I photograph in many different situations, from simple, candid natural light portraiture where I have just a camera, lens and available light, to exotic remote locations in a forest or jungle. Here I may have six lights or more (all with stands, modifiers and power supplies), a remote triggering system, cables, sensors, transmitters, cameras, lenses, tripods and stands. Similarly for scientific shots, I might be in a studio surrounded by all sorts of weird and wonderful devices. This section of the website will, in time, reflect most of what I use.
It is a strange truth that most photographers are intrigued by what other photographers use to capture their images, so I will do my best to report on everything I have. I will also cover things I have used in the past and moved on from, both from a nostalgic point of view, and to add a little internet presence to things that have long been forgotten. A great example is the truly wonderful Cokin Macro Flash system of the 1980′s, and the Mazof VIS trigger system from Europe – the first of its type. I will even delve into some of the gizmos that I have designed myself.
I have been a Canon shooter for nearly 30 years. I also spent a lot of time shooting medium format with Hasselblad, and ultimately Rolleiflex 6000 series cameras – the latter still being the yardstick for shutter lag time (an incredible 2mS). I moved from Canon FD (manual focus, for those old enough to remember) straight to Canon Digital EOS, with the 1D and 1Ds cameras. I never shot EOS film cameras – I found the autofocus too slow back then, and both my eyesight and reflexes were sharp….Times have changed…
To me, all of my gear is a collection of tools that I use to achieve a certain goal. I take good care of my gear, but do not revere it like many photographers do. For me, it is a means to an end. I rarely sell any of my gear – instead, tend to use it to destruction. Those things that I have sold have either been very well used, or hardly used at all, such that I cannot justify keeping them. These days, I think long and hard before purchasing any gear at all – rental is a fine alternative usually.
I know that most photographers cringe when someone asks “Wow – fantastic photo – what type of camera do you use?” I sure do. I offer this anecdote as retaliation: A friend of mine who is a photographer had his friend and wife over for dinner one evening. His friend’s wife remarked “Your photography is beautiful – you must have a really good camera”. My friend bit his lip and remained silent. (As we all do…). Biding his time, it was only a few weeks later when the dinner party was reciprocated. At the end of the meal, my friend said “Wow Jane – fabulous meal! You must have a really great oven…..”
If I was venturing into photography from scratch, right now, I would definitely choose Nikon over Canon. But this is being written in June 2011. By July, they may have leapfrogged again. There is no way I am going to surrender all of my invested knowledge and experience for a name change. There are very few (if any) things I can do with one system that I cannot do with another. It is simply personal preference, and I have little tolerance for gear bigots. They learn that pretty soon in my workshops.
As to folks who study the MTF (Modular Transfer Function) curves to the Nth degree, determining comparisons of lens performance, I have two points to offer:
1) Go out and take some pictures – the time spent doing that is so much more rewarding.
2) MTF charts (in most cases) are specimen specific. I have had two copies of the same lens, where one is tack sharp, and the other is not. They are both within specification, but one performs noticeably inferior to the other. Well, I noticed it, but I doubt anyone looking at my pictures did. Get a life