Frequently Asked Questions

What gear and equipment do you use?

Depending upon the what I’m shooting, I’ll either be using a Sony A7iii or Sony A7Riii. If it’s a commercial shoot, or I think I’m going to want the extra quality and ability to crop into the image, I will opt for the A7Riii, because of the extra resolution. But I find that because I shoot so frequently I also value the slightly smaller file size of the A7iii. The Sony Alpha set up for me is perfect, and one I’m very happy with. 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. I have two spare A7iii that are great to have available. It always helps if you’re on a commercial job or a trip to somewhere really special to have a spare body in your bag, because you never know when your camera might break. It’s also sometimes great to shoot simultaneously on two bodies. If the weather is particularly bad ad you don’t want to be switching lens too much, or maybe you need to react quickly and want to have to focal lengths to hand.

I use a variety of different lenses whilst I’m shooting, the majority of which are Fixed Focal Length Lenses. I use primes for a number of reasons, but it really boils down to their low light capabilities, sharpness and depth of field. I’ve got quite a range of different focal lengths, all which have a different purpose, and there’s no lens I think that really is a ‘do it all’ prime. At the wide end I’ve got the Zeiss Batis 18mm ƒ2.8, which is super sharp and lightweight. I always find it helpful to have a wide-angle in your bag as you never know when you’re going to want to get that extra wide shot. Next in the line is the Sony GM 24mm ƒ1.4. This lens is an absolute beast and is one that always surprises me with its performance and sharpness. As well as generally being a very easy lens to use, it also excels at astro and low light photography. The Sigma 35mm ƒ1.4 is probably the lens I’ve had the longest and whilst it is pretty heavy and isn’t the most attractive looking lens, the shots it produces more than makes up for that. Continually I find this lens capturing some of the sharpest images from a trip, and I find the 35mm focal length a nice and relatable perception of a landscape. Next is the Zeiss Batis 85mm ƒ1.8, a lens that I absolutely love. I continually find that 85mm is such a nice focal length, especially when shot at ƒ1.8. Another great lens from Zeiss that’s so light and small that it never leaves my bag. The Sony G 90mm ƒ2.8 Macro take the next spot in my bag and is a great lens to have in your kit. Whilst it’s a similar focal length to the 85mm, it serves a different purpose, and is mainly used for product shots and getting extreme close ups to show detail. The lens that I keep on my body is the Sony G 70-200 ƒ4, because I find that it’s the one I’m most likely to want in a hurry – for those times you spot some wildlife, or a stranger in the distance stood on an epic cliff. I choose to have the ƒ4 over the ƒ2.8 mainly because of its weight. I hike a lot, and I think that the weight of the ƒ2.8 would sometimes make me want to leave it at home. But at almost half the weight the ƒ4 is always with me. The final Lenin my arsenal is the Sony G 200-600 ƒ5.6-6.3, and it’s a proper weapon. It’s size and weight limit how much I take it out on big days, but for short hikes, wild life and shoots close to the car it’s great. Being able to zoom in to 600 gives an incredible change of perspective, especially if you’re willing to put in the work and plan shots over a great distance.

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 often use a strap, but on the occasions when you’re wanting to hang the camera out of a car, or climb up a rock face, it’s great to have a strap that connects to the camera so quickly and easily.

I don’t usually carry a tripod, as from personal experience I find I rarely use it, but when I do it’s the Vanguard Veo 264 Carbon, which is lightweight, packs down small but also really stable. For me I much prefer to be moving around quickly and letting my creativity run wild, rather than spend time setting up a tripod and tweaking settings. The main uses my tripod gets are for astro / aurora photography and occasionally when using the big telephoto lenses.

For aerial photography I use a DJI Mavic 2 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.

I use a variety of different bags and packs when I’m on trips / expeditions, although my main camera bag is the F-Stop Sukha, a 70l camera bag that’s big enough to fit everything I need. This bag is not only one of the most comfortable camera bags I’ve worn, but it’s also really lightweight for its size. It’s large amounts of storage means that I can take out the Sony 200-600mm lens with easy, easily carry extra jackets, food, products, and I can even use it as an overnight bag, fitting in my tent, sleeping gear and cooking gear. When I’m looking for a smaller bag set up, if I’m flying somewhere or know that I don’t ned to extra size that the F-Stop offers, I use a Lowepro Whistler 350 AW. Ths was my main camera bag for a long time, but I felt that it was surprisingly heavy for its size, and I always found myself wanting to carry more than would fit. If I want a really lightweight set up, if I’m climbing or mountaineering I go for the Osprey Mutant 38, which functions perfectly as a lightweight day bag. There’s no rear access or ICU, so I use smaller camera and lens bags inside. It takes a little longer to change lens and get the camera out, but this bag is mainly used on days where I plan to be on the move a lot more. Generally what I look for in a bag is comfort, ease of access, and above all, waterproof.

What camera should I buy?

My advice is always to buy the camera you can afford, and the camera that you think is going to benefit you the most. Generally, when you are starting out in photography, you don’t need the most expensive camera on the market. The fact is that the difference between a £600 camera and a £3000 camera, isn’t really that noticeable unless you know how to use it. What you are far more likely to benefit from is buying a range of different lenses to be able to mix up your shooting style and subjects. To anyone starting out, I recommend thinking of the future and planning ahead. If you get into photography and get hooked, you will likely want to upgrade your camera body within a year or two anyway, so don’t break the bank on the first purchase. I recommend starting out on something that’s a middle of the market camera. Something that lets you shoot in RAW, lets you shoot in Manual mode, and has interchangeable lenses. It would also be useful to future proof your purchases by trying to stick with one camera brand – a lot of the lenses that fit on the Sony A6000 will also work on the A7iii, so if you did decide to upgrade you could keep some of your lenses.

Do you sell prints?

Yes! Most of my images are available for sale, simply drop me an email with a reference and we’ll talk about what I can do for you.

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 £200 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.y.

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.