Day 1 By The North Pole

Photography has taken me all over the world, but I never thought I would ever shoot by the North Pole. My latest trip was to Svalbard, just 600 miles south of the North Pole. When I first mentioned to friends and family that I was headed to Svalbard, they all said "where?"

Svalbard is really no man's land. It is not part of any country, as no country owns the North Pole or the arctic ocean surrounding it, but Norway governs this area. To get to Svalbard, I flew from Los Angeles to London, London to Oslo, Oslo to Tromsa, Tromsa to Longyearbyen, and then finally onto an ice cutter ship to head north to Svalbard.

This expedition was extreme so it was critical that I had the best camera gear. I took three Sony camera's bodies along; A Sony A7R with a vertical grip, a Sony 7R body and a Sony A99 body.  I love using these camera's because they offer me the ability to capture amazing images without getting in the way or slowing me down. While other photographers are looking at the backs of their camera's to see if they have an image, I'm concentrating on getting great images every instant I can.

For example, on day one of our expedition, we saw a polar bear taking a nap. We were in a Zodiac raft when we spotted him and started photographing him. One moment he was napping and the next moment he was up on his feet. This image was taken as he got up and started to move.

I love my A7R because I get an instant preview as I shoot. This way I don't have to worry about looking on the back of the camera to see if I caught the moment. The polar bear is backlit by the sun, which can be hard to capture, but a fast adjustment with my eye still glued to the action was easy and simple to do. If I had to look at the back of my camera on a very bright day I would have missed this shot.

To create this image I use the Sony A7R camera with a 70-200mm zoom lens and a 2x converter. On my A7 body, I had a 55mm lens to capture a wider version of the image. Shooting wide shots, (the 55mm lens) and close shots with the zoom is something I always try to do in situations like this. Many photographers are concerned with only getting the close shots but you never know how you will tell your story until you are back at your computer and editing your images. Shoot wide and close as much as possible. If you think you have a powerful image, change you lens and rediscover a different way to tell your story.

Big vs Small

I've taken two big trips this year centered around photography. The first was to China to receive the Power of Image award in Beijing, and the second was to Svalbard, just 600 miles south of the North Pole. Today, I'll spend a little time talking about China.

For both trips I was around professional and amateur photographers from all over the world, each with their own unique tools of the trade. I took my favorite camera along, a Sony A7R body and A7 Body with several lenses. I like using a battery grip because I love shooting vertical images in my line of work, but even when I shoot horizontally, the grip feels great in my hand. The grip also holds two batteries vs one, and this is very important considering how I shoot.

During my trip to China several of the photographers who also received awards asked or commented on my Sony A7R. It seems everyone is hearing about how great this camera is. One photographer, who is sponsored by another company, told me he'd purchased the Sony A7R in secret because he likes it so much. It is one power house of a camera.

Shooting with the Sony A7R on a smoggy day in Beijing

Shooting with the Sony A7R on a smoggy day in Beijing

Temple of Heaven Exhibit in Beijing, China

During the exhibit in Beijing, which took place at the Temple of Heaven, one of the photographers asked me to take a picture of him using his camera. When I held his big DSLR I was shocked how heavy and bulky it was. It's been a long time since I've had a camera like that in my hand, so I told him to hold my camera. He couldn't believe the weight of my A7R and talked about it the entire trip. I teased the others who complained about their heavy gear as we traveled around various parts of China, and shared some of the features that I really love about this camera. One of the best features for me about using the A7 and A7R is that the camera lets me concentrate on being creative. It doesn't get in the way. Yes, I am sponsored by Sony, but it's not the reason why I shoot Sony. The reason why I love shooting with this new Sony camera is that it gives the the flexibility to do great work and make critical adjustments in the moment. The electronic view finder is something that professional photographers can really take advantage of. I've watched so many people miss great images because they are looking at the last image on the back of the camera. During these moment, life is passing by, but with my Sony A7R I never miss a moment, because I get an instant preview of the image in the viewfinder. This way I never have to take my eye away from the viewfinder. When you are shooting street action things happen fast and you can't miss a moment by looking at the back of the camera to see if you have the shot.

The Sony A7R is small and light in weight but offers a 36MP image that blows the doors off other camera's. On top of that the price is substantially better than its competition.