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What’s In My Bag: A Lightweight Kit To See The Light In The Darkest Skies

Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti (@lorenzonightscapes) is a professional astro-landscape photographer working as a photography-tour leader for WeShoot. His photography is driven by the deep passion for all the night wonders in extreme landscapes. With his pictures he wants to connect humans with the beauty of the cosmos and with all the deep feelings the sight of a pristine dark night can arouse. But translating the limitless wonders of the night sky into a photograph takes more than just passion. "I have to be able to rely on my gear," he explains, "especially the lenses, which must be perfectly sharp, even at maximum aperture because when it comes to the stars, tiny bright dots, you immediately see the imperfections of the gear." Tenti's kit is surprising. He uses a Sony Alpha 7 IV, an older, specially-modified Sony Alpha 7S and just three Sony prime lenses. 

His desire to express the art of astro-photography has brought him to teach his photography techniques and expertise as tour-guide and through workshops. Throughout  his career, he has been published in several international magazines such as Forbes, NASA and National Geographic. He has also been honored in several photography competitions. Tenti has traveled through some of the darkest places of the world always carrying his essential astro-gear with him, we took a look inside his camera backpack to see what his go-to gear is and to find out why he says that "Sony is an astro-photographer’s best friend."

Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti kit for astrophotography

How a professional astro-landscape photographer packs a bag with a just three essential prime lenses when traveling through some of the darkest places on Earth.

I have to be able to rely on my gear, especially the lenses, which must be perfectly sharp, even at maximum aperture because when it comes to the stars, tiny bright dots, you immediately see the imperfections of the gear. Luckily, Sony is an astro-photographer’s best friend.

Cameras

Sony Alpha 7 IV: Sony Alpha 7 IV is my every-situation-camera, from daylight photography, during photography tours with clients, to single-shot nightscapes with a bit of extra-resolution. I really love this camera for its versatility. It can perfectly handle high ISO noise in night photography, it has a beautiful new color performance that never misses any of the faint shades of the Milky Way dusts and an incredible dynamic range for those backlight situations such as sunrise and sunset.

Photo by Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Sony Alpha 7 IV. Sony 20mm f/1.8 G. 15-sec., f/2.2, ISO 6400


This is a panoramic picture representing the entire Milky Way, our galaxy, in the middle of Savannah under the dark sky of Namibia, Africa. Photo by Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Sony Alpha 7 IV. Sony 20mm f/1.8 G. 15-sec., f/2.2, ISO 6400

Sony Alpha 7S (Modified): The Sony Alpha 7S is my overall favorite camera that I use for almost all my astro-landscapes. Its extreme performance at highest ISO makes this camera the undisputed queen of astrophotography gear...and to make it even better performing at night, I modified its sensor (removed the UV-IR filter from a qualified laboratory) in order to be able to capture all the light from interstellar dust that emits in a spectrum invisible to human eyes. For this reason, all my Milky Way pictures are crisp and rich in colors, making them even more scientifically accurate.

Photo by Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Sony Alpha 7S. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 14-sec., f/1.7, ISO 6400


This panoramic picture represents that portion of the Milky Way richer in faint dust and nebulas (red color), such as those in the Orion constellation, California Nebula, Soul & Heart Nebula and others. Photo by Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Sony Alpha 7S. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 14-sec., f/1.7, ISO 6400

Lenses

Sony 14mm f/1.8 G Master: This is the lightest wide angle lens that I have ever owned...and it’s even f/1.8! This incredible lens gives me the freedom to shoot in a great variety of situations, especially when it comes to immersive and captive foreground captured from extreme angles. I really love it for its fast aperture and its incredible lightweight and my back loves it too.

Photo by Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Sony Alpha 7S. Sony 14mm f/1.8 G Master. 15-sec., f/2.8, ISO 6400.

This picture represents the aurora borealis dancing over the iconic Vestrahorn mountain in Iceland. Photo by Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Sony Alpha 7S. Sony 14mm f/1.8 G Master. 15-sec., f/2.8, ISO 6400

Sony 20mm f/1.8 G: This is another incredibly lightweight lens, suitable for any circumstance, not only for astrophotography. I leave this lens on the camera whenever I’m in nature! I use it for its specific focal length because I love how the 20mm is able to perfectly frame the Milky Way core including a bit of foreground too. Its sharpness also guarantees the best details.

Photo by Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Sony Alpha 7S. Sony 20mm f/1.8 G. 20-sec., f/2.2, ISO 6400.

This picture represents the milky way rising in the night sky of Madeira Island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. In the foreground it is visible a dead tree branching out to the sky miming the Milky Way dust. Photo by Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Sony Alpha 7S. Sony 20mm f/1.8 G. 20-sec., f/2.2, ISO 6400

Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master: This amazing lens represents my loyal fellow, the one that I always take pictures with and the one with which I developed my personal photographic technique, the mosaic (multi rows panorama with a longer focal length). Its longer focal length, its color rendering and its amazing sharpness gives me the possibility to create huge panoramas with extreme details, great color accuracy and bigger printing resolution.

Photo by Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Sony Alpha 7S. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 30-sec., f/28, ISO 6400


This is a mosaic picture (multi rows panorama) of the milky way arch over a granitic rock formation in Africa. In this picture you can see the human figure (me) as a scale compared to the vastness of the universe and our home galaxy. Photo by Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Sony Alpha 7S. Sony 35mm f/1.4 G Master. 30-sec., f/28, ISO 6400

Accessories

Astro-tracker: The astro-tracker is an essential piece of gear for every professional astrophotographer. This accessory has a small engine that rotates backward relative to the direction of the Earth’s rotation. Thus, when the camera is mounted on the astro-tracker, the photographer can take very long exposure at the stars, compensating for the apparent stars motion across the sky (caused by the Earth rotation).

Tripod: the tripod is a necessary piece of gear when it comes down to long exposures. Having my camera completely still allows me to take long exposures at the Milky Way while avoiding any motion blur or stars trailing.

Photo by Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 14mm f/1.8 G Master. 30-sec., f/1.8, ISO 5000.

This is a picture of the Milky Way over the Tamburiente Caldera on the island of La Palma in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, above a sea of clouds. In the foreground you can see the tent where I spent the night. Photo by Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 14mm f/1.8 G Master. 30-sec., f/1.8, ISO 5000.

Head Lamp: Well...Nothing is more crucial than having a head lamp when we are completely alone in the dark searching for all the other accessories in our backpack.

Check out more of Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti’s work on his Instagram (@lorenzonightscapes) and learn from his expertise in his workshops

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