Equipment

Ever wonder what a photographer most people have never heard of uses to create the pictures you see on this blog?  Well, read on to find out!


Cameras and Glass
Most photos posted from the beginning of this blog to about early-mid 2013 were shot on my old Nikon D300, a digital SLR camera that's been among my most valuable possessions since early 2008.  This was my first DSLR, but it's a fantastic workhorse. Newer advances in camera technology have meant that I don't really use this camera often anymore, unless I'm in a situation where I need two camera bodies on me.

Since early 2013, I have also owned a Nikon D600, my first foray into the world of full frame DSLR bodies.  That was then upgraded to a Nikon D610.  Today, they are responsible for pretty much every new photo posted.  The two practically identical models offer exceptional low light performance and great quantity for a pretty great deal and more than hold their own against comparable full frame systems!  I owe thanks for my owning this camera to B&H Photo for offering a ridiculous Christmas sale in late 2012 that I couldn't pass up.

I pair my Nikon with the following lenses, all of which I've used for photos featured here:
  • Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-f/5.6 (fantastic "jack of all trades" lens to go with the D300)
  • Nikkor 17-55m f/2.8 (beautifully fast lens, great for night shots when paired with the D300)
  • Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D (my best low light lens--and it's a full frame lens too--though some might find the fixed focal length a bit inconvenient)
  • Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 (a full frame wide angle zoom that is wonderfully crisp and makes a fantastic team with my D600)  
  • Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 (Nikon's premiere telephoto zoom, full frame, wonderfully fast, with tremendous clarity--I got mine used, and it's the VR I version)
  • Nikkor 28mm f/1.8 (this excellent wide angle prime is fantastic for dark ride photography as well as portraits that aren't as tightly focused)
In 2011, I also bought myself a Canon Powershot S95 for more portable photo-taking.  Although I'm a Nikon guy for DSLR's, for point-and-shoot cameras, I actually swear by Canon, which makes fantastic cameras with beautiful color, great durability, and in this case, an extremely fast lens that drops to f/2.0 and has great low-light performance.  Consider that this camera also easily fits in almost any pocket, and it's my choice for photos on the go.  I've used it for a small amount of photos on the blog, for example my first Carthay Circle Restaurant visit, as well as for videos in my "Point and Shoot Productions" series.

Tripod
Especially for long exposures and nighttime shots and nighttime HDR's, a tripod is absolutely essential.  There's only so long I can hold perfectly still while bracing my camera against a light pole or pony wall or railing.

My first tripod with a Vanguard Alta Pro 264AT aluminum alloy tripod with a Vanguard GH-100 pistol grip ball head.  It's a sturdy tripod that is decently light, though not so light that I would recommend traveling with it or carrying it around all day.

Right before my late summer 2014 vacation to Europe, I purchased a MeFOTO Roadtrip travel tripod.  This tripod is still aluminum, but it's significantly more compact and lighter than my Vanguard model.  It comes with a ball head that requires an Allen wrench to secure to the camera, but it has proven quite sturdy and durable through my travels.  And although it's packaged under the label "MeFOTO," this tripod is actually manufacturered by Benro, a very renown brand when it comes to tripods.

Bags
With all of this gear, I certainly need some place to store everything, don't I?

I'm currently using a Lowepro Transit AW350 backpack as my regular bag.  This stylish and relatively low profile backpack doesn't stand out as a blatant camera bag in my opinion, but it holds a DSLR with all three of my lenses, plus a speedlight, with ease and with room to spare.  The bag also has a slot for my 13" laptop, which is exceedingly useful.  Its tripod straps on the side are a little too narrow to actually secure my tripod, which is a bit of a minus, but I've found that looping my tripod onto the bottom of a backpack strap works well. Finally, it even has a built-in rain cover, just in case the elements come knocking.  I took this over my 18-day European vacation and took advantage of every feature. I highly recommend this for anyone looking for a larger bag that isn't too bulky.

I also own a Think Tank Photo StreetWalker HardDrive back pack.  This bag is noticeably larger, bulkier, and heftier, but it also has significant storage space and can hold twice the amount of equipment that I currently own.  I use this if I'm doing a more serious photo job that requires all of my equipment to be packed in one pack.

Software
I'm a huge Adobe Photoshop person and do my editing on Adobe Photoshop.  I would also highly recommend Adobe Lightroom as well. In fact, if I wasn't so ingrained in Photoshop (and pretty fast at it), I would dabble in Lightroom more.  Both programs are fantastic for editing photos.

For the HDR's, I used to utilize Photomatix Pro to process my multiple exposures and tone map the resulting composite to achieve the amount of exposure, saturation, contrast, and smoothing that I want.  That was taken back into Photoshop and loaded in layers with each original exposure, aligned together, and masked out to achieve final vignetting touches, artifact reduction, and ghosting reduction.  My Topaz Labs Denoise Photoshop plug-in removed graininess from photos that are worse then normal.  (These days, however, if I want to HDR something, I shoot multiple exposures in RAW, edit each to my liking, then layer in Photoshop and manually mask in or out sections of the photo to create a balanced final image that is more realistic and less surreal in apperance.)

My "Point and Shoot Productions" videos are simply edited in iMovie, which allows good basic editing, especially when simply stringing together a series of clips.

Mac or PC?
I use a PC at work and now a 2013-era iMac at home (the 2007-era iMac is now in comfy retirement, performing less strenuous tasks, like being turned off).  All of my blog content is produced from home.  As far as I'm aware, however, the software I listed above, is all available for both Windows and MacOS.
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