My name is Michael Schaake and I am a landscape and nature photographer from Germany. For me photography is always about being outdoors, hiking and enjoying nature.
My passion for photography started very early at the age of 13. The first camera I used was my father’s analog Praktica SLR.
People often ask me what drives me to go out to photograph, even under harsh conditions. When I try to answer this question, I’ll be quick to rave: Endless landscapes, no noise other than the wind, fast changing weather conditions, nobody else but me and the sheer beauty of the unspoiled nature is what makes me go out again and again.
I’m especially fond of the North.
Isn’t it too cold?
It is always dark up there, isn’t it?
The weather is always very bad – right?
These are the clichés you hear when traveling up north. The Lofoten islands, for instance are more than 300 km north of the arctic circle – so these are quite legitimate questions.
The first time I traveled by ship to the north, I recorded these feelings:
“I am outside, the cold wind hurts in my face and I hardly manage to hold the camera – but this landscape is just overwhelming. For days I see nothing but spectacular landscapes. Fighting the weather and the cold at the bow of the ship, I realise that this landscape deeply touches my heart and I decide that I will have to explore this landscape in detail.”
A spectacular 14-day hike on Iceland, two road trips through Sweden and Norway and many day hikes are among my best memories, just to name a few.
I have been up in the north 10 times in the last 3 years.
I have shot Minolta, Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Fuji in the last years, but searching for a compact and light camera that delivers best image quality and high resolution I ended up with Sony cameras.
I have been shooting Sony exclusively since 2018, when I also became a Sony Europe Imaging Ambassador.
• Sony a7R III – This is my main body for landscape photography. I shoot with it 80% of the time. This camera has so much dynamic range and resolution, it makes it a perfect fit for my work. On top of that it is small, has a reliable and very fast AF system and great battery life. This camera can handle nearly every situation.
• Sony a9 – The speed demon. A tiny bit behind in dynamic range and resolution, this camera gives you the best AF System around on mirrorless cameras. Reliable tracking, up to 20 frames/sec. I often have this camera as a second body with me, with the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM lens attached in case there is some wildlife.
• Sony a6400 – The little surprise package, an even smaller APS-C camera with a lot more technology from the a9. The AF System is just incredible. I also use it for filming, but mostly as a backup camera or to get more reach with longer lenses such as the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM lens.
• Sony 24mm GM f/1.4 – This is a really awesome lens. Sharp already wide open, also fantastic for the northern lights or astrophotography.
[Related: Recommended Sony lenses for astrophotography]
• Sony 85mm G f/1.8 – I use this lens more for portraits and street, a great and sharp lens, very light and small.
• Sony 24-105mm G f/4.0 – My most used lens. This lens is insane. It is very sharp, has good micro contrast and is small and light enough to take even on very long hikes. The focal range is perfect for landscapes.
• Sony 16-35mm G f/4.0 – My wide-angle zoom. I use it quite often and prefer it because of weight to the 16-35mm f/2.8 GM lens. It is very sharp and small enough to fit in my bag.
• Sony 100-400mm GM f/4.5-5.6 – The best long tele zoom lens I’ve ever owned. Tack sharp, fast AF. Just fantastic! A bit heavy for very long hikes, but there is a lighter alternative.
• Sony Teleconverter 1.4x – Combined with the 100-400mm GM lens this converter works very well and gives you only very slightly less resolution. Very usable!
• Sony 70-300mm G f/4.5-5.6 – A lighter and smaller alternative to the excellent but heavy 100-400mm GM lens. I use it when hiking for days where I have to watch the weight of my backpack.
• GoPro Hero 7 black – I use it for filming now and then. Not happy with crashes etc.
• DJI Osmo mobile – Wonderful little gimbal camera that works really well
• DJI Mavic pro – My little drone that I rarely use. To launch a drone in the silence of a fantastic landscape contradicts itself a bit ;-)
• Rollei Rock Solid Beta tripod – very stable and quite light carbon tripod
• Sirui 2204x Tripod – light and stable
• Rollei Filters – I mostly use ND1000 and graduated ND filters
• Petzl headlamp
• Tubbs snowshoes
• Patagonia outdoor clothes
• Tent – Hilleberg Nammatj 3 of course
• Syrp Genie Mini – for time lapse shootings
• Backpacks: I actually use a Lowepro Whistler backpack for day hikes. For trekking I use an Osprey 75L backpack and a Lowepro 200AW for photo gear I need quick access to.
If you want to read about my adventures or about the gear I use just follow me on Instagram or visit my web page where I post longer stories.