Tips and Tricks

What's in my Bag (2017)

Hi all,

as 2017 is slowly coming to an end, it's about time for another gear roundup. It's been an exiting year for photographers with technology constantly pushing limits and enabling us to shoot greater pictures.

If you have any questions regarding the kit I'm using please get in touch!

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My new main camera since this year. It's a lovely camera that has never let me down. Image quality is unbelievable and handling super smooth. The main reason why I upgraded from Sony a6000 was the ability to shoot full-frame, particularly for portraits.I also use a custom wrist-strap instead of the strap Sony ships, mostly because it allows me to move the camera more freely and securely.

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My go-to lens. I think 90% of all my pictures are taken with a 35mm lens. It's an incredibly versatile lens, great for portraits as well as landscapes. An aperture of f1.4 renders amazingly smooth backgrounds. Sharpness is stellar. One of the best Sony lenses out there.

Sony8514

Outstanding portrait lens. Perfect sharpness center to corners even at f1.4. Together with the auto-eye-focus of the Sony A7r II you rarely miss a shot.

Sony70-200f4

Great telephoto and portrait lens. Sharpness and contrast is fantastic. Quite lightweight for the focal-length, much lighter and affordable that the f2.8 option. A must-have in any travel bag.

Sony1018f4

One of the best Sony wide angle lenses. Almost distortion free even at 10mm, tack sharp and no noticeable vignette. Super light and compact build. It's an APSC lens so it's "only" 20MP on the Sony A7r II but still a great addition to the kit.

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I'll most likely write a separate post about how quickly I fell in love with this little camera. It's the perfect camera for whenever things get a little bit rougher. I took it snorkelling in Thailand, sand-boarding in Dubai, surfing at the Baltic Sea and it has never let me down. Image quality it brilliant. Together with the handy little Smart Remote this combo will never leave my bag again.

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This is a pretty new item in my bag. Over the years I had many occasion when I wished I had brought a good quality tripod. This one easily fits in the side of my backpack. Also doubles as a light-stand and comes with a handy little carrier bag.

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Having everything organised particularly on long trips has made my life so much easier. No more lost memory cards, no more missing cables. Even when I'm not on the road I keep everything nice and tidy in there so it's always ready to go. It's a cheap and easy way to make travelling much more hassle free.

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I don't board airplanes without them. These headphones are pretty much an upgrade to first class for your ears. Talking seat neighbours, crying babies, singing stag-partys, all that blown away with the push of a button. Bluetooth and a 25hrs rechargeable battery make them the perfect travel companion. 

How I shot the Perseid Meteor Shower from London

Ok, two things upfront:

  1. Can you photograph shooting stars in London even though the sky is polluted with lights and smog (and clouds for most of the year)? Yes!
  2. Will it be totally awesome and exciting? Most likely.
  3. Are the photos gonna make it in the next National Geographics? Well, unless you're best buddy with the chief editor probably not. But it'll still be fun.
 
Perseid Meteor Shower 2015

Perseid Meteor Shower 2015

 

Nothing beats a pitch black night in some remote mountain valley. Most definitely not London. You'll get a lot of light pollution and the photos won't be as good as somewhere in the countryside. But on the plus side you can grab a pint on your way back and be in your cosy bed in no time. So let's get started. 

  1. Find a dark park or field where you get as little streetlight as possible. I went to Whitings Hill Open Space which has the benefit of having a small hill in the middle so you won't get any foliage in the way.
  2. Get a tripod and preferably a pretty wide angle lens or a fisheye. I shot on a 10mm (17mm on my Sony A6000), if your camera or lens has Image Stabilisation I'd recommend you turn it off as on a tripod it can introduce vibrations. 
  3. Either use a remote trigger, or if you don't have one use the timer. This way you won't get any jiggle from you pushing the shutter button. Turn off the autofocus and set the focus to infinity.
  4. For as much detail as possible I'd shoot in raw.
  5. Open the aperture as wide as possible. Mine was f4, ISO 1600 and a shutter time of 25 seconds. These settings can vary with different cameras and lenses. Keep in mind that the earth is spinning so if you're exposing too long you will get trails.
  6. In order to actually catch a shooting star you'll need a lot of luck and even more patience. The way I did it, I checked online for the peak time of the meteor shower and where in the sky it was supposed to happen. In my case it was supposed to happen around the constellation of Cassiopeia, which is sort of a big "W" in the sky and quite easy to spot. Then I pointed my camera in that region of the sky and pretty much continuously triggered the shutter. This way I maximise my chances of getting one. 
  7. Try and compose you image as far away from the horizont as possible since the light pollution is stronger closer to the ground.
  8. Once I managed to get the images I wanted I headed back home and brought the photos into Adobe Lightroom. I did quite a bit of editing, mostly contrast and clarity. Also in the latest version of Lightroom the new dehaze feature seems to be doing a pretty good job for stars and bring back features of the Milky Way. Use brushes to lighten up the areas you want to highlight. I also added quite a string denoise on colour as well as luminance. Play with the colour temperature to get a nice galaxy-like hue.   

And that's all I did. Of course all the things will apply and work even better next time you're on a trip somewhere far away from any city and then the results will be breathtaking, promise. Also check out my other picture of the milky way.