New Eden Explorers: Sven Viko VIkolander

I dabble in a lot of things in EvE across multiple characters. Katia, however, is my main and always will be because of my love for exploring and sailing dangerous seas. My next New Eden Explorer guest is no stranger to the same philosophy with the exception that he doesn’t just dabble, he fully dives in and masters each area all the while sharing his experiences via his blog, EVE Lost and Found. Sven Viko VIkolander is an explorer, trader, hauler, PvPer, and I’m sure is in other areas I’m not aware of. I simply admire his goals which you can read on his blog – one of which, visiting every system in New Eden, is one that I fully appreciate.


Sven Viko VIkolander

Personally, it seems to me that successful long term EvE players are ones who have multiple characters specializing in specific careers. That way, if you become bored in one area, you can switch up and do something else for a while. Sven has found that to be true and I can’t think of too many bloggers that share all of their experiences in a single location. It makes sense for blog to be focused, but I like reading about a single players multi-character experience because that seems to accurately reflect a typical EvE player.

Oh, one last thing, Sven mentions his favorite ship the Confessor and just a little over a week ago he lost his first one (not his first ship ever, but his first Confessor, the first ship he had really grown attached to). Ouch! I hated reading that, because I know it means my time is coming… ack!

Be sure to check out EVE Lost and Found, there’s some really great tips across multiple careers to be found there.

What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played?

I first started EVE a little over 3 years ago on a whim, and immediately wished I had started sooner. From my days playing early MMOs, I had always wanted a game with real risk and the possibility of meaningful loss. EVE also suited me as a highly long-term game that rewarded knowledge at least as much as skills and items. Even though EVE is a time sink of epic proportions, it is also surprisingly well suited to “career” or “grown up” schedules than many other multiplayer games, which might help explain why many older individuals are attracted to EVE.

How would you describe your characters career path?

Like many players, I got hooked on many different activities in EVE largely through the community. I read blogs about all things EVE Online from the start and my list of goals in game—or at least things I wanted to try—grew exponentially, to the point that I soon wanted to try a bit of everything, and that’s where I still am today. From my early days on, I wanted to PVP, primarily solo, but I knew it would be a long road to not being terrible, but it has been a blast learning. In my first days in game, for instance, I heard about the “Not Red Don’t Shoot” policy in Providence, and I tried (and failed) to move there and live on my own. Sugar Kyle started her blog on low sec living right around the time I started playing, and tSvenVikoVIkolander-1hat got me hooked on living in dangerous low security space. After dying to some very helpful pirates—another common experience—I joined Red Versus Blue to learn the basics of PVP. I stayed much longer than I expected—over a year, joining back up occasionally for their insanely fun free for all events—but in the meantime I found the exploration videos of JonnyPew and others on youtube. So, I created an alt and moved into an isolated area of low sec. That’s when I became obsessed with exploration almost as much as PVP, and decided to start blogging about both.

More recently, I’ve been branching out, trying new forms of PVP, getting into market trading and industry, but I still see myself in that learning phase of the game. My issue is that I enjoy everything I’ve tried and end up spending much more time in it than I expect, so even after 3+ years the majority of the game still “unknown” to me, including null sec and wormholes for the most part!


What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards your goal, do plan to continue, or what are you currently doing?

Exploring to me is much more than running exploration sites and making isk, and much more about exploring new areas, new regions, and meeting new people. The exploration and scanning systems are simply a good means to those ends. The goals I have are personal, and in some sense “completionist.” I am in the process of visiting every system in game, living in new regions in the process, joining lots of different groups, and PVPing in just about every ship and in just about every way/style.

What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring? Why is it your favorite? Would you mind sharing your fit?

My preferred exploration ship has changed over the years, and I’ve used and enjoyed almost all of the them. For a while, and maybe still, the Stratios was my favorite, but now, I’m in love with the new T3 destroyers. The Confessor can do almost everything incredibly well, particularly PVP at the frigate and destroyer level, but it is also great in PVE roles. There are a lot of decent fits for the Confessor, but two modules are key to its exploration role as I fly it:



First, the Expanded Probe Launcher for using combat probes. T3 destroyers get a rare probe launcher fitting reduction, allowing them to use combat probes on almost any standard PVP or PVE setup. The expanded probe launcher allows you to scan down cosmic signatures, of course, and the Confessor can easily manage many of the lower end combat sites. The huge cargo bay on the ship opens up the possibility for carrying a mobile depot from which you can refit in space for specific sites, such as data/relic sites. However, the expanded launcher also lets you scan down POSes, mobile structures, drones, and of course other players, which opens up a new world of exploring. Some days you can find me out in my Confessor scanning down mobile structures; other days I’m out collecting drones left in a system; other days I am scanning down POSes and being nosy investigating them. And of course I’m often on the lookout for players I can probe down and…meet!

Second, a 10mn afterburner. The limitation of T3 destroyers as exploration ships is that they cannot fit covert ops cloaks, but a 10mn afterburner (combined with the speed bonuses in propulsion mode) is one of the best survival tools in game.

During your research and travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that surprised you?

I think it has been the way players and groups shape the places they live. Starting out in game, all the systems might seem relatively similar, but overtime you learn that it is the people—individuals and groups—who shape them. When a major group like Brave Newbies Inc. moves into an area, it completely changes the “game” in that system/region, but this happens even with individual players who can make their “mark” on a system. This is one of the best ways that EVE is a sandbox and unique among games available.

What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

My advice would depend on whether the player is interested in exploration primarily for making isk, or as a more general way of playing the game. To the former players, especially new pilots, I suggest they check out the great youtube videos and blogs about exploration to get a feel for how to find and run sites effectively, and to try and join a good corporation with experienced explorers. For players interested in exploration more generally: take risks! Go to dangerous places and try new things and meet new people.

Do you have a favorite image that you wouldn’t mind me posting and sharing from your explorations?

Sven's Favorite

Sven’s Confessor, sadly recently lost…

Astrophotography 101

“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” – Sean O’Connell, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”

I figured it’s about time to share some astrophotography tips. After taking 30,000+ images, I’ve learned a thing or two that I hope you will find helpful. However, I’ll be the first to confess that my gallery is more about quantity rather than quality for the simple reason of time. If I truly took the time required for each and every image capture, I’d still be exploring my first region. There are moments when I simply have to stop and take in the beauty of New Eden and try my best to capture a quality shot and that’s what this blog entry will focus on today. TLDR – Astrophotography is serious business!

Camera Control

Centered subject

Centered subject

We’re fortunate to live in an age of technology that allows us as capsuleers to focus on the subject, rather than the technical aspects of taking a picture. No longer do we have to worry or fuss over aperture, shutter speed, focus, etc, as all of that is taken care for us. We can now concentrate on the artistic aspects such as composition and framing. It’s quite honestly point and shoot today.

How to work your camera controls. Here’s the image capture command sequence:

• CTRL-F9 (Turns off the HUD)
• PrtScn (Captures the image) | MAC OS use Command (⌘)-Shift-3
• CTRL-F9 (Turns on the HUD)

Same subject, off center

Same subject, off center

You may want to setup a single command that executes the sequence for ease of execution and reliability. More than once I’ve found myself in a hostile system and was thankful I could quickly line up a shot, take it, and move on, with the execution of a single command.

Depending upon your pods operating system, your images will be processed and placed in your data repository at the following or similar location:


Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds

The first rule is, there are no rules. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to take an image. It is, after all, what intrigues or interest you, that moment in time you wish to capture, cherish, and share with others. So, as long as it’s pleasing to your eye, then you have achieved your goal. But as in all things, you’ll learn in time and experience to master your craft and instead of taking fair or good images, you’ll be taking great ones.

Rule of Thirds


Planet upper left cross hair, sun on top line


Moon lower left cross hair, sun flare parallel

Well, it’s more of a guideline than a rule but it’s a good one to follow and should be broken in the right circumstances. Beginning astrophotographers, or someone who’s in a hurry like myself, usually line up the main subject in the center of the image. It’s only natural, as humans we look directly at our subject of interest. There’s nothing wrong with that per say and it can work, but often times it fails to provide a balance and it can eliminate an interesting environment surrounding the subject. Remember, looking at an image is more than just looking at the main subject, because your eyes will want to wander. A good astrophotographer will capture the main subject in its natural environment as well as provide a balance to the scene.

Here’s how the Rule of Thirds works. Break your capture resolution up into thirds along the horizontal and vertical axis and visualize nine equal areas on your screen. Now, where the lines intersect, imagine cross hairs, there should be four of them.


Planet right third, sun flare parallel

With the lines and intersections visualized, you now line up your main subject, as well as other things of interest, at the intersections and along the lines. Why? The thought process is it will provide a natural balance to the scene that your viewer will be able to interact with. Take advantage of lines and curves to lead your viewer on a journey around your image.


Frame 1-1Mastering the Rule of Thirds is a great start to taking good images, but as you line up your shots, you’ll want to watch the outer edges and see if you can “frame” your subject. If possible, you can use other objects and/or the environment to provide a natural frame. Try to include natural lines and curves in a manner that will highlight, but not distract from the main focus. If you need to cut into your main subject, do so in a manner that looks appropriate. For example, making sure the object still looks whole and that the bulk of it remains.

Frame 1-2You may end up bending or even breaking the Rule of Thirds to properly frame an image, but that’s fine if the end result takes a good picture and makes it a great one. Watch, however, because in general you don’t want to cut objects in half. Either position yourself or your camera to include them fully or eliminate them entirely.


Frame 2-1There are however, times when cutting an object in half will enhance the frame, but only if it’s large enough to cover more than half of that particular edge. Again, not necessarily a rule, just a guideline, you have to experiment to see if the final image is going to look and feel right.

Frame 2-2Taking a look at these two examples, we can see in the first one I’ve cut into the planet leaving some space to be seen behind it as well as cliping it along the bottom. A minor adjustment to the camera position takes care of that issue. In the second example, I’ve cut the customs office in half which really distracts from the overall image. Simply zooming the camera out moves the office completely into the scene and it helps to break up the bleak blackness of that part of the image.


I’ve often heard that black and white photography is the most difficult to master. You may ask why, because it’s simply black versus white, but therein lies the catch. It’s not about black and white at all, it’s about shades of gray. (Not fifty shades of gray, mind yourself!) A great black and white photographer succeeds by taking a picture with as many shades of gray as possible. ContrastFrom the blackest of blacks, to the whitest of whites and all the grays in between. The same is true in color photography in trying to show stark contrast with shades of color. See how many shades of color you can achieve. For planets, I try to capture the shades from the night side to the light side. A fully sun lit side of a planet can be dull, but there are the extremes, like silhouettes, that can provide for some truly amazing shots.

Interesting Textures

TexturesOther than colors and contrast, textures can provide an interesting subject matter as well. After taking so many pictures of planets, they all begin to start looking alike, and you have to turn to something else to make it interesting. You may not think of planets in terms of textures, but they do indeed have them. Especially from high in orbit, where the details of a civilization begin to vanish, and the oneness of the planet begins to prevail. A famous astronomer once referred to his home plant as the “Pale Blue Dot”. Look for textures in your images and see if you can pull them out by highlighting them via the rule of thirds and framing.

Leading the Viewer


Be on the lookout for minor subjects that can help lead your viewer to your main subject. There are many interesting things in space, use them to your advantage. For me, the planets are my main subject matter in all of my shots, but I don’t always have them front and center. Sometimes they’re way off in the distance, but I always have the planet in there somewhere. In those cases I try to use nearby subjects and/or the environment to help the viewer find my main subject. Human eyes naturally follow lines and curves, so it’s fairly easy to find them and then utilize them to pull your viewer in.

Ordinary to Extraordinary

This is a difficult one, as it just comes from experience and many times, there’s just nothing in the scene nearby that can help to take what is an ordinary picture and make it into an extraordinary one. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying, nor preventing you from taking the picture anyway, if nothing else for the experience of it. Just be aware of your surroundings and see if perhaps a better position between you and the main subject will help you to pull in other things that can provide some additional interest or contrast. In the case of astrophotography, you may be able to position yourself to utilize the sun, for example, to help make some rings really pop out. ExtraordinaryOr maybe you can create an artificial sunrise or sunset. Don’t forget about other subjects like your own ship to help spice up a scene. Once you start looking, you’ll begin to see some things you can use. Move around from moon to moon, or objects like customs offices and stations, you just never know what you may find that will turn that first image you liked into something that you’ll love.

Final Words

Go out and have fun, learn by doing, there’s no better way. Sure, you’ll take some bad images, just look in my gallery, but you’ll start getting those great shots that will have others asking for more. Enjoy yourself and share, don’t be afraid of what others think. Not everyone is going to “get” your image, but you really didn’t take it for them anyway, right? Besides, there are many more who will see what you saw and that’s the greatest feeling of all, when others share in your experience.

W4C8-Q XI, E5T-CS Gate

W4C8-Q XI, E5T-CS Gate