What I’m Rockin’. A photographer’s toolbox.

I’m not gonna walk in here saying that a great memory can’t be captured from an iphone or simple point and shoot camera from your local wal-mart. I’m not saying that a successful photographer has to have a top of the line camera, a $1000 lens, or even a studio. In fact, I might at one tiny moment have been that condescending person who scoffed at the idea of “needing” fancy equipment. Let’s keep that a secret though. But one thing iv’e learned is that a photographer’s toolbox is an important part of a successful photo shoot. As my skills and passion for the art grew, so has my “toolbox”.

For years I walked around with my trusty 35mm film Nikon and was happy. My pictures were great! And I was content. As I became more serious and my hobby organically transformed into a small business, I found I needed more tools.

Surprise!  My shoot got changed from outdoor (With God’s very own perfect lighting) to an indoor shoot (think blurry, unflattering, blinking truck stop light bulbs. I loathe indoor lighting) and I needed a light setup. Drop some dollas on those bad boys. On location at a shoot a client had trouble seeing the pictures from the tiny screen of my camera. “Honey I NEED a new laptop so we can view pictures on location. I NEED it” Hello Dell touch screen laptop!

My needs grew as did my clientele, until suddenly I was that person who had a butt load of equipment that gets thrown into the back of my traverse every time I have a shoot. Woe is me. I became that person I always hated. *cue sad trumpet*

Let’s crawl out of my puddle of self pity and have a look at my toolbox, shall we?

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My camera- A Nikon D7100. My beautiful, awesome, always-be-there-for-me-when-I-need-it-don’t-need-no-man camera. This bad boy is lovingly named Charles Foster Offdensen, or CFO for short. (yes I name all of my cameras. My last one was Shelob, and I loved her)

Nikon has and always will be my go-to. Nikon has never let me down. Nikon for President! I first rocked a Nikon Fm3a 35mm film camera with the body of a steel truck. Loved that thing. My “upgrade” from that was a Nikon D5000. Awesome camera! My first digital. Shelob went everywhere with me for years and years and never let me down. But the time came that I need faster, I needed better, I needed MORE. That’s when CFO jumped off the Best buy computer screen and said “Buy me! I am perfect!! I will do anything and everything you ask! Buy me!” So I did, because Nikon. And because it was exactly what I needed. Two memory card slots. Two! I never knew I need two until I had two. Two! Dos!

Another feature that sold me on the D7100 is that it’s weather proof. If you’ve ever seen me at a photo shoot you can understand why this feature was crucial for me to have. I am willing to do whatever it takes to get the perfect shot, “The one” “The golden shot” “The look down at your screen and smile inwardly because you know that the rest of the shoot is just backup shots” Yeah that shot. So picture me balancing on a ladder in 40 mph winds on one leg. Picture me on the same ladder above a naked woman with a real octopus stuck to her naked boobs. Picture me laying in a field of horse manure, underneath a four foot cross rail jump while a 12oo lb horse jumps over me. THAT is why I needed this camera. Durability people!

I shoot children (with a camera!) And horses too. So I needed a fast camera that could focus to perfection. Cue CFO with his 51 points of focus. Mmmm sexy! Among these things Iv’e told you the D7100 has a slew of other fun things to play with. Go look it up if you don’t believe me. In fact I suggest doing your research before buying any equipment. (That way you can’t blame me if it doesn’t work out for you)

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I bought this camera bag twelve years ago and it has held up through some amazing shoots. They just don’t make them like they used to. Within this magical leather bag are my lenses, filters, my old crappy flash that never gets used, my macro set, shutter remote, old straps etc. Again, more crap I just “had to have”. Ugh.

Let’s talk about my Sigma lens.

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I adore this lens. I got it from the back of a photography magazine twelve years ago. Sigma 28-300mm’s of perfection. It is manual focus only, which I credit to saving my butt a million times when Auto focus JUST. WONT. WORK!!! When your very first lens is manual you are forced to actually learn that barbaric method of using your fingers and dry eyes to focus. I dubbed this lens my Viagra lens. It goes from being a grower to a shower real quick. And since I love Sigma so much I recently purchased another one that is auto-focus and just the most beautiful thing Ive ever set my eyes on.

My tripod was a gift from my friend Patty. It is strong and awesome and apparently made in Italy. Cool.

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I went full blown cheap ass when I bought my lights.

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They were a measly $50 on Amazon and they serve me well. I use them often for self portraits, which as you will find, I do a LOT of. I like my face.

My workspace.

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I sit here a lot, play music and let my weird brain take me places. Then my fingers take over and I create awesome pictures. On the left is my Dell laptop and Wacom tablet. The pen makes it a thousand times easier than editing with a mouse. And it’s fun to paint with too. My desktop is also Dell (recurring theme? Maybe…) I use both of them to edit. My laptop holds the program GIMP. The desktop has Photoshop CC and Lightroom. I use all three for editing pictures. Each program has that something different that keeps me from committing to just one. (EDIT: I have now updated to an iMac. Holla!)

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And lastly, the most important tool in my toolbox.

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For what is life without coffee? The most precious gift of Mother Nature. When energy drops and the idea of hiking up a mountain to take pictures seems impossible: Coffee! When creativity slows and your brain needs a kick in the ass: Coffee! When the most awe-inspiring ideas pop into your head, and your mind races with the possibilities! Who can you thank? Coffee…..

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