Leaf Aptus-II 10
"The Leaf Aptus-II 10 back is the perfect fit for my work. The results are beautiful right out of the can. The whole process is special, more so than any camera I have ever used. I like that I can experience that in my work. Why have it any other way?"Robb Williamson
Robb Williamson first picked up a camera more than 20 years ago while studying landscape architecture and photography at Louisiana State University. “After I took my first class in photojournalism,” he shared, “I was hooked and threw myself at every job in photography I could get, learning from my mentors, bosses, and colleagues.
After transitioning from shooting journalism and sports to landscape and architecture Robb decided it was time to make the critical jump to medium format. His tools of the trade shifted from Canon Eos 1N and Leica M to Contax 645, Mamiya 7, Hasselblad 203, and Fuji 617 panoramic cameras along with rented 4x5s for critical enlargements. Although using tech cameras was unavoidable in his type of work, Robb had a soft spot in his heart for medium format. “I really liked shooting roll film because of the smaller size of my cameras and faster speed. They were easier handling than sheet film.”
Williamson initially made the leap to digital format for improved workflow, better control and to produce cleaner images than those provided by film. His first digital camera was the original Canon 1DS and over time moved to Leica and eventually Nikon’s D3X and D3. However Robb soon came to the same realization that he had come to earlier with his film shoots - 35mm simply didn’t cut it for his gallery prints or for his landscape and architecture work. Once he was ready to “take the next step”, Robb quickly set up demos with several digital backs and camera systems. He also took them out to shoot on real jobs alongside his other cameras to see them at work in real situations. His market research also analyzed each systems’ particular processing software to see which one best fit his needs.
“It became apparent that Leaf provided the best combination of features in a digital back for me. The UI and touchscreen were easy and quick to use. The screen was large, clear and bright and was exactly what I needed for my work outdoors. The back provided huge resolution with very smooth tonal gradations and just breathtaking color – right out of the can. I could use the back with a tech camera. The back was also less expensive than comparable backs from competitors. I was sold.” Since Robb’s work is mostly based outdoors, he was impressed with the Leaf back's ability to show great detail and tone all the way from highlights to shadows. He noticed that Leaf’s digital backs produced very neutral colors that required very little adjustment to match what was seen through the lens. “My life is easier in post-processing because of this and I can spend my time on other aspects of photography. More shooting and less processing.”
Robb often shoots with the Leaf Aptus-II 10 56 megapixel digital back on a Contax 645. He also likes the Cambo Wide RS, a very small and light platform, with extremely sharp lenses with movements and tilts as well. “These are exciting times for having this new tool in your kit. I selected the Leaf back for a number of reasons: its great resolution, clarity and detail (from ISO 80 to 400), the quality of files, size of the display screen, ease of seeing overlays of file info and histogram as well as the simplicity of operation.”
Recently Robb took possession of the new Leaf Aptus-II 12 with the Phase One DF camera. “I noticed improvements made to the camera system and new lenses and would be comfortable shooting with that platform any time. The resolution and full frame sensor are the largest plusses with the new Aptus-II 12. I primarily shoot horizontal images with my Aptus-II 10 but because of the wide aspect ratio I end up cropping a lot of the vertical shot images. With the Aptus-II 12, I would see myself shooting more verticals with even more resolution and less cropping.”
Today Robb works independently as a commercial and editorial location photographer out of his offices in Denver, Colorado. His work takes him around the world routinely shooting in Europe, South America and throughout the US. His work is evenly divided between the Aviation, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Land Development industries while his remaining work time is divided between photography for Industry and manufacturing, and taking Portraits or People on location. “Leaf digital backs are especially suited for my type of work because of the easy ability to switch between an SLR and a tech camera based on the job or situation. Using large format lenses on the tech camera, you can input the lens focal lengths per session or per group of shots very quickly using the Leaf interface. This information can be used during processing with lens corrections or casts. With a tech camera, I can now have huge resolution with great depth of field without sacrificing softness from stopping down. I can shoot at better apertures and maximize the back’s image quality, which is why I use the Leaf Aptus-II 12 digital back in the first place. I also really like the Aptus thumbwheel for toggling between images and bringing up the histogram and shot data.”
At a recent shoot of the new Aria CityCenter Resort in Las Vegas Robb particularly enjoyed the advantages of working with the Leaf Aptus-II 12. “I was able to work very quickly shooting overviews, of lit pools and new architecture at twilight with tilts and swings on the Cambo Wide. Then I would move the back to my Contax and get close in on people using the spaces and details of pots and plants. The back is the perfect fit for my work. The results are beautiful right out of the can. The whole process is special, and the results are special, more so than any other camera I have ever used. I like that I can experience that in my work. Why have it any other way?”
Another reason that Robb loves working with the Leaf Aptus-II 12 is that many of his works are blown up for use as very large display prints in offices and sales centers. These are used to show off architectural projects and to sell a community, high-end real estate or other amenities on a large-scale. Robb’s aviation clients use his large printed images for waiting rooms at airports, conference rooms and for convention booth displays. “Fine details can rule the day with my landscape and architecture images. With Leaf, I have enough resolution and sharpness to actually show those details to my audience even in the largest gallery display prints. Many of my prints are 40x60” or larger.”
Robb Williamson is a Denver-based commercial and editorial location photographer specializing in aviation, architecture & design, industry, panoramics and environmental portraits.
Robb is known for his skill as a story teller with a series of images and is particularly helpful with award submittals and annual reports.
His work has appeared in numerous publications including Time Magazine, Landscape Architecture, Sports Illustrated, Sierra Magazine, Colorado Architect, Land Development, Landscape Architect & Specifier News, USA Today, The Denver Post, and The Advocate.
Commercial and Advertising clients have included: Pilatus Business Aircraft, Airport Terminal Services, Rio Tinto Minerals, National Technical Systems Corp., AECOM, Chevo Studios, National Park Service, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, StandardAero, Landmark Aviation, National Business Aviation Association, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Boeing, Denver Jet Center, TAC Air, National Air Transportation Association, NextFlight, The City of Aspen, Valley Crest Land Development, CoCal, Urban Farmer, Land Tech, DTJ Design, DHM Design, Norris Design, Wenk Associates, Lifescape, MESA Design Group, Winona Lighting, Freeman, Gensler, General Growth Properties, CARMA, Collaborate, Burns Marketing Communications, Miles Real Estate Brand Development, Victory Advertising, Lorem Ispsum, Locke Marketing, Jayman Homes, Shea Homes, Terrabrook, Castle Rock Development, and McWhinney.