A different kind of post this week. Not long ago a reader asked my husband if I actually took all of the photographs on my blog. Yep! I do. Unless otherwise noted, everything you see is through my lens. For me, photography and travel go hand and hand. I could not imagine not documenting all of my experiences. This week I wanted to share with you all the various tools that make the magic happen. What’s in your kit?
This is where is all starts from a tool perspective. My camera of choice is the Nikon D5100. Even when I was shooting film, it was always on a Nikon. Picking this particular camera was driven in part by cost (that money tree out back isn’t growing), and part by my needs. For example, I typically do not shoot video, so a camera with that capability wasn’t something important for me. It is light-weight and sturdy. Plus, I like the monitor screen that can be flipped in almost any direction.
Probably my favorite addition to my camera is the Hufa Lens Cap Strap Holder. No more forgetting which pocket I put my lens cap in, or wondering where the heck I put it only to discover that it is gone. Oh yeah, had that happen a time or two.
There are some great non-Nikon lenses out there, but Nikon lenses have never let me down so I just keep returning to them!
What lenses you use should really be driven by the activities you are doing. You don’t need a long lens if you are shooting a food tour in Barcelona, but you’ll want the best one you can buy (or rent!!) if you are doing an African safari. Just makes sense – your wallet will thank you for embracing that. 😉
Most of the time I use my AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor ED 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G. It’s a nice range for most of what I do and I really do like having a little bit of zoom to play with. Virtually all of my Iceland photos were taken with this lens. It’s a solid little work horse, and once again, pretty light-weight.
Because sometimes I do need a little extra reach, I do also have the AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR. That 300mm end brings all sorts of things to your finger tips. As with any longer zoom, however, you do need to be prepared to brace yourself – any little movement will be picked up. Whether it is a tripod, or the railing of a boat like I used for the shot below, be prepared!
Back to that idea of the right lens for the right situation, I picked up a used Nikon Super Wide Angle 20mm f/2.8 AF which is similar to this one. One of my goals for the next 12 months is to play around with it more and practice some more nighttime photography. You can check out some of the results with this lens in my post on shooting Icelandic Northern Lights.
There is one other lens in my kit, and it is another one that I need to focus on playing around with. Lots of people love a prime lens – AKA a fixed focal length or AKA no zoom so move those feet! The prime I went with is the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G because it works great in lower light and the 50mm focal range gives me just enough wiggle room to maneuver.
Regardless of the lens, there is one thing you will find on every lens I own: a UV protective filter like this one. That lens cost you a pretty penny, so protect it! This type of filter doesn’t impact your photos; it is really there to make sure your lens doesn’t get all scratched up and dusty. Take care of your lenses and they will take care of you.
Especially for shooting in extreme conditions like the cold of Iceland, having an extra charged battery ready to go is priceless. I don’t know why it took me so long to spend the few dollars to grab a second battery….
Edit Yourself….er…. Your Photos
Because here is the reality, even if it is just a quick contrast boost, a little sharpening, or a full on overhaul, virtually every photo can benefit from some post-processing – a little editing magic. The tools that I use depend on if I have taken the shot with my big camera or on my phone. These days you cannot underestimate what high quality shots you can get from your phone. Here is a list of what I am currently using and loving:
- Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 – I’ve used Adobe Photoshop in various forms for years and there just is not anything else I would personally use for doing heavy lifting editing. There are even times that I will pull in photos from my phone and edit them Elements. I’m self taught. If I can do it, so can you! Google what you want to do, watch some You Tube videos, pick up an instruction book, or take a class…. it is a great tool if you are willing to put forth a little effort to learn it. My two sample photos were both processed using Adobe Photoshop Elements 12.
- Fotor App – this is one of the apps that I use on my phone to edit photos I take on the go. Super easy to use, no watermarks / ads on your photos, and a solid variety of filters, tools, etc. Alot of the photos for my on the go blogging go through this app.
- Snapseed App – this app is a new one for me. I’m always looking to see what new fun toys are out there. The photos of my gear in this post all use the Snapseed app.
So there you have it! Note that there is no camera bag listed. To be honest…. I have 4 in my closet and none of them are quite right. The perfect camera bag is my unicorn. One day. One day.