Extreme Mission on Greenland

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Extreme Mission on Greenland

Photographer Stefan Eisend put the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD through its paces at the Ilulissat Icefjord.

Less equipment, better pictures. All year round Stefan Eisend is on the road to take action-packed commercial shots and magazine photo articles for customers. But while other photographers roll up for the job with a variety of aluminium carrying cases full of cameras, lenses and lighting system, Eisend's equipment fits in a single rucksack. When he embarked on a photo trip to Greenland recently, apart from the Nikon D800 and several single focal length lenses, he also packed a fast, professional zoom lens: the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD.

"In Greenland in summer it never gets dark," says Stefan Eisend. "For photographers, that means ideal conditions. Since the sun is always relatively low near the poles, the light is a photographer's dream practically right round the clock."

His base is Ilulissat on the west coast, the third largest city on the island. 6,000 people and 20,000 sled dogs live there. The biggest attraction is the famous Ilulissat Icefjord, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2004. "This is an absolutely stunning backdrop. The fjord is completely filled with icebergs calving from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier. Each day huge amounts of ice bump their way seawards."

Acid test at f/2.8

What special challenges does a photographer face in Greenland? "Here even in the summer it is relatively cool at a good ten degrees Celsius. Due to the white ice, the contrasts are very high. If I were shooting with automatic exposure, most of the images would be underexposed. So I always set aperture and shutter speed by hand - and not just in Greenland. This way I have full control over all exposure parameters. I base the exposure on the highlights to prevent the details in the bright areas from being overexposed."

Almost all the photos in Greenland were taken with the f/2.8 aperture fully opened. Why that? "For one thing, I like to photograph with a shallow depth of field. I love the depth effect, caused by the blur in the foreground and background", says Stefan Eisend. "The nearly circular aperture produces a very soft bokeh. Secondly, I really wanted to put the Tamron zoom through its paces. And taking photos at maximum aperture is commonly considered to be the acid test for a lens's optical quality. So I was all the more surprised that the 24-70mm even at f/2.8 on an ultra-high resolution, full-frame camera like the Nikon D800 gave excellent image sharpness - both as a wide angle and as a telephoto lens."

The Equipment

In Greenland, Stefan Eisend was photographing mainly with a Nikon D800 with a high, 36-MP resolution. Many of his commissioned jobs are done with fixed focal length 28-mm or 300-mm lenses. To be more flexible, in Greenland he took along the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD. He likes how sharp it is at full aperture. What's more, he also always uses Lexar Professional CF memory cards.

5 Professional Tips by Stefan Eisend

  1. Less is more. Do not load yourself down with too much equipment. Choose two or three lenses and work with them.
  2. Get to know your equipment. Find out at which aperture your lens gives the best picture quality.
  3. Use fixed focal length values. Gather data based on experience; even with  zoom lenses, orientate yourself consciously according to the focal length markings.
  4. Always set the exposure by hand. This is the only way to learn as you go along and in time understand light.
  5. Think about the subject. Think in advance exactly what you want to express with this photo.

About the author: Stefan Eisend

Stefan Eisend works as a freelance photographer in Munich. Before he turned his hobby into his career in 1995, he worked as a publishing executive. With his ingeniously original, pictorial ideas he quickly made a name for himself in the trend sports and outdoor scene. Nowadays he works on a regular basis for customers such as Adidas, Audi, Powerbar, Radon Bikes, The North Face. www.sportfoto.de

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