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Gear

CAMERA BODIES

  • Nikon D800e: At the time of writing this camera body has the highest pixel count in the Nikon line-up, at 36 million pixels. What's more, being the "e" version, it also provides more detail through the omission of a filter in front of the image sensor.
  • Nikon D3: The Nikon D3 is a pro-spec body, ideally suited to reportage and sport, especially in low light situations.
  • LENSES

  • Nikon 16mm f/2.8: Nikon's full frame autofocus fisheye. I have found it to be super-sharp and can elevate otherwise dreary scenes into something special. Used with the Fisheye Hemi plugin for Photoshop, it can even be corrected sufficiently to provide very acceptable results as a straight forward super-wide.
  • Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8: This wide angle zoom is a superb performer and the first of the 'pro-trilogy' (the others being the 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8).
  • Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8: The pro's standard lens. This covers wide enough to do interiors and groups, covers the 'normal' field of view around 50mm and is just long enough for head and shoulders portraits.
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AIS: This old manual focus lens is small, lightweight and yet provides images of a high quality when used at around f/8. At wider apertures than this, the lens gives a peculiar dream-like softness to the images, which can be a fantastic creative tool for arty images, as the effect is by no means unattractive.
  • Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8: The pro's standard short to medium telephoto.
  • Nikon 105mm AIS f/2.8: This is a well respected micro lens for close-up work. It gives 1:2 magnification on its own, or slightly better than 1:1 with the PK-11 extension tube I have.
  • Nikon 300mm AF-S f/2.8: This lens is a classic sports and action lens. Too long for general people and portraits use and too short on its own for wildlife, it sits in the perfect zone for outdoor field sports. Its fast aperture ensures a comfortable view of the scene and the ability to shoot in low light. At around 3.kg in weight, it's light enough to be hand-held if necessary.
  • Nikon PN-11 Auto Extension Tube: For use with my 105mm to provide 1:1 magnification.
  • FLASHGUNS

  • Nikon SB-910 Flashgun: Big, powerful and rugged.
  • Nikon SB-700 Flashgun: This SB-700 is great, being of a similar size to the oldie-but-goldie SB-800. It's advanced and has complex functions, but it is also straight-forward to use.
  • Nikon SB-80DX: Another well designed flashgun. Now discontinued, it has the all important metal hotshoe. Works great as a wireless slave with my radio trigger.
  • FILTERS

  • Nikon 77mm NC Filter: I use these on the front of my lenses to protect the front element from impact or cleaning damage. NC means 'no colour', so these are optically neutral.
  • Lucroit 165mm Filter Holder: This system comprises of the Lucroit 165mm filter holder (yes, it's huge!) which is specially designed to fit on the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.
  • Formatt-HiTech IRND Prostop 2 JT (Joel Tjintjelaar) Signature Edition filter set: This is a set of 3 x 165mm square neutral density filters, in 10 stop, 6 stop and 3 stop densities. These recently developed filters have reportedly much better colour neutrality than any other on the market and are more readily available. The 10 stop - sometimes in combination with the 6 stop - is great for Joel's 5MF8 (5 minutes at f/8 exposure) method for creating dream-like images.
  • Formatt-HiTech ND Grads: I currently have a 0.6 (2-stop) hard grad and a 0.9 (3-stop) soft grad. These are 165mm x 200mm to fit the Lucroit holder above.
  • Black Spandex Chair Cover Band: Yes, you read that right! I saw a YouTube review of a Lee filter holder, where the photographer showed a hair band being used to wrap around the outside of square filters whilst in use, in order to stop extraneous light getting in and spoiling the exposure. However, a hairband proved to short for my filter set-up (remember, it needs to stretch to about 70cm to go all around one of the Formatt-Hitech grads) so I got a chair band instead (more usually used to decorate chairs at weddings).
  • BAGS & CASES

  • Peli 1495 CC1: This case houses my laptop computer. I have cut foam to securely surround my laptop and charger, so it can be used in position with the case open, either on battery or mains. I also have a fold-out hood on the laptop help shield the screen from stray light, thereby making it easier to use in bright daylight. This is a solid case with 4 secure clasps, a combination lock and a carry strap.
  • Lowepro Outback 200 Bag: this top-loading bag is ideal for a pro SLR with a 70-200mm lens fitted, with two other side pouches for other lenses or flashguns. I use this when I want to travel light, but avoid putting gear in my pockets. It does have a shoulder strap, but its main appeal for me is its substantial waist-belt so I can keep it round my middle without having to hold on to it at all.
  • Peli Storm iM2600 Case: This is my main camera equipment case. It holds all my gear without being overly big.
  • Lowepro Adventura 160 Bag: a small bag ideal for keeping my filter system in.
  • TRIPODS & SUPPORTS

  • Gitzo G1227 Tripod: This carbon fibre Mountaineer Series 2 tripod is a good compromise between stability and light weight. It has three-section legs.
  • Giottos MH-1300-621 Series II Ball Head: This is a nice solid ball head with a 15 kg weight capacity, friction control for greater control over ball speed, pan lock control to ensure stability, a 60mm diameter base and a sliding quick release system (Giottos MH-621).
  • Giottos Tripod Bag: This is a padded bag to keep your tripod (especially expensive carbon fibre ones) safe from knocks and abrasions. Basic and inexpensive, but most tripod bags aren't padded. It has a handy little zipped pocket inside too, for all those extraneous nuts and bolts.
  • Gitzo GS2320D Series II Aluminium Power Disc: That's a very impressive title for what is basically a metal replacement mounting platform to replace the plastic one supplied with the above tripod. It just provides a stronger and more secure connection between the tripod and the ball head.
  • Foto Panda Quick Release L-Plate: This plate attaches to the tripod mounting hole on the bottom of the camera grip, providing an Arca Swiss compatible mount to both the camera bottom and left hand side. Therefore, the camera can quickly be changed between landscape and portrait format without upsetting the balance or viewpoint.
  • Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Plate: This is a really nice Arca Swiss compatible quick release plate to hold the l-plate above. It has a simple spring loaded two-way quick-release handle with a lock. The camera and l-plate are loaded onto the top, then the lever can be moved to the middle position to allow left-to-right movement over a distance of about 50mm without any danger of it coming off. Once in perfect position, the lever can be moved fully over to completely lock the camera plate in position. Attachment and removal takes seconds.
  • Cheetahstands Lighting Stands: I have 2 x Cheetah C8 stands and 1 x Cheetah C12. The C8s are good for speedlights, whereas the C12 is solid enough to hold a full size studio head. What's the big deal?... automatically folding legs which snap shut as soon as you lift the stand up, making it a breeze to get quickly and safely around a room without its legs catching everything on the way.
  • ACCESSORIES / MISCELLANEOUS

  • Yongnuo Wireless trigger / receivers: Excellent TTL and hi-speed sync wireless system.
  • Nikon SC-28 Cord: A remote cord to connect an off-camera speedlite to the camera hotshoe. I nearly always prefer using my radio triggers instead, but this cord is a useful backup if my batteries die. It's also useful when using my Lastolite V H Flip.
  • Lastolite V H Flip: This is a bracket to attach a flashgun to your camera, but at an extended elevation. It also provides the ability to switch the camera through landscape and portrait orientations, whilst leaving the flash in more or less the same relative position.
  • Calumet Pop-up Softbox & Pole: For mobile soft lighting.
  • Nikon MC-30 Cable Release: This is a basic, wired, electronic cable release with the two-stage press function of a shutter release button replicated on it. It's a simple device, useful for tripod-based immediate exposures, or those requiring a relatively short bulb exposure (you must keep the button physically depressed to keep the shutter open, which is tiring and may lead to accidental jogging of the camera).
  • Neewer EZA-N1 Cable Release: This is a more advanced, wired, electronic cable release replicating the functions of Nikon's own MC-36. It has a whole variety of programmable timer and interval functions. Why the Neewer instead of the Nikon? Cost. The Nikon is ~£130 new, whereas the Neewer cost me £13 new, for apparently identical performance.
  • STUDIO EQUIPMENT

  • Elinchrom BRX500: I have two of these lights, with stands and Portalite softboxes. Well priced but fully featured and compact. I can control the output remotely from my camera in 1/10th stop increments, individually for each light or as a group.
  • Elinchrom BX500Ri: I have two of these as well (they are the previous model to the above).
  • Pixapro Equipment Case: This large case has internal dimensions of 94cm x 31cm x 28.5cm and holds my 4 flash heads, leads, some of the relectors and all my light stands in one convenient wheeled case.
  • Sekonic L-308S: This is a compact, basic, but well featured light meter. It is accurate to 1/10th of a stop and afterall, accuracy is what a light meter is all about. There are more expensive meters, but all will bring you to the same conclusion!
  • X-Rite ColorChecker Passport: This passport-sized (hence the name) solid plastic wallet contains greyscale and colour swatches to aid with accurate colour balance in post processing. You photograph the passport in your first shot (or each time you change your lighting) then use the supplied software in PP to correct the images.
  • Lastolite HiLite: I have the 6ft x 7ft HiLite, white vinyl train and the deep black bottletop with train. In my view, this is the largest HiLite which it is practical to use for inside the average client's house, whilst still providing a big enough background to shoot modest sized family groups against. It is free standing, but remember you still have to allow room either side for the light stands. It's just about the easiest way to get a full pure white background within a limited space. as otherwise you have to have your backgound lights (complete with suitable modifiers) stood out beyond either side of your conventional white background, which can easily require an axtra 4ft of space either side (with a 6ft wide background, that's 14ft minimum you'd need!)
  • Lastolite Posing Tubs: I have the set of seven tubs and cushions in black, with the additional set of white covers. These are lightweight and take up relatively little room. Relying on clients' own furniture for posing groups just isn't going to work; this set allows you to get people close together, with seats that look good in the final images, if you can still see them at all.
  • Lastolite Triflector mkI: Fabulous for headshots, to give a wrap-around lighting effect. I did buy the MkII version first, which is slightly lighter at 1.7kg instead of 2.3kg for the MkII (including bag, but not stand). However, the newer vrsion takes longer to set-up than the old one, as it requires you to pop-open the three collapsible panels and affix them in place with six rubber clips, whereas the MkI is stored complete and can be un-bagged and folded-out in a few seconds and is more easily adjusted by virtue of its included high quality ball and socket connection to your lightstand.
  • Lastolite Background Support: This is a nice light-weight setup which is well built and goes surprisingly high for ample headroom in full length shots. Its top rail is infinitely extendible between 174cm and 315cm. Nice heavy duty bag too.
  • Fish Tanks: I have a 24" x 12" x 12" and a 16" x 8" x 8" which I use for water photography.
  • Paddling Pool: for catching surplus water in my water photography.
  • Wooden Flooring: Used as a floor background in itself, or to support other trains or an acrylic sheet above. This is especially important over carpet, as not using a solid floor will at best make subjects' feet 'sink' into the floor, looking odd and spoiling the look, or at worst, damage the train or crack acrylic.
  • White Acrylic Sheet: This is used to provide natural reflections beneath subjects in high-key setups.
  • SOFTWARE, PLUGINS & UTILITIES

  • Adobe Photoshop CC: This is the 'Daddy' of them all and no matter what anyone says, is an unsurpassed image editing environment to this day. Yes, I use a lot of other great bits of software too, but almost all within the Photoshop environment. This is an indispensable professional tool.
  • Adobe Lightroom CC: This is a program to accompany the above, with powerful cataloguing features and batch processing.
  • OnOne Software Perfect Photosuite 8 Premium: I've used this suite since version 6 and found it quite inspirational. It incorporates modules for special effects, masking, black and white, portraits, framing, resizing and corrections. It can be used standalone, but I usually use it within my Photoshop workflow and I find its presets-with-realtime-preview feature to be extremely useful in providing cues when you know an image needs a little something to give it a lift.
  • Anthropics Technology Ltd. Portrait Professional 12: I demo-ed several of these programs and settled on this for ease of use and quality results.
  • Image Trends Fisheye Hemi: This is a one-trick-pony plugin, which 'corrects' the distortion caused by fisheye lenses. Obviously, it can't totally correct out the unmistakeable 'look' of this lens, but its proprietory algorithms help to straighten verticals and make people appear more normal, providing the image has been shot relatively straight-on.
  • Nikon Capture NX2: This is a superb program exclusively for the adjustment (an more importantly, correction) of Nikon RAW images.
  • Google NikCollection: This is a suite of applications by Nik Software, which has now been taken over by Google.
  • Topaz Labs Suite: This is an equally fabulous collection of 14 high quality plugins. It's worth the mony for DeNoise alone.
  • Fire FTP: This is not an image processing application, but a useful FTP (File Transfer Protocol) utility which I use within my Mozilla Firefox web browser to transmit images remotely.
  • COMPUTER HARDWARE

  • Main Home Desktop PC: Yes, I'm a PC user. I've used Macs over the years, but whilst their aesthetics and performance are not in doubt, I've never really got on well with the interface and 'closed' nature of the system software and lack of third party hardware and software availability. I have built my own PC for the past 4 generations, as I find this allows me to a) configure it to my precise requirements and b) save a few quid on over off-the-shelf models. The machine I am using at presnt is a Windows 7 Professional 64-bit machine, with 16GB Corsair DDR3 Vengeance RAM, Intel Core i7 4770k 3.50GHz CPU, Samsung 840 Pro Basic 240Gb system SSD + two data HDDs. I am using the integrated graphics processor of the Asus Z87-A motherboard, which seems to have no problems driving my monitor.
  • Laptop: For mobile use I have a Fujitsu AH531. I use this mainly to wire my pictures remotely when I'm doing newspaper shifts, by connecting to the wireless hotspot of my Samsung mobile phone.
  • Monitors: I use a 32" Sony TV as my main monitor, set to 1920x1080, via HDMI.
  • Card Readers: A use Lexar USB card readers; one a Dual slot (CF and SD) USB3 on my desktop PC and a single slot (CF) USB2 on my laptop. I find these work very quickly.
  • Wacom Intuos 3: An important processing tool for extensive and precise editing.