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My photography journey started in a very usual way; I was inspired by someone else’s work.
It was through the pictures taken by my brother, almost two decades ago, of beautiful flowers, monsoon mushrooms with chicks under them and pictures of myself and my other siblings in different attires (once I was dressed up as a hunter with a banyan leaf saving my dignity).
Many years later, the first film roll I tried on the same camera during a school trip didn’t quite work well and I wasn’t even aware of photography as an art and never thought about pursuing it further.
Fast forward to 10 years and I was a medical doctor in Sri Lanka, a tropical island nation with beauty within every reach and from every corner.
I was shifting to various places due to studies and work. I got fascinated by the variety a small country can produce in terms of the all the living beings, the nature, culture, interactions between all of these and more.
None of the places looked similar to each other. I was intrigued by the complexity and it triggered a change deep within myself and ever since then I started to call myself a traveller.
I was searching for all these strange and new things around me, which is known to a handful of people or community, whether it be a small ritual or a big festival. I badly wanted to share these stories I encountered and with time I was finally able to afford a camera and I added photography into my life.
The more I travelled the more I got to know that the world is complex but interesting at the same time. We were all doing the same stuff at the same time, but in a very different way – survival or in another word – living.
In short, I became an explorer of the living. I was astonished to hear hundreds of dialogues, to taste thousands of cuisines, to see millions of faces and plethora of culture and the struggle of keeping up a particular tradition. The days and then years passed by as I learned to travel and to self-improve the art of image making.
Interesting projects came by along with beautiful connections. Mirrorless cameras were invented and after much debate I was able to finally transition to mirrorless from DSLRs.
Along with this progress came a few awards and noticeably in recent time I became a finalist in the prestigious International Travel Photographer awards consecutively in years 2017 and 2018.
I still continue to be a doctor, but I never got rid of being a nomad of makeshift traditions. After all, that’s how I grew up – a camera on one shoulder and a stethoscope on another.
I currently use Fujifilm systems and have diagnosed myself with a case of ‘gear acquisition syndrome’. Recently, I have collected even more gear and am currently being treated by the good souls at Fujifilm Australia by the review units which I almost always never return in time, completely because I don’t want to.
Below is my list of gear. I will try to explain briefly why I pick each one when I’m packing them to just above 7kg as part of my hand luggage – my camera bag.
Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS
I love the perspective these wide-angle lenses produce, and this lens is no exception. Most of the time it stays on one of the camera bodies.
Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 R WR
Fujifilm’s answer for street photographers. Pretty fast and a high-quality little lens. I don’t usually use it during my travels, but for its negligible size it will always have a corner in the camera bag.
Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R
This is not my go-to lens for portraits as during travels I carry a loaned Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR. For some reason I kind of like the images produced by the Fujifilm 90mm.
Recently, I’m experimenting more with this lens and I feel like I am starting to like it. Expect more photos from this lens in the future.
Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R
This lens is always on one of the bodies I carry. Fast, superb image quality, wide aperture, sitting at almost 35mm full range equivalent and not too big in size. This is one lens everyone should invest in.
Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS
The better lens costs around $1000 more than this. I do not shoot wildlife or events. Absolute reach or image quality is not a must for me in this range. I use it mainly for the landscapes.
This is not my regular lens, it depends on the shoot but most of the time it just stays in my luggage.
My latest addition. There are more expensive drones than this with supposedly better quality and RAW functionality. But this one is half the price of others and many reviews have shown this to be sometimes better than the more expensive drones.
I’m super impressed with its performance and image quality. I’m not at all regretting this purchase.
Godox Witstro AD200
In simple words, a travel photographer’s strobe. I have used this in many tricky lighting situations and I really like its usability and output.
I tend to shoot in natural light as much as possible, so I don’t carry it everywhere unless if I’m going to some remote corners or tribal villages.
MANFROTTO MT190XPRO3 Tripod
A solid performer. Well balanced and sturdy tripod and I always find a space for it in the vehicle. One of the best investments I have made which continues to yield results.
Various NiSi V5 ND, GND, CPL filters
I use the NiSi filters extensively during my travels for landscapes. I particularly like the polariser and just keep it in the pocket just in case.
If someone is looking for a new filter, then I would very highly recommend this brand.
Usually I use the respective straps that come across the body but recently I bought a Peak Design slide lite strap and used it during my Indonesian trip. I kind of like it. But I feel I need to use it few more times to exactly understand whether it makes any difference or not.
I’ve got 3 camera bags:
F-stop Ajna Backpack
This is my main travel backpack. Sometimes I load it with all the equipment above plus a couple of cloths, water bottles and other accessories. Yes, it is expensive, but sometimes you get what you paid for.
Lowepro Flipside 400
I use this if I’m going to carry more than 3 lenses and 2 bodies with some accessories for a day out as the F-stop would be too big for the purpose. I bought it around 7 years back and surprisingly not a single thread has come off the bag.
My go-to bag if I’m in a mood to show off! It’s an absolute beauty. I use it mainly if going for occasional street photography shooting or family outing. Materials usually won’t give someone a personality, but this bag can.
Add some basic accessories, and I conclude my gear list.
Inside Bhagi’s camera bag:
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