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Monday
Feb142011

My gear

I'm often asked about what photo equipment I use.  Here's my list of gear I use that might be valuable for the photo-enthusiast.

 

CAMERAS

Canon 5D MkIII.  Beautiful files for still and video.  Great at high ISO settings, amazing auto-focus system.

Canon 70D. I bought this primarily for its video capability. And a great still camera in its own right.

Graflex.  I still love film, and I have three of these.

Linhof Technikardan. Precision engineering for those of us who love to shoot 4x5 film.

LENSES

Canon EF 17-40 f4L USM.  A fine lenses for the short range.

Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM. A workhorse of a lens. For my way of seeing, it's the go-to choice.

Canon EF 70-200L f4 IS.  I traded an f2.8 version of this lens in and love the lighter weight and size.

Canon EF 300mm f4L IS USM. Beautiful, crisp images for those long shots.

Canon EF 1.4x Extender.  For extra reach with a long lens, this is great bang for the buck and takes little room.

Schneider lenses.  For the 4x5, Schneider make exceptional lenses.  I have the 58, 75, 135, 210, and 300.

 

LIGHTING

Canon 580 EXII.  Great portable flash because of the ETTL capability in conjunction with the Canon cameras

Pocket Wizard TT5. Extremely reliable wireless flash remotes.

Pocket Wizard AC3. Zone controller.

Foursquare softbox. Clever system to allow usage of up to 8 580EX units inside one softbox.

Chimera softboxes.  I have these in lots of sizes up to 54 x 72.

Lastolite Reflectors.  I'm a fan of the Tri-Grip 8-in-one for its flexibility with color control and diffusion.

Scrim Jim.  If I need a larger portable panel to diffuse, block or bounce light, this does the trick.

TRIPODS

Gitzo 3542XLS.  Beefy carbon fiber tripod with excellent height capability.  Used with a GS3121 Leveling Head.

Manfrotto 055CXPRO3.  A nice mid weight tripod for 35 digital, with a nice outrigger solution for low angles.

Manfrotto 503HDV. A great mid-level carbon fiber video tripod.

 

 

BAGS

Lightware. I've got tons of these, from camera sized, to cargo bags for stands, to large cases for studio strobe.

Lowepro Orion AW. Because it has two components, you never have to put anything on the ground.

COMPUTER

MacPro Intel Dual Quad Core Desktop computer. 8GB Ram, 4-2TB internal hard drives.  

MacBook Pro 13". I love the size of this, considering all the other gear I need to take on the road.

SOFTWARE

Adobe Lightroom 5. For cataloging and quick adjustments, this software is amazing.

Adobe Photoshop CC.  For editing the complex adjustments.

NIK Filter Collection, Silver Efex, Color Efex, Define 2, Sharpener Pro 3, and HDR Efex Pro.  

I've been a big fan of Nik Software for years.  Their plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom and Apple Aperture are intuitive, well designed, and produce great results.  Color Efex Pro 4Viveza 2HDR Efex ProSilver Efex Pro 2Define 2.0Sharpener Pro 3.0 and Snapseed are all impressive tools.

Tiffen Dfx Creative Digital Effects.  A powerful editing suite for the digital darkroom.  

 

Tuesday
Aug172010

Archiving digital photographs

The Library of Congress has issued information on digital archiving.  Certainly worth a look.

Go to this digital photography archiving video.

Sunday
Jun132010

A new noise reduction software on the market

When you a shoot at higher ISO ratings, you can create images at lower light levels.  Great for capturing scenes in darkened rooms, or outdoors in dim light.  The downside is that with the increase of ISO, noise is introduced into the images.

Noise reduction software, made by several companies, has been used for reducing the negative impact that noise has on photographs for years.  A new software made by Topaz Labs called Denoise 4 has just been launched, however, and is getting great reviews.  Take a look at this review at Luminous Landscape.

Monday
Jul212008

A great little backpack

I just took a trip to Bali, and decided that I needed a new backpack before I left. This was the result of two things. First, I wanted to keep my equipment to a minimum so I could be mobile and flexible. The second was that I had had experiences on past trips to India and Nepal where I felt slowed down by having to remove a pack from my back, put it on the ground, and then get a different lens to work with. Often, this meant I would miss a shot of a situation that was fleeting.

So I went to my local camera store, and started looking for a hybrid packpack, one that I could access without removing it from my body, but still had enough capacity to do the job. It needed to be light, since I would be out walking all day for two weeks, have good weather protection because of the heavy rains in Bali, and it had to have a small profile so I could navigate in tight environments.

I ended up buying the Lowe Orion AW, which is a convertible beltpack/backpack. The way it works is that there are two separate components, which attach to each other. One is a traditional beltpack, deep enough to handle a 70-200 lens, among others. The second part is a small backpack, which clips into the top side edges of the beltpack. Once that is done, you basically have a two compartment backpack.

The concept works quite well. I was able to put a speedlight, my rainjacket, a couple of energy bars and a headlamp in the backpack component, and put two of my 17-40, 24-70 and 70-200 lenses in the beltpack. That way, I could walk around with one of the lenses attached to the camera in my hand at all times, and have the weight of everything carried by both my shoulders and hips. But in just a few seconds, I could unclip the backpack from the beltpack, rotate the beltpack around to the front of my body, and change lenses on the fly. It was a great solution for shooting on the move through temples, markets, and street scenes.

A side benefit was that if I did not want to carry equipment to dinner, I could leave the beltpack in my hotel room, and just take the backpack with my personal items.

We all look for different things when choosing how to carry our gear, and even that can change based on specific situations. In fact, I own five different backpacks to handle the range of work I do. But for this kind of working environment, I can highly recommend the Lowe Orion AW.

Thursday
Feb212008

MacGurus Image Storage Solutions

One of the most important aspects of shooting digitally is making sure you have a good storage solution for your images. In the old days, of course, we just had to have a file cabinet, in a cool dry spot, with archival sleeves to put our negative and transparencies into.

Now, with digital files, it's imperative to have a good method for storage, or you could lose the images forever should a hard drive crash. There are lots of options, like having two hard drives, one being a clone of the other, and just making sure you back up often from the primary to the clone. But if you have a large number of images, the issues and options increase.

My solution was to work with a company called MacGurus. I do not have any affiliation with them other than being a satisfied customer. If you go their website, MacGurus.com, you can see a great article called "Building a Photo Database." It's a valuable, well written piece. And the nice part is that these guys really believe in customer service. I'm not talking about lip service. I had a problem a couple of days ago, and they were tenacious in helping me resolve it. Even after we figured out that the problem wasn't even with their equipment. That's why I am recommending them so highly.