Tag: photography

Have you been wondering how to improve your video calling or online presentations? If you’re reading this, this chances are that you’re a photographer and you’re used to exceptional image quality. The low quality webcam built into your laptop just isn’t cutting it and the awkward, unflattering angles from your phone camera are only serving to highlight your lockdown weight gain. (Don’t worry… we’re in the same boat!)

Did you know that the chances are you can use your DSLR, Mirrorless or potentially even a premium compact to stream or as a webcam? Instantly improve your work team meetings or present yourself the best way you can to your clients remotely.

First off, let’s cover the different ways you might want to use your camera as an alternative to a webcam or phone camera and then we’ll show you how each of the different camera brands work to allow you to use your DSLR, mirrorless or compact camera as a webcam.

Streaming

What exactly is streaming? Essentially it’s just live video online.

We’ve seen a huge uplift in live events on Facebook and Instagram as companies and individuals seek a way to get to their audience when the high street is quieter, or maybe they are currently under restrictions meaning their customers can’t come to them.

For many photographers, especially those who previously ran workshops in person, being able to stream in good quality online has meant they have been able to adapt their business and keep it viable going forward. Wilkinson Cameras have hosted various live webinars and workshops alongside brands like Canon, Nikon, etc.  If you want your presentation to look slick, clean and as professional as you are, then using a proper camera as your streaming device is almost essential.

There’s also another huge market for streaming and that is gaming. Twitch is the biggest platform in the world for video game streamers and presenting gorgeous visuals is a sure fire way to make you stand out from the crowd.

Client Introductions

One that is definitely overlooked is client introductions.

A lot of photographers now are forced to do their initial meetings via Skype, Zoom etc. and there’s no better way to start this relationship than making your client say “Wow, what webcam are you using!?”

You’re selling yourself as a photographer, don’t let the initial impression disappoint.

Video Conferencing

Not everything has to be for the public though: a good quality camera for video conferencing can be just as important, especially if you’re trying to make a good impression on managers, directors, etc., who could be watching.

A lot of job interviews are now also taking place via video call. Imagine the first impression you’ll make looking sharp, with a flattering angle and beautiful bokeh behind you.

Brands

The bit you’ve been waiting for… What brands can I use for this? What models of camera can I use? I have more than one camera, which is better? What do I need to make it happen?

As always in our blog posts, this information is correct at the time of writing but might not completely reflect what’s available at the time of reading.

Canon

Canon have released their Canon EOS Webcam Utility Software, which allows you to turn a huge amount of Canon cameras into webcams.

The list of models that you can use this with is incredibly extensive, including (but not limited to) the EOS R5 and EOS R, EOS 6D Mark I and Mark II, EOS 5DS R and the EOS 1D X Mark III. More compatibility information is available on their website here.

If that wasn’t enough compatibility, check out the list of currently supported software:

  • Messenger
  • Discord
  • Teams
  • YouTube Live
  • Facebook Live
  • OBS
  • Zoom
  • Skype
  • Hangouts
  • Slack
  • Streamlabs

With OBS and Streamlabs being featured that means your streaming world is literally at your fingertips, as these software allow for streaming to most major providers.

What do you need to make this work?

For some of the cameras, just a Wi-Fi connection! But when that’s not supported or available, you can use a USB cable connected directly to the camera, providing you with a clean output.

Canon have even provided us with a brilliant how-to video, making all of this a doddle.

Olympus

Olympus is a little different: their software, Olympus OM-D, is still only in Beta.

But ‘only’ isn’t doing it enough justice as the software is currently in a very comfortable state, and even has compatibility to stream using the fantastic Olympus LS-P4 audio recorder.

The OM-D Webcam Beta allows you to use the follow cameras as a webcam:

The PC version appears to be more compatible with the range of software as mentioned above, but it is worth mentioning that the MacOS version only allows use with OBS and Google Chrome, meaning video conferencing isn’t available just yet, but keep an eye out on their page to find out if this changes.

Lewis Speight, who you may know from some of our in-store events, has even produced a video on how to get started with a few common apps such as OBS, Zoom and Teams.

What do you need to make this work?

The USB-C cable that is included in your box and a PC/Mac that is capable of running the above mentioned software.

Panasonic Lumix

Again, another Beta but one that appears to be a very stable release as well!

The LUMIX tether application allows you to run some of the best cameras LUMIX have to offer, including the S1H, allowing for the but beautiful streaming possible! If you haven’t seen our review of the S1H you definitely need to give it a watch and find out about this amazing piece of kit.

Cameras that are covered are:

The spec requirements for your computer are also really low, allowing for pretty much any level of PC/Mac user the ability to run the LUMIX tether application.

Lumix have also included a “How to live-stream with LUMIX” video, which again is very handy especially if you’re a first time user of live stream software.

What do you need to make this work?

The USB cable that is included in your box, and any manner of PC/Mac.

Nikon

The Nikon method requires pre-existing kit, or a separate purchase in the form of a Capture Card.

What is a capture card? Simply put, a capture card records what is being shown on one screen and uses that as input device to be displayed onto another.

This requires the camera plugged into the capture card to display what is known as a “clean out”.

A clean out is a video feed with nothing other than what is going into the lens being displayed, no shutter speed or ISO settings, no focus tracking markets. Just a clean video feed.

Thankfully, all Nikon cameras allow this and Nikon have provided us with not only a guide on how to set up their cameras with a capture card, but also a mini guide on lens choice and lighting.

While this does require a separate purchase, one would argue that this is truly the most versatile way to stream, record and video conference as capture cards work with ANY software of your choosing.

What do you need to make this work?

A HDMI cable that fits your camera, a USB cable for the camera and an external capture card, such as an Elgato.

Fujifilm

Fujifilm have actually just released their FUJIFILM X Webcam ver2.0!

Their newest software even lets you make on the fly adjustments to film simulations, white balance and exposure compensation without even touching the camera, something that truly stands out in terms of software power.

The first and largest problem we have is that officially, OBS is not on their list of supported software, only:

  • Zoom
  • Google Meet
  • Skype
  • Microsoft Teams

Which of course, is perfect if you’re conferencing, but not if you’re streaming.

What cameras are compatible?

A nice list of cameras there, then! They even support digital zoom, allowing for precise framing of your conferencing.

What do you need to make this work?

The USB cable that is included in your box and a PC/Mac that is capable of running the above mentioned software.

We haven’t been able to test it, but theoretically this could be used for streaming, so do check on OBS itself if it’s supported as a webcam.

Sony

Sony have just last month (at time of writing) released their software for webcam conversion and that is Imaging Edge Webcam.

This is currently restricted to PC only, at the time of writing.

The list of cameras covered is HUGE, ranging from the ZV-1 Vlogging Camera (which really is ideal for this kind of application) to the Alpha A7s III.

There’s nothing much to say about the Imaging Edge Webcam software, as their website details are vague, but Sony are known for creating smooth pieces of software, so we can’t imagine any problems happening here.

Though, the Imaging Edge Webcam software is perfectly suited to any video conferencing software, such as Zoom, Teams & Skype!

Lighting & Tripods

In terms of tripods, there’s two ways we can go with this.

If you have the room, great! A full length tripod allows for complete freedom with how you place, tilt and angle your camera.

However, if you’re more restricted, we have a range of tabletop tripods available including the Manfrotto PIXI EVO and the Joby GorillaPod Rig.

These will fit on your desk and provide the perfect compact solution to keeping the camera steady during video conferencing and streaming.

For lighting? We have a few options.

The Manfrotto Lumimuse 8 LED Light is the largest and brightest LED in the Lumimuse range but is still ultra-portable.

The Lumimuse is great for lighting in myriad situations with excellent maximum light output and 4 step dimming to regulate light intensity. The USB rechargeable Li-on batteries provide superb battery life allowing you to make the most of the photo/video shoot. The Lumimuse 8 comes with a ball-head, which includes both hot-shoe attachment and a standard thread to enable you to attach it directly to a tripod or alternative supports.

These are great, as they’re cheap enough to create a full 3 point lighting set up, whilst also adding some incredibly useful kit to your bag.

Also included in each kit a set of snap-fit filter mount and filters which modify the colour temperature and diffusion of the light; you can simultaneously use up to 3 to achieve various effects.

We also have the LituFoto F18 Bi-Colour LED Light which is as small as a mobile phone, yet is a durable, bright and convenient LED light perfect for a range of situations.

Featuring a built-in 4040mAh large capacity lithium battery, the full light output is approximately 1.9 hours, and at 5% output you will get around 8 hours use.

It is ideal for indoor and outdoor environments and since it is only about the size of a mobile phone, the LituFoto F18 Bi-Colour LED Light is the perfect lightweight, portable LED light for a range of situations. There is an OLED screen which displays power, brightness and colour temperature clearly.

Audio

Often ignored, but equally as important as great quality video, is great quality sound. Your camera’s internal microphone is ok as a general mic, but consider a dedicated microphone suited to your needs.

Audio can make or break just about any content that someone is watching, whether it is a video conference, a webinar, digital lesson or live stream.

There are usually 3 main types of audio capture for these set ups:

  • Shotgun Mic
  • Desktop Mic
  • Lavalier (aka “lav”) /Lapel Mic

 

A shotgun mic is great as it mounts directly to your tripod or camera, making it incredibly easy to use.

They also have a nicely defined area of sound pick up, which means you’re easily separated from any background noise.

The limiting factor there is if you plan to move around, as you need to be in the pick up area for your voice to be captured.

A desktop mic provides an all round experience, with the area of pick up usually being wherever you are in or around the desk.

And a lavalier mic, also known as a lapel mic, allows for the closest possible audio recording, with the ability to move around.

For our shotgun mics, we have a range of amazing options. One that particularly stands out is the Rotolight RL48 Sound & Light Kit.

Not only does this combine a broadcast quality condenser shotgun microphone, but it also features a Rotolight ring light!

The LED video light fits neatly around the microphone, meaning no need to have an extra pair of hands or having to find a way to use both a light and a microphone without affecting the balance of your camera.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more dedicated microphone, one that we use a lot in our videos is the Rode Videomic Go. It’s a compact and lightweight shotgun mic that perches nicely on your hotshoe, and delivers clear, crisp, directional audio with no prior skills.

For a desk mic, we recommend the Rode MIC NT-USB Mini Microphone. The NT-USB Mini is a fantastic solution in that it delivers Rode’s world class studio microphone technology into a compact package which fits perfectly anywhere on your desktop. Featuring a built in pop filter and a high quality capsule, you’ll find this delivers some of the warmest audio possible.

We have a few lav mics available, but our personal favourite, and one you’ll notice from our videos, is the Rode Link Wireless Microphone Filmmaker Kit.

Combining Rode’s best wireless transmitters, incredible battery life with USB power as well, and stunning omnidirectional lavalier quality, you truly can’t go wrong with this.

If you’re looking to move around during your webinars, lessons etc, then this is the ultimate solution.

Simply clip on to your belt, pants or even pop in your pocket, and you can move around with complete freedom.

The lav mic supplied is of broadcast quality, meaning you can’t get much better than that.

 

Anything else?

If you’d like to know more about any of the products we’ve listed today, or just need a hand setting everything up, make sure you visit any of our social media platforms, visit us on our Website and head to live chat, or even pop in to a local store, and we are more than happy to help!

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The historic walled City of Chester may not be the first place you imagine as an obvious base for an aspiring surf photographer. But sure enough, as a member of the Wilkinson Cameras team in Chester, Jenny Warriner is as keen on capturing waves as she is sharing her knowledge and passion for photography with customers.

Over the last few months, while stores were closed, we’ve been catching up with the team to learn more about their passion for photography and adventure outside of work. For sure, lockdown limited all but essential travel for several months, but as restrictions are lifting, there’s at least one photographer itching to get back to the coast!

We caught up with Jenny Warriner, one of the sales team at our Chester store, to find out her kayak vs paddleboard dilemma, camper van conversion and her love-hate relationship with the waves.

“I’ve been interested in photography since the early 2000’s. I wasn’t happy in my job as a chef with all the long hours and I moved to Spain for a short while – attending college to learn Spanish while I was there.  It was great to have the break from work and think about what I want to do with myself.  I knew I didn’t want to return to the kitchen.

After coming back from Spain I had a few retail jobs, but I knew I wanted to get into photography. Initially I started work for studio based Olan Mills but sadly after a year they went into administration.

Shortly after this, I worked briefly for Wilkinson Cameras – running one of the mini-labs in store – but with the decline in film processing and the move to digital this sadly came to an end.

After a brief return to retail in toy sales, I once again found an opening in photo retail with Camera Solutions, which last year was purchased by Wilkinson Cameras!

My experience along the way has been amazing, but I’m glad I was given the opportunity to carry on doing what I enjoy, finally selling things I am passionate about, as part of such a dedicated team here at Wilkinson.”

Capturing “Choka” Waves

For those of us less familiar with surf terminology, ‘Choka’ is surf slang for awesome/great, and is also part of Jenny’s Insta handle @chokasurfphotography, where you can seen an epic collection of her surf photography.

“Before I met my husband I was pretty terrified of water – I’m still not confident.  I didn’t have anything like swimming lessons at school and when I was about 11 or 12 I almost drowned in the sea on a holiday in Majorca!

‘My first experience in the sea as an adult was a long weekend away to The Gower – a friend of ours had been going for years and we thought we would see what all the fuss was about. Our friend had body boards for us to use, it was the first time I had been in the sea properly for years and I felt safe knowing I had people around me to help if I got into any trouble, plus Llangennith is one of the safest to be in as it stays waist high for a good stretch.

Eight years later and we are still taking our trips there.  It’s an 8 hour round trip for us so it is rare we would go just for the day. Until we got our campervan!

‘Bronwyn’ joined us in the summer of 2018.  She was previously used as a work van and we’ve converted her with surfing in mind. We don’t need things like a kitchen inside, or seating, as when we go places we like to be outside, we love our camping BBQ’s and sitting out in our sleeping bags.

We do have a massive king-size bed in there and under bed storage for our surfboards and my husbands longboard. The longboard is too long to fit under the bed – so we’ve made anchor points in the roof in order to hang the board diagonally, which means one end of the board is above my head in the passenger side of the cab, luckily I’m only 5ft so there’s plenty of head space!

The van has meant we can go on longer journeys, travelling over night and sleeping in the van ready to catch the waves the next morning. After enjoying time in a kayak, I now have a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP), which I absolutely love.

I think since having the SUP, I have come to enjoy it more than kayaking.  It is one of those sports/hobbies where it is weather dependent – you really don’t want to go out in the wind believe me! The board came supplied with a camera mount – so my GoPro Hero 7 fits on there perfectly!

Whilst we have been in lockdown I have been furloughed and hubby has worked right the way through.  It’s been really hard not being allowed into Wales especially as some of our favourite spots are over the border. It’s lovely, you can go for a hike then come back for a paddle and enjoy some sandwiches sat relaxing after an adventurous few hours. Not to mention most of the best surf spots are in wales!

We have been a couple of times during lockdown to our local river, the River Dee.  We’ve headed out super early, while it’s quiet and to guarantee a parking space!”

Getting The Shot

“‘When I first started photographing my husband surf, I literally wouldn’t point the camera at anyone else, partly because I didn’t want to miss any of my husbands waves and partly because I have never really been confident getting my camera out around others.

It’s only been the past couple of years I have come out my shell a bit and started shooting other surfers.  I’m still learning of course, and I still enjoy shooting portraits and wildlife too.

About a year ago I started to experiment with long exposures, I find it fun and it’s a good break when the surf has gone a bit sloppy and surfers are bobbing in the sea waiting for the next good wave.

I’m currently using a Fujifilm X-T2 with the newly purchased 100-400mm.  Unfortunately I bought the lens a few months before lockdown and the surf hasn’t been great – so I’m really looking forward to getting out again soon.

I use a Manfrotto monopod as a support as this is much more practical I heavy sand than a tripod. My other top tip if you’re thinking of doing a bit of surf photography is to get a decent pair of wellies, because more often than not you’ll be standing in the sea at some point!

When we are chatting, a lot of customers ask if I am going to get a waterproof casing for my camera… No, no and no! This would mean I’d be in the actual sea trying to stay standing in waves… no thanks!

I did go in once in my wetsuit, with my trusty Panasonic waterproof compact camera.  Got a few cracking shots actually… but it’s hard for me because most of the time the wave is higher than me so I miss some good waves and being inside the wave I’d get knocked down for sure!”

Jenny’s Kit:

GoPro

Fuji X Series

Fujifilm 100-400mm Lens

To see more of Jenny’s work, check out her Instagram. Alternatively, if you’re ever in Wilkinson Cameras in Chester, be sure to ask about her coastal adventures!

In a new series, I’ll be sharing a few of my favourite shots and the stories behind the image, following the amazing response to a sequence of images I tweeted earlier this month. And, why not start with the most popular image from the poll: Life On The Edge. After spending countless hours with these enigmatic little birds over the past few years this image stands out like no other. In my opinion, it captures the beauty of the world these birds call home.

Check out Kevin’s Instagram and Twitter for more compelling images and exciting content!

Camera: Canon 1DX | Lens:  Canon 24-70mm @24mm | Settings: 1/320 sec @ f/8. ISO 640

 

Life On The Edge – The Story Behind The Photo

Each year, roughly mid-Summer, I grab my tent and start the annual pilgrimage north of the border to the Shetland Isles. This location is truly breathtaking – wild seascapes, rugged cliff tops, and of course seabirds. For me, it’s the holy grail of seabird photography in the U.K.

The location of this image is Fair Isle, Shetland – measuring at just 3km wide and barely 5km long it is Britain’s most remote inhabited island. It can be found marooned in the North Sea between Shetland and Orkney. Due to its location, it is not the easiest place to get to. But once you set foot on the island, it truly is a puffin paradise and with almost 24 hours of daylight during summer, it is a photographer’s dream.

The coastline that borders the island may not necessarily house the biggest population of puffins in the UK, but it is difficult to argue that it isn’t the most beautiful. Over the past few years, I have led many tours and workshops to this amazing location. Sadly in 2019, the island was hit by a devastating disaster, a fire that burnt down the Fair Isle bird observatory the main accommodation on the island. Thankfully, apart from material belongings being lost, there were no major injuries or loss of life. Efforts are now in place to rebuild the accommodation, hopefully, by 2022 the observatory should be back up and running.

Out of all the Scottish islands, Fair Isle is my favourite – I often find myself seeking solitude on the cliffs there, whatever is going on in the world seems so distant whilst sitting watching birds glide effortlessly below. The island brings back so man childhood memories, sitting looking out to sea, dreaming of what lies beyond the horizon. It is where I feel most at home

Over the years I have racked up countless full-frame portraits of puffins, showcasing countless forms of behaviour. But for me, true beauty is taking a step back and including the dramatic landscape they call home. So, on this trip, my goal was to compose a wide-angle image of a puffin, showcasing the iconic Sheep Rock in the background.

Life On The Edge – Composing The Image

When you break this image down, many elements have to come together for Life On the Edge to work. Firstly, the pose of the puffin is critical. Had the puffin being looking to the left, or away from the camera, the image would not work – the classic over the shoulder pose allows the viewer to engage with the puffin. Composing the puffin in the bottom left of the image, allowed me to frame a pleasing composition as the puffin stood tall in this wonderful vista. This image was shot at f/8, which was enough to keep the subject sharp but also keep the background in focus.

When composing wide-angle shots, you need to be constantly thinking about how the image will all piece together. This image is more than just the puffin, all the elements composition, landscape, clouds have been carefully considered before the shutter has been pressed.

First Attempts

Below I’ll highlight a few of my earlier attempts at the image and explain their flaws and why they never made the cut.

Attempt 1 – The Flaws

  • Composition is flawed, the bird is too central in the frame
  • I find the clifftops to the left overpowering. Your gaze is drawn to the cliffs and not the stunning vista beyond
  • While the birds pose is fine, it doesn’t carry the same engagement as the over the shoulder
  • Overall, I find this image unbalanced and uneasy on the eye

Attempt 2 – The Flaws

  • Composition is better, but still not right
  • The cliffs to the left of the birds are still too distracting, which overpowers the image
  • While the birds pose is fine, it doesn’t carry the same engagement as the over the shoulder pose
  • Overall, I find this image unbalanced and uneasy on the eye

Attempt 3 – The Flaws

  • Composition for this one is perfect
  • The main issue is the birds pose: by looking away from the camera, the puffin does not engage the viewer.

Looking For More Inspiration?

About Kevin Morgans

Wilkinson Cameras Ambassador Kevin Morgans was born in Cheshire, UK. Kevin is a multi-award-winning wildlife photographer, tour leader, and photographic guide with a passion for UK wildlife. Widely published and with a formidable social media following, Kevin was last year a category runner up in Nature Photographer Of The Year and was proud to see his mountain hare image grace the cover of the prestigious British Wildlife Photography Awards collection in 2018. He’s also had multiple awarded images in international photography competitions such as the Nature Image Awards, Environmental Photographer Of The Year, Bird Photographer Of The Year & Natures Best to name a few.

Specialising in the British Isles, from the highest mountains to the coast. Kevin’s work celebrates the beauty of UK wildlife across the seasons. He is an experienced guide who has been running 1-2-1 and group workshops for many years, using his experience and passion to pass on his knowledge of photographing the natural world. You are welcome to join Kevin on a photographic tour or workshop to explore this beautiful land.

Many of us are still stuck in lock-down and self-isolating. But this will not last forever – hopefully we will be back out with our cameras before we know it. Whilst it feels like our lives have been put on hold, the natural world has not stopped.

Wildlife is still going about its daily routines as normal albeit under less pressure from humans. My favourite time of the year has not been put on hold: the return of the seabirds to our cliffs. At this time of year, many will be busy collecting nesting material in preparation for the upcoming breeding season.

In the post below I will set out to share 5 tips to help you improve your seabird photography – ready to be put into practice once we are all free to visit these amazing places!

 

Think Wide

The biggest mistake people make when working at a seabird colony is not stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. I understand photographers may get excited when seeing a beautiful subject such as an Atlantic Puffin and rush to shoot as big and bold in the frame as possible. But please, just for a second, slow down, step back and look at the bigger picture: seabirds live in some of the most stunning habitats in the UK. Look to combine the two, the beauty of the seabird and the dramatic coastline.

Shooting wide is a little more difficult in terms of composition, when using a long telephoto the bird is the main focus of the frame. When shooting wide the landscape is the main focal point but with a bird in the frame.

Many years ago a good friend once told me,  ‘if the habitat adds to the image include it, if not exclude it from the image.’  This quote has stuck with me ever since.

Use Light Creatively

Wildlife photography is one of the most difficult photographic disciplines when it comes to using light, as we are often exposed to the elements on windswept mountains or rocky sea cliffs. We don’t have the luxury of studio controlled setups. One of the biggest assets a wildlife photographer can possess is how too understand light and the qualities it possesses. Once this is understood you can then begin to use light to your advantage.

Yes, summer sunrise shoots mean an early alarm, but sadly that’s part of the job when shooting wildlife. Being on location for first light allows you to shoot in the most exquisite light – the same goes for the evening light.

My favoured style of photography is back-lighting. This is when the sun is in front of you, lighting the back of your subject. Birds can look fantastic using this technique, as the light shining through their feathers looks almost translucent. Ideally, this should be tried earlier, or later in the day when the sun is close to the horizon. These times of day are also known as the golden hour and will create beautiful light with low contrast perfect for back-lighting.

Think Outside The Box

Seabirds are one of our most photographed subjects and for a very good reason. They live in beautiful habitats, are stunning birds and, for the most part, are accessible to the public. The issue with accessible subjects means they will have been extensively photographed. For example, just look at the number of puffin images that appear in our social feeds each summer.

You need to look at these images and think “what hasn’t been done” – the bar has been raised higher with these species than no other. But always remember however well a species has been documented there is always a new shot to be had.

I’ll share an example of when I was working on Shetland last summer. It was 1 am and I was walking back to my tent after a session shooting the amazing gannets colonies at Hermaness NNR. It was a clear night and the moon was rising out over the sea. I thought to myself, imagine a puffin silhouetted against the moon – that would be unique. A few moments later to my surprise a small group of puffins were resting on a ledge looking out to sea. I then had to manoeuvre myself, lining one of the puffins up against the moon, with very little contrast manual focus was needed. It was difficult in near darkness, but by framing the head of the puffin against the moon I was able to shoot a unique image of a well-photographed species. Yes, I’ll admit the opportunity to shoot a silhouette of a puffin against the moon doesn’t happen every day, but always keep your eyes open because you never know when the next opportunity will arise.

Embrace The Weather

Typically with the British Summertime, if we decide to wait for the golden light we could be waiting a long time. Cloud, rain, fog – this is the norm – but don’t get downbeat when the weather isn’t in your favour, embrace it. Often the best images can be achieved in the worst weather.

Shooting in wet weather can come with its own challenges, such as keeping yourself and your kit dry. Keeping yourself dry and warm in these conditions is vitally important once you get cold and wet, well in my case you’ll be thinking about that hot cup of tea and not the photography at hand. The longer you can stay out in these conditions the more chance you have of producing unique imagery.

A few years back I headed North of the border to Shetland, the aim of the project was to photograph Northern Gannets in the autumn gales. Yes, this trip was tough, working on the cliff tops in gale force winds was a bit sketchy, but the results were stunning. The weather was wild, but these were the conditions I was after, the power of the sea crashing over the rocks as the gannets soared below. The point is getting out in these extremes of weather can lead to dramatic shots, whilst other photographers may have packed their bags. Stay out and experiment – once your home and processing your amazing images all those cold and wet thoughts from earlier will be a distant memory.

Slow Down Your Approach

Seabird colonies are bustling habitats stacked with activity, whether it’s puffins reaffirming old bonds, gannets collecting nesting material, or skuas hunting for prey. If you are new to seabird photography, arriving at the colony can feel a bit overwhelming, so when you first arrive, take a moment, step back, and just watch.

Doing this will allow you to slow things down.

This allows me to simply watch the birds: see what flight paths the gannets are taking, which puffins are bringing sand eels back to the burrows etc. By operating a so-called bull in a china shop mentality you will miss the action around you – don’t be blinkered to the one opportunity, take it all in. Enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of the colony – only by doing this will you massively improve your chances of capturing unique imagery.

Looking For Inspiration

Whilst we are all stuck at home, review your archives, assess what works in the images and what doesn’t, so next time you’ll know how best to work the situation.

If you need further inspiration why not check out my Clowns Of The Sea image library, which documents the lives of the ever comical Atlantic Puffin across the U.K coastline – from the stunning Skomer Island to the most Northerly point of the British Isles, Hermaness NNR.

I’ve recently set up a Facebook group titled Coastal Worlds. This group aims to explore your connection with coastal nature and landscapes through imagery, video, stories, and conservation.

If you would like to join this fast-growing community, please search for Coastal Worlds and start sharing your favourite seabird shots.

Thanks

Kev

To see more of Kevin Morgan’s work, check out his website or browse through his Instagram feed.

 

 

Wilkinson Cameras ambassador James Rushforth has written four guidebooks in the past decade covering photography, ski mountaineering, rock climbing and via ferrata. He is currently finalising his next project, a photo location guidebook to Iceland for publisher fotoVUE.

Recently home from Iceland and writing from quarantine in Worcester, we asked him to share his experiences with book publishing and talk us through the process.

What you read and the images you see next may just have you reaching for your credit card and booking flights as soon as lockdown is over!

Ten years ago I agreed to write a rock climbing guidebook to the Dolomites for British publisher Rockfax. Shelling out £390 for my first camera (I paid less for my first car – were photographers all mad?) I bought a little Canon G12 and have never looked back. Which is not to say it has always been plain sailing, but it has been an experience.

I’ve tried to keep the following as succinct as possible, glossing over some of the more mundane economic considerations and focusing on the photographic side. I hope the article gives a little honest insight into guidebook writing, both the good and bad.

Logistical Considerations

This stage is key and there are some essential questions to ask before making a start in earnest.

• Are you going to work for a publisher or self publish?
• If the guidebook is a commercial enterprise is there a valid market? If so, will the market still exist by the time the book gets finished?
• Do you have time?
• Can you afford it?

Obviously the answers to these questions will vary depending on personal circumstances and the proposed project. For my part I’ve always worked for a publisher, which provides a certain level of security while alleviating some of the printing, advertising and shipping responsibilities associated with self publishing.

Certainly in my experience, writing a book always takes much longer than you think: come up with a timeline and then double it. For example, this current guide to Iceland contains 150 locations, with each location requiring an average of 4 images. That means I have to get 600 unique high quality images before I even consider the introductory material. Even if I were to average one print-worthy photo a day (which is nearly impossible – especially given the weather in Iceland), it would mean two years full time work before making a start on the text.

Then there are the finances to consider. My current expenses for Iceland are in the region of £20k, and that’s living out of a van and living as frugally as possible. Depending on the success of the book this can mean you’ve got several years to wait before you break even. In my experience guidebooks are profitable, but only in the long term. When I first started I took out a loan to cover the expenses, and now previous guidebooks cover the costs of the new ones.

Planning

Considering all of the above, it’s worth creating a quick mockup of how you envisage the pages looking. This invariably raises more important questions and allows a rough page count to be determined. Thought needs to be given to the book size, shipping costs and binding strength.

Gathering Content

Then it’s time to start gathering the content, always the best bit of any project! The key is to be organised and methodical from the start.

• Record everything – You can never have too much information. Voice notes are an excellent way of recording exactly what you see; these can be typed up or referred to later. Geotagging images with GPS data is really useful for later reference. Many cameras have this function built in, or if not a GPS unit can be added, or the camera can be paired with a mobile phone.
• A map is a great visual reference – I create a custom google map and log locations I’ve visited, colour coding them according to chapter and quality. This allows me to see if I’ve under-represented any areas and helps plan the next day’s photos according to location. It also makes driving and navigation easier.

• Organise your images carefully using cataloguing software of your choice. Be sure to keyword your images and use a logical filing structure. A quick and efficient method of finding a desired image will save so much time in the future.

• Plan your locations – Maximising time and stacking the odds in your favour for a desired shoot location is important for maximising efficiency. Use software such as the Photographer’s Ephemeris, PhotoPills or SkySafari to plan for the best light and important celestial events.

• Scout the locations in advance – There’s nothing worse than stumbling about in the dark looking for a foreground as the aurora goes crazy over your head. Get to locations early or use bad weather days to do some location research before the stars quite literally align.

• Mix it up – Today the potential audience for anyone reading your books is broad, leading to a very eclectic range of photographic tastes and preferences. Try and mix up your image styles, techniques, subjects and processing to reflect this. If nothing else it might inspire someone to try something new.

• Think in three dimensions – Love or loathe them, the advent of drone technology has fundamentally changed the way we perceive photography. What would previously have been a £8k helicopter flight in Iceland can now be achieved multiple times with less than £1k worth of equipment. The technology is particularly good for guidebooks as it allows you to capture orientation style shots to aid navigation. Writing the Dolomites climbing guidebooks I frequently ascended mountains on the opposite side of the valley to get the crag shots I needed, whereas now you could simply fly a drone up from below. What took weeks would now take days.

• Buy a van – Okay, so you don’t have to buy a van, though it definitely helps! The ability to travel, cook and sleep under your chosen location makes getting the images you need much easier and that sunrise start becomes considerably less arduous.

 

Book Design and Layout

Some publishers will request the written text and images before laying out the book for you. Personally I much prefer doing this myself, then you’re involved in all stages of production. For all three publishers I’ve worked for, Adobe InDesign is the software of choice as it links so well with Lightroom, Photoshop and Illustrator for cataloguing, image editing, map and symbol creation.

Much like photography, designing a book is all about colour palettes that work together, interesting compositions, symmetry, variety and juxtaposition.

I won’t go into all the tedious details of writing except for the following quick tips:

• Try to avoid leaving all the writing until the end as it becomes a daunting task. Better to chip away at it slowly.
• Find yourself a good copy editor.
• Be patient: don’t think of the project as a whole as it’s daunting and instead take it one page at a time.
• Try and keep social media interest going. Schedulers like Planoly for Instagram are great as you can spend a day organising your social media posts for the next three months and then largely forget about it.

A few frequently asked questions…

Do you recommend guidebook writing as a career?

It’s lovely work, you get to travel frequently and spend time fully exploring beautiful corners of the world. You also get something tangible to show for all the hard work at the end. But you also have to make sacrifices. I’ve spent the last 10 years living out of a van, which is great when the weather is good, but less enjoyable when you’re stuck in a 2x5m area on the eighth consecutive day of rain. Or digging yourself out of yet another snow drift. Such a transient lifestyle also makes for a tough social life – you build up a great friendship network only to move on again. Of course, the dream is to write a guidebook from your home address!

Is guidebook writing an economically viable career?

A good question that’s difficult to answer. Certainly in my experience it’s a good supplementary income but I’d personally struggle to live off the royalties full time. I also lead photographic workshops, sell prints and do some guiding. I’ve found that to be a good combination that keeps me on my toes and gives me good work variety.

What camera equipment do you use?

I’ve never got particularly excited about camera gear, I like taking photos. Some of the best work I’ve seen on my workshops have been taken by guests using mobile phones. Artistic creativity and a good eye will always trump expensive equipment. Working in Iceland the Arctic and at the top of mountains frequently my primary consideration is durability, it doesn’t matter how good the image quality is if it doesn’t take pictures when I need it to.

I’m currently using:

Cameras:
Nikon D810 with Kirk BL-D800 L-Bracket
Nikon D850 with Kirk BL-D850 L-Bracket
DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Lenses:
Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 G AF-S ED Lens
Nikon 20mm f1.8 G AF-S ED Lens
Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 G AF-S ED Lens
Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 II AF-S VR ED G Lens
Nikon 300mm f2.8 G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Lens

Converters:
Nikon TC-14E AF-S Teleconverter III
Nikon TC-20E AF-S Teleconverter III

Tripod:
Gitzo GT3542LS Series 3 6X Systematic Tripod
Induro BHL1 Ball Head

I’m interested in writing a book, where do you recommend starting?

I think creating a photo book of one of your recent trips is a great place to start. If you enjoy the experience of whittling down your images, editing and creating a visual story then you can think more seriously about a bigger project.

If not, you’ll still have a nice photo book to show for your efforts!

Wilkinson Cameras has an excellent range of photobook options that are available to browse if you’re feeling inspired and want to get started with creating your very own photo book.

Enjoyed this feature?

If you would like to know more or get in touch with James you can visit his website.

James also has one of the most inspiring Instagram feeds we’ve seen – though we warn you it may give total wanderlust frustration at this time of temporary lockdown!

James was the overall winner of the Digital Splash Photographer of the Year Award 2018. He also won the Digital Splash Landscape Photographer of the Year and Digital Splash Sports Photographer of the Year categories in 2018.

 

 

 

Wilkinson Cameras ambassador, astrophotographer Alyn Wallace, has kindly written a blog post sharing his top 10 backyard astrophotography ideas for lockdown with us. Check out Alyn Wallace’s website and find him on social: 

With many of us stuck in lockdown, quarantine and self-isolation, I thought I’d share 10 ideas for astrophotography that you can do from home, even if you live in a light polluted town or city. If there’s  one thing that this pandemic has taught us it’s that we’re all in this together and astrophotography and astronomy only help to solidify that sense of unification. We all live under the same Sun, the same Moon, the same planets and the same stars. People stuck at home all over the world have a chance to photograph the same subjects and share their images with each other. This borderless aspect of astronomy is one of the reasons I love it.

1. Light Painting with Sirius

Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky and can be seen from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. At the moment it’s in the south-west after sunset and sets in the west later in the evening (though don’t confuse it with the brighter Venus). Once you’ve located it you’ll notice that it twinkles quite profoundly, especially when it’s low on the horizon and its light becomes more disturbed by the turbulent layers in Earth’s atmosphere in a process known as stellar scintillation.

You can use this twinkle for creative artistic effect. Put Sirius in the frame, make sure it’s slightly out of focus to accentuate its twinkle and flickering colours, and then intentionally move your camera during a long exposure to light-paint with it. Or check out the example above where astronomer Steve Brown arranged multiple photos of an out of focus Sirius in an almost pop-art fashion.

2. Moon Photography

No matter how much light pollution there is in your area it will never wash out the Moon! It also opens up a whole host of different photographic opportunities. You could should a wide-angle shot and include some foreground interest. Or it’s a great excuse to whip out the telephoto lens and get a better view of the surface details. Crescent moons and full moons are particularly good for a telephoto shot as they are low on the horizon during the twilight hours. Or, you could try a HDR shot and combine 2 exposures for the illuminated side and dark side.

3. Planets

Planets, unlike the stars, reflect the light of our Sun and are much more visible in light polluted areas. At the moment you’ll spot Venus shining insanely bright in the western skies and it will be around until about May. If you have a south-eastern view then you can also spot Jupiter, Saturn and Mars together in the dawn skies.

4. Star Trails

Even if you can’t see that many stars in the sky you’ll be surprised at how many your camera will pick up. You can do star trails even if you live in London! Take multiple exposures of 20-30 seconds, set the ISO to 800 and adjust your aperture until you have a good overall exposure, but don’t over-expose! Leave a 1-2 second interval in between the shots you take. If you have a new camera and a good spec SD card then you can get away with 1 second, but if you have an older camera or a low-end SD card then go for 2-3 seconds. There’s nothing worse than missing an exposure and having a big gap between your trails. Talking of gaps, you can stack all the exposures in the free software StarStax which has a gap-filling mode, nice!
If your camera doesn’t have a built-in intervalometer I recommend the Pixel TW-283 for reasons I explain in the video above. Also, it may be worth putting a lens warmer on to prevent any condensation forming on the front glass element. There’s nothing worse than coming back to find hundreds of photographs of a foggy lens!

5. Shoot A Timelapse

In a similar fashion to star trails, you can shoot multiple exposures using an intervalometer and turn the images into a timelapse video. In order to get smooth motion you need the video to playback at least 24 frames per second, so every 24 images you take will equate to 1-second of footage. In the tutorial video I posted on YouTube you’ll see that I used the same frames from the star trail image to create a timelapse video.
There are many ways you can stitch your images into a timelapse and you can find tonnes online but I’ll be sharing my own tutorial on YouTube very soon so make sure to subscribe to my channel if you don’t want to miss out on that.

6. International Space Station and Starlink Satellites

It’s worth keeping an eye out for any International Space Station flyovers for your location. My favourite app is ISS Detector as it gives you a nice star map showing you how the path will look for your exact location. You could also capture an image of the SpaceX StarLink satellites although that’s a very touchy and controversial subject for astronomers and astrophotographers at the moment. To keep an eye out for those I recommend Heavens Above.
If you’re lucky there may even be an ISS transit of the Moon or the Sun for your location too.

7. Bokeh Stars

If there’s not that many stars in sight then one way to accentuate them is to focus on the foreground, so that the stars turn into large bokeh balls. It helps to have a bit of a longer focal length here, something between 50-135mm. Although you can do this technique with 20-24mm lenses too, just be sure to be nice and close to your foreground subject. The technique is easy, just focus on your foreground subject.

8. Constellations

Constellation photography in dark sky locations can actually be quite difficult. Your camera picks up so many smaller stars that the constellation gets lost in the chaos. A little bit of light pollution or moonlight, however, washes away the smaller stars and helps the conspicuous constellations to stand out. Use an app like Stellarium to locate them. Some of the most obvious right now are Orion, Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, and Leo.

9. Pinhole Solar Photography (Solar Can)

You could try your hand at making your own pinhole camera, or you could buy a ready-made one from SolarCan. Just set it up outside facing the Sun, peel off the black tab to unveil the pinhole and then leave it for at least a week. The resulting image on the film inside the can shows the path of the sun over an extreme long exposure image. I’m going to leave mine outside for the duration of the lockdown here in the UK. Then the image will serve as a quarantine souvenir!

10. Deep Space Astrophotography

You may be quite surprised at how good a result you can get out of deep space astrophotography in light polluted areas. With the right light pollution filter you can really hone in on your distant target and if you have an astro modified camera you could even do some narrowband astrophotography. Whilst I dabble in deep space astrophotography, I’m no expert, which is why you should check out some of the YouTube channels listed below:
Astro Backyard
Peter Zelinka
Dylan O’Donnell

BONUS: Edit Your Past Images

You may have plenty of images sitting in your archive that are still waiting to be edited. Or how about going over past images to see how your editing has improved. As a bonus, my Astro Workflow Lightroom Presets are currently on sale during lockdown. See how they can improve your workflow and take your images to the next level.

Welcome to the final part (for now!) of our lockdown special.

Today we are going to think about the professional photographers out there – the guys and girls you look to for inspiration and adventure. Those who inspire, share, educate and capture our most precious moments.

Right now we’re all in the same boat – and it’s not sailing. Anywhere. Flights are cancelled, travel is prohibited, sporting events, weddings and family celebrations are all on hold.

For many of the full time photographers out there, the halt in income was instant. Commissions and workshops cancelled, bookings made months and even years in advance, gone.

We are super proud to see that many have risen to new challenges – taking photography tutorials on line, offering advice on coping with isolation in these difficult times and sharing their knowledge for free. Some have taken their workshops online too, with longer term courses now available to stream.

So we thought, as our final piece in this series, we should all look at ways in which we can support our favourite photographers during this period of uncertainty – and help everyone stay positive and healthy during this unprecedented time.

Buy a print, poster or card

Most professional photographers sell their images in some format. For some it’s a range of beautiful prints including investment pieces, limited edition prints, open prints and poster editions. Others may sell a wider range of cards or gifts featuring their work.

If you can spare the money right now, buy an image that will bring you joy, while supporting the photographers whose work you most admire. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune!

Buy their book or calendar

Many professional photographers also have their own books – many of which are self-published, meaning a massive personal investment in time and money to fulfill these projects.

Books are a lovely way to access a collection of images, often finding out more regarding how the images were captured, or the stories they tell. Buying direct from the photographers not only means they get to keep more of the profit, but also means you can often get a signed copy. Sometimes these can even include a personal handwritten message – so perfect to cherish, or as a gift. Many photographers are also running discounts at the moment, so you could save some money on a planned purchase.

Calendars (yes, some 2021 calendars are already out there!!) also make great gifts and you can enjoy a collection of images, with seasonal inspiration each month.

Book a workshop

Oh man, how we are dreaming of all those beautiful places we went to, or were planning to go to! One thing we do know is that we won’t always be in lockdown and hopefully we will soon be able to start planning photo adventures once more.

Got your eye on a particular workshop for next year? Why not book it now. Pay the deposit and have something amazing to look forward to! During this ‘downtime’ many photographers are taking advantage of the extra time to plan and add even more new exciting workshops for 2021 and beyond – many offering brand new locations.

Book that shoot!

Ever fancied that family portrait shoot, a bit of beautiful boudoir, an engagement shoot or whimsical woodland styled shoot? Whatever takes your fancy, we will all be ready for some fun when this lockdown is over!

Now is the perfect opportunity to research the ideal photographer for you and book that shoot. Photographers will currently have more time to discuss ideas, locations and help ensure you get the perfect pictures when the time comes.

Buy a voucher

If you can’t afford a whole shoot or trip, consider buying a voucher towards one. Then you still have plenty of time to save up and you’ll already have a little ‘in the bank’ to help when it comes to time to book. Vouchers are perfect gifts too – so think about any special events coming up, eg. Birthdays, Fathers Day or anniversaries.

Like, share and comment on social media feeds

One thing you can do to really help your favourite photographers, which won’t cost you a penny is to like, share and comment on their social media posts to aid with engagement.

Social media platforms are always changing the rules of engagement (literally!) and by liking, commenting or sharing someone’s work, you can really help them to reach more people and grow their business. Most business pages also have the option to ‘Invite Your Friends’ – check it out and see if you can help spread the word and visual joy at the same time!

Plan ahead

Now, with all that’s going on with the current pandemic, we’re almost a bit reluctant to mention the other C-word…Christmas! (Duck for cover!) But, joking aside, if you decide to buy a book, print or any kind of gift now, once lockdown is over, you can be running around care free with your birthday and Christmas gifts already sorted. You’re welcome!

Share!

We’d love to know who your favourite photographers are and why? How did you discover them; what is it about their work that you love? Do you already have a beautiful framed print on the wall at home that makes you smile each day, or a book you revisit time and time again?

Why not hop on over to our Facebook page now and let us know who your favourite photographers are & why.

Keep in touch:

Stay Safe

The Wilki Team

These days, there are more ‘POTYs’ around than you can shake a tripod at – from Wildlife to Weddings, Landscape to Weather, Birds, Gardens, Dogs and just about everything in between.

Within each, is normally a wide range of categories – giving flexibility and opportunity for pretty much every photographer. With many having junior categories too, it could be a perfect project with which to get the young photographers in the house involved.

So why not revisit your archives – even re edit past images and see which award categories might be best to enter? Many awards have some tasty cash prizes, as well as great kit up for grabs, the chance for your work to be included in exhibitions and even books, celebrating the winners’ work.

The process itself is also very useful – looking at each category, identifying pictures that fit the brief, following the rules (careful how you edit, or when the image was shot etc!) and really focusing on your best work. This in itself is a great skill to hone!

As well as the big national and international awards, also check out your local camera club to see if any regular competitions are now running online. The physical meet ups are obviously on hold, but there’s a ‘boom in Zoom’ and other online broadcast apps, which allow you to participate in all sorts include online classes and tutorials.

Organisations such as the Royal Photographic Society also run competitions as well as qualifications you can work towards!

Competition Inspiration

Here are just a few ideas to get you started – some of the deadline dates are soon, so if there’s something that takes your photographic fancy, get cracking and don’t miss your chance to shine!

A few of the awards are ‘on hold’ due to the current pandemic, but you can still browse the winners’ galleries from previous years, perfect for some inspiration (and truly amazing photography). Most will allow you to register your details – so you’re first to know when entries re-open.

Landscape Photographer of the Year – deadline just extended until 10 May 2020, go go, go!

Minimalist Photography Awards – deadline 25th May 2020.

Garden Photographer of the Year – entry deadline 31st October 2020, with several mini competitions in the meantime.

Bird Photographer of the Year – entries now closed for this one, but amazing back catalogue to enjoy. Finalists announced on 1st April 2020, overall results 22nd Aug 2020.

Sony World Photography Awards – entries re-open 1st July 2020.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year – The touring exhibition may be on hold, but a truly spectacular collection of images to view and inspire.

Dog Photographer of the Year – Amazing galleries of one of our favourite pet subjects. Join the mailing list to find out when the next competition opens.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year

International Wedding Photographer of The Year – register now for new dates. Browse previous winners and find out more about the images.

British Photography Awards (IPA) – Check out the winners’ galleries here and register for when entries re-open.

IPA – International Photography Awards

So plenty to ponder, lots to inspire!

Why not challenge yourself to do your first award entry this month? As they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it – and many a professional photography career has been launched off the back of an award win.

Good luck!

Keep in touch:

Stay Safe

The Wilki Team

Our kit is in order, our creative juices are bubbling over and we’re primed to get out shooting pictures in our gardens, within our homes and even getting the kids involved for some fun home portraits.

But, do you still have that niggling feeling of knowledge gaps or things we simply could do better?

If you have extra time on your hands, now is the time to upgrade those skills – and with many training businesses, software companies and pro’s offering to share their expertise for FREE, go for it!

We touched on magazines and reading material in our previous blog – but now’s the ideal time to revisit those photography books on the shelf or support your favourite pro photographer by purchasing their publications.

Many pro photographers are finding themselves in a zero work/income situation, with commissions cancelled for the foreseeable future. Many are still selling their books though – directly or through the likes of Amazon (other book sellers are available!). Consider supporting your favourite photographers if you can – and gain a beautiful book at the same time.

Software

Intimidated by Photoshop? Baffled by Lightroom? Always fancied taking the time to create your own presets? Need to improve your workflow? Yep, you guessed it – now is the time!

Many of the software providers are running special or free offers – changing regularly, but here are a few available at the time of writing this:

Professional Photographers of America has opened up all of its online tutorials for FREE!

For existing Creative Cloud customers it looks like you can now get 2 months free of charge.

Adobe offers 7-day free trials on all of its software – from Photoshop, Lightroom or full Creative Cloud/All App packages.

Affinity Photo

Affinity, by Serif, is a more recent competitor to Adobe. They now offer a range of options including Affinity Photo, their PhotoShop alternative.
You can trial it free of charge for 90 days and if you like it, you pay a one-off fee of £48.99 (though at the time of writing this is 50% off at just £23.99).

Editing Tools

While you’re honing your creative skills, it may be a great time to improve your editing workflow setup too. Adding a graphics tablet will give you more flexibility when it comes to editing. With a little extra time on your hands, now is a perfect time to learn how best to use one too.

Wacom tablets start from as little as £69.99 for an entry level option such as the Wacom Intuos Small. Browse our range of Wacom editing devices and see why other photographers use them in this video:

Sell Your Images

Websites helping you to sell your photography are constantly running offers of up to 40% off (varies depending on package) for example, check out one of the most popular providers: Zenfolio. And once you’ve honed those skills, for those of you with websites, strike while the iron is hot. Do those updates now, add your best images, add new work and blog about the projects you’ve been working on. More people than ever are likely to be looking right now!

Use this time to really evolve and develop your unique style – showcase your own work and try new things.

Dream BIG!

And finally, we all need to dream during this difficult time! Planning your next trip not only gives you something to look forward to, but also gives you plenty more to do.

Whether it’s researching your next exotic location, or revisiting a place within the UK (doesn’t everything feel just that bit more precious right now?!), sit back and imagine yourself there.

Logistically there are plenty of apps available to help you plan your next trip too, including sunrise/sunset times and info, tide times, moon phases and astro related planning tools just to name a few.

Landscape Photography

For landscape photography, Baxter Bradford has been kind enough to share his go-to Apps for planning locations. Baxter has an extensive collection of stunning landscape work, also available as prints – so, if you’re spending time at home improving your interiors, check out his gallery of images!

“I use The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE) for sun angles and times at different locations, plus tide information from the BBC website.

For general weather conditions I use several, including BBC, Met Office Apps, plus two free Apps which I find really useful:

WeatherRadar, which gives forecast, but I mostly use it to track predictions on cloud cover. Saved me a few journeys, does change pretty rapidly at times if weather systems are unstable.

Also really useful is Clear Outside, you can save locations, gives detailed weather information in tabulated format, incredibly useful to see high, medium & low level cloud percentages. If fair amount if high level cloud, then colourful sunrise/sunset is coming. Also gives humidity & whether mist present. For Surf predictions I use Magic Seaweed.

I also use my iPhone compass feature to check bearings on location.”

All this planning (and a lot of time and dedication) goes into making Baxter’s awe inspiring landscape images.

Astro Photography

For night sky fans, Wilki Ambassador Alyn Wallace gives us his recommendations for the best smartphone apps, when it comes to Astro photography. Check out this vlog where Alyn walks you through his night sky favourites.

Never before, as photographers, have we been able to enjoy such an extensive range of (mostly free) resources. So enjoy your planning, stay safety tucked up at home for now, and hopefully we will all be out in our beautiful great outdoors again very soon.

In the meantime keep an eye on our social media channels for the latest photography news and special offers.

Keep in touch:

Stay Safe

The Wilki Team

Now that you have your photographic house in order, your sensors are sparkling and your batteries are charged (having read Part 1 of our blog series, obviously!!) it’s time to get those creative juices flowing!

Now is the perfect time to immerse yourself in all things creative – catch up with your favourite magazines, professional photographers, blogs, vlogs, product news and reviews. You could even read your camera manual! (Although, we can think of about 157 more interesting things to suggest!)

With so much free content now available online – make the most of any spare time you might now have to read, watch, learn and hone those skills for when we can all venture out again!

Online Content

There is an absolute plethora of free online content – whether you want to learn new techniques, work on your understanding of the craft of photography (we’ll be testing you on those f-stops later!), read about photography adventures in exotic locations, or learn how to shoot more in your own back yard.

Whether its wedding or wildlife, landscapes or sport, there’s always something to learn or be inspired by. The toughest question is where to start!

Traditional photography magazines have evolved immensely – whether you look at the print editions or the digital versions. Lots of content is free, or you can treat yourself to a subscription and browse until your heart’s content.

Current editions are great for seasonal photography tips, the most popular genres, interesting features and interviews – while each generally contains editing tutorials, creative project ideas and objective gear reviews amongst a huge range of other photography news and info.

Here are a few suggestions to get you going (other magazines are available!!):

Note: Many have special offers running at the moment when you can buy 5 editions for £5 (digital or some print).

N-Photo (for the Nikon users)

Photo-Plus (for the Canon fans)

Amateur Photographer

Digital SLR Photography

See here for a comprehensive range of photography publications available.

 

Podcasts

Podcasts are another great source of inspiration – and you can basically tune in, download or listen just about anywhere via your phone, tablet or computer. Listen to experts share their knowledge, experiences and generally be inspired!

A great idea with podcasts is to try listening to something completely out of your normal comfort zone – even someone you might not have heard of. Drop that virtual pin and tune in!

For those of you who enjoyed the talks by Paul Sanders at Digital Splash, Paul, together with his colleague Sam Gregory, host ‘The Togcast’.
It’s a bi-monthly free download.

Currently on episode 73, there’s loads to listen to – and a few recommended highlights include Alex Nail, Wilki Ambassador Alyn Wallace, Valda Bailey, Joe Cornish, David Ward, another Digital Splash favourite Jonathan Chritchley, Margaret Soraya, Lizzie Shepherd. Plus loads of others!

A Photographic Life

The ‘A Photographic Life’ Podcast is weekly, recorded in a shed(!) and lasts around twenty minutes. It is available on iTunes, Spotify, and all other podcast platforms and has just posted its 100th episode.

Each week photographer, writer, lecturer and filmmaker Grant Scott reflects on news, discussions, themes and issues surrounding the photographic community. Previous episodes have included David Bailey, Paolo Roversi, Brian Griffin, Brian Duffy, Mary Ellen Mark and many more.

Digital Camera World has also put together a great feature, which includes their ‘20 best podcasts for photographers in 2020’ . You’ll see a few names we’ve already mentioned, plus a whole host more!

Films and Vlogs

And finally, for now (this feature could go on for E-VER), if you’re looking for something different then these projects and short films could be perfect:

Film: Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life Of Bill Jay

Bill Jay was a photographer, a writer on and advocate of photography, a curator, a magazine and picture editor, lecturer, public speaker and mentor. He was the first editor of Creative Camera Owner magazine, which became Creative Camera magazine (1967–1969) and founder and editor of Album magazine (1970–1971). He established the first gallery dedicated to photography in the UK with the Do Not Bend Gallery, London and the first Director of Photography at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. Whilst there he founded and directed the first photo-study centre. He studied at the University of New Mexico under Beaumont Newhall and Van Deren Coke and then founded the Photographic Studies programme at Arizona State University, where he taught photography history and criticism for 25 years. He is the author of more than twenty books on the history and criticism of photography, four books of his own photography, and roughly 400 essays, lectures and articles. His regular column titled Endnotes was published within Lenswork magazine for a number of years. His own photographs have been widely published, including a solo exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Those are the facts, but Bill Jay was so much more than just the facts…

You can see it for free here!

Alyn Wallace

Yes, another one of our most popular Digital Splash speakers and host of our recent Astro Photography workshop up in north Wales, Alyn is a YouTube Vlogger extraordinaire! Check out Alyn’s YouTube Channel for some amazing content.

 

Andy Rouse – Wide Angle

We also spotted this great video from wildlife photography legend Andy Rouse – talking specifically about getting started in bird photography in your own garden, while under lockdown!  Definitely worth a watch! Part of his new series Wide Angle, over on YouTube.

PhotoBite Kids

PhotoBite UK is a YouTube Channel from a team of photographers, filmmakers, photo-journalists and tech geeks (their words, not ours!) bringing you reviews and news from the photo world. But, they’ve just announced their new offshoot – PhotoBite Kids.

In response to schools being closed ‘until further notice’, team PhotoBite is launching a twice-weekly photo challenge for children aged between 5-15, inviting them to explore photography and to introduce a little more creativity into the weekly home school schedule. Head over to their channel for more information or to get involved.

 

So that’s it for now, hopefully plenty of ideas of things to read, listen to and watch – all to help fuel your photographic aspirations once this difficult time is over!

In the meantime keep an eye on our social media channels for the latest photography news and special offers.

Keep in touch:

Stay Safe

The Wilki Team

Clive Nichols is one of the UKs foremost garden photographers and with over 95,000 images in his collection was named ‘Britain’s Best Garden Photographer’ by PhotoPlus Magazine.

With more than 30 years experience photographing gardens worldwide, we’re proud to have Clive as one of our Wilkinson Cameras ambassadors.

And as spring finally emerges from one of the most challenging winters on record, we caught up with Clive to see what this year holds and to find out more about his career to date and his enchanting garden and flower photography.

How did you get into garden photography?

I studied Geography at Reading University and worked in a restaurant whilst doing it so I thought I would be a chef – within 3 years I became head chef at an Italian restaurant but the hours nearly killed me!

So, overnight, I decided to become a travel photographer, as I loved taking pictures on my holidays. I just phoned up tourist boards and they gave me press trips – in the first year I went to Malta, The Falkland Islands and Japan but after a couple of years I realised that to make a living I would have to do something closer to home.

So again, I switched overnight to photographing flowers and gardens and never looked back. In 1994 I was asked to write and photograph a book for the Royal Horticultural Society on how to photograph plants and gardens and that really put me at the forefront of the genre.

After more than 30 years shooting flowers and gardens (and still going strong!) you must really love what you do – how do you keep your work fresh and evolving?

Actually quite easily – I love getting up early and getting to gardens for dawn or sunrise when no one is about – it is literally like being in heaven. Increasingly, I am travelling to gardens abroad as well – last year Greece, Morocco, Spain, France – and many of the gardens there have not really been photographed so they are new and exciting.

You have a very strong following on Instagram, with more than 65,000 followers. How have you grown (no pun intended!) such a lovely, engaged community?

Simple really – consistency – we’ve posted an image almost every day for the last two years. With each image I like to give a little information regards the location, the planting, opening times (where appropriate) for the gardens featured etc Many of the images featured are published in the key home and gardens magazines – so I include those details too in case people wish to read the full features.

We have the advantage of being able to draw on my vast collection of images to keep things fresh and seasonal. We’ve grown Instagram entirely organically – and that’s something we’re really proud of.

Do you always shoot in natural light, or do you use any lighting?

When shooting gardens I only use natural light – which is a challenge of course. A lot of photographers don’t realise how hard it is, landscape photography is easier believe me, because it doesn’t really move, whereas flowers blow around in the slightest breeze so you have to pick and choose your days.

If I am shooting plants indoors then I may use lighting – I have a very good lighting technician called Neil who is great because he has all the kit – tungsten and flash – so I can concentrate on the composition. Stephen Johnson of Copyright Image sometimes comes on shoots with me and I can tether my camera to his laptop so that the client can see the shots as I take them. I’m lucky to have a great team.

You run your own garden photography workshops and work closely with International Garden Photographer of the Year. What can guests expect from a garden photography workshops, are they suitable for all experience levels?

I am a judge as well for IGPOTY and yes, my workshops are good for anyone who owns a digital camera – I am not a particularly technical person so I use simple techniques really. I try and do as little post processing as possible and try and stay true to my subjects. Flowers are like humans really, they have character and personality, so the skill is to bring those out in the photograph. On the workshops we have early access to some amazing locations, so we can focus on capturing the best images in the best light possible. I’m always on hand to offer advice and help guests achieve the best images they can and my partner Annette usually helps out too.

You’ve photographed some absolutely incredible gardens, home and abroad, do you have a favourite and why?

My favourite is usually the one I am in at the time! But seriously, there are some amazing gardens as you say – in the UK I would have to say gardens like Malverleys, Wynyards Hall, Morton Hall and Pettifers, which is in my village. In Europe, I would say some of the French gardens are just mind blowing – Marqueysaac in the Dordogne for instance.

The garden I would most like to photograph – that I haven’t yet – is The Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. From the photos I have seen of it, it just seems to sum up what Moorish Paradise gardens should look like.

A little bird told us that you’re working on a new book project at the moment – what can you tell us about that project or is it under wraps?!

Well it’s a book featuring the brilliant English Gardens that I have photographed in the last few years – there are over 30 in the book and it will be a big, coffee table book with loads of big pictures, which I think is what people want to see. The book is due to launch later this year.

I’ve also been working on a project with Woodmansterne – they are one of the best card producers in the country – we have just launched a new range of my images on greetings cards which are now available in store at John Lewis, W H Smith and Sainsburys.

You’ve been involved with International Garden Photographer of the Year Awards from the very start and the competition has really highlighted our beautiful landscapes and gardens worldwide. What advice would you give to anyone considering an entry?

I have, my wife Jane was one of the original founders of IGPOTY. I would encourage anyone to enter as long as they have an image or images that are top class – remember the competition is intense these days. There is now a really wide range of categories – so entrants should select their images carefully and as well as the creative elements should ensure they meet the brief for each award.

Another great thing about IGPOTY is there is the option to pay for an ‘Entry Review’ – where one of the judges looks at your images and gives specific feedback. This is very valuable for aspiring garden photographers and can provide valuable insight as to how to improve and develop.

The weather has been horrendous this winter – what would you say to aspiring garden photographers who want to get out shooting now and don’t want to wait until spring?

Winter is very difficult – I usually wait for frosty or snowy days and target gardens that look good at this time of year – generally one that have strong structure – hedges, statuary, walls, gates, topiary etc.

But there are also a lot of flowers at this time of year and increasingly the bigger gardens are planting areas that have good flower, stem or bark colour in the winter months.

What are your top tips for those just getting started?

Look at the very best photography of gardens and plants in magazines and books etc and try to understand why the images are being used. In most cases it is the light and composition, which works. (Clive’s Instagram is a great place to start!)

Quickfire questions:

Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise
Trees or flowers? Flowers
Formal gardens or natural? Formal
Favourite flower to photograph? Tulip
Bluebells or Poppies? Poppies

What’s in Clive’s camera bag:

Canon EOS 5Ds R

Canon lenses:

TS-E 17mm F4L
TS-E 24mm F3.5L II
TS-E 45mm F2.8
EF 24-70mm F2.8 L II IS USM
EF 70-200mm F2.8 L III IS USM
EF 180mm F3.5L Macro

He also uses a Manfrotto tripod with a Gitzo Fluid head.

Do you have a ‘go to’ set up, or a favourite ‘must have’ piece of kit or accessory?

My go to lens is the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8, or if I am shooting flower portraits then my EF 180mm F3.5L Macro – all Canon lenses. Another absolute essential is a sturdy tripod in order to keep the camera still and maintain perfect sharpness in photos.

FREE Screen Wallpaper

Clive has generously added several images to his shop as ‘free wallpaper’– so for a daily burst of garden photography inspiration, pop on over here and download yourself a beautiful view!

To find out more about Clive’s beautiful photography, workshops and books, visit his website or check out his Instagram!

Following on from our interview with Jonathan Doyle – former Wilki employee and adventure film-maker – we caught up with Jonathan to find out how he decided to spend his Wilkinson sponsorship, which products he chose to take with him and why!

Having just completed the first leg of The Great Australian Triathlon (running across Tasmania!) Jonathan has already put the kit through its paces!

 

“We are so grateful for the support we have received so far in the preparation of The Great Australian Triathlon. It is been mind blowing to have 8 companies, both big and small, believing in our expedition and lending us their support.

Wilkinson Cameras in particular has been especially kind to me, keeping me in the Wilki family even after I had to leave my job in the Kendal store in order to head out on the TGAT2020 expedition. The company has provided some fantastic pieces of equipment allowing me to up my game for this trip.

I thought for those interested in camera nerdery, I’d spend a little time discussing how I chose the kit supplied by Wilkinson Cameras and why these items are important in the filming process.”

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Lens

“First of all, I chose a Sigma 16mm f1.4 lens for my Sony A6400 camera body. This system was originally destined to be my backup in case my Sony A7iii stopped working. However, it has since become the primary film camera for the kayaking team during their Bass Strait crossing to be used in conjunction with their selection of GoPro action cameras and also a Sony RX100 V. The lens is equivalent to 24mm in full-frame terms, giving me a nice wide cinematic feel to my shots. It is also fast, stopping down to f1.4, meaning it can handle reasonably low light situations without succumbing to excessive noise. Overall, while it is a prime, and thus has no zoom capabilities, it’s the perfect lens for the task in hand.”

GoPro Hero 8

“Secondly, I chose a GoPro Hero 8, the latest and most advanced action camera on the market. I wanted this for quick closeup ‘in the action’ shots, as well as it’s capability to shoot 4k at 60 frames per second, allowing me to shoot some tasty high-resolution slow motion footage.

The GoPro’s inbuilt image stabilisation has consistently impressed me and I have found it to be an invaluable item in my arsenal, with me using it far more than I originally expected. In addition, I also got the twin battery charger and spare battery for the Hero 8.”

Cokin Nuance Variable ND Filter

“The third item provided by Wilkinson Cameras was perhaps the most important of the lot: a Cokin Nuance variable ND filter. This is the number one item for any filmmaker as it allows you to reduce the amount of light entering the system while still being able to keep the aperture wide open, and as such achieve a nice shallow depth of field. A must for a bright sunny climate such as Australia!”

And finally, a Dead Cat!

“Not an actual dead cat, obviously! The final item on the list was a wind-stopper, known as a ‘dead cat’ for my Rode video pro shotgun microphone. Since I will be almost entirely filming outside, this has helped to reduce wind-noise interference, helping to improve the audio quality throughout.”

 

“I am incredibly grateful to Wilkinson Cameras for their generous contribution and I feel so very lucky to be the first person they have sponsored in this capacity, thank you!

Keep an eye out on my social media for more updates about the trip and my set up over the coming months.”

The Great Australian Triathlon website

Facebook

Jonathan’s Instagram

Ben’s Instagram

 

We’ll be keeping in touch with Jonathan on each leg of this epic adventure, including the next stage, kayaking across one of the most treacherous stretches of open water, the Bass Straight.

 

 

2020 is a huge year for former Wilki team member Jonathan Doyle, who worked at the Kendal store but has now left us to embark on the documentary film making trip of a lifetime.

Jonathan touched down in Australia on 29th December and had just a few days to acclimatize before starting filming for a ‘never before attempted’ feat of human endurance: the Great Australian Triathlon. A 600km run, followed by a treacherous 350k kayak across open ocean, and around 7000km of cycling (yes, seven thousand kilometres) to finish this epic endurance challenge.

Over the next 6 months – as Wilkinson Cameras first ‘Sponsored Project’ – we will be following the Jonathan’s adventures – plotting the team’s progress via social media and blog updates as the journey unfolds. Shooting both stills and moving images, Jonathan hopes to launch his full time documentary film making career following this ambitious next chapter.

Jonathan, 28, has been working part time in the Wilki store in Kendal alongside completing his PHD – while proving very successful at documentary film making in his spare time!

Jonathan first picked up a camera in 2016, a Nikon D3200, which he bought to go on a climbing trip in Tasmania. While on that holiday, he made a short video of his adventures, which, once edited, culminated in a 6-minute award winning film.

Having really enjoyed the film making process Jonathan summited his work ‘The Pommish Invasion’ to the Kendal Mountain Film Festival where it was shortlisted! Following this success it was subsequently recognised at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, ‘Goat Fest’ in Arapiles, Australia, before finally winning at the Cradle Mountain Film Festival in Tasmania 2017.

 

The film documents Jonathan and two friends, Ben Cianchi and Matt Amos, climbing The Candlestick – a 110m sea-stack next to the world famous Totem-Pole, at Cape Hauy, Tasmania.

The Great Australian Triathlon

For this new extreme challenge, the Great Australian Triathlon, the team – Jonathan, endurance athlete Ben Cianchi and Ben’s two sisters Claire and Emma – will touch down in Tasmania on 29th December, with just a day and a half to acclimatise before the challenge begins. Ben will then embark on the world’s first human-powered vertical crossing of Australia.

The Great Australian Triathlon will take around six months to complete and will span over 8000 km of the continent, covering a huge variety of terrain, from dirt tracks to the open ocean.
The expedition will be split up into three distinct sections; running across Tasmania, kayaking across the Bass Strait, and cycling across mainland Australia from the bottom of Victoria to the top of Queensland.

Following a successful kickstarter campaign, together with sponsorship from Wilkinson Cameras, Jonathan has packed his bags (and cycle shorts!) to film the entire adventure.

‘I’ve known Ben for around 6 years now, and he’s in my original Pommish Invasion film,’ said Jonathan. ‘If anyone can complete this challenge, Ben can. The filming is going to be very tricky though – I will be filming solo, so have to meticulously plan each stage and the logistics are challenging! No-one’s ever done this before and our timeline will be very dependent on weather conditions – especially the kayak section.’

‘I will be cycling on the Tasmania leg – so kit has to be kept to a minimum both in size and weight as I’ll be carrying everything myself. Data storage and power are big considerations – and this is where I’m particularly grateful for the Wilkinson Cameras support, which will enable me to fine tune my kit to exactly what’s required for the job.’

The sea kayak section of the triathlon will be filmed from one of the kayaks, with Jonathan filming via a drone for the bird’s eye view. Using a local ferry to the largest of the islands en route – Flinders Island – Jonathan will also be aiming to capture shore landings and departures, again travelling under his own bicycle power.

The final cycle section will also be filmed from a bike, with Jonathan leapfrogging the team in order to achieve action footage along the gruelling route.

‘Our aim is to produce one vlog per week en route, in order for people to follow our progress. Though often we will be relying on solar power – so we may have to rethink that in certain areas. Whatever happens, we’re hoping to post one image, across social our media platforms, every single day.

The Route:

The Run

The triathlon starts with a challenging 600km run across the Island state of Tasmania. While carrying all of their kit, the team will have just 21 days to cross from Southwest Cape to Little Musselroe Bay using a combination of trails and minor roads. Severe fatigue is the obvious challenge Ben and his sisters will need to overcome, however the journey itself will not be a walkover. Tasmania is a notoriously wild state, so the team will have to face many difficult challenges along the way, including countless kilometres of steep gruelling ascents, treacherous river crossings and tough navigation through densely packed forest trails.

The Paddle

The paddle starts off where the run ends, at Little Musselroe Bay, and consists of 350km of sea kayaking across the infamous Bass Strait. With only three weeks to complete this leg the team will have to maximise good conditions to cross between isolated islands and wait out any storms that pass through. The biggest stretch of open water will be about 70 km, which is estimated to take at least 12 hours dependant on wind and current conditions. Long days, heavy swell and marginal conditions will make the journey to Wilson’s Promontory on Victoria’s southern tip an epic challenge for the team.

The Bike

Crossing mainland Australia by bike is a monumental challenge, not least when you shun the easy coastal roads and head inland up the great dividing range. Seven thousand ‘or so’ kilometres from Wilson’s Promontory in the South, to Cape York in Tropical North-Queensland will be the longest and perhaps most mentally draining section of the expedition.

The “Why”? We had to ask!

As an outdoor enthusiast and documentary film maker – as well as capturing the physical side of the challenge – Jonathan wants to explore the reasons people like Ben give up well paid jobs and comfortable lives, battle through injuries and sacrifice their careers for the sake of what some people would see as pointless goals. Ben will face countless challenges from extreme fatigue to hungry crocodiles – dangerous tides and wild bush fires, all for no material benefit.

Ben is not being paid (in fact he’s spent his entire savings on the trip), he won’t get a world record (Guinness won’t recognise the expedition), and it’s likely that large parts of the trip will be a ‘sufferfest’. The documentary will follow Ben’s progress from planning and training at home, to the challenges and triumphs on the ground in Australia.

Jonathan will also be exploring the psychology behind why people decide to embark on such radical and life-changing journeys, what fuels them and what they hope they will get from it.

The final documentary will also delve into the ideas and misconceptions of one of the world’s largest and most sparsely populated countries. For example, Jonathan wants to look into why bush fires are so prevalent in Australia, what causes them and why are they so important for the ecosystem. The film will also aim to banish the Aussie stereotype that all of their wildlife is out to kill you and it is actually a much safer place than you may think.

Overall viewers can expect sweeping shots of the beautiful Australian landscapes, close-encounters with the local wildlife and of course engaging and interesting stories weaving in and out of the overarching tale of The Great Australian Triathlon.

‘There will also be an environmental undertone to the film; we are hoping the expedition will encourage others to use their cars a little less, and their own human power a little more,’ added Jonathan.

‘I think we will convey throughout that while human powered modes of transport are slower, they can provide so much more stimuli and engagement by allowing us to slow down a little, recharge and have some fun along the way!’

‘However, it is not lost on us that travelling around the world to create a film about using human-powered transport is somewhat contradictory and we don’t want to undermine our under-lying environmental message in any way. So, with this in mind, we plan on carbon offsetting the trip by calculating the overall carbon cost of the expedition (generated from non-human powered transport) and donating the carbon offsetting cost to an Australian and/or UK based initiative.’

To keep up with the team, you can follow them directly on the social media links below – and also look out for more information, video blogs and interviews on the Wilkinson blog.

Website
Facebook
Jonathan’s Instagram
Ben’s Instagram

What’s in Jonathan’s Bag?

For this extreme filming expedition we wanted to take a closer look at exactly what was in Jonathan’s kit bag. Over the coming months, Jonathan will also be showing the kit in use and sharing tips for filming and photography on such a challenging shoot.

Sony Alpha A7 Mark III body
Sony Alpha A6400 with Sigma 16mm f1.4 E mount lens
Zeiss 24-70mm f4 FE mount lens
Sony 55mm f1.8 FE mount lens
Sony 28mm f2 FE mount lens
Laowa 15mm f2 FE mount lens
Canon FD 70-300mm vintage lens (with adapter)
DJI Mavic Pro Drone
Zhiyun Weebill Lab gimbal
Rode Video Mic Pro
Rode Dead Cat microphone windstopper
Zoom Hn2 Audio recorder
Rode Smartlav Mic
Gopro Hero 8 Black
GoPro Hero 8 Dual charger and battery
Cokin Nuance Variable ND 2-400 filter

 

Follow the entire Great Australian Triathlon with the rest of the series below:

Part 1: The Run

Part 2: The Paddle

Part 3: The Cycle

Jonathan Doyle – Photographer and Videographer for The GAT – What’s in his kit bag?

 

 

For many of us, astro photographer Alyn Wallace was the rising star (no pun intended!!) of Digital Splash 2017. His talks sold out in record time and with his tales of astro photography and nocturnal adventures, both his words and pictures captivated the audiences.

As one of our first ‘Wilkinson Ambassadors’, we wanted to catch up with Alyn to see what he’d been up to for the last few years – and to find out more regarding his magical night sky photography.

So the last year seems to have really taken off for you – and you’ve been all over the world! Share with us a round up of your adventures and the images you’ve captured. What’s been the highlight of the last 12 months & what has been your biggest learn?

Leaving my engineering career behind and taking the plunge into freelance photography was admittedly a terrifying experience and despite a difficult first-year, things have picked up and the newfound freedom has allowed me to pursue my quest to uncover the darkest skies and most otherworldly landscapes.

As winter arrives my compass points north, most recently Norway and Iceland, in hunt of the elusive but mesmerising aurora borealis.

As the summer nights brighten I find myself heading south, not just for extended darkness but also to gain a much better vantage of the Milky Way core, the heart of our home galaxy. I find myself returning to the Canary Islands of Tenerife and La Palma for just that and given that you can drive above the clouds on a nearly nightly basis it’s about as close to heaven on Earth as I’ve found. Although the Canary Islands are often compared to the landscape of Mars, I’ve found Cappadocia in Turkey to be the most otherworldly landscape I’ve ever seen.

It’s usually difficult for me to pick a highlight of the year but capturing and witnessing my first total solar eclipse in Chile was truly an unforgettable life event. Just thinking of the coincidental nature and sheer perfection of the alignment between the Sun and the Moon is enough to make the hairs on my arm stand up, but to experience it was truly ineffable, which is why I’d much rather express myself through photos and vlogs!

With such a big shift in my life, I have of course learnt many things. I’ve gained a much greater appreciation of how precious time is. The clock is ticking and there’s no stopping it, work hard towards achieving your desires before it’s too late and you find yourself looking back with regrets.

Secondly, the best things in life are often found on the other side of fear and only you can push yourself through those fears to reap the rewards on the other side.

You seem to have become the King of astro post processing, launching your own set of presets as well as the many tutorials on your YouTube channel. Talk us through this, what can people hope to learn?

Firstly, thanks! But I don’t think there’s a crown to be won for a subjective and artistic matter. Everyone has his or her own style and taste.

As for the presets, they were born from experience with my workshop clients as I often found they were a bit aimless in their editing, not knowing where to start, when to stop or what to adjust next.

I’m largely against one-click-of-a-button presets that try to do everything in one go, which is why my presets are based on a structured workflow that also allows the user to tweak to their own taste as they go.

Firstly starting with lens correction, followed by global tonal adjustments, noise reduction and sharpening, colour-grading and finally local adjustments where the user can really sculpt and inject their own artistic flare to the final image.

Having a structured workflow has so many benefits, it brings speed and efficiency to your editing and also results in a repeated style such that your followers can recognise one of your images without seeing your name or watermark.

What’s coming up in the winter sky that amateur ‘Astros’ can perhaps look out for and try to capture?

The so-called Milky Way season spans from March to September but despite this, you can still capture the Milky Way throughout winter and in fact throughout the entire year. Milky Way season only considers the core of the Milky Way, which although it may be the brightest and most interesting section, there’s still some stunning areas of the Milky Way to be captured throughout winter – such as the dark dust lanes of the Great Rift or the bright and nebula rich Cygnus Region.

The highlight of winter is of course the aurora borealis, a phenomenon undoubtedly on the bucket list of many and rightfully so – it’s something that simply has to be seen, to be believed.

Winter also sees the return of my favourite constellation Orion, perhaps the most conspicuous of the constellations and viewable pretty much from all around the globe. Not only does it feature some of the brightest stars in the night sky, but it’s also rich in hydrogen-alpha emission nebulae.

It’s such a vast topic – what’s the best way to get started?

Grab a tripod and try some long exposures! You’ll find yourself addicted to the new world you can uncover with your camera. I have plenty of useful videos on my YouTube channel that cover the basics and I also post a monthly video explaining what’s in the night sky for the month ahead so you can begin to make sense of the seasonal and dynamic nature of the heavens. (See link below)

What kit do you need to get started?

The most basic setup would be a camera, a wide-angle lens (preferably with a wide aperture such as f/2.8), a sturdy tripod and a head torch. An intervalometer or remote shutter release can also be useful as you don’t want to shake the camera when starting the exposure as the movement will easily be seen in the pin-point stars in the image.

What’s next in your personal adventures, a winter at home, followed by?

I’m actually looking forward to a winter in Wales! After months of travelling it’s time to cosy up and get to work on finishing my book ‘Photographing the Night Sky’ which is scheduled to be published by Fotovue in September 2020.

It’s a guide to the settings and techniques needed for landscape astrophotography, as well as a summary of the best locations on Earth – with guidance on the various post-processing techniques such as star trails, stacking for noise reduction and blending exposures.

I’ll return to places already visited to continue my workshops but as yet there’s no concrete plans for new adventures, although the desire for a big trip to New Zealand and Australia is growing too big to ignore!

Alyn’s Kit:

Sony Alpha 7 III
Sony Alpha 7S II (Astro Modified)
Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens
Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens
Sony 55mm f/1.8 Lens
Laowa 15mm f/2 Lens
Tokina Firin 20mm f/2 Lens
Sony 100-400mm Lens with Sony FE 2x extender

Landscape Astrophotography & Nightscapes Workshop with Alyn Wallace

Ever wanted to learn how to shoot the stars and night sky? Not quite sure how or when to even find the Milky Way? Then come along to an astrophotography workshop in the Snowdonia Dark Sky Reserve, hosted by Alyn Wallace and Wilkinson Cameras. Find more information here.

To keep up with Alyn’s latest photography, news and tutorials, you can find him here:

Facebook
Instagram
YouTube
www.alynwallacephotography.com

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