Three New Tools Every Adventure Photographer Should Have

During the last few years traveling the globe on assignment as a pro photographer, I have come to realize how important it is to have the latest and greatest technology. From the race track to the dirt track, speed boats and chasing supercars on the mountain passes of Italy, versatility and durability is the name of the game. It's a precarious environment out there with very little margin for any mistakes. My dear friend and mentor John Thawley would always tell me “With action photography you’re a little bit at the control of the action... but you still want to have a point of view that takes your audience backstage.”

This summer, I experimented with some new technology to widen my repertoire and help me prepare for being at the control of the action I'm headed into this winter. DJI let me test the new Mavic Air compact drone since I've been wanting to get different perspectives while shooting. I was frankly a little nervous not having any previous experience flying drones. I did about a days researching and watching YouTube tutorials to make sure that I wasn't going to mess up too bad off the bat. I finally forced myself to take it out for a maiden voyage and was ultimately surprised how easy it was. My childhood days of playing video games and using a remote control kicked in. DJI has nailed intuitive high-tech flight, even in this little $1k drone, it has loads of technology available derived from the years of being front runners in this whole flight game. Terrain awareness, auto land and other fly by wire technology make it very easy to get the bird's eye view in unique exciting ways. Batteries last a lot longer than I was expecting, so that was a huge help. I have been on shoots in the past and our drone operator was scrambling and panicked constantly. It's nice to have as much air time as possible to feel comfortable using it. I was getting about eight minutes of flight time per battery and I had three batteries to play with. For me it doesn't feel like work flying this little gadget around because it is so damn fun! There were a few times flying when I hit poor signal areas and it auto returned, thank goodness! I had to avoid lots of areas where aircraft could be present in order to be safe. Much of this is learning the rules first and there are a lot of classes where you can achieve your legal drone “Private Pilots” license. I had a certified pilot friend on hand to ensure we were legal. Also this summer I got a chance to test the camera I've always wanted to shoot with. The new Hasselblad X1D medium format digital is the high-end Swedish brand made popular by luminary photographers I respect from Ansel Adams to Diane Arbus and Annie Leibovitz. This is one of their first digital cameras and it has some of the old school flare in a sleeker package. The tried and tested 50MP CMOS large sensor integrates seamlessly with the X1D, producing ultra-high quality output. It took a little while getting used to the camera as I did some testing before heading off to my shoot in the French Antilles and I was thankful I did. While in Martinique for Carnival moments happened in a flash in the chaotic and beautiful environment island festivities. I missed a hand full of moments the first half of the day learning the camera’s proclivities, but once I got the hang of it I was amazed. The main thing off the bat you will fall in love with are the optics, they are of such high quality I could shoot directly into the sun and still have kicker light unobstructed by flare. When I took images into editing the dynamic range was extraordinary and allowed me to dig deep into the shadows. Hasselblad camera technology is traditionally used over the years for portrait and studio photography. Since I do very little of that sort of work it was fun to take it out of its comfort zone. It allowed me to pay closer attention to each shot that I wanted to make and not create a bunch of extra post work. The X1D is not the cheapest camera by any means, but serious photographers should consider this tool because it creates images once dialed in, that have a range and depth that will make you a true believer.

Shelby Knick on location in Martinique with Hasselblad X1DChristian Johnston

Many times my fellow photographers and I resort to snapping quick photos (or video) with our phone cameras, especially since social media these days utilizes iPhone technology to quickly upload and run social feeds. It’s sad but true. I’ve had numerous close calls as anyone does, but recently on a desert photoshoot in the middle of Joshua Tree, we had high winds and my iPhone camera took a beating. I had to be alone on a mountain top as my crew was off on the other mountain with our big drone. I needed to capture behind scenes on the iPhone and as a controller for the Mavic Air. Extremely high wind gusts, a small sandstorm and a brief rain shower put all of my tools to the test that week. But I had a secret weapon… My director of photography applied BearSkin to my iPhone and camera lenses to protect them from flying debris. On this particular shoot the hazards were rocks flying up off the Jeep Wrangler tires as we were racing to get the shot before sunset. This new technology is a game changer.
SOURCE https://www.forbes.com/sites/shelbyknick/2018/09/24/three-new-tools-every-adventure-photographer-should-have/#2dd8a7a3316d
Pin It

Comments are closed.