A Quick Message:
Right out of the gate I’d like to mention that I am not sponsored by anyone. I use what I use because I have spent countless hours through trial and error figuring out what gear gets me the best results. It is my hope that sharing this info with you will help save you some time and money in the long run. You will see several links to gear I have used on this page. They are to Amazon.com where you can get a good deal on the listed gear and software. In return Amazon pays me a very small amount for sending you there. Though it is small, every little bit counts and it doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. Thanks!
I am a Sony shooter. I started with the a200 back in 2008 and now use a Sony a7rII full-frame mirrorless as my main camera and an Sony a7r full-frame mirrorless as a back-up. I also dabble in IR photography and have a self modified Sony a55v DSLT that I replaced the hot-glass filter with a 720nm infrared filter. I originally chose the Sony DSLT camera for it’s superior sensor stability when shooting multiple frames. No mirror shake with a DSLT, liveview and GPS were all contributing factors.
When I first started with the Sony a99v I was doing a lot of 32bit high dynamic range work. The more I worked with the Sony a99v the more I noticed the incredible dynamic range of the full-frame camera and less of a need for multiple exposures, unlike my old APS-C sensored Sony a77. I still do a lot of 32bit work but it’s nice to know in some situations the camera can pull it off in one shot. Now on the a7rII/a7r I am shooting less and less brackets all the time. The a7rII is truly a 42 megapixel full-frame beast of a camera and well suited for just about any style of shooting. And I have to say that I REALLY love hunting for vintage lenses for these a7 cameras!
I have been a Sigma lenses fan from nearly day one. One of the first lenses from them I owned was a Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6. I used the heck out of that thing up until I got a full framed camera. It was retired and replaced with the Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 which is essentially the 10-20 full frame equivalent. It is a much nicer lens, though it is a pain that it will not accept any filters without specialized adapters. I have since replaced that with a Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 lens with an e-mount for the a7rII/a7r. It is fastly becoming my go to lens for abandonscapes and smaller landscapes. I have had a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 for about 4 years and use it in a unique way. I like to shoot what I call macro-panoramas with it. I will find a subject, say an old car. Get about 50ft away and zoom in at 200mm and f/2.8. I will then shoot it like a panorama until I have the whole scene covered. Once it is stitched together you have a super high resolution shot with a massive depth of field.
I have a Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye that is fun to play with, especially on the IR camera. Of course I also have a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 which I like for detail shots, and some portrait work. It’s the #1 lens I recommend for new shoots. This lens taught me to move to get the shot. Something a Zoom lens does not do. They tend to make us lazy shooters.
My go-to all-out-favorite lens though, is my Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss. 24-70mm at 2.8? Yes please!! This lens was very expensive but worth every penny. In 2013, I drove over 8,000 miles across the US and through the southwest and that lens never left my camera. I would highly recommend it for every landscaper’s bag.
2018 I have added two essential pieces of gear for video creation. Three really if you count my Pixel 2 XL. 🙂 To compliment the phone I picked up a DJI OSMO Mobile gimbal. This gimble allows me to use my phone and it’s 4K capabilities to quickly capture high quality video with much fuss. And the last bit is a Samsung Gear 360 camera. Which I have been having fun with. I designed and 3D Printed a hanging mount for it so I can fly it around on the Phantom 4 and capture 360 interactive video in the air! Mostly just for fun but it does allow me to do some pretty neat documenting and it does film in straight 4k too.
- Luminar 2018
I have been using both the Mac and PC versions of Luminar since their release. I really enjoy using this software as it allows me to create rather than think. Sometimes thinking gets in the way of just creating your image. Luminar handles the critical thinking for you and allows you the freedom to express your creativity with your images. I find myself moving farther and farther away from other software and using Luminar in my daily workflow more each day. Get Luminar here: Free Trial and Purchase
- Aurora HDR 2018
I am warming up to Aurora HDR with each new release. I still think the software has a ways to go before it makes my “go-to” list but, I believe in the Skylum team and what they are doing. So I will continue to support them and look forward to the future of Aurora HDR and using it more in my workflow. Get Aurora HDR here: Free Trial and Purchase
- Adobe CC Photography Bundle
Well what can I say that hasn’t been said? The biggest thing I hear is, “Why should I subscribe instead of just buying the standalone?” Well aside from the fact it is so cheap, and you get all the latest updates and improvements, and it’s REALLY cheap, well I guess there is no other reason. I know for me it was like this, I was sick and tired of sitting on my butt watching Netflix (7.99 a month). So I decided to do something about it. I cancelled my Netflix and put that money towards my passion. Now if I sit on my butt it’s while processing photos and getting something done. Right now, it’s even cheaper. If you grab an Awesome account at 500px you can get that and the Adobe CC Photography Plan for just $10.35 a month! So if you are still thinking that the standalones are a better deal? Well, enjoy your Netflix, I got photos to work on. If you want to check out that 500px deal, go here: Promo Deal
- On1 Photo Raw 2018
I don’t think that I have found a better suite of programs at a better price. They are always working on improving and adding features as well. In fact, if I was not such a long-time user of Lightroom and have my workflow so embedded in it I would probably switch to all On1. Their browser alone is amazing, well laid out, and lightning fast. I use Perfect Black and White for all of my monochrome images and totally rely on Perfect Effects Dynamic Contrast and Sunshine Filters for just about all of my work. The whole suite is highly recommended. You can get it here: On1.com
- Topaz Photo Suite and Studio
Whenever I hit a creative block, I break out Topaz. I primarily use Topaz Restyle for color grading my images. It has a great browser feature that allows you to scroll through color palettes just by using the cursor keys. It really helps me re-imagine my images and get the color feel I am looking for. I also use their Remask plugin for removing backgrounds from compositing subjects. And probably the most fun plugins in the suite are Glow and Impressions. Both are excellent for generating looks “outside the box”. I generally do not use them the way they were intended, I use them as a layer and blend them with a mask for different effects. Topaz have free demos available here: Topaz Labs
- HDRSoft Photomatix Pro 6
I have used Photomatix Pro since day one. It is all I use for 32bit HDR anymore. I have tested it against every other HDR software out there and nothing comes close. In fact it is the only software that allows me access to the 32bit HDR file for direct processing in Lightroom. Why is that important? Well I love natural looking HDR and 32bit is the only way to go. No tone-compression presets, or letting the program decide what looks best for my photo. The file I get back in Lightroom has -10/+10 stops of exposure in what is essentially an HDR Raw file. Tough to beat that. If you are interested in this workflow, check out the video playlist below for some free tips and tricks to getting great results:
If you are interested in Photomatix, you can get a 15% off discount by purchasing at these links: Photomatix Pro Windows / Mac Photomatix 32bit Lightroom Plugin Windows / Mac
My ever growing list of Vintage Lenses:
- Olympus Zuiko 50mm 1:3.5 MC Auto-Macro
- Olympus Zuiko 35-105mm 1:3.5~4.5 MC Auto-Zoom
- Olympus E.Zuiko 135mm 1:3.5 MC Auto-T
- Olympus Zuiko 28mm 1:3.5 MC Auto-T
- Minolta Celtic 135mm 1:3.5 MD
- Minolta Rokkor 50mm 1:1.7 MD
- Helios 44-2 58mm 1:2
- Chinon 35mm 1:2.8
- Chinon 135 1:2.8
- Chinon 55mm 1:1.7
- Sigma 100-200mm 1:4.5
- Promaster 28mm 1:2.8 MC
- Canon 70-210 1:3.5 FD
- Canon 35-70 1:3.5-4.5 FD