Photography is one of the things that I use to document places I’ve been and things I’ve done. As much as I enjoy it, I am certainly not a professional photographer… not by any stretch of the imagination. Its nice to capture events and be able to not only relive them at any time, but to also be able to share them with others. It started out as just pointing a camera, taking some pictures, and posting them for others to view, but has blossomed into trying out new lenses and equipment, experimenting with image manipulation in software, and just plain trying to see things in the world a little differently.
A Good Start In Photography
My first digital SLR camera was an entry level Canon with a couple of lower end lenses. It was the perfect setup for me to learn how to shoot and to gauge how much it would be used. Once I had an idea about what I was doing, I moved up to a higher end kit that I purchased piecemeal on ebay.
Canon 5D MKII with BG-E6 grip, 24-105mm f/4 L IS mid-zoom lens, 16-35mm f/2.8 L wide-zoom lens, 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS telephoto-zoom lens, 100mm f/2.8 L IS macro lens, Speedlite 430EX II flash, Lowepro Stealth Reporter D550 AW bag and Manfrotto tripod and head.
Obviously, that is a pretty serious setup and was probably overkill for both my needs and abilities. The biggest thing I learned while using this gear was how quickly a bag could become way to heavy to carry while travelling. I’d even leave a good portion that I wouldn’t need at home and the bag would break my back after only a few short hours. Lesson learned!
New Philosophy for Gear Selection: Keep It Simple Stupid
After trekking around multiple countries in Scandinavia with a sore shoulder, I decided that it was time for another change. Mirrorless cameras were becoming faster and more powerful with more and more compatible lenses becoming available every day. So, I sold my Canon kit and started looking at new gear. I decided to take the new Sony A7S full-frame mirrorless body and 24-70 f/4 lens for a trial run for my trip to St. Lucia by renting them from LensRentals.com. Their service was great and I was completely sold on the camera as it was light, easy to use and took great pictures and video.
So, I am currently shooting with a Sony A7II with FE 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 and Zeis Sonnar FE 55mm f/1.8 lenses… a few more lenses will most likely follow shortly.
Post Processing, Storage and Sharing
I shoot almost exclusively in RAW format so I come back from trips and events with multiple gigabytes of images to store. All of my original and unedited images are stored on a local Windows server with (2) 2TB Samsung hard drives in RAID 1 used exclusively for photography. The content is further backed up to a NAS with (5) Western Digital 1TB drives in RAID 5.
I use a variety of software for editing including: Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom CC, Topaz Labs (Adjust, Simplify, DeNoise, Detail, Clean, DeJPEG, ReMask, InFocus, Lens Effects and B&W Effects), HDRsoft Photomatix and Image Science DXO Optics Pro. I use each program for different effects in post processing. Finally, I store and share all of my pictures on SmugMug and JRWappel.com.