Wednesday, September 10, 2014


On the way to Nepal, I flew over a large extend of an arid landscape of Baluchistan on Iranian plateau.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


In preparations for my upcoming photo tour to Nepal, I have been thinking of a camera bag that would meet my requirements as a photographer wanting to travel on the lighter side. Not that I don't already have a good camera backpack. But, it is designed to cary substantial weight (two pro DSLR camera bodies, up to 3-4 lenses, including 300 mm, f4 with extender, bunch of accessories), therefore, it is a bit bulky, though it fits most cary-on airlines requirements. It is also not super comfortable to wear.

I needed lighter, more travel friendly backpack that would meet all mentioned below requirements:

  • smaller, more compact size
  • meet most airlines carry-on requirements 
  • fit one pro DSLR camera body, 2-3 lenses, including 300 mm, f4 and some accessories
  • be comfortable to wear
  • be fairly lightweight, but durable
  • be padded and safe to cary my photo equipment
  • have an easy access to equipment
  • be versatile and fit a few necessities besides photo equipment
  • does not look like a photo bag 

Despite a large verity of camera bags on the market, I had a hard time to choose one. Usually, my requirements for lightweight and comfort to wear backpack was hard to meet. 

So, I though what if I put together one myself from the components that I like? I have two backpacks made by Osprey and designed for trekking. They are lightweight, durable, extremely comfortable to wear, for what Osprey company is known for. I always wondered, why wouldn't Osprey make a backpack specially for photographers? May be one day they will, but today, I decided to make one for myself.

One of the Osprey backpacks that I own is Osprey Hornet 46. It weights only 1 lb 10 oz (0.73 kg) and fits under most measurements set by airlines for carry-on. So, I got a great backpack, but not quite suited for carrying photography equipment safely, as there is no padding in this bag.

The backpack image is from Osprey website

I literally had to think outside of the bag. All I needed was a padded insert to fit into my Hornet 46, to safely stove away my photo equipment. After scrutinizing the web, I came across Mindshift Gear web site. On this website I found a padded insert that is big enough, light enough, durable enough, versatile enough and that fits like a glove into my Osprey Hornet 46 backpack. 

The image of padded insert is from MindShift Gear website

The whole set up is only 2.5 lb (1.1 kg) without equipment, much lighter than any photo backpack I looked at. It might have not been crucial, but I extra padded the insert with velcro pads from my other backpack. The inside of the insert is customizable and can be rearranged to hold equipment in few combinations. The insert can easily fit DSLR pro body size with attached 70-200mm, f2.8 or 300mm, f4 lens, plus both 17-40mm, f4 and 24-70mm, f2.8 or one 180mm, f3.5 lens and a few filters. After it is inserted in the backpack, there is a plenty of space left to put flash, memory cards, external drive and a few other small pieces of equipment. There is also a space for the raincoat or poncho, a light piece of closing and a water bottle.

My insert with Canon DSLR pro body, 70-200mm, f2.8, 17-40mm, f4, 24-70, f2.8 lenses 

Insert inside of my backpack with plenty of room for more necessities

My backpack closed with the insert inside

I am quite happy with how it turned out and now I am looking forward to comfortably travel with my photo equipment to my next destination.

Monday, July 14, 2014


I am sure some of you have been through this before. It happened to me on one of those very early mornings, when I "sleepwalked" to the kitchen to get a drink of water hoping to catch a couple more hours of sleep, while simultaneously noticing things worth photographing.

It was morning precisely on July 13, 2014, the  night of a supermoon in place. Although, I have seen supermoons before, all very impressive, this time it was worth getting awaken.

An aircraft crossed the sky, leaving a contrail. The scene was just too perfect to miss. The moon in its best appeared rolling down the cloud. It took me a "minute" to get the camera settings right, remind you, I was half asleep. As I was shooting, the contrail slowly dissipated, leaving me happy and lucky to get up at that very moment.

Camera Setting:
1/25 sec at f / 5.6, ISO 320, metering mode - pattern (evaluative), focal length 420 mm
What is supermoon? Read about it in WIKIPEDIA

Friday, July 4, 2014


Having owned Canon DSLR cameras and being very satisfied with their performance for years, my suggestions on what brand to go with is only partial. However, I see various Canon and Nikon models at work, when my students bring them in class and therefore can attest to both.

Technically and technologically, both Canon and Nikon went through their own ups and downs in designing their cameras and building their systems. We can argue all we want, which brand is better, but the truth of the matter is, there will be always something better in one and something different in the other. In the end both makers produce more or less equivalent for each level equipment (give or take).

Although, NO ONE can tell the difference between the two images, one taken with Canon and one with Nikon comparable cameras, the difference, in my opinion, is made by how easy, fast or intuitive these cameras can be operated.

I am not going to get into comparing which sensor is better or what focusing system is more accurate. There is so much written and compared already, that I will let your fingers do the web searching.

Here, I would like to voice only a few observations and affirm why I am still with Canon, besides that I am heavily invested in their lenses. This post is mostly for those on the market for a DSLR or those not invested in lenses and accessories that can only work with the exciting camera and considering to switch. Also, this post is not going to be helpful to point-and-shoot users of automatic modes, as in this case both DSLR makes perform just fine.

In general, I find Canon DSLR cameras are simpler and more intuitive to use. Buttons on the surface of Canon camera body let you access more functions without going into the menus. That means fewer clicks and scrolls through the menu. For example, all Canon entry level cameras have a dedicated ISO button, which in my opinion is very important and must be accessed quickly. With Nikon entry models, reaching ISO menu requires a few steps.

A number of Nikon DSLR models are not intuitive at all when it comes to changing the setting to a single focusing point, and requires to go to more than one menu and a couple of switches to set it up. With Canon, it is an easy one step. Single focusing point is needed, when a shallow depth of field is used or precise placement of a focusing point is needed.

Setting a timer function for 2 sec in some Nikon models is also more lengthy than it should be. Two seconds timer is used, when slow shutter speeds are in place to avoid camera shake, when remote control is not available.

All these little nuances make a big difference, especially when time and speed is everything. I would encourage searching the web for the functions that are important to you and find out which maker makes it better.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Photography is like a caring parent, praising you today and disciplining you tomorrow, but always encouraging you to persevere. For me, photography is very satisfying and yet can be very frustrating, it makes me stick to the rules and yet it tempts me to break them, but it always allows me to express myself. 

Long overdue, I am starting this blog. Over the years I have learned the tricks of the trade and continuing to do so there is so much to look forward to: new photography experiences and ideas, new gadgets and now new posts on this blog. 

I will be writing about my thoughts, tips of all sorts and travel notes, all related to photography. Whether to spark a conversation, explain a technique, offer my opinion or review a product, I hope that this blog will be a source of inspiration and knowledge for you. Oh, and what better match than photography and travels? 

- Alexander V.