What's In Paul Zizka's Camera Bag | Adventure Kayak Magazine | Rapid Media
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What's In Paul Zizka's Camera Bag Photo: Paul Zizka

Banff-based Paul Zizka on what he uses to capture the beautiful night sky

Best known for his stunning captures of the night sky—from spectacular northern lights pulsing above mountain lakes to starlit paddlers, climbers and skiers—adventure photographer Paul Zizka has long had a fascination with shooting after dark. “I love how the nighttime can turn familiar places into completely different experiences,” says the Banff-based lensman. Zizka’s work is inspired by his passion for wild places, a connection that’s reinforced through his instantly recognizable self-portraits. “We live in a cluttered world. You have to put effort into making that connection and then when you’re out there, under the stars, it just feels so right.”  

HOLD STILL

The magic of astrophotography is how the camera reveals all these elements—aurora, stars, moonlight—that the naked eye cannot see. All we see are little points of light; everything else is left to the imagination. There is so much to dream about. The key to capturing night photos is a sturdy tripod, like my Manfrotto MK055XPRO3-BH, that holds the camera perfectly still during minutes-long exposures.

PERFECT TIMING

Including a person in a landscape image can convey a sense of vulnerability or belonging, or make an image more relatable. Often I am out shooting alone, so the human in the frame is me. At first, it seemed like a chore, running back and forth to the camera to change settings and fix any compositional issues. But eventually the self- portrait aspect became a part of the photographic journey, and I enjoy the challenges it brings. One essential tool to capture this sort of image is an intervalometer—a remote that allows you to trigger a timer so you can put yourself in the image.

BODY BUILDER

I shoot with a versatile Canon 5D Mark III SLR camera. I can photograph astro, fast action and landscape all with the same camera. It's super durable and easy to operate, which is important in the dark when I’m shooting by feel.

LENS CRAFTER

My Canon 16–35mm f/2.8L has been my workhorse lens since I started doing photography. I love this wide-angle zoom’s versatility, and its relatively light weight. I also carry a Canon 70–200mm f/2.8L telephoto lens to get sharp and dramatic mountain shots. And my fast prime, Canon’s 24mm f/1.4L, is perfect for night and...

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