EQUIPMENT

 

For the equipment minded amongst us here is my current line-up. For the record I do not believe Canon is better than Nikon or Pentax better than Leica for example. I shoot Canon equipment because my very first film based SLR was Canon and because they were the first to offer a full frame 35mm DSLR in a body that fitted my requirements. Subsequently I have a substantial investment in Canon glass that makes switching camps anything but trivial or necessary.

CAMERAS

Currently I am primarily shooting with a Canon EOS 1DS MK3 21.1 Mega-pixel Digital SLR with a range of different lens’s depending on the requirements of the location and subject. The 1DSMK3 is Canon’s flagship professional camera body. Although Canon do offer the same mega pixels in a chaeaper body (the 5D MKII) I prefer the solidity, ergonomics and weather sealing of the 1 series cameras for working in the field. For all intents and purposes this camera is impervious to water and dust (and maybe bullets). Its a brick – but its also a reliable workhorse.

I also have a Canon EOS 5D DSLR, Canon G5, Canon Powershot S90 Point and shoot and a Canon Legria HFR16 HD Camcorder at my disposal. All of these cameras (except the G5 & Legria Camcorder) shoot RAW – which is my preferred way to capture images. The S90 pretty much accompanies me everywhere these days – both for primary use and as a back-up. Its a remarkable pocket sized point and shoot camera. [Edit – as of January 2010 the G5 is kaput. It had a disagreement with the hard tiled floor in my kitchen after falling off the kitchen bench and lost – badly. RIP G5.]

LENS’S & ACCESSORIES

Currently my lens kit includes:

SUPPORT

I use a three section Gitzo 6x Carbon Fibre Tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head and ‘L’ mounting bracket for the camera. After a fair bit of experimentation and expense in trying different products I found this combination offers truly excellent stability, ease of use and weight compromise. It also offers the capability of switching from horizontal to vertical without changing the position of the sensor. The lack of a centre column greatly increases the tripod’s rigidity and ensures a stable shooting platform.

 

CAMERA BAGS
The Lowe Pro Nature Trekker II used to be my choice bag for carrying around camera equipment on trips and in the field. It holds just about my entire kit, is virtually waterproof and extremely comfortable to lug around. It is also extremely customisable both internally and via its external back pack harness. It also meets airline carry on requirements for size (no mean feat these days), although fully loaded with cameras and lens’s it does not pass most airlines ten kilograms ‘carry-on’ weight limit.

Edit August 2010 – I have subsequently purchased a Kiboko camera bag from Gura Gear. The Kiboko is now my number one choice camera bag for all field work including international travel. The Kiboko weighs almost nothing at less than four pounds and holds significantly more equipment than the Nature Trekker. I still do use the Nature Trekker for long hikes in the field where I do not need to take all of my equipment with me; but for virtually all other photography the Kiboko is by far the better bag.

FILTERS AND ACCESSORIES
One of the most indispensable pieces of equipment for any landscape photographer is graduated neutral density filters to help tame the extreme dynamic range of light that is often found in Nature. I use the Lee system and my kit comprises of a range of both soft and hard graduated ND filters of various ‘stops’.

COMPUTER HARDWARE

My current workhorse for image editing is a Mac Pro Dual Quad Core 2.8 Ghz (8 cores in Total) Xeon behemoth with 32 gigabytes of RAM – known simply and affectionately as ‘MacZilla’. It runs RAID 10 with an Apple Pro Raid Card and 4 1 Terrabyte Western Digital Black Caviar Hard Drives. Hooked up via Firewire 800 is a Drobo Pro 8 drive ‘Beyond RAID’ chassis with another 4 1 Terrabyte Western Digital Black Caviar Hard Drives; which is an exact clone of the Mac Pro’s hard drives. Another 1TB G-Force External hard drive is connected via USB2 for Time Machine back-ups. Also connected is a SATAII External Drive slot for rotating off sight back-ups. Phew!

My monitor is an NEC 26″ Spectraview Wide Gamut Adobe RGB Display. This is a wonderful display for photographic work offering a far greater colour gamut than most monitors.

When travelling I use a Mac Book Pro 17″ laptop and an iPhone (they are taking over the world.. didn’t you get the memo?)

COMPUTER SOFTWARE

I primarily use Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop for all my image processing. I really like the workflow, intuitive layout and database capabilities of Adobe’s Lightroom. I really only use Photoshop for multiple image compositing, stitching and for solving those retouching issues which are outside the capabilities of Lightroom. Oh.. and for ‘softproofing’. Adobe.. can we please have soft proofing in Lightroom!

PRINTERS

My current photographic printer is the Canon IPF6350 Large Format Pigment Ink Printer with Canon’s LUCIA EX long life pigment inks. This is Canon’s second generation IPFX000 series printer and it produces stunningly beautiful archival prints.

My current favourite papers are Moab Somerset Museum Rag, Hahnemuhle PhotoRag Baryta and Ilford Gold Fibre Silk. The Moab is a 100% cotton rag paper that is simply gorgeous and supple to hand hold. The Hahnemuhle and Ilford papers are Baryta fibre based papers that have a very similar feel and weight to traditional air dried silver gelatin prints. I am also quite partial to Hahnemuhle’s Museum Etching; which is a matt textured watercolour style paper.

THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Equipment is only a small part of the process of making images just like a piano is only a small component of a wonderful piano solo. Its a necessary tool, but it is not the difference between a good or bad photograph.

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