Chandresh "C.K" Kedhambadi (@photon.chaser) is an astro and landscape photographer who focuses on capturing the pristine beauty of the Canadian Rockies. Photographing the Northern Lights and the Milky Way Galaxy has always been a core aspect of his photography. A hobby that started three years ago has since transitioned into a business and a citizen science contributor. C.K had a unique opportunity to help the scientific community in decoding S.T.E.V.E, a mysterious phenomenon in the night sky, via a citizen science program with NASA. These transformations have given him an enhanced sense of purpose and an added dimension to his photography. He believes that working with the best gear is critical in capturing the beauty of the natural world and in bringing out the best creative expression of his art. His gear is essentially focused on astrophotography and landscapes, keeping it lightweight and minimalist.
This astro and landscape photographer takes us through his essential astro and landscape gear and shows how he uses a single Sony Alpha camera and G Master prime lens combination.
Sony Alpha 7R III: I chose the Sony Alpha 7R III due to its uncompromised performance bundled in a compact lightweight camera body which is highly valued for someone like me who is often hiking long distances in search of pristine landscapes and nightscapes. The resolution and the 42 megapixels is great for large size prints and the battery performance in frigid Canadian winters is ideal.
Above: Photo by Chandresh "C.K" Kedhambadi. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/13-sec., f/9, ISO 100.
For my landscape shoots, I love the Alpha 7R III’s fast auto-focus features and dynamic range. For my nightscape shoots, the Sony Alpha 7R III gives me clean, noise-free images when push the ISO high, which I typically do in my astrophotography. I have really come to appreciate the Focus Peaking and Bright Monitoring features on my Sony that help me nail my composition and focus, especially for astrophotography (see more about Bright Monitoring and how to set it up in a Sony camera HERE). The main aspect I love about Sony mirrorless cameras is the light and compact design, making them ideal for those trips to mountain summits to photograph the night sky. Considering these factors, the Sony Alpha 7R III is an ideal choice for my kit bag given the genre of photography I pursue.
Above: Photo by Chandresh "C.K" Kedhambadi. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 14-sec., f/2, ISO 5000.
Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master: My main go-to option is the Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master lens. I prefer prime lenses over zoom options as the primes tend to be generally sharper and the Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM is an ideal choice for me in terms of weight and performance. The 24mm f/1.4 GM offers best in class corner-to-corner sharpness and the Sony G Master lenses’ ability to focus the stars to a circular pinpoint is great for astrophotography.
Above: Photo by Chandresh "C.K" Kedhambadi. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 121-sec., f/3.2, ISO 5000.
Above: Photo by Chandresh "C.K" Kedhambadi. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 3-sec., f/2.8, ISO 6400.
I love having the flexibility of a fast f/1.4 for those situations where the skies are totally dark on those remote hikes. Also the lens has no noticeable loss of performance shooting wide open at f/1.4. I find that the 24mm is a great focal length to have where you are able to compose the vastness of the landscape without dwarfing the mountains or the water bodies. The 67mm diameter filter thread is easy and flexible to account for various filters and ideal for creative sunrise and sunset photography utilizing the filters.
Above: Photo by Chandresh "C.K" Kedhambadi. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/25-sec., f/11, ISO 50.
Gitzo GT1545T Carbon Fiber Tripod and Acratech GXP Ball Head: The tripod offers lightweight performance and sturdiness that negates any blurriness due to vibrations. The Acratech ball head is precise and offers flexibility for any composition and ideal in harsh Canadian winters and does not lock up.
NiSi 100mm Advanced Kit III with V6 Filter Holder: The NiSi filter kit has all the ND filters and graduated filters, plus also has the polarizer and a night sky filter. A compact set that’s relatively lightweight and easy to fit into a camera bag.
Above: Photo by Chandresh "C.K" Kedhambadi. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 30-sec., f/13, ISO 250. 6-stop ND, GND, CPL
F-stop Mountain Series Tilopa Backpack: A rugged backpack that offers plenty of creative spaces for all your expensive camera gear investments. Options to mount and carry various safety equipment is a great benefit.
Move Shoot Move Star Tracker: Compact lightweight option that enables star tracking to compensate for Earth’s rotation and enhance the details and colors of Astrophotography shots.
Above: Photo by Chandresh "C.K" Kedhambadi. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/30-sec., f/9, ISO 400.
- Bear spray
- External intervalometer
- Safety gear (depending on the trip’s risks)