Portrait and commercial photographer, Ross Grieve, swapped his DSLRs for Lumix cameras to lighten the load and get access to innovative technology. He talks to Angela Nicholson about his conversion and how he gets the most from the system
Back in 2014, Ross Grieve was handed a Panasonic Lumix GX7 try to while he went on holiday to his native New Zealand. He still took his trusted DSLRs, but inevitably they ended up staying in his apartment while he shot everything on the smaller, lighter camera. He loved how easy it was to use with a 25mm lens mounted. Its small size also suited his fast-paced style of street photography. And, of course, the results were superb.
Naturally when he got home Ross was keen to get his hands on the Lumix GH4. He was delighted to discover that it gave him the results he needed for his commercial work, but the price was a bonus. It meant he could afford more kit without his accountant getting upset. It means he’s kept up-to-date with the latest models and these days he mainly shoots with the Lumix GH5 and G9.
Small camera, big prints
One aspect of Lumix G-series cameras that really impresses Ross is the size of prints that he can make from their images. He says, ‘There used to be a lot of nonsense spoken about small cameras, but the technology just keeps proving itself. You can make massive prints from a single file – and that’s without using the G9’s High Res mode. I had a 60-inch print on display in a retailer’s window for a while and people kept going in to ask which DSLR it was shot with. They were amazed when they were told it was the GH5.’
Ross is a big fan of Panasonic’s 4K Photo and 6K Photo modes. It’s helped him get the shots he needs in lots of situations, but one of the most memorable is when he was photographing a black Labrador puppy called Ebony.
The plan was to get a photograph of Ebony running towards the camera, so Ross set-up four constant lights to create a pool of light in his studio. The aim was to get the shot as Ebony ran into the light. Normally this would be very tricky, but shooting at 30fps (frames per second) increases the chances in the photographer’s favour.
To ensure the focus was exactly where he wanted it, Ross put a focus target in the pool of light where he wanted Ebony’s eyes to be in the shot. He then focused the camera automatically before switching to manual focus. This ensured the focus would stay in the same position.
With his GH4 set to 4K Photo Stop/Start mode, Ross pressed the shutter release to start shooting and called Ebony. The first two times she ambled off in the wrong direction, but the third time she ran straight for the treat Ross was holding by the camera. ‘I knew instantly that I’d got the shot. Even before I looked on the back of the camera, I just knew it. It was all done in 15 minutes and 3 attempts.’ That shoot won Ross the title of UK Pet Photographer of the Year 2016/17.
But while 4K Photo mode has lots of advantages, there are many occasions when regular stills photography makes more sense. ‘The turnaround time is faster with normal stills, for example. It’s just that bit quicker to shoot a few stills and find the perfect shot to send to your client. So if I need a quick turnaround, I’ll go for stills. If the shooting opportunity is unpredictable, though, 4K or 6K Photo makes a great choice because I’ll stand a better chance of capturing the perfect moment. Most of my pet portraits are shot in 6K Photo mode.’
Ross shoots a lot of sport, especially triathlons. A while back he realised that the backside was falling out of the market for selling shots to the competitors, so he began to shoot with a more editorial style. Instead trying to photograph every athlete, he now focuses on capturing the vibe of an event and shooting images that can be used for marketing. ‘It’s much more fun because I can be more creative and try to capture more interesting images’.
Again turning to modern technology within Lumix cameras, Ross finds his cameras’ Wi-Fi connectivity and Panasonic’s Image App really useful. ‘It means I can put my GH5 on the end of a 3m long pole and hold it up over the finish line to get a shot as the athletes cross. With all the Getty photographers and the like at these events, you have to do something a bit more interesting. Shooting with my camera up high gives me a great vantage point and I can trigger the camera with my phone using the app.
Another great thing is, I can even send the images straight from my phone by WhatsApp – that’s good enough for most online uses. My clients love the speed at which I can send them high quality images.’
Stills and Video
If he’s only shooting stills, the Lumix G9 is Ross’s go-to camera. But if he’s shooting video, or a mix of stills and video he’ll opt for the GH5 and use the G9 as a back-up. ‘They’re both great cameras and they produce great stills but the G9 is my first choice for stills. And the GH5 is such a workhorse! I love it because it’s so handy to be able to shoot both types of work on the one camera. And with two memory card ports, I can save video to one card and stills to the other. That’s so useful.’
Surprisingly for a photographer who doesn’t like to hang around when he’s shooting street photography or portraiture, Ross is getting into time-lapse movies. He’s discovering that it’s not as easy as it looks and that if you’re shooting a day-to-night transition over the course of an hour or so, you’ve got to be there to keep an eye on things and adjusting the exposure.
He’s been pairing his G9 with a Syrup Genie or a Syrup Genie Mini to give his time lapses a more dynamic look. He reckons he’s just scratching the surface at the moment so it’s going to be interesting to keep an eye Ross’s work over the coming months to see what he comes up with!
And here is the 6K Photo video clip from which the picture was extracted