Leaf Aptus-II 12
"The print itself is what actually matters; having something physical come of one's effort and ideas. It's for this reason that I opted for a medium format digital back. Not because I wish to sell more... it's because prints matter to me.”Gabe Farnsworth
Gabe Farnsworth works in imagery science as a field engineer and has a perfectionist’s passion for the process of artistic creation, lots of details and huge, huge prints. “The print itself is what actually matters; having something physical come of one's effort and ideas. It's for this reason that I opted for a medium format digital back. Not because I wish to sell more... it's because prints matter to me.”
Gabe scratches his creative itch with an 80MP Leaf Aptus-II 12 digital back. “I chose the Leaf Aptus-II 12 because I saw it as the best back on the market for its price. Offering both extreme resolution and dynamic range, but landing several thousand US dollars less than its competition, it really seemed like a logical decision.”
Gabe has been immersed in art and in creation for as long as he can remember. “My parents' home was filled with books dedicated to different masters -- the exposure, from such an early age invariably sparked the interest - the original seed planted from early in my life.” After dabbling in product photography, Gabe soon decided that professional photography wasn’t right for him: “It felt as if everything I'd come to love and enjoy about photography was gone; replaced with only a monotonous existence of technically capturing items on a list. The artistic side had been removed, and it was purely technical.”
Since then Gabe has stuck to scientific/engineering professions, while growing more and more attracted to nature/landscape photography as a channel for his artistic tendencies. “I've owned and used different DSLR cameras, but the prints have always felt lacking to me. I simply couldn't print large enough sizes without making composites, or sacrificing print quality. Photography itself isn't the means… it's the means to an end. The print is what matters, not the camera, not the digital file. Not even the medium. The print itself is what actually matters; having something physical come of one's effort and ideas.”
“Currently, my platform is a 645DF, and a set of Mamiya lenses -- 24mm f/4 Fisheye, 28mm f/4.5 D, 45mm f/2.8 D, 75-150mm f/4.5 D, 80mm f/2.8 LS, and the 300mm f/2.8 APO. I generally like the "DSLR-like” feeling and handling of the 645DF; the operations are pretty quick, and the autofocus, for what it is, isn't too bad. I also use a Brightscreen focusing screen with a diagonally split Fresnel lens and a thirds composition grid.”
The extraordinary landscape images presented here are from a recent road trip that Gabe took through Utah, Nevada, California and Oregon. “I wasn't able to get to all of the places I'd have liked, or spend much time in any particular place, but the road trip was nice to get to know the Leaf Aptus, if nothing else.”
“To get right to the point -- Leaf back didn't disappoint, at all. The files are extremely clean, and feel infinitely malleable. There's enough dynamic range in almost any well-captured image to preserve highlights, and retain a wealth of detail in the shadows. The shadow detail, specifically, still impresses me, even after having worked with the files for several months. Even having captured scenes deliberately under-exposed, the raw image was processed with both accurate color, low noise, and plenty of detail in shadows that were, at that point, very significantly under-exposed. My favorite aspects of the back are really what pushed me to purchase it -- price, resolution, and dynamic range (in no particular order). However, if pressed further, I do love several features of the back -- the bright, high-resolution screen, the easy-to-use interface, and the speed of generating a 100 percent preview are all certainly remarkable, in my opinion.”
Gabe’s workflow is quite laborious. “After importing my images, I often study through them, searching for the best light and compositions. Upon selection, I apply my lens cast calibrations (LCCs) and all lens-based corrections then ensure the white balance is accurate. After white balancing, I try to recover/preserve highlights and shadows. As an aside, it should be mentioned that the highlight and shadow preservation is markedly better than any DSLR I've ever used (not to name names, but I have used the best from both of the biggest manufacturers). After highlight recovery, and exposure optimization, I usually export in 16-bit .tiffs, and then open up in Photoshop. The process there is myriad with multiple layer masks, luminosity masks, and the like, to fine tune the highlights, shadows, and contrast. It's not uncommon for a single image to require 4 hours of post production from start-to-finish.”
“The prints, the entire reason I purchased the camera, the entire reason I enjoy photography as much as I do, have proved themselves to be every bit as good as I'd hoped for. I'll occasionally find myself staring at a print, nose-against-the-glass, soaking in the details. It feels, for the first time, as if I finally have a camera that can legitimately do justice to nature, and re-express it physically with accuracy and intensity.”
Gabe Farnsworth is a 29-years-old field engineer in imagery science. At the age of 18 he joined the Army National Guard, specializing in electronic communications. Between deployments and additional military training, Gabe studied physics at the University of Utah. In his time off, Gabe travels extensively, backpacking through remote areas for several days at a time.
Gabe has been interested in landscape photography for nearly as long as he can remember, having seen works from Ansel Adams in his childhood that appealed to him tremendously. According to Gabe, the ultimate goal of the landscape photographer isn't just faithfully rendering a beautiful scene as the eyes saw it, but expressing the sheer, overwhelming awe of nature.