Photography is all about your eyes, your visions and your creativity. If you don’t see that special thing it’s all over from the start. Yes you can learn it, but you still have to have it in you. Compare it with something else, music for example. Yes I could learn how to play the guitar to have enough self confidence to play a Bob Dylan tune on a party, but I’ll never be good at it. I can buy a fancy steel string acoustic guitar but it wont help me, except for looking nice in my apartment (okey that’s quite important too, but not in this discussion).
With that said I don’t think no one should get the most expensive camera and gadgets just because they think it’ll automatically make them a good photographer. On the other hand, you should try to get a camera house and lenses that you can grow with and learn how to use. My own personal struggle is not to go for the professional gear all the time, but it’s damn hard and that’s maybe also why I write this as some kind of foreword to this blog post…
Back to the title of this blog post: Photo gadgets. I’m a geek and I love new technical inventions, especially within the photography scene. This is why want to share what types of stuff I have in my bag and on my desk.
While on the field
- » The bag: Lowepro SlingShot 300 AW
- This is a really well designed bag for photographers on the run. With the ”sling shot” functionality you can have the bag on your back and within seconds swing it to the front and open it just a little bit to be able to reach all your lenses and accessories. The only drawback with this model is that it can’t fit my MacBook which I miss every now and then when I’m doing longer photo sessions (the 350 AW model has space for this though).
- » My camera: Nikon D90
- My first own digital Nikon and I must say that it has been performing extraordinary well. I’m soon reaching 20 000 exposures and that’s only in a 9 months period and it has only struggled once, which was after a whole day of massive shooting (3 000+ exposures). Adding a battery grip and this consumer DSLR can go on for hours without draining out the batteries. I can’t however say I’m too impressed with the movie functionality and shooting in low light shows that the DX chip (i.e. not full frame) adds quite a lot of noise. It’s also a bit slow when firing several shots at once and the write times to the memory card can be a pain when you’re about to miss the opportunity of a moving subject. But as whole I’m happy and I’ll keep this baby in my bag until it breaks down into dust.
- » Lens: Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8
- Even though it says 35 mm it’s actually a 50 mm if you calculate it to a full frame camera. It’s light, small, has a lowest aperture of 1.8 and costs almost nothing. If you own a Nikon DX camera this one has to be in you camera bag. Period.
- » Lens: Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8
- My latest addition. Yes it’s twice as expensive as my Nikon D90. Yes you should not buy the best professional gear. But damn it’s good. I haven’t made any hardcore tests yet but the quality of what I’ve seen so far is beyond anything I’ve experienced. And the best of all, it’s a full frame lens so I can use the day I upgrade my camera house.
- » Lens: Sigma 50-150 mm f/2.8
- I got this telephoto zoom lens 5 months ago when I worked with the photo project Me, triathlete. I needed to be able to get closer even though I couldn’t physically. I kind of miss the lack of shake reduction but when I chose between this lens and Nikon’s 70-200 I couldn’t convince myself it was worth the triple price. Also, there were rumors of an updated 70-200 (which just happened a few weeks later).
- » Flash: Nikon Speedlight SB-900
- Directly when I bought this flash I cursed myself of getting the most expensive gadgets all the time. But now I’m happy I didn’t return it. Together with the Lastolite Ezybox (see below) I can’t live without it when photographing on the field. A portable. powerful and wireless flash which might be a bit too expensive but you wont regret it.
- » Flash soft box: Lastolite Ezybox
- Photography is all about light and even though I’m not a huge fan of artificial dito I still have to use it quite often. When I studied photography I loved the big soft boxes, which created a smooth and natural light, and this is almost as it gets when you want to have a portable and cheap solution.
- » Under the water: ewa-marine U-AXP
- I wanted to do some underwater photography this summer, especially for the Me, triathlete project. After a few days of Google and flickr search I understood that ewa-marine had products that matched my needs and wallet. It’s a low budget ”housing” which basically just is a thick plastic bag, but it doesn’t leak and it works. Good enough for me. The photos I took are still in Lightroom but I’ll post them soon, I promise.
My digital dark room
- » Computer: MacBook
- It might not have the fastest CPU but it’s doing everything I want it too and it’s light enough to bring out on the field if I need to. Upgraded with 4 GB RAM.
- » Monitor: HP 23″ widescreen
- No you shall NEVER EVER EVER work with your photos on you laptop screen. Not even the latest MacBook Pro models have well enough calibrated screen, in my humble opinion. Get an external one.
- » Wacom: Wacom Intuos2 A4
- I’m the worst illustrator ever but I’ve somehow managed to learn how to use a pen instead of a mouse and now a days I can’t really understand how I could be able to do any photography work without a Wacom board.
- » Software: Adobe Lightroom
- I get a lot of questions regarding what software to use and it feels that I keep on repeating myself. The library functionality is far better than Bridge and the developing tools (for RAW images) is outstanding. I think 90 % of my time is spent in Lightroom and the rest in Photoshop.
- » Software: Adobe Photoshop
- Heavy retouching needs makes this program a true need. I guess this software doesn’t need any more attention than this.
- » Backup: Several external hard drives
- I once managed to drop my one and only external hard drive that hold all my free-lance work. Poff, no more photos (since I had started to use the Nikon D100 at the magazine I worked for) and no happy face for weeks after. If you have some money left and really need to spend it – get an extra hard drive. If you already have one, get one more. I have my whole photo library mirrored on three different external hard drives to be extra sure that I wont loose anything important.