What is in my bag...
Even though I learned on a manual Pentax camera, when it was time to buy a new body I decided to switch to Nikon. With the dawning of the digital age at that time I was not sure if Pentax would adequately support their traditional camera's and I wanted to invest in a system that would work for us for a long time. To me, a Nikon or Canon seemed to be the logical choice and since Nikon lenses were interchangeable with all bodies but Canon's not I decided to go with Nikon. I buy most of my equipment second hand - either through colleagues or eBay - so interchangeability was a big issue for me.
I started out with the advanced amateur Nikon N8008s bodies and the standard 28mm f2.8, 55mm f2.8 macro, 135mm f2.8 and a 70-300mm macro zoom. Personally, I prefer the 55mm macro lens and about three quarters of what I shoot is shot with that lens. It has virtually no lens distortion (parallel lines are slightly bend) and can be used both as a standard lens and a macro lens. A couple of years ago I added a 28mm f4 PC lens and more recently a 200mm f2.8 1:1 macro lens and upgraded the N8008s bodies for N90s. As you probably noticed, I try and stay away from zoom lenses. The zoom opticals I can afford are not as good as traditional fixed focal length lenses and I'd rather switch lenses than loose sharpness.
My preferred capture is the Fuji Reala negative film, though I have shot with Fuji Velvia as well. I prefer the Velvia 100 over the Velvia 50 as the color temperature seems to be a bit more natural. The reason I mostly shoot negative is that prints from negative are the sharpest as there are the least amount of steps involved. Prints from slides tend to have a bit more contrast (slides capture less range of contrast than negative film does) and tend to be a bit less sharp since an internegative has to be made to make a print (and every step looses quality). For a long time direct prints from slides called Ilfachromes were the norm but the process has been discontinued for a few years now, unfortunately.
My quest for very sharp prints has taught me to use the lowest ASA number possible, which at this time and age is 100, and to always use a tripod - no matter what shutterspeed you're working at. For long trips we use a Gitzo carbonfiber tripod with an Arca-Swiss ballhead, though I prefer the Bogen 3220 tripod myself. I also purchased a medium format Hasselblad 120mm camera that I love to use for architectural works. Its detail shows all the nooks and crannies in wood and stone work and its square format seems to work well with compositions made up of man made objects.
As for filters and other enhancing methods - I use the minimum possible. Though neutral and graduated density filters and circular polarizers are indispensable in the field, personally I do not use anything else, including color enhancement filters or enhancement software like photoshop. The images that are captured on film are scanned with minimal alterations - nothing more than regular darkroom techniques - and images that are captured digitally are processed similarly. I do use a professional photolab and high quality chromogenic color papers to get the best possible print and I prefer a chemical print over an inkjet one for high gloss color any day!
I hope you enjoyed this information! And my advice to you, my fellow photographer, is to bring your camera wherever you go and shoot, shoot, shoot!
For more information you can visit these links:
• how did I get started?
◦ what's in my bag
• my artists' statement