Tools of the Trade: Part I – In “The Bag”


So, I have no idea if anyone would even be interested to know what kind of tech and gear I use etc.. But I am always looking for recommendations, so I thought I would post a few of my own. This first post will cover everything I have in my default go-bag. Check back later for more posts covering software, sites, organization tools, etc..

In the bag

I shoot with a Canon 40D: I just love this camera. It is the first and only DSLR that I own. While I plan on upgrading to a Mark II as soon as I can afford it, I will never get rid of this camera. I have shot in rain, extreme heat, and everything in between and never once had a problem with it. The color handling is fantastic, the manual options are great and LCD display is accurate and pretty large.

Canon 40D camera body

As for lenses, I seriously need to expand my collection of glass, but for the past two years I have used only the kit lens, a Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom, and my favorite, a Canon EF 50 mm  f/1.8  prime. It is a very affordable lens, and the autofocus gets somewhat cranky in extreme temps but for the most part this lens is fantastic, sharp, fast, and tough.

I use a Canon Speedlite 580EX II for my main light…

Speedlite 580EX II

I usually fire off-body, but when I don’t have the speedlite mounted with a super-clamp or a stand, I usually top it with a Gary Fong GFLSC01 LightSphere Collapsible Diffuser.

Gary Fong

Other items always in my bag:

1. Plenty of 4Gb Lexar Media Professional Udma 300X Compact flash memory cards.

I like the 4Gb because if something happens to one of the cards, I have lost much less data then if I were using an 8 or 16. I don’t even look at the 32Gb. I sacrifice a bit of speed on these but since I don’t shoot a lot of action shots it isn’t a problem for me. And as far as brand loyalty goes, I’m a Lexar girl. I have had SanDisk CF’s corrupt on me so many times, but my Lexars have never let me down.

2. A reporter’s notebook +pen : Great for photo journalists on the run! Gotta get those names and contact info on anyone and everyone.

3. Plastic walmart bag

great for weather proofing on the run. Just burn a hole in the bottom of it and cover your camera with the bag while shooting through the hole.

4. Lighter- use it for focusing on subjects in very low light, melting lens-sized holes in walmart bag mentioned above (don’t inhale when burning plastics btw) and of course lighting cigarettes for subjects and clients. When trying to establish a connection with a client or a lead who smokes, I have a break with them. Say what you want about health, people take better pics when they are relaxed. Find that the thing that relaxes your models and try to meet them in that safe place. This is especially relevant to shooting bands and models since so many of them smoke.

5. Quick charge battery charger + car adapter (I really need a batter grip, but the budget is tight atm)

Found this one on Amazon via Best Stop Electronics and it works like a dream.

6. Pocket Wizard PWP-TR 801-125 PLUS II Transceiver – 2 Pack: These bad boys are worth the price, they are incredibly consistent and have such a long range. With these transceivers I can fire my speedlite from up to 1600 feet away.

7. Cowboystudio External Flash Battery Pack

8. Gaffer’s tape – this is a MUST for any photographer at all times. You never know when this stuff will come in handy and it is hard-core taping, too.

Additional items usually brought along….

9. Westcott 2021 60in. Optical White Satin with Removable Black Cover

10. Targus Extendable Tripod – 66″ – I rarely use a tripod, but it is good to have one with you at all times so I cary this ultra lightweight version from Targus. Though I have to work extra hard to get the screws to tighten enough to hold a heavy camera body + lens, for me it is worth it for the lightweight and the lightweight price. I got mine at Target for around 40 bucks. I think Amazon has em even cheaper.

11. Cowboy Studio Top Quality Aluminum Adjustable Light Stand with Case and swivel bracket w/ shoe mount

12. Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp with 2908 Standard Stud

Okay, I think that is all the gear that I own/normally carry with me. I occasionally rent gear as well…

For lenses and lights I recommend: Borrowlenses.com

I am still trying to find a good place for backdrop rentals, so if you know any of them that ship to the NW Arkansas area, let me know!

Visit again for more posts on the stuff I use.

Next time: Image Capture, RAW Conversion, and post processing software.

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