Serkan Günes is an award-winning photographer, keynote speaker, and workshop leader specializing in nature photography. Based in Swedish Lapland, he is surrounded by unspoiled wilderness, which provides no end of photographic opportunities. However, for this project he wanted to gain a different perspective. We speak to Serkan after he took to the skies with the FUJIFILM GFX 100 to capture aerial photographs of Sweden’s spectacular Laponia World Heritage Site.
Serkan began taking photographs when he was 22 as a means of sharing his everyday life in Sweden with his family back in Istanbul, but his love affair with photography quickly developed into something much more significant. “It didn’t take long for me to discover the Nordic light and nature through my lens,” says Serkan, who has since won numerous awards for his work. “When I won the Eric Hosking Portfolio Award at the Natural History Museum in London at the age of 26, I knew photography would always be part of my lifestyle,” he recalls.
As an existing user of the GFX system, Serkan is no stranger to larger format photography. “I love the 3D feeling you get when you look at the images,” he tells us. “It’s about the extra depth you get thanks to the bigger sensor. You get closer to reality,” he explains.
This love for larger format meant he was very excited to test the revolutionary new GFX 100, and he quickly realized it would be an experience he would enjoy. “We became good friends right away,” he laughs, revealing how natural the camera felt in his hands. “Intuitively I could find every function I needed when shooting without any trouble.”
Serkan spends most of his time shooting the remote Lapland landscapes from ground level, so for this project he wanted to test the GFX 100’s advanced functionality by gaining a different perspective with aerial photography. “I had two things in mind: first, the shapes, colors, and details captured from above would make a great test for the 102 megapixel sensor. And second, I knew that shooting from a helicopter could be pretty shaky, so I wanted to find out how well the In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) would handle the vibrations,” he explains.
He took two GFX 100 bodies with him on the shoot, one paired with the GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR lens and the other with the GF100-200mmF5.6 R LM OIS WR lens. “I shot all the photographs from a helicopter with fully open door, so I did not want to change the lens unless really needed,” explains Serkan. “The setup worked just perfectly. I shot most of the pictures with the GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR, but could quickly change to the second body with the GF100-200mmF5.6 R LM OIS WR when needed.”
He goes on to talk about his first impressions of the camera, highlighting the hybrid phase detection autofocus (AF) system, 5.76 million dot electronic viewfinder (EVF), and the remarkably portable design. “The first thing that struck me was the speed of the AF. It felt like any DSLR camera,” says Serkan. “The large and high-res EVF was really nice to look through – I could see everything without the need to move my eye in the viewfinder. Also, the handling was easy, with the buttons and ergonomics just right. I have small hands, but the camera didn’t feel too big or heavy at all,” he continues.
A shoot of this type comes with many challenges, not least vibrations. Aerial photography is notoriously unsteady on a good day, but when shooting in such unpredictable weather conditions, it becomes even more difficult to ensure your images are sharp. For Serkan, the GFX 100’s IBIS proved invaluable. “Every time I asked the pilot to stop and hover in a specific spot, the helicopter started to shake pretty hard in the wind from the mountains. However, thanks to the IBIS in the GFX 100, I didn’t delete one single frame because of camera shake,” he says. “Also, IBIS allowed me to compose my frames despite the vibrations without the need to crop afterwards. Without this function, I surely would have missed some important shots,” he adds.
Being able to make the most of every pixel captured by the camera’s high-resolution back-side illuminated sensor meant Serkan could overcome another major challenge in aerial photography: capturing enough detail. All too often, image quality is sacrificed for portability, but the GFX 100’s revolutionary design makes such compromises a thing of the past. “I love the color and shapes in landscapes, but for this project I was really excited about also capturing the detail in my photographs,” says Serkan. “Thanks to the 102 megapixel sensor combined with the GF lenses, I got heaps of detail in my files, even more than I could see with the naked eye.”
In fact, this extreme detail was one of Serkan’s favorite features of the GFX 100, along with the camera’s ergonomics and intuitive controls. But arguably most importantly of all, he feels this is a camera he can rely on. “It is a workhorse. I felt right away that I could trust this tool. It takes photos whenever I want it to take one,” he enthuses. “I think the GFX 100 is going to be the obvious choice for professionals and serious amateurs,” he adds.
“I really enjoyed shooting with the GFX 100,” concludes Serkan. “I could focus on my photography and not on the gear. That’s the only way for me to be creative,” he explains. “If a camera can give me that kind of freedom, then it is a really good tool. I will definitely continue work with the GFX 100 in my photography.”
Serkan Günes is a FUJIFILM-compensated professional photographer. To see more of Serkan’s work, visit his website.