29.09.2022 Tamara Dean

GF20-35mm: Fine Art Photography by Tamara Dean

Tamara Dean

Tamara Dean is a critically acclaimed photo media artist working in photography, installation and moving image. Dean’s practice explores the relationship between humans and the environment.

Solo shows include High Jinks in the Hydrangeas 2021, Endangered 2018 & 2019, In Our Nature 2018, Instinctual 2017, Force of Nature Ballarat 2017, About Face 2016, Here-and-Now 2015, The Edge 2014, Only Human 2012, This too Shall Pass 2010, Ritualism and Divine Rites, 2009.

Dean was a selected artist for the 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art with her photographic series In Our Nature and Stream of Consciousness (SOC) installation and was the recipient of an Australia Council for the Arts grant to assist in the creation of her SOC installation.

Dean’s experiential installations and use of moving image have been exciting conceptual developments in her practice and reflect contemporary photography’s emergent and expanding fields.

In 2013 Dean was selected for the ArtOmi International Artists Residency in Upstate New York. Works produced during this residency won first prize in the 2013 New York Photo Awards – Fine Art series category.

Dean has received numerous awards and notable achievements including – winner of the 2020 Goulburn Art Award, winner of the 2019 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize, winner of the 2018 Josephine Ulrick & Win Schubert Photography Award and winner of the 2018 Meroogal Women’s Art prize.

Finalist (two works) – 2016 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, London; High commendation – 2013 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize; Winner – 2011 Olive Cotton Award and Winner – 2009 Sydney Life: Art & About.

Dean’s works have featured in the Sydney Contemporary 2021, 2019, 2017, 2015; Pingyao Photography Festival, China 2019, 2018, 2012; Denfair Melbourne 2017, FotoLeggendo Rome 2017, 2013; Auckland Art Fair 2019, 2018, 2016; ‘602’ Art Fair Melbourne 2016; Melbourne Art Fair  2018 & 2014; Hampton Art Fair NY 2014; Delhi Photo Festival India 2013 ; Fotofever Brussels Art Fair 2012.

Her work is held in notable collections including the National Gallery of Australia Collection, Canberra ACT; Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra ACT, Art Gallery of South Australia, Artbank, The Mordant Family Collection, Neil Balnaves Collection, Francis J. Greenburger Collection NYC, Tweed River Gallery, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Macquarie University Art Gallery, Newcastle Art Gallery

Dean was a member of the Australian photographic collective ‘Oculi’ from 2001-2011; Sydney Morning Herald staff photographer 2001 – 2014; and was represented in Europe by Agence Vu, Paris for over a decade.

GF20-35mm lens Impression

As a fine-art photographer, using the highest quality equipment is paramount to achieving the utmost standard of work I can create. My photographs are designed to ultimately become large-scale prints on the gallery walls. To achieve the level of detail which can be observed at this scale I need to be using the finest quality lenses.

GFX100S & GF20-35mmF4 R WR

So I was excited at the opportunity to test run the new ultra-wide angle GF20-35mm lens and it did not let me down.

Usually I stick to using only prime lenses, although the new GF20-35mm is a revelation for me. It is the widest of the GF lenses, equivalent to 16-28mm in 35mm format.

GFX100S & GF20-35mmF4 R WR

Over the past 10 years I have leant more and more towards a 35mm lens format to avoid the distortion around the edges of the frame that I had experienced using wide-angle lenses. The beauty of the GF20-35mm for me is that I can open to the 20mm end of the zoom and pull peripheral elements into my frame without getting unwanted distortion around the edges. The ultra wide-angle lens holds the scene beautifully and contains the elements rather than having them spill out of frame.

GFX100S & GF20-35mmF4 R WR

The lens itself is lovely to hold in the hand, and is weighted comfortably on the camera body. I enjoy using a lens that has a good sense of even weight to it on the camera as I will often be working for hours at a time on a shoot. The lens is a pleasure to work with and has a comfortable, tactile surface to it.

The inner zoom makes moving between focal lengths smooth and easy. The majority of my work is created outdoors in the elements, with water and dust particles often integrated into my shoots. The inner zoom keeps dust and particles out of the lens which is advantageous for me. The weather resistant structure and fluorine coating also repels dust and water enabling me to be able to work in my usual challenging conditions.

GFX100S & GF20-35mmF4 R WR

Predominantly working with prime lenses I have tended to lose critical time within the flow of a shoot switching between lenses, and end up having to open the back of the camera to the elements within the duration of a shoot in order to capture a variety of shots. This slows down the shoot and interrupts whatever action I have happening in front of me, so a high quality zoom lens at the wide angle end is very beneficial for the work I do.

Image resolution is key to my work, and I found the level of detail I demand was easily achieved using the ultra-wide lens. At over 100MP I get beautiful, fine image quality, and stunning colour. My work is often described as painterly, and this is a reference which ultimately comes from the colours and luminosity I achieve in my photographs.

GFX100S & GF20-35mmF4 R WR

This first series I have created ‘The Suspended Moment’ using the GF20-35mm lens directly references and is inspired by the Dutch still life genre paintings. So it was important to me that I could achieve those painterly colours which the lens achieved to excellent effect.

This series was the perfect opportunity to showcase the capabilities of the lens in a challenging low light studio scenario. I also added the extra challenge of capturing underwater scenes with it, which adds a whole other range of colour and tonal challenges.

Whilst I have heard that the lens has incredible scope for landscape photography which I am excited to use it for, I needed it to achieve subtle, velvety colour, tones, to represent a more delicate palette in this series. The results speak for themselves.

GFX100S & GF20-35mmF4 R WR

I am often working in low light, both in the landscape as dusk is falling, and creating interior naturally lit portraits, so pushing the lens to work in these kinds of low light scenarios was the ultimate test for me when trying out the lens. I was shooting in very low light at times, pushing the ISO to 2500 and there was still excellent detail in the shadows which I was able to pull out of the file in post-production which was very helpful in capturing the elements I wanted to represent in detail.

My overall experience using this new lens has been extremely positive. It stood up to the challenging lighting scenarios I pushed it through, gave me excellent colour and tonal details, and ultimately delivered me the super fine detail which I need to achieve in my work for it to be printed at a large scale. I am also extremely excited that the lens was able to achieve the painterly effect I look to create in my photographs.

The GF20-35mm will definitely be a lens I will reach for on a shoot as I did for my “suspended Moment’ series.

GFX100S & GF20-35mmF4 R WR