Jonathan Bielaski has been shooting professionally for 18 years, but his path was evident from childhood, growing up with a dark room in the basement and cameras always within reach. Honing his skills with complex light and detailed production work Jonathan’s fascination with people’s stories and who they are are & what they do lead him to start telling peoples stories through his environmental portraits.
Jonathan’s work in is in high demand and internationally recognized as a top environmental portrait photographer. His photography has taken him to amazing locations and work environments from the courts and rinks where pro athletes play to the secluded mines where Canada’s diamonds come from. Always learning from the people he meets and the stories they tell.
Environmental portraiture captures the essence of a subject in its natural habitat. Every one of Jonathan Bielaski’s photos tell a story of a person’s journey. The focus is greater than the person – it’s the reality of who they are at this time in their life – the background reflecting their personality.
Sometimes all you have is one shot to tell a story
Today I got to play with one of the most interesting and versatile tools that a food photographer can use, a tilt-shift lens. Fujifilm has just created an amazing medium telephoto tilt shift lens for the GFX system, the new GF110mmF5.6 T/S. This lens is a very well built and intuitive lens reminisce of the Fujifilm GX680. It will take some getting used to if you have never used a tilt-shift lens before but if you have this one will fall right into place.
A little bit about tilt-shift lenses in general and why I love them.
A tilt-shift lens is a special type of lens that allows the photographer to adjust the angle and position of the lens relative to the camera sensor. This gives the photographer more control over the perspective, focus, and depth of field of the image.
The two main reasons why I personally love this lens, is it gives me the ability to the exactly adjust plane of focus in my image and correct for perspective distortion.
Precisely controlling the plane of focus like no other lens can. You can create some stunning effects and compositions, that will make your food photos stand out. This can help you draw attention to a specific element or detail of your food, and create a sense of depth and dimension. A tilt-shift lens allows you to control the plane of focus by tilting the lens at an angle to the camera sensor. This way, you can change the orientation and shape of the area of focus, and make it parallel, perpendicular, or diagonal to the subject. You can also adjust the amount of blur by changing the aperture of the lens. A tilt-shift lens can help you achieve some unique and creative effects that are not possible with a normal lens. You can see this effect in the sample image here that was shot from above, with a normal Lens you would have everything in focus but when I tilted the lens I can achieve a look and lead your views eyes to what is most important in the image with no post production.
Perspective distortion is when parallel lines appear to converge or diverge in an image, making the subject look distorted or unnatural. This can happen when the photographer shoots from a higher angle creating a keystone effect. For example, if you shoot a tin from above and you lens pointed down, the edges of the tin keystone. A tilt shift lens can help fix this problem by shifting the lens down to align the image plane with the subject plane. This way, the photographer can keep the parallel lines straight. You can correct for this in postproduction, but you will be losing resolution as well as time. Getting things right in camera will speed up your workflow and keep all the resolution in the capture.
Now on to some specifics about the GF110mmF5.6 T/S.
Features that I enjoyed while working the GF110mm T/S is that the gearing is very smooth and the locking knobs are easy to locate and adjust, they do not get stuck and the feel very solid. This really helps with things not slipping as you will need to do micro adjustments to get the effect you want. The adjustment amounts are more than adequate for the work that I do. I tested both the Tilt and Shift using it for creative techniques (Which is mostly why I use it), as well as more precise technical uses. One benefit with using a native Fujifilm Tilt Shift lens is that they have built in amazing communication through the body which helps facilitate it’s use. Firstly, on the capture display screen the tilt and shift information is given so you can try different movements and go it back to exactly the setting you had before if you need to. Secondly this information goes right into the meta data so you can see what you did during you shoot as well this helps if you are doing any stitching of images together in post-production.
One thing you will need to make sure is that you have a very stable tripod or shooting stand with a larger/geared head as this lens can make your system very front heavy. It is imperative that you have a stable mount when shooting with a tilt shift lens. You will be moving the lens settings in various directions so the more stable you are the better.
Tilt shift food photography is a creative and fun way to showcase your food in a different light. It can help you achieve some amazing results that will impress your viewers and clients. The Fujifilm GF110mm TS will become a fixture in my studio as I look forward to using it on many of my creative food shoots. I came from large format photography, then worked with smaller format view cameras and this lens is bringing me back to my roots!