Mel Sinclair

Landscape | Last Updated: February 4, 2021

Landscape photography is my Zen, my escape from the exhausting world around me. It’s a time of meditation between myself and my environment.

There’s nothing more peaceful than witnessing the first light of day, and walking about while the world sleeps. There’s no better feeling than wandering around with my camera, time irrelevant, and capturing what I saw, what I felt and what I heard.

I am (as some would say) classically trained in the fine arts, having studied a Diploma and a Bachelors’ degree in the disciplines of Creative Industries, Fine art, Painting, Drawing, Sculpting, Printmaking and Photography. I’ve been known to do a bit of Travel Blogging when on trips and I’ve also had a few small writing gigs on the side.

I’m often asked what brought me back to Photography, and the answer simply has been; as a student out of Art College, and renting, Photography was the natural, no-mess option to satisfy the creative outlet and cleanliness of a home. Now I cannot imagine it any other way, so I guess it’s meant to be.

I’m a current member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) currently achieving the level of Associate, with a post-nominal known as AAIPP.

For now, the goal is to continually capture the remaining natural beauty in the world, so that in several years’ time, I can watch it shift and change without feeling like I missed something. As the only guaranteed thing about nature is that it will change, but into what, is the reason we all keep going.

My kit used to be a lot bigger than what it is now. But as time went on, I found I wasn’t using it, so I either sold it or donated it to other photographers.

Inside my bag

Nikon D850

My workhorse! This amazing camera just keeps on giving. High resolution images are a necessity for the types of work that I produce, so having large files allows me to work bigger and better. I am simply in awe of the capabilities of the D850, it keeps surprising me. Add the Sunway Foto, Arca-Swiss L-Bracket and it’s got more protection on the electronic corner of the camera, plus the benefit of taking portrait-oriented images, without overbalancing the tripod.

I have previously owned the D810 and the D800 respectively, having appreciated the advancements in technology for the time they were in my hands. Ultimately, it’s always time for an upgrade and when the D850 became available, it too, was a no-brainer.

Nikon D750 (used to take pic)

My D750 has been through hell and back with me, and keeps going. It’s my companion on trips where I don’t require huge files or I wish to carry a lower-value asset. I had its’ older brother the D700 for many, many years, so when the D750 came out, it was a no-brainer.

Nikon 16-35mm f/4 (used to take pic)

I’ve had this lens for over 10 years now, having picked a freshly-minted one off the shelf in 2009. When I first got into landscape photography, the thirst for a super wide lens was immense.

Having previously owned the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5, the 16mm f/1.4 seemed so tame. Over the years though, I’ve found myself using this lens less and less. I still love it, but the f4 rating has meant I’ve put it down in favor of the 20mm 1.8.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 ED FL VRII

I love this lens. I love its versatility, its sharpness and I just keep coming back to this telephoto lens. It’s the answer when my subject isn’t immediately accessible, or for creating abstractions not gained with shorter lenses.

Occasionally I’ll dabble in motorsport photography for friends and family, and having this lens in my kit allows me to be flexible and always be ready for any kind of situation.

Nikon 20mm f/1.8

My current favorite lens. I’m beginning to favor primes for the sole reason that they’re usually lighter, have excellent light ratings and can be used for fast-action, astrophotography and any version of landscape photography that I want to do with it.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8

An oldie but still a goodie! Sometimes I’m feeling like the 1.8, but sometimes it’s the 1.4 I’ll switch these in and out of my bag dependent on mood.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4

This was purchased for those dabbles and crossovers that I sometimes find myself shooting. I wanted a faster 50mm prime with a hood and this fit the bill nicely. It’s a sweet lens, a great walk-around weight and great for street photography.

Nikon SB5000 Flash

This comes in as another random addition to my bag. I keep it in the arsenal for quick lighting on-location. Sometimes to light my foreground elements, other times to pause motion and create effects.

NISI V5 Filter Kit

A landscape photographer is not without their filters. Using the right set of filters several years ago was the light bulb moment that took my images from average to amazing.

I use the NISI V5 filter kit with the following items;

NISI Soft Graduated Neutral Density Filter 0.9

NISI Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter 0.9

NISI 3 Stop ND Filter

NISI 6 Stop ND Filter

NISI 10 Stop ND Filter

NISI Pro Polarizer

Nikon MC-30A Wired remote

Long exposure is essential. I chose this remote because it requires no batteries, was literally just a lock on/off long exposure remote. I use the NiSi Android App to help time my exposures, and the stopwatch on my phone, so there was no need for a timer remote.

SIRUI W2204X Tripod

A waterproof tripod sounds a bit silly, but having owned several Sirui Tripods, I keep coming back. This one is Carbon Fibre with smooth legs that extend taller than I am. I use the K30 ballhead which is more than enough for my D850 and even my biggest lens.

Assorted sizes of Sandisk Extreme Pro Memory Cards

I couldn’t tell you from heart how many cards I have of each of these, but I can tell you that I track their age by adding them to a catalogue, same with my batteries. I know when each was bought, and when each is ready to be retired.

Batteries are catalogued with their purchase month and year, so 4.15 is April 2015. If I bought more than one in April 2015, the next would become 4.15_1 and so on.

Memory cards are cataloged with a letter, after my initials, so MS_G, MS_H are bought in either batches or successive months. My master spreadsheet tracks these. I figure I’ll never have any more than 26 at any one time, so alphabetical works just fine for me.

Now we stretch into the accessories that help the whole show happen.

Sennheiser Headphones

For when you’re not alone on location and you need to drown out distractions. Pop into the phone to listen to some motivational tracks or a favorite tune.

Black Diamond Headlamp

My eyes in the dark. USB Rechargeable to save on batteries.

SPOT Messenger GPS Emergency Locator

I’ve been some places before that I wouldn’t usually have. This little thing has given me a lifeline beyond mobile phone coverage, and gives my family the peace of mind that they just need to login and check the map for the tracker.

I used this in India in 2016 when I did the Rickshaw Run, it tracked the whole journey down to 3m accuracy and I knew that at the touch of a button, the emergency services could be called to locate me should it ever turn bad. Peace of mind is a fantastic investment.

ADATA 2TB Rugged Hard Drives

I currently have two of these awesome hard drives, and can attest to their resilience to the conditions. I’ve owned more than 4 previously, the older ones having met an unexpected fate and not of a failing on their part. These drives are waterproof (so long as all the external doors are shut) and shockproof, so they can take all the lumps and bumps of international travel.

While travelling, I’m always backing up at the end of each day in duplicate. One to each of these, and another to my WD passport.

Western Digital 4TB Passport

My non-rugged hard drive often stays behind in my suitcase, but holds the third redundancy of my pictures while on the road. It’s also got some entertainment, portable documents etc for those long layovers.

Notebook and Pen

Field notes, sketches, giving someone your website details or any other reason you would need a notebook and pen.

Samsung ATIV Book 9 13.3

After 5 years of owning this laptop, it’s coming close to its replacement time, that’s for sure. It’s had a boost in hard drive and memory over the years, but it’s still going strong!

Quick snack or need to loosen a tripod plate? No worries mate.

RAW Processing on: Capture One Pro 12

[Related: Capture One Pro 12 Review]

My processing suite on the road and at home. I switched from Lightroom because I didn’t want to be punished for buying a new camera and not having a standalone software suite.

Sure enough it’s made so convenient to subscribe, but this did no appeal. I jumped ship last year and I haven’t looked back. | @melsinclair_au

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