Every adventure photographer living in South Africa dreams of going to remote locations where few people have ever been, in the search for something special, something to tick off the personal bucket list that you will forever remember. In November 2017 I was asked to join a group of veteran landscape photographers on a trip of a lifetime, a trip that might just be one of those legendary trips I dreamed of. We set out to plan a week long hiking and camping expedition to arguably the most impressive mountain range in Africa, the Drakensberg. The plan was to hike up to the famous Amphitheatre where we would camp on the banks of the Tugela river and hopefully see the river in strong flow which would make for an impressive waterfall. And I’m not talking just any waterfall, the Tugela Falls are said to be the world’s second highest waterfall, and its location right in the middle of the Amphitheatre makes it one of the most recognisable natural sights in the world.
A very big congratulations to Chris Troch, Glen Bradshaw and Bertus Hanekom, who walk away the prizes in that respective order.
Images got a score from both myself and Paul Bruins as below.
Composition – 10 + 10
Light – 10 + 10
Originality – 10 + 10 (e.g. Blouberg scored very low, a location that the judges didn’t recognise scored very high)
Editing – 10 + 10
Relevance to theme – 20 + 20
This earned each image a total out of 120, which we reworked to a total out of 100 to appease the OCD people. The results of the top 10 are at the bottom of the post. You will see that some images did well in a lot of the categories, but got marked down heavily for things like lack of originality or sloppy editing like curved horizons that weren’t corrected, dust spots or areas with no detail.
Entries have closed for our NISI Filters Beauty of Water photography competition. Judging is under way and we have been able to select a top 39 images from all the received entries. We’re not quite sure how we ended at 39, but that seems to be where the cut off was for the final selection.
To celebrate the beauty of our country and raise awareness of our most precious resource, we’re inviting everyone in Southern Africa to enter our ‘Beauty of Water’ competition. SA’s landscapes and landscape photographers always take 2nd seat to our incredible wildlife, but we’re making an effort to change that. This is SA’s first major dedicated landscape photography competition.
In October 2016 I became the lucky owner of a f-stop gear Camera bag. In case you’re not familiar with the brand, they’re crafted with the adventure & travel photographer in mind with a strong focus on high durability and comfort.
The engineers over at Lee Filters have finally addressed the vignetting and blue colour cast issues of their most popular filter, the Big Stopper. They have released a new series of ND filters called the ProGlass IRND range, which are manufactured to a much higher standard than the stoppers. Two years in the making, the ProGlass IRND range sets a whole new standard in high quality glass neutral density filters.
To start off let me give you a quick background into where I started in photography and then I can let you know what I thought of the Sirui lenses and kit that I got to test out. I started on Instagram about five years ago with an iPhone 5, like most people, and I built my account mostly with mobile photography, mainly because it’s the only camera I had but also because it was easy to carry around with me all the time. I have used a lot of mobile lenses over the years and was excited to get my hands on this set of lenses from SunshineCo.
An unedited image captured using the 18mm lens and polarizer.
A few months ago, Durban based photographer Emil von Maltitz acquired a drone from us. Most people buying up DJI’s hi-tech toys are using them exactly for that purpose and not much more – to play around and check out life from above. For photographers, however, it’s a bit more complicated than that and we all ask the same set of questions about image quality, ease of use and legality. Most photographers don’t want to make the investment if it’s not a practically usable tool that will deliver great images. In this review, Emil answers a lot of those questions and explains the complications of drone use as it applies to our species (photographers).
Choosing a tripod can be quite a difficult decision. There is always a compromise that you have to make somewhere. We want stability, light weight, low price and large size pretty much as an ultimate goal when selecting a set of tripod legs. The problem is that we rarely get more than two of those options ticked off. So we have to make a compromise. Good tripods essentially manage to tick off three of those four. Great tripods tick all four boxes with the large caveat that one of those criteria are in relation to its peers (for example ‘well priced’ in relation to its competition does not mean cheap). Aluminium tripods are an attempt to get the most bang for buck out of a tripod, but they come with the hefty (excuse the pun) drawback of increased weight.
In the past panoramic images could be quite tricky to get right. The software that was available tended to be rudimentary at best, and the hardware expensive and difficult to use. For the past few years though professional quality panoramic images have been very easy to create. Adobe’s Lightroom even has a fairly robust ‘merge to panorama’ feature included (although this is just a simplified version of Photoshop CC’s ‘merge to panorama). It really does mean that creating large format stitched panoramics is as simple pressing a button.
A wide angle panoramic taken in Deadvlei – easy work thanks to a good leveling base.
It is amazing how some manufacturers can get one product so right, yet another product so wrong; until late 2016, Gitzo was one of those manufacturers. Their tripod legs are loved by countless photographers worldwide for long lasting quality, easy operation and excellent performance. Despite the success of their legs, they somehow failed to make a decent tripod head, because they refused to conform to the global design standard. If you look at their older range of tripod heads, you’ll see that most of it is just plain weird. While it did work, it was unnecessarily bulky. It is with very good reason that until now, we only sold Kirk and SIRUI tripod heads.
One of the most important investments we all have to make in our photographic journey is buying a tripod. This is especially true for the landscape genre. Unlike the camera and lens market in which the best brands are well known, the tripod market is spammed with brands and it’s difficult to get an objective opinion based on the experience and opinion of many. At LANDSCAPEGEAR, we don’t do the pushy sales approach – we give you honest information and allow you to make the decision by yourself.
We would like to start by thanking every one of the 67 people who entered our long exposure landscape competition. For such a niche field, the amount of entries was impressive and the standard even more so. We had a really difficult time choosing a winner, so much so that we’ve decided to add 2nd and 3rd prizes. You can view the original competition post here.
For myself and those who have been on the waiting list it might seem too good to be true, but all f-stop products are now in stock and ready to ship from our warehouse. The good news doesn’t end there – thanks to a change in our supply chain, we have managed an overall price reduction of 18% compared to last year’s pricing, despite a 30% decrease in the rand.
There was a drastic global shortage in supply of this brand caused by an exponential growth in demand ( a very positive thing with a negative result) and it took the company a while to ramp up production in order to meet demand. We could have given up at any time and shifted our attention to an ‘ok’ brand to keep our sales going, but that’s not the ethos that this business was founded on. Supply is still sporadic all over the world, even from their own online shops, so we’re extremely happy to say that we have a very deep pool of stock right now.
We’ve broken this article down into 2 different posts in order to make for lighter reading. It shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to get through both and doing the effort will arm you with valuable knowledge about the f-stop Gear system so you can make the best possible decision on what to purchase. If you prefer a personal opinion, call Hougaard (076 279 2202) or mail us using the contact page – send a list of your gear along with any other questions you might have and we’ll get back to you with a recommendation within 24 hours.
The modular ICU system is only half the reason why f-stop have become the world’s most respected backpack manufacturer. The other half is the outer shells responsible for carrying the ICU’s. By removing the internal compartment from the design of the actual pack, it allows designers to focus on just designing the best possible backpack. No compromise has to be made for it to fit a camera inside – as long as the internal space can accommodate an ICU, the two function together seamlessly. These packs are made from the very best materials in the industry and constantly evolved with the feedback of ambassadors comprising some of the world’s top adventure and extreme sports photographers. One of their ambassadors is South Africa’s official Red Bull photographer, Craig Kolesky – check out his website to see the kind of shooters that assist in developing the product.
There are two series of outer shells – Mountain and Ultralight. We stock the entire Mountain series from the compact Lotus to the massive Shinn, but we only stock one of the UL shells. We’ll cover the Mountain Series first and then look at the Kashmir UL, the first ever backpack designed especially for women.
Note – We’ve broken this article down into 2 different posts in order to make for lighter reading. It shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to get through both and doing the effort will arm you with valuable knowledge about the f-stop Gear system so you can make the best possible decision on what to purchase. If you prefer a personal opinion, call Hougaard (076 279 2202) or mail us using the contact page – simply send a list of your gear along with any other questions you might have and we’ll get back to you with a recommendation within 24 hours.
Choosing a camera backpack can be one of the most difficult decisions a photographer ever has to make. There are an endless number of brands offering a wide variety of products. Most of these brands tend to design something that can hold lots of camera gear and then add some padding and shoulder straps as an afterthought. This back-to-front design philosophy is the reason why countless photographers across the world have tried products in all price ranges from most brands, with no satisfaction. There is however one company that has revolutionised the design of photography backpacks and propelled themselves to the top of their industry in a few short years – f-stop Gear.
The Ajna in special edition Red Bull colours in use in Namibia
If you consider that just 7 years ago there was no good solution to the long exposure problem, it is really fantastic to have this amazing product range readily available in South Africa. These filters offer you full control of your shutterspeed in any situation, whether you just want to slow down a wave a bit or you want to capture twenty minutes of clouds passing over Table Mountain. To celebrate Lee’s awesome product range, we’ll be giving away a Super Stopper (or R2 500.00 credit on any Lee Filters products) to one lucky winner. All you have to do to enter the competition is to post your favourite long exposure image to our Facebook page with the camera, lens, shutterspeed and filters used (if any) in the description and share this article to your facebook. The winner will be selected by myself and Mark Dumbleton at the end of July based on content, execution and presentation.
The mystical world of long exposures – Ruacana Falls in flood with a Lee Filters Little Stopper ISO100 | f/8 | 3.0s | 200mm
If you pay it some thought, would you say that there are more portrait orientation or landscape orientation images used in all the media forms across the world?
All film media (movies & television) is shot and viewed in landscape orientation and the cameras are thus designed to be used that way, which makes sense. Stills cameras are also designed for use in landscape orientation even though most photographers very often shoot in portrait mode, which doesn’t make quite as much sense. The only exception to this is pro-body cameras that have an ergonomically designed bottom virtually identical to the right-hand-side of the camera, featuring a second exposure dial and set of shutter, focus and custom-function buttons. This allows the photographer to conveniently shoot in portrait mode – simply rotate the camera 90 degrees and (almost) everything still feels and functions the same.
A simple solution to a complicated problem – the L-Bracket
During the course of 2015, I have been seeing and hearing more and more people going on about the tripod systems made by a new Chinese brand called SIRUI. While this brand has been around for close to a decade, it was only recently introduced to South Africa by SunshineCo. and thus most South Africans aren’t familiar with it. I was very excited when the brand manager for SIRUI South Africa, Willem Foster, recently asked if I wanted test out some new equipment for them. I happily obliged, as I love trying out new gear and I was intrigued to see what SIRUI was all about.
I was given a tripod and a gimbal head, namely the SIRUI PH-20 Carbon Fibre gimbal tripod head and the SIRUI W-2204 Carbon Fibre waterproof tripod. I had a trip planned to the bush to shoot some wildlife when Willem had asked me, and I thought it was a perfect time to try out this new gear.
Welcome to the LANDSCAPEGEAR.CO.ZA blog! The primary purpose of the articles featured here is to help you decide which products are ideal for you.
The 'Choosing' articles, listed below, explain what the unique traits of each product are and why one would choose a specific model. I hope that this makes the shopping experience easier and more convenient, while also adding to your knowledge.
In addition, I will post any news and updates on exciting new products or developments in the world of photography.
If you ever have any questions about our products, please get in touch via the contact page.