Photographers have all kinds of equipment. And people are always curious what we have "in the bag". We often talk about what brand of camera we use(everyone, with the exception of Craig Sterken, knows Nikon is the best and Cannon is for chumps), how many megapixels is it, is it a full frame or crop sensor camera? Then we talk about lenses. Nikon vs Sigma vs Tamron vs Canon vs Rokinon vs Zeiss. Is it a 2.8 or 1.8 or 4-5.6 variable and bla bla bla and on and on and on. And then we discuss tripods and battery grips and tripod heads and lens filters and flashes and even the bags we keep all this stuff in! Don't get me wrong, I love talking about this stuff but that's not what this post is about. This post is about the "gear" I use - and would be lost without - after I'm done using all that other stuff. In an attempt to keep the post a readable length I'm only listing 4 things. Hope you enjoy it and let me know in the comment section what you guys like to use!
1. Adobe Lightroom. Without question the most important piece of software I use is Adobe Lightroom(or Lr for those "in the know"). Before Adobe released Lightroom way back in 2007, many photographers(myself included) were using the bulky, complex and sometimes confusing Adobe Photoshop. There was really nothing wrong with Photoshop(and there still isn't) it was just too much software for most photographers. So when Adobe did release Lightroom, which could do about 90% of what Photoshop could do and do it more efficiently, many photographers were excited with the potential. The potential has since formed into being the "standard" for image processing. Lightroom makes almost every aspect of image processing easier. Within Lightroom you can obviously "develop" your photos to make them look how you want them to plus you can also organize photos, print photos, share photos, create panoramic images, create HDR images, make a book and you can do this all non-destructively and efficiently(for a quick overview of non-destructive & destructive editing check out this link). It's really quite amazing what this software is capable of doing. There is even a Lightroom mobile app(for monthly subscribers) that allows you to process and edit images from your phone or tablet. This software is a HUGE part of my workflow!
2. Epson 4800. Ahhh, the joys of printing! I love printing. I print every image that ends up on the website. I print all standard matted prints that go to customers along with each and every notecard that I sell as well. While some folks have gotten into the habit of just sending files to "the lab", I print everything because I truly enjoy it. I could go on about printing(and I may in another post) but for now I'll just tell you that I currently use an Epson 4800. There are newer and more impressive printers available but this printer has been so good to me that I just can't get a new one! I have had issues from time to time with nozzle clogs and error messages but every time I think it's time to look for another printer the old girl comes back to life and keeps chugging out beautiful, color accurate prints. I'm sure you can probably find these printers "on the cheap" online and I would say if you see one for a couple hundred bucks go ahead and get it . I love this thing!
3. Google Drive. There are a number of cloud storage services out there and I'll be honest, I haven't tried most of them. I haven't tried others because Google Drive is so stinking easy to use. It works like any folder(or drive...) you would normally use with the exception that the files you put on Google Dive are stored in the "cloud". The draw of cloud based storage is that files within the "drive" are stored offsite - in the cloud. So if my hard drive(and backup hard drive) gets fried, I always have a backup offsite on Google Drive. Plus, files are accessible on any device. So, for instance, if I wanted to show someone what one of my metal prints looks like - like the case was a couple weeks ago at a party - I just go to the Google Drive App on my phone, do a basic search(because it has a search function as well), pull up the image and show whoever is interested. If I want to add an image to my website and I only have my laptop, I simply head to the Google Drive folder, find the image and add it to the website. Google Drive is a simple, affordable and for me a necessary piece of "gear". Prices range from Free for 15GB of storage all the way to $300/mo for 30TB of storage. I personally pay $2/mo for 100gb of storage.
4. Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet. Of course I'm going to save my favorite for last! The Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet has absolutely changed my photographic editing workflow. It has made the process easier, more efficient and just flat out more enjoyable. If you're not familiar with the Wacom line of tablets, they are essentially standalone trackpads - like on a laptop - on full Barry Bonds steroids! The Intuos Pro has touch and gesture capabalities - meaning that you can use it like a regular trackpad but also use multi-finger gestures(such as 3 finger swipe) to do a multitude of tasks, like switch between open applications or show the desktop or basically anything else you tell it to do! That's right, all the gestures are customizable to do what you tell it to. Oh and all the rectangular buttons you see on the left side of the image, those are customizable too. That "wheel" in the middle of the left side, that can be used to change brush sizes, scroll through images or just about anything else because wait for it... it's customizable too! A couple custom commands I created and use frequently are "undo", "show desktop" and "show in full screen". The Intuos Pro also comes with a pen and the pen is awesome. Wherever you drag the pen across the tablet a corresponding move is made with your cursor on the monitor and tapping it on the tablets surface is the equivalent of a mouse click. It takes a bit of time to get used to using a pen vs a mouse but it ends up feeling more natural. The pen also has two buttons on the side(one which you'll likely want to make a right mouse click command) and an "eraser" button on the end. And yes, the buttons on the pen are customizable too. Clearly there is a lot going on with these tablets as far as customizable functions and there is a bit of a learning curve but trust me, once you get this set up to your liking you will not regret using one! After a while you really start to wonder why you ever used that crazy prehistoric mouse! Wacom makes a wide variety of tablets and they range in price from $40 to $2,800.
There ya have it! The 4 things I need to survive after the shutter is clicked. What do you guys like to use? I would love to hear from you in the comments below! As always, thanks for taking the time to read the Fine Michigan Photography blog! Stay tuned for the next post in a few weeks, it will be another Photographer Profile!