Frequently Asked Questions

 

What gear and equipment do you use?

My main body is a Sony A7iii; for me it’s the perfect camera for the job. The size and weight of my gear is always going to be something that’s very important to me; I spend a lot of my trips living out of a single bag, so the mirrorless design of the Sony that with a full-frame sensor is ideal. On longer trips, and professional shoots I’ll often take a Sony A7 as a back up / second camera.

With my main subject being landscape and adventure photography, being able to adapt to my surrounds is vitally important, it’s for this reason I shoot mainly on telephoto lenses. The two that get the most use are the Zeiss 24-70mm ƒ4 and Zeiss 16-35mm ƒ4. The other lens that gets used regularly is the Samyang 14mm ƒ2.8, which does suffer from some chromatic aberration (especially at the corners), but functions great as a budget astro-lens.

The best strap I’ve ever owned is the Peak Design Slide Lite, everything from the way it quickly clips and unclips to the camera, to the easy and fast adjustment of length is perfect for me in every way.

I don’t usually carry a tripod, as from personal experience I find I rarely use it, but when I do it’s either my Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum Tripod, which is also my main tripod for both interior / exterior work. I also us a Joby Action Gorilla Pod + Ballhead which is small enough to chuck in a bag and has saved my neck in a few times when I’ve been caught without the Manfrotto.

For aerial photography I use a DJI Mavic Pro, which following the familiar theme of size/versatility/weight was bought as it is the best tool for the job. As a piece of kit and technology it’s incredible, being able to capture alternative angles and perspectives on subjects is invaluable, and all packed down into something that easily fits into a day bag. To aid my shooting and filming with my Mavic, I use PolarPro Cinema Series Filters that help me adjust and adapt to the different lighting and weather conditions.

I’ve got a GoPro Hero4 Silver, that I always carry with me. I find it’s usually too wide-angled, and doesn’t shoot high enough quality for what I’m after, but it’s one of those things that you won’t miss until you’ve left it at home for the day.

I use a variety of different bags and packs when I’m on trips / expeditions, although my main camera bag is a Lowepro Whistler 350 AW. On occasions when I need to carry a little more – like an overnight stay where I might have camping/cooking gear, I’ll take my bigger 75l+10l Rucksack for hiking, or an 80l Duffle Bag. The important thing for me is it being comfortable, easy to access, and, above all, waterproof. When traveling light (usually if flying) one of Matador‘s packable bags comes in great use, which are small enough to pack into your suitcase but then function brilliantly on location.

For a long time I shot on an old Canon 400D. This is the camera I learnt to shoot on, and used for a good 7 years. We’ve been through a lot together, and I know it like the back of my hand. Yes, good gear does make a difference to the quality of your shots, but at the same time, so much more goes into a photo than the camera itself. Photographic eye, positioning, post processing, knowledge, and more all go into a photograph; if you want to take photos you should use what ever you are able to get your hands on.

Do you sell prints?

Yes! You can find them available in my shop, and if you don’t see what you’re after, send me a message regarding the image you’d like to purchase.

How did you get started?

I’ve always been a creative and active person. Photography really started for me when I was spending a lot of my teenage years skating or BMXing. I was always the guy who’d have a camera with me (I think I even used a cheap Canon point and shoot to get started). As I grew up and spent more time in the outdoors, finding my hobbies and the things I love to do, the camera came with me. I think it’s important to have an interest in your subject: whether its wildlife, nature or portraiture, you’ve really got to be into what you’re doing. Your passion for the subject will encourage and drive you to do more and progress yourself.

Do you have any tips for photographers starting out?

Get out and shoot. There’s not much more to it than that. You don’t improve without putting in the ground work. What really helped kick-start me was posting a photo every day. The drive to take enough photos I deemed of a high enough quality to post consistently really helped to get out and develop my skills.

The other thing I’d advise is to be inquisitive. When you see a shot you like ask yourself questions about it – what is it that you like about it? what techniques have been used? what settings were they using? Being keen to learn is always a great way of developing skills.

I always shoot on full manual, and pretty much always have. Part of this stemmed from using a camera for so long that really wasn’t very good at shutter/aperture priority, but also because I like to know that I’m in control. I’m not by any means stating that this is the best way to shoot, and many people switch between settings depending upon circumstance, but for me it’s just the way I’ve always done it. I’m comfortable with it, even if it might mean taking a short or two before hand to find the right set up.

Any tips for growing on Instagram?

Content is the most important thing about your account. Try to create a theme and style to your account so that people have something to invest in, give people something to expect and something to look forward to. You need to post regularly (but not too much); for me that’s once a day usually between 3-5 GMT. From experience I’ve found that engagement and attention seems to run on momentum, try to catch a wave and keep riding it as long as you can. Be social; don’t forget that this is social media. Talk to people, engage with your audience and other content creators. I also actively try to portray myself behind the account – share your feelings and emotions and utilise Stories to showcase who you are and what you’re up to. Use hashtags to try and maximise exposure, if you’re starting out try to focus on some smaller local tags that might increase your reach before stepping up to bigger tags and feature tags. Tagging feature accounts in your images is also a great way to get your work out there and increase the chances of being featured. Patience is very important as none of this will happen overnight and you’re going to have to persevere and keep putting the effort in. It will pay off eventually. Don’t get hung up on numbers, try to focus on creating work that you love and putting passion into it. Getting obsessed with numbers and growth will ultimately take the fun out of a lot of it, so just try to be chill and think of the reasons you started photography in the first place.
Don’t get caught up in any ‘cheat’ ways to grow quickly – engagement pods, likebots, bought followers/likes. Whilst you may think this is a good way to grow, it doesn’t create an interested and strong following, and ultimately you’ll end up regretting it.

What draws you to the outdoors and shooting landscapes?

I’ve always been an outdoor person. Right from a young child I’d spend most of my time outdoors, riding bikes or exploring in the woods. My dad started taking me on my first trips to the Lake District and Snowdonia when I was around 7, which helped plant the seeds of what was to come. As I’ve grown older I’ve found a real love for nature. I find it calming, refreshing and exhilarating all at the same time. I think that most people spend too much time inside these days glued to the television and social media, and that’s not what I want to see when I look back at my life.

How do you discover new locations to visit?

I tend to get my inspiration from a number of different places. Instagram and the Internet in general play a big part in it – I’ll often see a photo and become obsessed with it, finding out where it is and how to get there. I’ve got a pretty extensive map of locations saved, with places all over the world, which really helps when planning trips.

But as well as that I love the sense of adventure. Nothing beats the feeling of discovery and exploration – I think this is something that rings true with almost everyone. So I also spend a lot of time studying Ordnance Survey maps, or trawling through Google Earth for landscapes of interest, places to walk or locations to camp. I think it’s refreshing to head out with no real plan, no real idea of what you’re going to see. Sometimes that can lead to a flat disappointing day, but the contrast of finding something incredible makes up for that a hundred times over.

How do you go on so many trips?

I’ve always wanted to travel a lot, and there’s a few things I do which enable me to travel as much as possible. Every trip I do I aim to keep it as cheap as possible, which usually means sleeping in the back of my van or wild camping in the woods, whilst eating some basic pasta + pesto cooked on a gas stove and sipping port round a campfire. Yes, I’ll often get jealous if the people I’m away with go and get a pub dinner every night, but I’d always prefer to be going away 3/4 times a month and roughing it a little, than one trip in relative comfort.

Travelling in a group is the best way to minimise costs, and this is one of the other main reasons I’m able to travel as much as I do; splitting the cost of fuel, food and accommodation four ways means you can effectively do a weekend trip to Germany for less than £100 each.

What is your favourite place that you’ve been?

A few years ago I spent a week on the Isle of Rùm, in the Inner Hebrides. It was my first time travelling to Scotland, and it really opened up my eyes to the beauty of the British Isles. Rùm is an island with only around 30 inhabitants (although it boasts 900 wild Red Deer), and at little more than 10 miles across it’s quite a small place. Prior to this trip I’d made several trips to the Peak District, Lake District, Snowdonia, and the Brecon Beacons, but this was the first trip where I really felt like I was in the wild; rugged remote landscapes, without footpaths, roads or civilisation. That island, and that trip will always be special to me, and it’s somewhere I’d really like to go back to at some point.

What have you got planned in the future?

I’d really just love to travel a lot more, there’s so much out there left to be discovered and I’d really enjoy going to some less frequented locations. I’d love to go to the US, visiting Yosemite, Zion, and the other great National Parks. That said the UK really has a lot more to offer than most people believe: I’d really like to spend more time in the Highlands of Scotland, and get to the Outer Hebrides.

Can we go out shooting/walking together?

Yes, I’d love to. I’ve met a lot of fantastic people through photography and have had some really great times getting to know people round a camp fire or climbing a mountain. If you’d like to go on a trip or meet for an afternoon’s shooting hit me up on the contact page.

My questions not been answered?

If you’re still searching for an answer, drop me an email on jack@anstey.studio and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.