Osprey Kestrel 48 Backpack Review

This quick review is very much from a landscape photographers point of view as I spent a long time reading reviews, watching YouTube and ultimately searching for best option for me to carry all my kit in.

I wanted something that leaned more towards the outdoor activities that I love but would also accommodate my camera, lenses, tripod, etc.

I didn’t want any of the usual photography backpacks that come up in search results on the net. It had to be more of a traditional hiking backpack for me.

Not an easy decision to make as the backpack manufacturers don’t often tell you how much camera kit you will fit in and if indeed you will still fit your other things in on top!

A couple of trips to my local outdoors shops, with some of my photography kit I hasten to add. These things have to be tested, even if you do get a few funny looks strapping a tripod onto various bags.

So, the conclusion of all this testing and researching was the Osprey Kestrel 48. I have had a couple of Kestrel bags over the years and they have lasted extremely well, so this made the choice a little easier.

The 48 litres of the Kestrel means I have ample room for all of my photography equipment and additional room to fit my wild camping kit too.

Below is a shot of my usual day trip kit for landscape photography, so I guess this is a bit of a ‘whats in my bag’…

20160223_163622

Canon 6D with 16-35mm Lens
Canon 24-70mm Lens
Canon 50mm Lens (don’t always take this)
(All camera kit packed into a waterproof camera/lens bag, see below for more info on this)
Lee Filters
Manfrotto MT055 XPRO3 Tripod with ball head
Camera rain cover
All my photography accessories (cable shutter release, cleaning kit, spirit level, etc)
Head torch plus back up head torch (for those early morning starts for sunrise!)
OS Map
Compass
Dry sack
Beanie hats and gloves
Waterproof trousers
First aid kit
I would also pack a water bottle, flask and some food for a day trip.

With all this packed, I find I still have plenty of room for more kit. As you can see below, this bag swallows this kit up and the tripod fits neatly to the side of the bag using the backpack’s compression straps around two of the legs. With the tripod in this position, it does not interfere when walking at all.

20160223_164230

With all in place and even with the tripod on the side, the rain cover still fits perfectly and again with lots of room for the bag to grow and for me to strap on my tent, etc.

20160223_183102

It really is proving to be a great backpack for a photographer who does a lot of hiking and needs to get a lot of kit in without overdoing it on size. It is extremely comfortable with loads of adjustment and even with a heavy load and a long days walk, there were still no complaints from my shoulders.

The quality of the Osprey packs is superb and well worth the money (£119.00, from Ellis Brigham). If like me, you hike a lot to your photography locations in all conditions and need to be able to comfortably carry all your kit plus extra then you won’t go far wrong with the Osprey Kestrel 48. You can pay lots more for a dedicated DSLR backpack but for me, I can’t see the point in spending all that extra money when this does it perfectly.

Finally, as a tag on to this quick review, I also recently bought this very inexpensive camera/lens bag from Amazon.

It is the Duragadget 14inch padded camera rucksack which cost me only £14.99. I didn’t want to spend much on this as I knew I would only be putting it in my backpack. But it is great for keeping all my kit together in one handy bag that I can pull out when I get to location and it offers further protection to my kit when it is on my back.

It is shown here with the 6D + 16-35mm lens in place, sat snugly and well protected.

Many thanks for reading and I hope it has been helpful.

Please take a look at my photography at http://dave9490.wix.com/outdoorswithalens

Advertisements

In the name of photography

(Feature image, looking south from the summit of Mam Tor, 19mm – 1/160sec – f/13 – ISO100)

Approximately two weeks ago (15th Jan 2015), we had our first real dump of snow here in the UK and more specifically in the Peak District. With a reshuffle of my diary, Friday became free and it was ‘game on’ for a trip to Hope Valley, early doors to get somewhere high to sit and wait for a sunrise.

The journey over to the Peak District was quick at that time of day, however I can’t help but think it would have been quicker had the sat nav not taken me on what appears to be its favourite road of choice, single track roads which on this day were sketchy and icy to say the least. But never mind, good time was made and I was soon parked up in the main car park in the centre of Castleton.

Fees paid to the parking gods, pre packed rucksack (Osprey Kestrel 48, which I will review along with some of my other kits soon) firmly in place and head torch pointing forwards, I was set to go.

I am sure the locals and passing traffic often wonder what on earth someone is doing heading off in to the hills at that time of day, into the darkness, map in hand, looking like you could become yet another statistic for the local mountain rescue team! Or, given the location, perhaps they are used to it?

I took the track directly north out of Castleton up past Hollowford Training Centre. At this point I realised just how bad the conditions were, black ice under foot and demonstrating a walk that even Bambi would have been proud of, I picked my way up to the start of the bridleway and footpaths.

Taking the most direct route up I was soon as Hollins Cross, thankfully, as the days first light was just starting to appear. I headed west along the ridge line towards Mam Tor to find a vantage point looking back into the Hope Valley and more importantly somewhere sheltered from the sub zero winds that made themselves know at this height.

I wasn’t alone this morning, a could see a number of other multi coloured ‘dots’ stood still at various intervals along the path up to Mam Tor, it seemed the snow had got a number of us out of bed early this morning.

Quickly setting up even more quickly pouring a warm brew, I sat for a while to take in the magnificent views and the quickly awakening skies.

IMG_0156-Edit
16mm – 6.0sec – f/16 – ISO100

I had an amazing time, happily shooting the sunrise which unfortunately wasn’t accompanied by any cloud cover, but then you can’t have everything, can you?

Or can you….constantly looking East and awaiting the sun to do its thing, I almost missed the drama that was unfolding behind me. A quicky sneeky peak over the dry stone wall behind me I spotted some heavy cloud formations rolling in which were catching the suns cast of light. A very rapid reposition of the camera and now facing directly into the wind, this was not to be missed…

IMG_0179-HDR-Edit-Edit
Looking West with Edale valley to the right, 33mm – 1/4sec – f/14 – ISO100

A number of shots in the bag and I decided to head up to the summit of Mam Tor, camera and tripod slung over the shoulder I warily and slowly picked my way up to the top through snow and ice. What a view! The scenery was stunning, with more snow cover to the South and West it almost felt like I was in the Alps, almost!

IMG_0281
Rushup Edge from Mam Tor, 35mm – 1/160sec – f/13 – ISO100

IMG_0275-Edit
Mam Tor summit, 18mm – 1/320sec – f/13 – ISO100

Having had an truly fantastic morning so far and with no immediate time pressures I decided I had time to retrace my steps and head back past Hollins Cross and over to Lose Hill. Why not!

Sensible decision time and the camera was dismounted from the tripod and tucked snugly back in my rucksack. Time for more walking than photography.

But, this is when plans suddenly changed and a quicker retreat back to the car was needed in light of me taking a slip and a heavy fall on the ice. Making a strange and involuntary exhalation noise as I made contact with the ground and feeling winded like I’ve not felt since playing football as a child I got up as quick as I could to save the impending embarrasemt from anyone who saw me. However, I knew immediately that I had hurt myself. Not knowing if there was any serious damage, my mind mind soon changed to getting back rather than finding any more photo opportunities.

Although making the smart decision to put the camera away I couldn’t help but wince at the thought I may have damaged any camera equipment more than myself! Thankfully, all was in tact and I could now concentrate on getting back to the car.

It was a slower than usual decent, one because every step seemed to hurt and two because I got lost, not wanting to take the icy path back down that I came up.

So, what was a stunning morning in the Peak District and after having spent around 4 hours on the hills, my reward for the day was diagnosed as broken ribs.

Apparently there is nothing you can do other than take the magic pills and wait. Which, is now becoming frustrating and my legs are itching to get walking again. On the plus side, it has given me lots of time to study maps and discover new places to visit, oh, and also find some micro spikes for future walks into the snow and ice!

Two days before Christmas

The build up to Christmas is great, especially with two kids who were as excited as I remember I was at their age. The Christmas lists, putting decorations up, seeing various Santa’s in various locations and trying to explaining to the kids how he gets around so much, all the shopping and planning of what we are going to eat and drink over the festive period. It’s all good but whilst knowing we are on track to a great Christmas, its also nice, if not essential, to have a bit of time out.

Fortunately, my ‘time out’ doesn’t often impact upon family activities as we rarely plan anything for the family to do at 4.30 in the morning! So, here I was again, planning another early morning photography trip to the Peak District.

I had heard there were a couple of waterfalls to be found near to Langsett Reservoir and although I had visited this area many times in the past I had never seen the waterfalls. With the recent rains I was sure I was to find them in good flow.

Parking at Langsett Barn car park, just above the reservoir, I set off at around 6.30am, into the woods with head torch in place.

From what my head torch was picking out, the reservoir was looking very full. I had been here only a few weeks before and I was able to stand on pebbly shores of the reservoir, but not today. No access to the edges of the reservoir, I decided to continue along the path and head up slightly above the reservoir on the south side.

I found a spot where some trees had been recently felled, set the camera up and poured a cup of tea to wait for the sunrise. It was a beautiful morning with clear visibility but unfortunately not a single cloud in the sky to add detail to my shots!

Not one shot from this position, I was hoping for something but I don’t feel I got anything good enough to share at this point in this post. Oh well, it happens, or doesn’t in this case.

Slightly disappointed but ever optimistic I will find something, I headed on a bit further. Of course, still the waterfalls to find!

I headed up further onto Hingcliff Common above Langsett Reservoir to a junction of the path where I knew there were some old gate posts which could add some interest to my shots. With the sun still rising I set up and got a couple of shots.

IMG_9413-HDR
47mm – 1/80 sec – f/14 – ISO100

Langsett Reservoir in the distance
IMG_9418
28mm – 0.8sec – f/20 – ISO100

Satisfied I had managed to get a couple of shots I made my way back down to take the path off along The Little Don river to go in search of the waterfalls. A path I had never been on before and I didn’t have to walk for long before finding what I was looking for.

It was apparent that the recent rains that had filled the reservoir had also done their work on the landscape, cutting new paths for the river and generally making a bit of a mess. The river still in good flow I set about exploring and making the most of this opportunity.

IMG_9424
66mm – 15sec – f/11 – ISO100

IMG_9428-Edit
70mm – 6sec – f/11 – ISO100

IMG_9445
35mm – 1.0sec – f/8 – ISO100

Fantastic time out of a busy household, feeling thoroughly refreshed, it was time to head back home for more festivities!

Many thanks for reading.

Best way to start a day

My trip out last Sunday had me setting the alarm and getting up at a silly time in the morning, well I say silly, but its probably not that silly for many landscape photographers!

The plan was to head out into the Peak District to hopefully get a good sunrise. Always a gamble but spurred on by an almost perfect weather forecast I got my kit ready (a fair bit of new kit which I will review very soon) the night before, studied the OS map for a while and headed to bed ready for the impending rude awakening.

IMG_20151219_211008
*Still not sure why the stray pair of socks were there?!

An ex colleague of mine quite often coined a lovely phrase that I will never forget and so aptly fitted this mornings antics. So, here I was ‘up at the crack of a sparrow fart’…

IMG_20151220_040008

On the road, approximately 45 minutes drive from home, I was excited for yet another trip into the wilderness…in the dark.

Head torch in position, boots buckled, I was headed for the top of Bradfield Gate Head which is situated and best accessed from the Strines. If you want to head here, use The Strines Inn as navigational reference. I parked back down the road a bit at the start of the bridleway.

There is nothing quite like heading out into the darkness of the hills when there is nobody else about, creeping off into the vast blackness.

On the way up I couldn’t resist stopping periodically to take in the awesome sight of the stars and wondering if I will ever attempt some astrophotography. But with today’s plan still firmly in mind I carried on up to the top in plenty of time to get set up and wait for the first light of day.

After scrambling around on the rocks for a while looking for a place I could get some shelter from the wind I managed to find a good spot to set up and brew up.

I was certainly rewarded with a great sunrise which had me wandering around on top for the next hour or so to capture some amazing shots before heading home excited to see what I had got once back at my computer…

The first sign of light above the twinkling lights of Sheffield
Sheffield
50mm – 60sec – f/11 – ISO100

IMG_9266-Edit
53mm – 1/15sec – f/14 – ISO100

peak district 3 (1 of 1)
70mm – 1/15sec – f/22 – ISO100

peak district (1 of 1)
24mm – 0.3sec – f/22 – ISO100

Me!
IMG_9242
28mm – 1/4sec – f/14 – ISO400

IMG_9243
24mm – 2.0sec – f/14 – ISO100

A winters morning in Ackworth

Alarm set, flask filled, boots on and I was off on another adventure, this time very close to home. The Ackworth Six Arches railway bridge stands within a mile of where I live and looking at the weather forecast last night, my prediction of a good sunrise was right for once!

Although rather flat around here in terms of terrain, there is still plenty to photograph and add interest to your shots.

This shot was the first I took once set up on a randomly placed concrete plinth in the middle of a very boggy field. The frozen puddle added interest to the foreground and the early morning sky was framed by the individual arches.
IMG_9032
15mm – 30sec – f/16 – ISO100

As the sky brightened more detail was revealed as was the slight layer of fog that was hugging the ground.
IMG_9035
10mm – 30sec – f/16 – ISO100

Moving on through the fields the sky was becoming more colourful. A panoramic shot taken a short walk from the railway bridge.
IMG_9056-HDR-Pano
50mm – 1/4sec – f/18 – ISO100 (stitched in LR)

Sometimes good to get a shot with the photographer in it!
IMG_9086

To finish off I wanted to get a closer shot of one of the arches of the bridge again with the morning sky in the background. The light was now allowing for more detail in the bridge but still with an interesting sky in the background.
IMG_9107-HDR-Edit
10mm – 1/5sec – f/18 – ISO100

Thanks for reading.

Time lapse sunrise

I just had to have a go at this for the first time a week or so back. I was going to take a few stills of the sunrise from my garden but at the last minute decided to try something I had never attempted before.

Obviously still a fair bit to learn with this technique but had great fun trying it and quite impressed with the end result.

Ones to watch next time…
– better tripod to increase stability
– take the lens off AF and turn off AF servo to stop the lens from trying to continually focus

So here’s my first attempt, 30 minutes into 40 seconds…

 

A few seconds of drama

These shots followed an early start last weekend with a trip out to Pugneys Country Park near to Wakefield, West Yorkshire. With the sole intention of catching a sunrise in all its glory…the glory last all of a few moments and I had to work quick to catch it.

The wind was up lightly so I used a long exposure to smooth the water and still achieve a good reflection.

Setting up and supping coffee…

12274401_10153342630558412_4534782940656866214_n

20151129_074350

…and this is the shot I got…

Pugneys Country Park near to Wakefield, West Yorkshire
14mm – 13sec – f/16 – ISO200

And a cheeky one on the way back to the car, unfortunately the jetty was floating and not fixed so couldn’t get a good sharp focus on this whilst trying to flatten the water with a long exposure. I felt it lent itself to B&W though, what do you think?…

Pugneys Country Park near to Wakefield, West Yorkshire
10mm – 3.2sec – f/18 – ISO100