Konnichiwa everyone! I’m a fine art and landscape photographer from Italy, based in Japan since 2007.
Originally I moved to Japan for reasons mostly unrelated with photography, but I soon realized I was living in such a beautiful country that I NEEDED to share my experiences and the places I was visiting with my family and friends, and why not, with everyone else! That’s how I started to take landscape images.
My main focus when photographing a place is to capture its essence and the emotions I’m experiencing while I’m there, avoiding all the distractions around me (the human presence and also colors): that’s one of the reasons why I find a combination of black and white and long exposure techniques makes a big part of my style.
I think it helps suggesting a place instead of describing it, making the images “timeless”. I love to photograph seascapes by the coast and I have an overwhelming attraction to Mount Fuji.
During my photo shoots I like to walk around a lot looking for compositions, so over the years I managed to shrink down my equipment to one camera, one tripod, two lenses and my trusty filters: lowering the weight helps tremendously when on location and helps me focus more on taking pictures.
I’ve been a Nikon shooter all of my life, (even if I had a couple of affairs with Sony and Fujifilm) mostly because I know exactly what to expect in the field and how to handle the files in post processing, but also because I feel my setup fulfils all my photographic needs.
My main body at the moment is the Nikon D850, which is an absolute beast. I used to shoot with a D800E and a D810 before, but I needed 4K video and the extra functionalities for shooting time-lapse movies, so I decided to go Zen-style and just have one body.
In 12+ years of shooting Nikon I have never had a camera or lens fail on me, so I don’t worry too much about beating the crap out of my equipment: rain, sand, snow, nothing can stop my D850!
The lens that is glued to my camera 90% of the time is the Nikkor 18-35mm f3.5-4.5G ED: it’s super sharp, weather resistant and has a very useful range for the type of photography I make. Also, it’s much cheaper and lighter than the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR that I used to own before as it doesn’t have VR.
This one lens gets me covered from really wide up to 35mm, which is where most of my images are taken.
When I need the extra reach of a telephoto lens, mostly for intimate landscapes or if I’m shooting in the mountains, I always reach out for my really old and trusty AF Nikon 70-210mm f/4 D.
This used to be a professional lens in the 80s when it was manufactured, it’s all metal and it’s super small and lightweight when compared to the new G series telephoto lenses from Nikon. Also, the micro-contrast on this lens is great, and it really shows up when shooting in black and white. As a plus, no one knows about it so I could find it used very cheap!
Tripod-wise, I’m using the Manfrotto 190CXPRO04 carbon fiber legs with the MH054M8-Q2 magnesium ball head that I adapted to Arca-Swiss using a super-cheap no-brand aluminum plate.
I’ve been using this small but sturdy travel tripod for more than ten years now in any weather condition and it never turned me down. That said, it’s getting pretty abused so I’m considering getting a new set of legs in the future.
Let’s talk filters: I’ve tried them all! Since 99.9% of my work is long exposures, a good combination of tripod and filters is what makes or breaks an image.
Over the years I’ve tried many different types of filters, both screw-in and squared, with various outcomes, and I settled on NiSi filters a couple of years ago.
At the moment I’m using the NiSi V5 Pro 100mm Filter holder with a variety of different NDs. I mainly use two “solid” ND filters, the NiSi 100x100mm Nano IRND 3.0 10-stop and the NiSi 100x100mm Nano IRND64 6-stop, which I can combine for super-long exposures in daylight.
I also like to add some gradient in the sky in camera, rather than in post processing: for this purpose I’m using the NiSi 100x150mm Nano IR Soft ND8 (0.9) 3-stop GND, which gives a nice and soft transition suitable to most scenes.
I have two bags, which is two more than needed! Jokes apart, the more years that pass, the more I prefer to carry only the things that I really need, so I usually put my equipment in a very inexpensive and light backpack.
For those times when I need to carry all my gear I find my Lowepro Pro Runner 350 AW is bulky but perfect.
For multiple-days outings or for all the times when I need to hike or carry non-photography related gear (clothes, sleeping bag, food and water) I use a Deuter Act Trail Pro 38SL hiking backpack. I spent so many years trying to find the perfect bag just to find out that it doesn’t exist!
BITS AND PIECES
I use many not-so-interesting accessories on location: these include a couple of off-brand shutter-release cables, lots of lens wipes and microfibre cloths, a head torch and a good amount of spare batteries and cards.
The only two things I always make sure to carry with me on location are snacks and coffee! Being well fed and caffeinated is the key to success both in photography and life! :-)
Thanks for reading and feel free to get in touch anytime!
www.francescolibassi.com | @francescolibassitokyo
Check out these 8 essential tools to help you succeed as a professional photographer.
Includes limited-time discounts.