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Alpha Profile Spotlight: A Photographer & Adventure Guide’s Life In Swedish Lapland

We connect with Swedish Lapland photographer and adventure guide Magnus Winbjörk (@winbjorkphoto) to learn more about how he uses his Sony Alpha gear to photograph the auroras and animals of Sweden’s arctic territory.

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/2500-sec., f/5.6, ISO 250

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/800-sec., f/5.6, ISO 320

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/4000-sec., f/3.2, ISO 100

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/1000-sec., f/2.8, ISO 500

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 14mm f/1.8 G Master. 3.2-sec., f/1.8, ISO 1600

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/2.8, ISO 250

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/1250-sec., f/2.8, ISO 400

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/800-sec., f/2.8, ISO 400

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/3.5, ISO 100

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/1000-sec., f/2.8, ISO 400

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 135mm f/1.8 G Master. 1/400-sec., f/1.8, ISO 100

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 135mm f/1.8 G Master. 1/640-sec., f/2.5, ISO 100

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/400-sec., f/3.2, ISO 100

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/400-sec., f/2.8, ISO 640

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/400-sec., f/2.8, ISO 500

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/1250-sec., f/3.2, ISO 200

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 7S III. Sony 20mm f/1.8 G. 3.2-sec., f/1.8, ISO 1600

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/500-sec., f/2.8, ISO 500

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/500-sec., f/4, ISO 640

Magnus Winbjörk (@winbjorkphoto) is a professional photographer and adventure guide in the heart of Swedish Lapland. His biggest passion in life is to capture the majestic landscapes and wildlife that mother nature has to offer. “There is so much beauty out there, you just need to open your eyes, bring on your creativity and be ready to capture the moment,” he says. We saw his Alpha Universe Profile and connected with him to learn more about his work. Read his story below and create your own Alpha Universe Profile HERE for a chance to be featured on AlphaUniverse.com.

Learn more about photographer Magnus Winbjörk and how he uses his Sony Alpha gear to photograph the auroras and animals of Sweden’s arctic territory.

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 7S III. Sony 20mm f/1.8 G. 3.2-sec., f/1.8, ISO 1600

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 7S III. Sony 20mm f/1.8 G. 3.2-sec., f/1.8, ISO 1600

Career Snapshot

I have been more or less interested in photography in one way or another for basically my whole life. I have had so many different interests and hobbies, and I am a person who always gives my best and always goes all in, so the photo interest has never really been the biggest interest before in my life. I have done everything from writing and producing music, quite successfully building advanced high-tech engines for racing cars, to training in powerlifting. At the same time, I have always enjoyed being in nature. Throughout my life I have stayed in beautiful surroundings and in amazing nature, and it is probably a little thanks to that I have always had an interest in photography somewhere within me even though it has never been my greatest interest. 

For most of my life, I have photographed with everything from cheap, simple and downright very bad compact cameras to mobile phones. After a long period and almost half of my life, the interest in photography began to take more and more place and a few years ago I decided to make it fully out. And when I was at the same time winding down my company in the mining industry, which I had run for many years, the idea was born to re-saddle and invest in photography as a profession as well. So today I live fully in photography, 50% as a photographer and the other 50% through tourism and photo tourism. I arrange tailor-made specially-adapted private photo tours for photographers who want to see and experience the best of Swedish Lapland. At the same time, I do a lot of online coaching and private tailor-made training programs for photographers online. And on top of that, I sell my photos as prints, which has recently seen a sharp increase.

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/500-sec., f/4, ISO 640

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/500-sec., f/4, ISO 640

What drives me in my photography is the constant pursuit of the unplanned, the unpredictable and the magical moments, and moments that can sometimes occur completely without warning. I like to photograph wild animals as they are basically impossible to predict. It usually requires careful planning and solid work, but once the picture is to be taken, it is full improvisation in the heat of battle that applies. You have to make a decision here and now in this second about the best possible composition, at the same time as you have to carefully and quickly consider every step you take and you can never fully predict the result. The same goes for landscape photography, especially in the nature I live in. Weather, wind and other conditions change constantly and often very quickly. So here too, good planning and preparation is important, but what they depend on in the end is the work there and then in the photo moment itself. And if you then combine landscape and wildlife photography and also mix in ingredients such as sunset, full moon, etc. then it starts to get really interesting and rewarding.

Why I Shoot With Sony

I have been taking photos with Sony for the past five years, and the choice of using Sony was for me quite simple. In the name of honesty, there are many good cameras on the market today and all current brands have their advantages in different ways. I live in Northern Sweden where we have polar lights for a long time in winter, we never see the sun. The sun is below the horizon around the clock. Because I am also interested in photographing the northern lights, I photograph a lot in very poor light conditions. I also photograph a lot of wild animals that really put the equipment to the test. When it comes to shooting in low light conditions, I have a hard time seeing that there is anything better than Sony on the market today. The dynamic range and how the camera handles high ISO numbers is absolutely phenomenal. Dynamic range can be one thing on a piece of paper, but something completely different in reality. You can easily get a smile on your face every time you open a RAW file and light up dark areas in the image. It is possible to light up the dark and save the slightly overexposed in a completely incredible way that I have never seen before with RAW files from any camera other than Sony’s. The second most important thing for me is to have as well-functioning autofocus as possible, and even here I believe that Sony is many steps ahead of its competitors. So for me with these two things at the top of the priority list, the choice was easy.

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 14mm f/1.8 G Master. 8-sec., f/1.8, ISO 800

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 14mm f/1.8 G Master. 8-sec., f/1.8, ISO 800

My Go-To Sony Cameras & Lenses

Today I mainly use two cameras, they are the Sony Alpha 1 and Sony Alpha 7S III. Explaining why the Alpha 1 is my obvious choice actually requires a whole book with more pages than this article will be on, but I will try to be brief. For a long time, as a wildlife photographer, you have always faced a dilemma. You have always had to make an involuntary choice, should I prioritize a high-resolution camera to get a high-resolution image to then, for example, be able to crop the image vigorously and still have enough resolution left to print large images, and thus sacrificing some autofocus performance and also not having the same continuous shooting? Or should you choose a camera with a lower resolution to get a better autofocus performance, be able to take more pictures in continuous shooting and get more pictures where the focus is perfect but at the expense of a lower resolution and not being able to crop the image as much? This has always been a dilemma when photographing wild animals. When I shoot in low light, I have used the 400mm f/2.8 G Master and together with a high-resolution camera, an aperture of 2.8 has been crucial for me. If 400mm was too short, I could easily crop the rest. 

When the Alpha 1 was released, oh my... at first I did not think it was true. The specification on the camera was so incredibly good that when I got the camera in my possession, I spent the first time trying to find something wrong with it. I even had a hard time relaxing, I walked around all the time and was a little worried and with a feeling that could it really be this good? But it was, I have now been using it for over a year and it is a completely phenomenal camera that completely lacks competition in today's situation. The best of both worlds and completely without having to compromise on anything else. High resolution and the absolute best possible autofocus. As a complement I use the Alpha 7S III, a really low light monster. It is my workhorse when it comes to shooting the northern lights in really dark and difficult conditions and it is the camera I use to film the northern lights, for example.

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/500-sec., f/2.8, ISO 500

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/1250-sec., f/3.2, ISO 200

When it comes to lenses, and which are my favorites, it's a difficult question. I shoot in so many different situations and scenarios so I use so many different lenses.For wildlife, the answer is simply Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. This is really my favorite, a workhorse but which I treat like a diamond. Do not really know what to say, the whole lens is a masterpiece. Relatively small and very light to be a 2.8 and delivers unbeatable sharpness and together with the A1 you get an autofocus that works like a dream. When it comes to landscape photography, I have to highlight the Sony 24-105mm f/4 G zoom. Perhaps one of Sony's most underrated lenses. It is incredibly versatile and considering the zoom range, it delivers incredibly high image quality, much higher than what is generally associated with a zoom with that range. It together with the classic Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master lens are my most-used lenses for landscape photography.

For the northern lights and in a little more demanding situations, I only use prime lenses as the largest possible aperture is a must. If I have to highlight some of them, it is mainly the Sony 14mm f/1.8 G Master and Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. Even though I use several other prime lenses such as the Sony 20mm f/1.8 G and Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master for the northern lights, there is something special about the first two. That a 14mm lens with that aperture can be so small and light and at the same time deliver such good image quality is absolutely incredible. And as for the 24mm f/1.4 G Master, I have never tested a 24mm lens that gives such good sharpness over the entire image already wide open at f/1.4. Then I have in most tests also experienced that the 24mm f/1.4 G Master also gives more light than several other 24mm lenses with the same physical dimensions of the aperture, which is a huge plus. When I take pictures other than landscapes and wild animals, they are usually portraits, I really like taking portraits. And then 135mm f/1.8 G Master is the obvious choice for me. I'm not a fan of straight dishes with short focal lengths, 135mm is absolutely perfect and even that lens delivers image quality in a class of its own.

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/1250-sec., f/3.2, ISO 200

Photo by Magnus Winbjörk. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/1250-sec., f/3.2, ISO 200

What Photography & The Sony Community Means To Me

Photography really means everything to me. As I wrote before, during my life I have done so many different things – I have always gone all in and always put in all my time and soul, but I have never before done anything that gives me so much back as photography. So much joy, so much energy and it really makes me grow as a human being. Then you also get to experience so many incredible magical moments and moments when you stay out taking pictures. I Have seen things and experienced moments I previously never thought existed or were possible. Photography means so much to me that for the first time in my life I have actually started to think about how short life is. There is so much I want to experience and so much I want to see. And there are so many magical moments to capture in a photo. I feel incredibly proud and honored to be a part of the Sony community and it feels great that you pay attention to me and value the work I do, because believe me…in addition to joy, energy and a strong will, there are many, many working hours behind the photos I deliver.

See more of Magnus Winbjörk's work on his Alpha Universe Profile, on Instagram @winbjorkphoto and on his YouTube Channel.

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