K6 Studios: Blog https://www.k6studios.com/blog en-us (C) K6 Studios [email protected] (K6 Studios) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:16:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:16:00 GMT https://www.k6studios.com/img/s/v-12/u929730081-o496414376-50.jpg K6 Studios: Blog https://www.k6studios.com/blog 90 120 HDR Photography https://www.k6studios.com/blog/2017/4/hdr-photography We’ve all been there…you take a photo of an amazing sunset or other cool scene, but once you look at it afterwards on your computer you’re completely underwhelmed at the result.  This typically happens because of user error, which stems from either overexposing or underexposing the image.  Sometimes you can fix the issue in post-processing with software such as Adobe Photoshop, but even then, it more than likely still won’t look like what you remembered.  Here’s the issue…most digital cameras on the market today can only capture anywhere from 10-14 stops of light, whereas the human eye can see a dynamic range of about 24 stops of light.  To put it in easier to understand terms, a stop of light is a measurable value that refers to the change in the amount of light that is visible.  When referring to cameras, every stop doubles the amount of light hitting the sensor.  This is also known as aperture or f-stop.  A lens with an aperture of f/2.8 (larger) allows much more light through than a lens with an aperture of f/22 (smaller).  The larger aperture rating (f/2.8 in this example) is more important, because it means it can take photos in lower light scenarios.  Our eyes work in much the same way.  So what does this all have to do with your pretty sunset photo not looking the way you saw it?  Simply put, camera sensors are unable to process all the highlights, mid tones, and shadows in an image equally.  That’s where HDR photography comes into play.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography is the process of shooting multiple, bracketed images of the same scene, and then merging them together during post-processing to get a better representation of what you actually saw.  The process itself is rather easy, especially if your camera can bracket images.  Most of the HDR images I shoot are three images stacked together.  The first image is what the camera deems as the correct exposure for the scene, or the 0 EV (Exposure Value) exposure.  The second is a +2 EV, and the third is a -2 EV.  Here’s how it’s done.  You first need to set your camera on manual mode (M).  Next, you will want to adjust your exposure for what your first image will be (0 EV), and once that’s done you then need to select the bracket (BKT on Nikon DSLRs) setting on your camera and set it to 3F (3 frames).  Once that’s done you’re ready to shoot, and although I would highly recommend using a tripod, it’s not completely necessary.  Using a tripod will make it much easier to stack the three images together later. 

Once you have your three source images (0 EV, +2 EV, -2 EV) you will then load them into your choice of photo software program.  Although there are several HDR software programs to choose from, I would recommend using either Adobe Photoshop, Photomatix Pro, or Aurora HDR.  They all have their strengths and weaknesses, and there’s no wrong choice.  For many years, I used Photomatix Pro for my HDR images, but recently I have moved over to using Macphun’s Aurora HDR because it is has a great user friendly interface and is easy to use.  If you’ve never had the opportunity to try either I would highly recommend downloading a trial version of each to see which one works better for your workflow. 

Below is a screenshot of the Aurora HDR home screen.  You have one of two options:  Load Image(s) or Batch Processing.  Batch processing allows you to take a large group or folder of bracketed images and process them all at once.  You can also process a single image into a faux HDR with good results.  In this case, we are only going to drag our three bracketed images into the window to start the process.   

These are my three source images, which were shot at Arches National Park a few weeks ago using a fisheye lens.  As you can see, one looks good, one looks overexposed, and the other looks underexposed.   I always click the checkbox on the lower left for Alignment, because it saves me the extra hassle of doing it later on.  You also have the option to reduce ghosting, which is a side effect of HDR processing that creates a halo around some objects.  You also have the option to remove green and purple fringing (chromatic aberration), which occurs from color shifting in brightly lit scenes.

These images only took about 30 seconds for Aurora HDR to process.  Shown below is the rendered image within the workflow window.  Here, you have the option to do all sorts of tweaks to fully customize how your image looks, just like in any other photo processing software.  You can also use several HDR presets, and change the opacity of each so that if the image is too over the top you can tone it down.  HDR photography can be as realistic or unrealistic as you want it to be…that’s the beauty of it.

And voila!  Here is the original correct exposure on the left, along with the bracketed HDR version on the right.  As you can see, the HDR version has way more detail and has a nice exposure throughout the entire image.  There is much more detail in the rock face, and the harsh shadows now have detail.  The light spikes from the sun are more prominent, and the cloud detail is far more dramatic.  Not bad! 

I hope you found this week’s blog to be informative.  HDR photography is a great way to get more detail out of your images, and allows an endless amount of creative options.  And remember, if you can’t bracket images you always have the option to use a single source image to create an HDR effect with the right software.  Feel free to leave me any feedback, comments, or questions below.  Don’t forget that you create a login at the bottom of the page to save your favorite images, add yourself to our mailing list, and receive updates on new photo shoots and projects.

[email protected] (K6 Studios) Arches National Park Aurora HDR HDR HDR Photography High Dynamic Range High Dynamic Range Photography Macphun Moab National Parks Photomatix Pro Utah bracketing exposure bracketing fisheye landscape photography landscapes photography https://www.k6studios.com/blog/2017/4/hdr-photography Fri, 07 Apr 2017 14:58:00 GMT
Photography & Philanthropy: The Importance of Photographing for Charities. https://www.k6studios.com/blog/2017/3/photography-philanthropy-the-importance-of-photographing-for-charities Photography is one of the few art forms that genuinely has the power to inspire, educate, and persuade.   Plus, it provides an outlet for people to generate an emotional connection with an idea or cause.  Images create an almost instant impact for the viewer, whether it be positive or negative about the subject matter.  Throughout my career, I have been obsessed with photojournalism and documentary photography.  The reason for this is that I want the images I shoot to tell a visually compelling story, whether it’s just a single image or an entire group.  The best way I know how to express myself is through photojournalism. 

One of the greatest opportunities I have had over the years as a photographer has been giving back to my community by dedicating a few hours of my time and talent every so often in support of a good cause.  Sure, it’s great making money, but sometimes it’s even more important to do a little pro bono work to support those in need.  There's no better feeling than brightening someone's day simply by volunteering your time.  Although what you're doing may not seem like a big deal, it may mean the world to someone else because you never know what they've been through.  

Over the past couple of years, I have had the pleasure of shooting the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network PurpleStride in Las Vegas.  PanCAN is a nationwide organization providing research, patient services, and fundraising efforts in the fight against pancreatic cancer.  Currently, the 5-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer is only at 9%.  This was the third year for the event in Las Vegas, and a total of $103,000 was raised.  Below is a set of images of the event that attempt to tell the story of those who wage hope in their fight against pancreatic cancer.    

PANCAN, "Pancreatic Cancer Action Network", PurpleStride, "Las Vegas", "PurpleStride Las Vegas"
Dave Coon, President of Anderson Dairy, speaks to the crowd at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network PurpleStride 2017 in Las Vegas. He is joined by the family and friends of Harold Bellanger, who passed away last June after battling pancreatic cancer. Harold helped run the dairy for over 60 years.

PANCAN, "Pancreatic Cancer Action Network", PurpleStride, "Las Vegas", "PurpleStride Las Vegas"
Mark Shunock, Owner of The Space, pumps up the crowd during the opening ceremonies of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network PurpleStride 2017 in Las Vegas.

PANCAN, "Pancreatic Cancer Action Network", PurpleStride, "Las Vegas", "PurpleStride Las Vegas"
The start of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network PurpleStride 2017 5k walk/run in Las Vegas.

PANCAN, "Pancreatic Cancer Action Network", PurpleStride, "Las Vegas", "PurpleStride Las Vegas" Family members lift each others arms in victory as they cross the finish line at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network PurpleStride 2017 in Las Vegas.

PANCAN, "Pancreatic Cancer Action Network", PurpleStride, "Las Vegas", "PurpleStride Las Vegas"
Mica Keller runs towards the finish line as she holds up a sign that says she's running for her grandmother.

PANCAN, "Pancreatic Cancer Action Network", PurpleStride, "Las Vegas", "PurpleStride Las Vegas" A participant holds a "Cancer Sucks" sign in the air after crossing the finish line.

PANCAN, "Pancreatic Cancer Action Network", PurpleStride, "Las Vegas", "PurpleStride Las Vegas"

A young woman performing an arabesque ballet pose under a balloon arch at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network PurpleStride 2017 in Las Vegas.

PANCAN, "Pancreatic Cancer Action Network", PurpleStride, "Las Vegas", "PurpleStride Las Vegas"
Big D, radio host for 95.5 The Bull, pays up his end of the bet at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network PurpleStride 2017 in Las Vegas.

PANCAN, "Pancreatic Cancer Action Network", PurpleStride, "Las Vegas", "PurpleStride Las Vegas"
The pancreatic cancer survivors in attendance hold up the Wage Hope banner, along with a sign indicating that they have reached their goal for this year's event.

"You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live."  

          ~ Stuart Scott (Former ESPN Anchor)

To see more images from this event please visit the gallery
here.  Thanks for stopping by this week.  If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.

[email protected] (K6 Studios) Charity Charity Event Las Vegas Pancreatic Cancer PurpleStride Wage Hope cancer pancan philanthropy https://www.k6studios.com/blog/2017/3/photography-philanthropy-the-importance-of-photographing-for-charities Fri, 31 Mar 2017 15:03:20 GMT
Shooting Landscape Panoramas https://www.k6studios.com/blog/2017/3/shooting-landscape-panoramas There are times in photography where even the widest-angle lens in your kit just won’t cut it to get a wide landscape or amazing sunset.  Not only does an ultra-wide angle lens introduce a large amount of distortion, but it also makes it difficult to get a great amount of detail during post processing.  On top of that, if you wanted to get a panoramic crop you would tend to lose about 50-60% of your starting image.  There are many ways you can go about shooting panoramic images, but the easiest way is to use your camera on a tripod and then rotate the camera after each frame.  Ok, maybe it’s not the easiest way, but that is the way that will make the most sense for those just starting out.  For those of you with Apple iPhones you most likely already know how to use the feature on your phone.  Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone panorama feature is cool (and yes, I use mine for it from time to time for fun), but if you want to get an enormous amount of detail in the final image for printing you’re better off using an SLR-type of camera. 

I will be completely honest with you…I cheat when shooting panos.  There were many times in the past when I used the rotate and shoot method and I just didn’t get what I wanted in the end.  The reason I didn’t is because of stitching errors from what is known as the no-parallax point.  Without getting overly technical, the no-parallax point is a specific distance (in millimeters) from the optical center of a lens to the plane of the camera’s sensor.  So that this makes more sense, hold your index finger straight up in the air with your arm extended straight out from your nose.  Then close one eye, and switch back and forth closing each eye.  You will notice that your finger will appear to shift, but all you’re really seeing is parallax.  The same process happens in photography, except between the lens and the sensor.  It is much more noticeable when you have an object or objects in the foreground of your photos, and it is much harder to correct for.  Many photographers use a piece of equipment known as a nodal slide, which will allow you to manually find the no-parallax point relatively easily.  I have used them many times in the past and I’m not a huge fan, but they do work.  So how do I cheat at taking panos?  I use what is called a Gigapan Epic Pro-V.  In a nutshell, it is a robotic panoramic tripod head that communicates with my cameras to automatically calculate and fire the shots I need to stitch together the final image.  Just about 95% of the time with the Gigapan, I don’t need to adjust for the no-parallax point, but there are rare times I do.  It’s a relatively heavy setup, but it makes shooting panos easier than anything else I’ve ever used.  During setup, the GIgapan asks you where you want the top left of the pano and the bottom right, and then it automatically calculates how many images it will need to fire.  Once you press go it does its job.  Below are a couple of photos of it in action.

Ease of use isn’t the only reason I use the Gigapan to shoot panoramas.  The main reason is because I can get far more detail in the overall image.  So you can understand the amount of detail you can get with the Gigapan, here is a panorama I shot of the Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park, Utah last weekend, along with a 100% crop of the same image.  If you've never had the opportunity to visit Arches I would highly recommend it.  It is an incredible sight to behold, and probably the closest thing you would ever get to being on the surface of Mars.

Fiery Furnace – Arches National Park, UT
  Fiery Furnace – Arches National Park, UT

   Fiery Furnace – 100% Crop (Just slightly left of center from original image)


For most of the images in this series, I used a Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lens at f/10.  Each pano was anywhere from 70-210 images, depending on the width.  Each one of the following images are 3ft x 10ft at 300dpi, which is huge, but keep in mind that most of the panos I shoot have a source file that has a length of anywhere from 24-36 feet in length.  The longest panoramic I’ve shot with a Gigapan had a source file of over 300 feet long (not kidding).  I always keep the original source file, but scale down a copy since it’s not feasible to print something that large in most cases. 

"Arches National Park", Utah, Moab, "Arches NP", Arches
  Landscape Arch – Arches National Park, UT

"Arches National Park", Utah, Moab, "Arches NP", Arches
  Park Avenue – Arches National Park, UT

"Arches National Park", Utah, Moab, "Arches NP", Arches
  Skyline Arch – Arches National Park, UT

"Arches National Park", Utah, Moab, "Arches NP", Arches
  Turret Arch – Arches National Park, UT

And there you have it!  Keep in mind that I do this stuff for a living.  The Gigapan is a luxury niche item, and isn’t something that many full-time photographers use.  If you want to put a little time and effort into getting good results just use your camera on a tripod.  Always shoot wider and taller than you need for the desired result, and leave about a 10 degree overlap on each photo.  Always shoot panos in fully manual mode (if your camera allows), to prevent color shifting across the final pano.  Then invest a few bucks into some panoramic stitching software, such as Photoshop or PTGui.  Even better, you can save your money and get Hugin panoramic stitching software for FREE.  Shooting panoramas can be frustrating, but the end result is amazing with enough practice.    


Be sure to keep checking back to my Arches National Park gallery over the next several days, as I will be uploading lots more photos from my latest trip.  If you enjoyed this week’s post or have any questions, feel free to leave comments below.

[email protected] (K6 Studios) Arches Arches National Park Desert Fiery Furnace Gigapan Landscape Arch Landscapes Moab Panorama Panoramic Park Avenue Rocks Scenic Shooting Landscape Panoramas Skyline Arch Turret Arch Utah https://www.k6studios.com/blog/2017/3/shooting-landscape-panoramas Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:29:00 GMT
Before & After: The Process of Making a Good Image Great https://www.k6studios.com/blog/2017/3/before-after-the-process-of-making-a-good-image-great Last week I told you about what I carry in my camera bag.  That only gives you a small look into what it takes to be a photographer, and that’s just from an equipment standpoint.  Shooting an image is only a small portion of the result.  This week, I will show you some of my personal post-processing techniques with portraits.  Before we begin, I would like to inform you on one of the biggest misconceptions in photography.  There aren’t many instances in professional photography where what you see is what you get.  Anyone who does this for a living uses some sort of manipulation software, whether it be Adobe Photoshop or whatever else.  That goes for any type of photography.  I probably don’t even need to tell you this, but all the images you see of celebrities and models in magazines are all retouched in some way or another.  Sometimes it’s a matter of blemish removal, and many other times it involves slimming someone down or making their skin look flawless.  Most of the time it involves all the above.  It all boils down to perception and how the client wants to be viewed, and in the case of magazines, how the editors want their audience to perceive that person.  Here, I’ll show you how it’s done with a couple of different software programs.

Below is a straight out the camera image of Cassie Hayek shot with a Nikon D810 and a Nikon 105mm f/1.4 lens at f/4.  Some of you may say, “man it’s looks just fine as is.”  But being the perfectionist I am, I’ll show you how to make it look amazing.

The first thing I do with the image (after putting the images on my network attached storage and cataloging) is to open the image in a program called PortraitPro by Anthropics Lab.  The program asks you to choose whether the subject is male or female, and adult or child.  Once you make your selection (in this case I would choose adult female) the program runs an algorithm on the subject and makes a general determination on where certain features are located, such as the eyes, nose, mouth, and facial curvature.  It’s accurate, but most of the time I need to manually move the waypoints slightly to give a better rendition.  If the waypoints are off, then the adjustments you make have a tendency of bleeding over into portions of the image you don’t want it to. 

Once I’m satisfied with the alignment, I then determine what I want the image to look like in the end.  Since this portrait is a modeling image and has a glamorous sort of feel to it, I move around the sliders to enhance that look.  Here is the part where all the magic happens.  I didn't really like the overall darkness of the image, and even though it was exposed correctly, I decided to brighten it up quite a bit.  I decided that I wanted to brighten her eyes, enhance her mascara, brighten her lipstick and face, and finally brighten and smooth out her skin without washing out the texture completely. 

The entire feel of the image changed after making the adjustments.  Before, it looked like a pretty decent portrait, but after it has a dreamy, surreal look to it.  All women want to feel beautiful and glamorous and I’m pretty confident I achieved it in this case.  If I had really wanted to, I could have changed her eye, lipstick, or hair colors but in this example there’s no need.  My focus point of the image was her eyes, and that’s what I wanted the viewers to be drawn to.  After finishing up the Image in PortraitPro, I then export it as a new file.  But I don’t stop there.  I drag that new image into Adobe Photoshop so I can clean up small blemishes, dust spots, flyaway hairs, and add sharpening.  Then I finish up by cropping the image to taste.  Once that part is done I then save the image.  Now we’re done!  Here is the final image.

To make it easier to see the before and after, here is a side by side comparison of the original on the left and the finished version on the right.  The difference between the two is like night and day.  Making a few simple adjustments completely changed the overall look and feel of the image.     

Keep in mind that the workflow I use for portraits isn’t the same as I would use for something such as sports or even landscape photography.  Each one is approached differently.  There are even times when the workflow might change per image from an entire shoot.  It’s all a matter of the look you’re going for. 


Although it was a brief, I hope you guys enjoyed this week’s post.  If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below.

[email protected] (K6 Studios) https://www.k6studios.com/blog/2017/3/before-after-the-process-of-making-a-good-image-great Thu, 09 Mar 2017 15:30:00 GMT
What's In My Camera Bag? https://www.k6studios.com/blog/2017/3/whats-in-my-camera-bag This is one of the most common questions I get as a professional photographer.  Before I go into that, I can tell you that one of the biggest things I have learned over my 20 years of doing photography is that the camera doesn’t really matter.  I have shot great images with throw away film cameras, $20 Holgas, and do-it-yourself pinhole cameras.  It has a lot more to do with the technique than the equipment.  Patience is also crucial in photography, and unfortunately, I have very little.  But that’s beside the point.  I started my career shooting in the film era with a Nikon FM-10, which you can still buy to this day.  It is a fully manual camera with none of the luxuries of the autofocus we have come to love.  Once I felt comfortable (and saved a ton of money) I moved up to a Nikon N90s, which cost over $1500 at the time.  Yes, there used to be a time when you would have to load film into a camera, shoot it, and then use what is called a darkroom to process and print it.  Sarcasm aside, I tried to stay the course with film as long as I could, and there are still times when I miss shooting film.  That was during a time when you couldn’t “chimp” your images, and it really made you work hard at not only shooting selectively, but processing by hand as well to be good.  Speaking of that, here’s a challenge I encourage everyone with a digital camera to try:  Put a sticky note or tape a piece of paper over the LCD screen and shoot completely in manual mode.  Only then will you learn how to become a better photographer, and trust me it’s not easy.  Although my mentor and prior photography instructor tried to talk me out of it, I eventually went digital before most other people out of sheer curiosity more than anything.  Well that, and the fact that I’m a digital junkie.  The first professional digital camera I ever used was the Nikon N90s with a Kodak NC2000 digital bottom that cost somewhere in the ballpark of $18K at the time…and although it was good enough for newspaper work, all you got in the end was a crummy 1.3 megapixel image.  Most smartphones can do better than that now at a fraction of the cost.  It wasn’t until 2004 that I fully made the leap over to digital for my personal work when I purchased a Nikon D70.  This was one of the first digital SLR cameras that were realistically affordable for the average person.  Since then, I have had many different camera bodies and lenses throughout the years.  So, what’s in my camera bag you ask?  The short answer is, it depends on what I’m shooting.  I carry anything from a fully loaded backpack with just about every lens you would ever need on a typical shoot, to a sling bag with just enough to get by without breaking my back.  To put it in context, here’s what I typically carry in my fully loaded backpack.


My main pack is the Think Tank Photo StreetWalker Hard Drive.  It’s built like a tank, and has more than enough space and compartments to carry plenty of equipment to get the job done.  It also has a padded, breathable lumbar support, which is good when carrying a heavy load.  My quick grab-n-go bag is a Hazard 4 Photo-Recon tactical optics sling pack.  Built for combat photography, this bag is slim line and covered with molle webbing.  This is a great feature, because the molle allows for a fully modular bag with the addition of extra pouches on its exterior.  Plus, it’s carry on approved so you don’t have to worry about baggage handlers destroying your expensive equipment.  Nice…


The computer I use for a majority of my work is the late 2016 15” MacBook Pro w/Touchbar.  I won’t go into a huge amount of detail on it, but it’s a great machine that can handle just about anything you can throw at it.  The biggest drawback (and you’ll hear many complaints about it if you read the reviews), is that there are no USB 3.0 ports whatsoever.  Instead, Apple decided to adopt the newer USB-C technology, which allows data and power transfer all in one cable.  I don’t see this as much of an issue, since as a photographer I tend to carry all types of dongles, cables, and adapters for card readers and other devices anyways.  It’s not nearly as powerful as a Mac Pro tower, but it allows me to be mobile.  If I need to edit on-site and deliver images to a client on the spot I can do it, and when I have an extensive amount of editing to do at home I simply connect it to a 27” Dell 4K monitor for more screen real estate.


The two cameras I shoot presently are the Nikon D810 and a Nikon D3.  When I need high-resolution, but can sacrifice the frame rate I grab the D810, since it shoots at over 36 megapixels.  Unfortunately, it only delivers 6 frames per second at its highest setting, and under optimal conditions.  On the other hand, when I can afford to sacrifice the high-resolution for speed I grab the D3.  It clocks in at a whopping 11 frames per second, and was built with the photojournalist in mind.  Don’t get me wrong, this camera is by no means a slouch, but nevertheless it shoots 12 effective megapixels.  While I’m on the topic of megapixels, keep in mind that in most cases a camera’s megapixel count is just marketing fluff.  I’m not saying that it isn’t important, but there are more important factors in a camera’s ability to deliver, such as pixel density, that really matter.  In general, the denser the pixels, the better the overall resolution capability will be.  I can print images from either of these cameras much larger than most people would ever need on a wall.  Soon, I plan on adding medium format back into the mix by purchasing a Pentax 645Z, which yields 51.4 megapixels.


The lenses I currently have in my arsenal are the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, Nikon 70-200 f/2.8G VR, Nikon 300mm f/2.8 VR, Nikon 60mm f/2.8G Micro, Nikon 85mm f/1.8G, Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 UMC fisheye, and a Nikon TC-14E III teleconverter.  My two main “go to” lenses are the 24-70mm f/2.8G and the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR.  If I’m going for creative and/or distorted I use an ultra-wide angle, such as the 14-24mm f/2.8G or the Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 UMC fisheye.  Even though the Rokinon fisheye is a fully manual focus lens, it is a really cool lens that gives a full 180-degree diagonal angle of view.  For up close and personal, I use the 60mm f/2.8G Micro, and for portraits I grab the 85mm f/1.8G.  When shooting sports (and sometimes the occasional long-distance portrait) I carry the 300mm f/2.8 VR, but I don’t carry it in my backpack because it is a beast of a lens.  A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to test out the new Nikon 105mm f/1.4G, and it may be my new favorite lens.  Time to save up some money!

Memory Cards: 

At any given time, I carry at least four each of the Lexar Professional 16GB and 32GB 1066x compact flash cards, and a couple of 64GB Lexar 1066x SD cards.  I keep all of them in a Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket, which is a foldable card wallet that is sort of like a padded Rolodex for memory cards.  For those of you not old enough to know what a Rolodex was, Google is your friend.  Why so many you ask?  Here’s why.  There’s nothing like being in the middle of a shoot, only to have the dreaded “CARD ERR” message pop up on your camera’s LCD screen.  In short, that means it can’t read the card, either because it’s not supported or it has become corrupted.  If that happens, chances are you lost everything you just shot.  All electronics are prone to failure, so I carry much more than I need just in case.  Having a backup to the backup is essential when working with clients.  The D3 has two CF slots, so I use two of the same card and write to both simultaneously for good measure.  The same goes for the D810, with the exception that it has one CF slot and one SD slot.  Look at it as a prepaid insurance policy.


The two flashes I typically use are the Nikon SB-900 and Nikon SB-910.  These are two of the best hot shoe flashes Nikon offers, and although the SB-900 was replaced by the SB-910, it is still a great flash and works perfect.  One word of advice I can give you all about using any hot shoe flash, no matter the brand, is to use a low discharge rechargeable battery, such as the Panasonic Eneloop.  Here’s why.  Regular off-the-shelf AA batteries can’t handle the heat dissipation like Eneloops, and can literally melt the flash head from repeated firing in a short time span.  Trust me, I’ve seen it happen, although I’ve never managed to do it myself…yet.


I’m a gravitationally challenged guy with small hands, yet I prefer the bulk of a larger camera because it balances out better.  So, I use a Nikon MB-D12 Battery Grip on the D810 to make it bigger, and as a bonus, it adds a vertical shutter release button to make the transition from portrait to landscape mode easy peasy.  Spare camera batteries are an absolute must, so I carry 3-4 spares for each camera.  If you’ve been paying attention without getting overly bored you already know why I carry the Eneloop batteries.

Odds & Ends: 

Even when I’m shooting outdoors without flash or strobes I always carry a Sekonic LiteMaster Pro L-478D-U light meter, along with a 5-degree spot viewfinder.  Most people think that light meters are just for studio work…wrong.  They also work great to help adjust your exposure for the ambient light settings, since most of the time the in-camera metering is off one way or another.  Plus, most of the time the camera’s histograms are completely worthless.  Some other things I always have in my bag are various filters, a Leatheman multi-tool, business cards, a notebook, pens, rubber bands, dust blower, sensor cleaning tools, coffee filters (yes you read that right!), and a roll of gaffer tape (very important!).  Why coffee filters and gaffer tape?  Coffee filters, although an integral part of making that perfect cup of warm goodness, can also be used as a flash diffuser or white balancing tool in a pinch.  Just wrap one around a flash head, secure it with a rubber band, and boom you have a cheap diffuser.  Gaffer tape is one of the most important items in a photographer’s bag.  This type of tape leaves no residue, and can be used for a multitude of things, such as securing a zoom ring on a lens so it doesn’t move, taping a flash to a wall, or taping down long cords.  Tripping yourself or clients isn’t good.  As a bonus, it also makes the perfect coffee holder.  Can’t beat that!

Not in my bag, but carry on me: 

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…wait wrong story.  Let’s try again.  A long time ago, I used to wear a shooting vest that had a million pockets for film, lenses, filters, etc.  I had a system in place to keep track of what was where, but when you’re in a rush all that goes right out the window.  Not only that, and even though I’m not a fashionista, I also felt it looked ridiculous.  I just couldn’t help but to laugh at myself every time I put it on no matter how much I loved photography.  Well that was then, and this is now.  I’ve since one-upped the ridiculousness by using a Spider Dual Camera Holster.  If you love old westerns, and always dreamed of playing the role of John Wayne, except as a photographer, then this is your ticket.  It really does look like something straight out of the Wild Wild West, and since I’m in Nevada why not!?  It allows me to carry a camera on each hip so I can quickly draw and fire.  Doc Holliday would be proud!  Does it look ridiculous?  Absolutely!  Does it really work?  You betcha!  When I don’t feel like playing the old west photo slinger, I grab my BlackRapid RS-Sport camera sling.  It’s not as flashy as the holster, but it works.  When I need a monopod support, I use the Induro Grand Stealth Series 3 Carbon Fiber monopod, with a TH2 tilt head.  It can support up to 22lbs and weighs only 2lbs.  It can also be used as a walking stick, a crutch, or a cane for all the back pain I endure from carrying such as heavy backpack.

So, as you can see, this is an enormous amount of equipment to carry all at once.  And that’s just one bag!  It’s heavy, bulky, and doesn’t fare well with long-distance treks.  I adjust my bag as needed, depending on the shoot.  Remember that the gear listed above only scratches the surface to the entire assortment of other gear I use on a regular basis.  But we will save that for another time.

Feel free to leave any comments or feedback below.  If there is something you want to learn about, let me know and I’ll do my best to write up something specific if there’s enough interest. 

[email protected] (K6 Studios) Nikon What's in my bag? camera bag equipment equipment list lenses photographer photography https://www.k6studios.com/blog/2017/3/whats-in-my-camera-bag Wed, 01 Mar 2017 21:52:28 GMT