I’ve been asked via Facebook, email, in person…”What’s in your bag/what kind of gear do you use/what brand do you prefer?” etc. etc. So, I decided to do a blog post in which I address what I use and why I use it. Let me preface the following post by saying, everyone has their own unique style. The equipment I have is a personal choice and I’m sure Canon/Pentax/etc. make fine gear, but my grandparents used only Nikon, my sister uses Nikon, and in my opinion, Nikon makes the highest quality and as my sister (who is a brilliant photographer http://www.sallycphotography.com/) used to tell me, buy the BEST you can afford. So even if it meant spending my last red cent, leaving no extra money for “frivolous” items, I did just that. So without further ado…my gear.
I’ll start with the bag:
1. I’ll admit, I’m definitely due for an upgrade, but I don’t want to jump into any purchase so I’m sticking with this. I use a Kata Digital Micro Rucksack. I got mine at B&H (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/562236-REG/Kata_KT_DR_461_DR_461_Digital_Micro_Rucksack.html) I love this bag because it holds all of my gear compactly, safely, simply, and the price is very reasonable. In my bag I stock just the essentials as I don’t like getting weighed down with stuff I just won’t need. In the front flap I keep several business cards, lens cloth, sunscreen stick, bug spray (I hates bug bites), extra memory card, a pen, batteries and charger, list of must have shots, and cell phone. Note: I NEVER EVER have my cell phone on during a wedding, shoot, or client meeting. I repeat…NEVER! When I’m with a client, I am WITH a client…period. If I’m at a wedding I stock a power bar and a bottle of water. These are must haves, especially for outdoor weddings.
2. I use a Nikon D700 purchased from B&H. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/570162-REG/Nikon_25444_D700_SLR_Digital_Camera.html
I keep a Nikon D40 in my car (not pictured) just in case of an emergency. It’s not the best camera by any means, but it serves it’s purpose of a “just in case” 2nd back up body.
Let me pause here to say, I have yet to find a more honest, reliable, and fairly priced vendor than B&H Photo. They are THE go to place for everything electronic. I can’t say enough good things about B&H.
Okay, back to gear.
4. Next in my bag is my baby. My favorite lens ever. In fact I would venture to say, I could conceivably shoot an entire wedding with just this lens. It’s Nikon’s Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/520637-USA/Nikon_2164_AF_S_Nikkor_24_70mm_f_2_8G.html
I just adore the creamy background that only shooting at such a low aperture provides. Clients are frequently concerned about backgrounds. Once they do a shoot with me they soon realize, backgrounds mean nothing, at least not with this beauty of a lens. I focus on the subject, not the background and this lovely lens enables me to blur any background into a creamy mush of yummy bokeh:) I call this lens my “work horse” because other than close ups for wedding ceremonies, I never take it off of my camera.
This lens is crisp, super fast, made VERY well, has an internal focus, great in low light, and the invaluable Vibration Reduction, good thing too because this sucker is heavy! Come the end of wedding season my arms will be so buff I could arm wrestle, ummm, err, well, a professional arm wrestler.
7. Next is my flash. I tend to shy away from unnatural lighting, but in a pinch, it’s nice to have a light source to bounce off of any available walls. I use a Promaster 7500edf flash. I never use it pointed directly onto my subject as that makes for a horrible picture with ugly, harsh, and very fake results. I do my best to avoid using the flash at all costs. I prefer to shoot wide open to allow as much available light in as possible. If I need more light, I crank up my ISO before using flash. However, as a general rule, I keep my ISO very very low. Usually lower than 200. Noise only looks good when you know what you’re doing. For examples of good “noise” check out Feaverish Photography http://feaverishphotography.com/blog/
I have a few other “toy” lenses and fun little items I’ve bought here and there, but as far as “serious” gear is concerned, the above items are what I use when it really matters.
8. …and my Gary Fong diffuser.
As I’ve said before, expensive gear is not a necessity, but it sure does make life better. I’ve also said a million times, a really great photographer could shoot an entire wedding with a point and shoot. That’s right…a point and shoot. I truly mean that. It’s not necessarily your gear that matters, although it definitely helps, it’s your eye and the way you look at the world and the people in it that makes you the photographer you are.
So, until next time, get out your camera (no matter what kind you have) because the best way to get better is PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.