Over time, many folks have emailed me or asked in the comment section about the camera and/or other equipment that I use, so over that same amount of time, I’ve been putting this post together providing a fairly comprehensive description of the Stuff I Use.

CAMERA
I use a Digital SLR Nikon D80 and just in case you didn’t know, I LOVE IT. So much so, that I don’t want to share when we are in circumstances for picture-taking, which is like, ALL THE TIME. So we actually have two, one for me and one for Jen. I also like it because it can take a good 10-15 shots in the time that it takes to get ONE photo on a typical point-and-shoot camera. And those seconds are PRECIOUS when you have highly unstable or highly mobile subjects like rockets, hummingbirds, speeding vehicles. And kids.

LENS

Zoom Lens – The AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED covers just about everything we need from wide-angle shots to basic portraiture photos. It came with the camera when I bought the D80 “kit”, and it’s the one that mostly stays on the camera at all times to capture shots like these.
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Papa Jimmy, StirFry, and Batman.

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My beautiful sister-in-law on her wedding day.

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A gull out for a morning stroll, Cabo San Lucas.

Macro Lens – The AF Micro-NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8D is the lens I bought figuring out that I couldn’t get as close as I wanted to on certain close up-opportunities. I love the detail the lens captures like the cracks on this fire hydrant.

Ville

Or how you just want to spoon that fuzzy crawler in this picture taken by Jennifer.

Fuzzy

Or how you can imagine falling into the depths of this flower from the back yard.
3D

Be it known, however, that it is, um, practically impossible to use this lens on anything that moves, like children. You just can’t adjust the focus fast enough.
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These three pieces of equipment (camera, zoom lens, macro lens) are 99.9% of the reason for any good pictures I might take. 

Telephoto Lens – I also have Quantaray for Nikon AF 100-300mm 1:4.5-6.7 telephoto lens left over from my days of using a film camera.  Though there aren’t many cicumstances in our current lifestyle where that lens comes in handy, I definitely used it when shooting at my nephew’s football games to capture his focus, or him run away with a touchdown.

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And lastly, I have a wide-angle lens, the EX Sigma 20mm F1.8 DG RF.  This lens is good for sweeping landscapes, back when we had time to do leisurely landscape activities, like this one I took of the sunset after we had been fishing all day long.

Fourchon Sunset

TRIPOD – really, any decent tripod will do. I think I got mine for $30 from Best Buy a heck of a long time ago. But we also have a Gorillapod which I really like for two things – close-up stills and baby-level photos.
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And it’s size allows me to easily store it in the camera bag. Not to mention, it’s ‘leg’ flexibility gives me tons of options for positioning.

CAMERA BAGS – speaking of which, we have two bags. The one we travel with is larger, and it is a Tamrac Expedition 5 SLR Photo Backpack which is great. We originally purchased a Lowepro Slingshot 100AW because I thought it would be big enough.

LENS FILTERS –  I only have two.  One is a UV lens which remains on my lens at all times, both to filter UV rays and to generally protect my lens.  And the second is a polarizing lens that I think makes blue skies and white clouds take charge of the sky with EXCLAMATION POINTS!

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REMOTE SHUTTER THINGY – I bought a Remote Cord MC-DC1 a while back. It says “…provides necessary camera stability when using long exposures, such as for landscape or macro photography”, or, I say, when trying to keep two kids somewhat upright without having to be by the silver button to take the photo.  It was the thing I had my thumb on at almost all times when taking this set of photos.

FLASH – I purchased a Nikon SpeedLight SB-600 because the flash that comes built-in to the camera was too harsh, and in general gave too much light in one part of the picture while not emitting enough light into the rest of the frame.  So I went to my local photography shop and said “I need a flash to get me a good 25 feet of lighting at most, but also something that doesn’t look so harsh and flashy.”  That last part led them to recommending this next item… 

A Plastic Thingy called omni-bounce f/Nik600.  It is a ‘hood’ of sorts that goes over the flash bulb and softens the flash, evening out the light.  It’s got the consistency of a plastic milk carton, but a little thicker. 

EDITING
Photoshop Elements – we bought ours off Amazon and honestly I’m pretty sure is a version much older than the current ones listed. That said, the only thing I’ve really used it for is to create a black-and-white AND color layered photo when I did this picture:

We're Having a GIRL and a BOY!

It’s a great tool/software, but honestly, because we use Macintosh’s at home, I find the iPhoto is all I really need to make brightness/contrast/exposure adjustments. I’m currently using iPhoto ’08.

USB thingy – Two computers, two cameras, two USB thingy’s. One is the Dynex® USB 2.0 5-in-1 Memory Card Reader which I picked up in San Antonio during our Ike Evacuation because I didn’t have anything to upload pictures with. THE INSANITY! We also have a USB 2.0SD/MMC reader/writer at home, which is essentially the same thing.

MEMORY CARDSanDisk Extreme® III SD™ 2GB – this works, holds plenty of pictures, even when I’m taking them on “fine” mode.  Depending on mode, it can hold anywhere from 150 to a bazillion photos. 

PRINTING
Mpix – I rather like mpix for the price and service of prints that are larger than 8×10 and larger. We did an 11×14 of this picture for some frames we owned since forever ago.  They can foam mount or make gallery style canvas prints and other specialized things, for decent prices.

CVS – I am chained to this one. What happens is I send photo links to family and inevitably, my mother, who has two left feet when it comes to anything that was manufactured in the twenty-first century, doesn’t know how to download them to her computer and print them on her own. THANK YOU TO THE REST OF THE FAMILY WHO ARE MORE EVOLVED!  One day, rather than walk her through Uploading Pictures 101, I just sent some photos from our computer in Houston, to the CVS at the entrance of her neighborhood. In San Antonio. Now when I send out links, she calls and says “I want that one and that one and that one and that one. And that one in five by seven. And tell them to have them ready at 4.” And if it isn’t there, say because I WORK or have TWO KIDS, or AM A WEEK BEHIND WITH LAUNDRY, she calls to remind me that she doesn’t have them yet. Lesson learned. But hey, at least I save on postage.

Little Divas Designs – I love taking my own pictures, but quite frankly, I’m not that impressed with the photocard options at your typical big box store (though Mpix’s options are decent). Instead, I want competitive pricing, but more editorial control and someone to think along with me, offer suggestions and tweaks. And that’s why I go to Miranda, the supercalifragilisticexpialidociously talented owner of Little Divas Designs. I send her my own photos, and then, with her resources and know-how, will do up however many proofs your creativity demands. Her atttention to detail and super fast turnaround is a plus! She has done our Birth Announcements and our Baptism Invitations.  And honestly, this is part of the reason I revealed the twins’ names.  Because I wanted to link to her website due to her fantabulousness, but figured someone would end up finding our Baptism Invitation there in the samples

POSTING/SHARING
Flickr – For every 100 pictures I take, I delete 90, contrast/exposure adjust 5, and upload 1 or 2.  Those few are uploaded to Flickr for purposes of adding to my WordPress blog at a later date, or simply to share with family, friends, or the decently behaving strangers.

If anything, particularly for personalities like mine, having a D-SLR has given me the freedom to just take pictures without thinking so hard about composition and film, which in turn used to paralyze me from snapping photos AT ALL because it wasn’t Just Right, thereby missing the moments altogether.

But sometimes it’s not the equipment or the timing, or the focus, or the flash that make the photo. Not the bag or the 3/4 rule or the lens or the lighting.

It’s simply the subject and the memory and the emotion that the photo elicits, like this candid shot of Jennifer holding Harper – one of my favorite photos EVER – taken with my Blackberry while still in the hospital, shaky-handed, exhausted, and utterly smitten.

Three Days Old

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