GEAR TALK

I seem to be amassing large amounts of gear, but it’s all used regularly, trust me!! I shoot my landscapes and portraits with a Canon 6D - I keep meaning to upgrade to a 5-series actually, but my camera really cops a lot of salt spray and corrosion and dampness, every single day, so I’m not sure I need to upgrade just yet. I’ve already had the insides removed and replaced due to salt corrosion, so it will keep me going for a while yet! I also use a Canon 7D, a crop sensor body. I use that for action, surf, sports and wildlife mainly. My lenses cover a wide range. I will list them here, and let you know what I use them for:

  • Canon 100mm f2.8L - macro lens (flowers, tiny things) and portraits

  • Canon 16-35mm f4L - my main landscape lens, wide angle

  • Samyang 14mm - super wide angle, i only use this for astro photography

  • Tamron 24-70mm - such a sharp lens, a perfect all-rounder. I can use it for landscapes as well as portraits, and great for street photography!

  • Canon 70-200mm f2.8L ISii USM - the most AMAZING lens I own! gorgeous bokeh for portraits, incredible sharpness

  • Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L ISii USM - perfect for surfing and wildlife shots.

Can I tell you guys……it’s taken me quite a while to figure out what I want and need in lenses. I tried a Canon 17-40mm (didn’t like it). I tried a Canon 50mm (didn’t like it), I tried a Canon 85mm (didn’t like it). Lenses are such a personal thing and it depends on what you use them for. There are companies around who rent out lenses. I suggest you try to rent one before you invest in buying one!! Also, invest in the BEST glass you can afford. I saved up for the 70-200 for ages before I could afford to buy one, and it will never leave my possession. it’s that good, so it was worth the wait!

I use Sirui tripods, the W-series. They are waterproof and carbon-fibre. They are fantastic at being constantly in salt water and sweltering in the boot of my hot car. I’ve got my regular one, the W2204, and recently I acquired a W1204, it’s a little bit smaller in size and lighter, so i use that for travel.

I made the investment into NISI filters a couple of years ago, and I use them almost every day. I use the v5 square system, a selection of Neutral Density (ND) filters: a 3-stop, 6-stop and 10-stop, plus a few graduated filters, and Circular Polarising filter, and a Natural Light filter. Interestingly, filters are the number one thing my students want to learn, so I teach how to use them, and how to get the best out of them.

What else do i have …..hmmm well I have a GoPro Silver Hero4 which is fantastic when I go stand-up paddling, and I fly a DJI Mavic Pro drone whenever I get the chance (I’ve posted some images in my gallery, check them out!).

I use a LowePro Flipside 400AW backpack. When I travel….hmmm depends where I’m going and my needs when i get there, but sometimes I fill the backpack and then it fits perfectly INSIDE a hard shell carry-on case, so it’s then on wheels (best thing ever). Sometimes I just carry the backpack on my back, pretending it hardly weighs a thing (tip for getting through at airport check-ins). It doesn’t fit ALL of my gear but I pack according to what I’m going to need! Tip: bring a non-photographer with you when travelling so they can carry some of your gear ;)

As most photography-related brands come out with new gear all the time, unless you are sponsored by the brands and given the use of gear as it updates, it’s hard to keep up, and frankly, quite expensive. I would rather spend my money on travel (so far i’ve travelled to 7 continents…Antarctica was my absolute fave!).

Anyway, i’m always around to answer any questions you may have about my gear, just flick me an email! x

Morocco

Morocco is amazing! First of all, visiting there gave me the chance to practice my rarely-used French........wow it's tough to converse in a language you barely speak anymore after living in Australia for so many years but I managed. Friendly people, a little guarded yes, but lovely to chat with. There are so many different areas to Morocco: I started in Casablanca: chaotic souks (markets), yummy food, and people-watching. I went to Fes (or Fez) - this is the image below with all the houses, it's a rabbit-warren full of people and markets that are separated into sections: iron mongering, fabric and leather dying, butchers (camel heads hanging from hooks), and so on. I was lucky enough to be guided around by a local, who showed us his little house (prized possession; a television!) and luckily he saved me from getting totally lost, never to be seen again.

I rode a camel (I named him MoMo as the cameleers don't give them names) and he had the longest eyelashes I have ever seen. I slept out under the stars in the Sahara Desert, and was thankful I didn't have to trudge up the sand dunes, down the sand dunes, up again......I took a cooking class in Essaouira and made the most delicious chicken pastille, and later wandered around the fishing town (kite surfing, hippies, and plenty of blue paint). I had a little chat with an old fisherman, who drew pictures on his little notepad as we had trouble conversing (his boat. the fish he catches). I sat in the Jemaa el Fna (town square) in Marrakech, sipping mint tea (without sugar! yikes so much sugar!) from a silver pot and people-watching. Mainly the men sit around sipping tea, and the women do the work (at least that's how it looked to me). There were snake charmers, tooth-pullers and yummy nuts and fruit for sale. What a crazy place to hang out.

I went to Aït Benhaddou, where it looks like sandcastles are built to giant sizes - Gladiator (the movie) was filmed here.

I loved the daily calls to prayer - five of them, spaced out. Every day. The soothing wailing is impossible to miss, as it is played on speakers around the city. The lamb tajines were delicious to eat too. Really interesting culture: stunning mosques, wonderful people and a joy to visit.

Patagonia

Patagonia.......a stunning region in South America, in both Chile and Argentina. Wild weather and trekking! First I stayed in El Calafate, a small town closest to the gorgeous glacier Perito Moreno. Milky water, snow-capped mountains, AMAZING cloud formations, tiny wildflowers, floating ice, and the sound of cracking as the glacier moves. 

I went out to EcoDome Camp, in the middle of the Patagonia wilderness, and stayed just a few short days in a dome suite, with windows cut out in the ceiling, and a timber walkway. They come and light your fire in your dome in the late afternoon as it gets cold at night. I loved my time here, I trekked the French Valley trek (part of the bigger 'W' trek), I mountain-biked down dirt roads with the sparkling sun in the sky, ate a Chilean BBQ and drank red wine. I also discovered why many of the guides wear glacier glasses - the wind, at times, is intense. It blew so much dust into my eyes that I could not see, and felt like I had gravel in my eyeballs. Luckily (other travellers!) I met an Aussie guy who gave me some single-use eye drops...thank goodness. No shops around here!

This is not an area for the faint-hearted. The trekking is intense, the conditions change from warm and sunny one minute, to freezing cold and windy the next. The French Valley required a ferry ride to get there (and you have to time your return trip in case you miss the last one!) and around an 8-hour hike. And when I say 'hike', I mean, walking walking walking, no time for stopping, hardly any time to take photos. It was fantastic! For some reason, when you're in an amazing place, the food tastes better, the wine tastes better, and you sleep much better at night!

Antarctica

There is not enough time or space to rave on and on about Antarctica here...but I will NEVER forget it! What an exciting journey, from flying down to Ushuaia, seeing the red ship MS Expedition docked at port, awaiting new passengers, feeling apprehensive and nervous about the dreaded Drake Passage 2-day crossing, and seeing Antarctica for the first time. WOWIE!

Where would I even start? Okay. Scenery: magnificent, other-worldly, white, grey, blue. Crazy wind, rough seas, and then a surface like glass that I sea-kayaked on for over 16kms on one session! I didn't take nearly enough photos, but I had joined the 'kayak bootcamp' and spent a lot of time paddling and trying not to cry with emotion, because my glasses would fog up. 

Marine life? you betcha! elephant seals, leopard seals, seals of every sort, gentoo penguins with bright orange beaks, penguins porpoising in the water and off icebergs, following a pod of minke whales by listening to them breaching, orcas, birds birds and more amazing birds! Please note: no polar bears here (before you ask)...that's the Arctic :) 

Ship life was fantastic: experienced, knowledgeable, funny, entertaining crew who kept us 100% safe at all times when off the ship. I swam in minus 0.5 degree Celsius water on Deception Island (brrrr COLD is not even close!!), I camped in a tent I put up myself on a windy shore, watching the ship move away from the location because icebergs were floating too close, feeling the exhilaration and the excitement of being IN ANTARCTICA!!! As you can probably imagine, i highly recommend this journey. It is worth.every.dollar. And more.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Larger than 16,000 square kilometres, this amazing delta in Botswana is home to the most diverse wildlife and scenery. Arriving at Oddballs Camp in a tiny plane, I came in to land and saw an elephant feeding, right near the runway (which was dirt and allows elephants to wander across it). My first night in a tent on a deck was exhilarating, with an ellie pulling down branches from above the tent next door (it was loud! and quite scary!). There was an ensuite attached (open roof) and I was warned to watch out for ellie trunks exploring over the wall to find water..........aaaaaarghhh so exciting! A hoisted bucket on a rope for a shower and reed flooring: some would call it rustic. I call it...heavenly.

On another night, there was a hippo in the camp! How unique to see 1) no guns and 2) a beautiful connection with wild animals, allowing them to roam free, even through the camp!

Mornings: up early, coffee and a muffin, before meeting our guide Isaiah, who poled over in his mokoro (wooden dugout canoe) from his village. The guides have a little chit-chat while observing the wildlife action and proximity (hippos in the main channel! avoid!) before helping us into our mokoros to venture across a channel to an island where we spent the day walking as much or as little as we wished, looking for animal tracks, almost bumping into giraffes nibbling on tall tree branch leaves, and standing statue-still while keeping an eye on a herd of buffalo. Tall grass hides a plethora of wild things, we keep downwind from herds of buffalo, and walk, one behind another. The light...the smells of Africa...it's like another world.

 

China

1.357 billion people, a mix of old-style family life sitting on the footpath, cooking dinner in a dented pot over an open fire, hip rooftop bars overlooking city highrises, smartly dressed ladies with face masks riding mopeds, organised traffic chaos, elderly people practising tai chi, ballroom dancing, spinning, and mah jongg in the parks....China is a visual and sensory delight! 

So much construction going on: roads, bridges, buildings......cranes everywhere, people being 're-located' to build dams and flood historic villages, the Chinese love seeing their own country and crowd iconic locations such as Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors.