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Heinrich van den Berg is a renowned South African photographer who consistently produces outstanding imagery. He has three published books to date, the latest being Reflections. He has also done two phenomenal image galleries: Reflections and Heinrich van den Berg’s Photo Tips and Gallery in Africa Geographic’s online magazine. Heinrich is on the judging panel for the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year competition.

In this blog Heinrich passes on his knowledge of photography by explaining the equipment offered by our competition’s headline sponsor, Canon South Africa:

I used the quantum flash here for side lighting and   a 24mm f1.4 lens.
I used the quantum flash here for side lighting and a 24mm f1.4 lens.

Cameras

  • Canon 5d Mark 3 – A great camera that focusses well and has excellent image quality.
  • Canon 6d – Cheap and small with great image quality, but slow for wildlife.
  • Canon 1d Mark 4 – A real race horse. The first fast Canon camera with good enough image quality for our book publishing purposes. Brilliant for action.
  • Canon 5d Mark 2 – The most versatile and easiest camera to carry around and use. Previous generation but still good enough to use.
Image taken with a 85mm f1.2 lens. Great to blur out the background.
Image taken with a 85mm f1.2 lens. Great to blur out the background.

Lenses

  • 15mm f2,8 fisheye lens – A difficult lens to use, but can create surprising results under certain circumstances. Just remember to keep the horizon in the middle of the image to limit distortion.
  • 16-35mm f2,8 L and 17-35mm f2,8 L – The lens I use the most. Great for landscapes, interiors, journalism and people or animals in their environment.
  • 24mm f1,4 L – In the 2011 World Press Photo Awards, 51 out of the 372 images that won awards were photographed using this particular lens. It opens doors in areas where all the doors are closed (where it is dark), because with f1,4 you can  photograph almost anywhere. But a prime lens is still very difficult to use.
  • 50mm f1,2 L – Very light and compact for such a fast lens. Great for travel photography. It gives photographs that classic, traditional feel.
  • 85mm f1,2 L – The ultimate portrait lens. It has quite a bit of chromatic aberration when wide open, but if you get it right, the angels sing (to quote Drew Gardner).
  • 100mm f2,8 Macro – A macro lens is essential for any wildlife photographer, and this one is small and versatile.
  • 180mm f3,5 Macro – Extremely sharp. It it is a bit more bulky than the 100mm, but the extra 80mm makes it great for macro on location.
  • 70-200 f2,8 IS L – The bread-and-butter lens. And sometimes the jam as well. The most used lens for wildlife. Brilliant.
  • 70-200 f4 IS L – The small brother of the f2,8 lens. Very handy when travelling. This lens is very sharp and focuses quickly enough for most action and it is affordable. The only drawback is that it is not really fast enough for converters.
  • 300mm f4 IS L – An excellent pick-up-and-shoot lens when you have another big lens on the car seat. It is small, light and versatile.
  • 300mm f2,8 L – If you can only afford one super-telephoto lens, this is it. You can use it with a 2x converter without much sacrifice of quality.
  • 600mm f4 L – A mother of a lens, and the mother of many of my best images. She has great genes.
This leopard were taken with a 70-200mm lens - a great action lens.
This leopard shot was taken with a 70-200mm lens – a great action lens.

Accessories

  • Canon 580 EX flashes – Great with the off-camera cord or wireless transmitter. I have a few of these that live and breed in my camera bag.
  • Quantum Qflashes – Studio lights on location. There is no support in South Africa for these lights, but they are really good for location lighting.
  • Golden reflectors – a must for plant photography.

africa-geographic-photographer-of-the-year Some other accessories I don’t do without

  • Bean bag and car-door bracket.
  • Z-finder for Video on the 5d camera.
  • Tripods.
I took this image with a 600mm f4 lens with a 2x extender plus a 1.4x extender.  The effective focal length was 1680mm. As long as you close down the aperture and the subject is not too far away, the quality is quite good.
I took this image with a 600mm f4 lens with a 2x extender plus a 1.4x extender. The effective focal length was 1680mm. As long as you close down the aperture and the subject is not too far away, the quality is quite good.

Fruit

  • Apple MacPro – The only computer fast and big enough for image publishing.
  • Apple Macbook Pro – To download images in the field, as well as presentations.
  • Apple iPad – For watching movies while waiting at a waterhole.
  • Image taken with a 85mm f1.2 lens. Great to blur out the background.
    This image taken with a 85mm f1.2 lens. Great to blur out the background.

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Airlink
Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year

The Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year Competition is brought to you by Land Rover and Canon, in association with At Close Quarters, Airlink, Klaserie Sands River Camp, Hideaways, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Thule and Rhino Tears. The competition will run from December 2016 to May 2017 and entrants can submit images via the online entry form or via Africa Geographic's Instagram channel. This profile will be used to showcase photographic tips from experts as well as blogs from our sponsors to set you on your way to becoming our Photographer of the Year!