used the GF30mmF3.5 to create panoramas of these city scenes. “I think one thing that’s often overlooked and underutilized with the GFX system is the ability to make panoramic format images, while still retaining a great amount of detail,” he says. “This lens is perfect for that purpose, because it’s wide but not too wide, and it retains the detail you want even when cropping for panorama-style images, like with the 16:9 and 65:24 aspect ratios. And from these you can still make very large prints.”
“Ever since I started using the GFX system,” he concludes, “I’ve found it to be a high-quality, intelligently designed camera system. And the GF30mmF3.5 fits right into that mold. Like other lenses in the system, it delivers the same great physical controls and quality construction as the bodies. It’s sharp from corner to corner and renders highly detailed images with lots of character. And though the obvious photographers to recommend it to would be landscapers, I think the GF30mmF3.5 performs brilliantly as a general-purpose wide-angle lens, so it makes sense for almost anyone.”
The GF30mmF3.5 R WR is coming soon to your nearest FUJIFILM Authorized Dealer.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Jordan Saunders is an LA-based photographer who, after studying many different mediums of art, was drawn to photography as a way of documenting the place that he lives and showing its character.