It’s been a quiet day here at HQ, so I thought I’d do one of those “What’s in my bag” posts favoured by many photographers. When I first started shooting, I was always interested to see what others had in their kit bag, so I thought I’d share what’s in mine.
First off, I’m not really a gear junkie. In fact, over the last few months, I have been getting rid of unused pieces of kit. I’m trying to simplify my setup, so I can concentrate on what is important – taking photos.
Missing from the picture above is one of the most important items – my tripod. This is always in the boot of the car so I don’t ever forget it. It’s a 055 XPRO B Manfrotto tripod with a Manfrotto MH054M0-Q2 head. It’s a swivel type head so is very easy to lock into whatever position you need.
So, let’s go through it. On either side, you see some shoot-through umbrellas. These are used in conjunction with the two stands on the left for indoor portraits. To be honest, I only ever use them when I absolutely have to. Maybe an arranged collaboration with some friends when we’re shooting for ourselves. Most of the time, I prefer to work with natural light.
Beside the stands at the top left are two flashguns. The first is the Nikon SB910. It’s an expensive but excellent flash and my first choice always. I use it for both indoors and outdoors shots. Some may be surprised to see me use it outdoors but it’s great to provide some fill light and to get those all-important catchlights. It helps when you want to balance the background and the foreground as in this shot. Next to the Nikon is the Yongnuo YN565EX flashgun. This is an excellent cheaper alternative. The Yongnuo has a zoomable head from 24-105 whereas the SB910 will go from 17-200. While the Nikon has many more features, there are times when I prefer the simplicity of the Youngnuo.
Below the flashguns is my Lee .9 Soft Neutral Density graduated filter. I am never without this on the front of the lens when shooting the landscape. It helps to balance the exposure between a bright sky and darker foreground and is an essential bit of kit for all landscape photographers. I know you can do this in post-processing but I think the on-camera filters work best. I have plenty of spare ND grads for attendees of my workshops.
Below this are magnetic rings to attach circular filters, two triggers to use with the Yongnuo flashgun off camera and a Giga T Pro shutter remote control (essential for long exposures. Beside this is a Hoya circular polariser. This will prevent your photos from being spoiled by unwanted reflections from glass, water, and other surfaces that scatter light. Above this in the square black box is a Lee 10 stop filter. This is a nearly opaque piece of glass that helps achieve very long exposures.
Up at the top centre is the heart of my kit, the Nikon D800. This is an awesome camera with a resolution of over 36 Mp. Moving up from the 16 Mp of the D7000 required a little learning curve, a change of technique and a hell of a lot of extra hard drive space. (I’ll cover this in a future post)
Below this is the cheapest lens I have and still use – the 50 mm, f1.8. At F1.8, your depth of field is incredibly shallow and I discuss this in my workshops. Next up is the Tokina 11-16 mm. This lens is really a crop sensor lens and therefore on the full frame D800 really only works at 16 mmm – it vignettes heavily up to this focal length. I do still use it though, especially in interior shoots like this but also on landscape shoots.
To the right of it is the Nikon 70-200 mm, F4. I use this lens quite a bit and love it at the longest focal length.
Beside this lens is my Nikon FE, a 35 mm film, single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. This camera dates from the early 80’s and I have a roll of film in it. I do need to use it more often though.
Below the FE is the Nikon 24-70 mm, F2.8. This lens is my main workhorse and is used at every photoshoot. It’s tack sharp and reassuringly weighty.
Beside this are a pair of tripods for use by attendees on my landscape workshops. Beside the tripods are some umbrellas. At the bottom from left is a rain cover – essential sometimes and my carry Speed camera strap.
So, as you can see, I haven’t really got a whole lot of equipment. I did at one time get caught up in the belief that if only I had more camera kit, I’d take better photos. But I have long since realised that is not the case.
Regardless of what camera kit you have, you should still be able to take great photos.
My first camera was a Nikon D40. I shot loads of photos with it, and a dirt cheap Sigma 70-300mm lens. I still have it.