First Adventures: Exploring Greenland with the α7R IV
While Greenland in August may not be as cold as it is in the winter, the temperatures out at sea are still challenging. For landscape photographer Albert Dros, the motivation to put himself in such an environment is the lure of the light. With almost 24 hours of daylight, the sun hangs around the edge of the horizon for hours, creating striking orange, purple and blue colours in the sky.
Having already used a pre-production version of the Sony α7R IV in his home country of the Netherlands, his trip to Greenland provided Albert with another chance to really see what the 61 megapixel Sony α7R IV was capable of.
© Albert Dros | Sony α7R IV + FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS | 1/100s @ f/6.3, ISO 1000
Albert spent two weeks sleeping and shooting on the same boat while capturing his images, something he jokes as being: “a real experience!” Albert spent every night out on the boat shooting for hours and hours. “It is so beautiful,” he explains, “there are so many different colours and ways you can work with the midnight sun. For someone like me it is a playground, there are amazing shots to be taken everywhere.”
© Albert Dros | Sony α7R IV + FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS | 1/200s @ f/6.3, ISO 400
While the natural landscape provided the beautiful backdrop, Albert also brought in a subject to act as a focus point in some images, in the form of a yacht with a bright red sail. “We have a lot of images with the boat,” he tells us. “I would be on one boat talking through a walkie talkie to the captain of the other boat, asking him to position the red boat in the perfect place for the shot.”
But despite him planning everything on the trip, he’s confident that this didn’t take away the creative side of the shoot. “You have to wait until the boat is in the right spot and until the moon is the right place in the sky,” he explains, “and you have to plan and get everything perfect to get an amazing image; it’s something that’s very difficult to get right.”
© Albert Dros | Sony α7R IV + FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM | 1/60s @ f/6.3, ISO 640
Most landscape photographers spend the majority of their time on terra firma, with tripod legs placed on solid ground and everything firmly locked into position. Shooting from a boat is a very different experience, especially when you introduce another boat as one of your subjects.
© Albert Dros | Sony α7R IV + FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS | 1/200s @ f/6.3, ISO 1000
“Shooting from a boat is far from relaxing,” laughs Albert, “the compositions come and go so you need to have a camera that can quickly focus or they will pass you by.” In Albert’s case they were in a boat, shooting another boat - therefore the other boat, the sea and icebergs were all moving together.
“I found in these situations it was best to use the burst shooting mode of the α7R IV and shoot at 10fps,” he tells us, “with continuous AF. I could capture as many as 70 images if I needed to, and then choose the perfect one when editing my images. It meant I never missed a moment and better still was able to capture those moments with the full 61 megapixel resolution.”
© Albert Dros | Sony α7R IV + FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS | 1/400s @ f/8.0, ISO 400
Albert likes to use extreme lenses to get his images. Whilst a conventional landscape photographer may use a 24mm wide-angle lens, possibly a 16mm at a push, Albert will more often than not be shooting at either 12mm or 400mm – completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Of course, shooting landscapes from a boat with a 400mm lens added a whole other complication to the shots.
© Albert Dros | Sony α7R IV + FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM | 1/160s @ f/6.3, ISO 640
“I used the FE 100-400mm f/4-5.6 GM OSS lens,” he says, “it’s such a sharp lens - the sharpest zoom I have used. Using it with the 61 megapixel sensor on the α7R IV captures every tiny detail, which is also thanks to the stabilization of the lens and camera. For one of my images I was able to shoot the moon at 400mm and to get the exposure right my shutter speed was at 1/50th, and perfectly sharp.”
© Albert Dros | Sony α7R IV + FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS | 1/50s @ f/5.6, ISO 1600
So, why did Albert choose to use the new Sony α7R IV for his latest projects? “I love to shoot landscapes with lots of detail, so for me, the higher resolution of the Sony α7R IV is amazing,” he tells us, “as is the 15 stop dynamic range. Not only that, but the body of the camera has had a slight redesign and improvements from the existing α7 camera, simple things like better covers for the external ports. Those seemingly small things can make a huge difference to me when shooting in challenging conditions like on this project.”