the camera gear I use…

Recently a reader asked about the camera I use for these blog posts. I have been wanting for some time to describe how I go about writing a post – so here’s my chance.

For me, they usually revolve around photos. that’s how I organize a lecture, and it’s how I write articles usually too. In the shop, here’s what it often looks like when I am planning a post:

and my shot ends up like this:

The camera is a Nikon D80, usually fitted with a Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm lens. When I have the time, and have the place to myself, I kill the overhead lights & try to light things the way I need them.  I often will bracket the shots; my shop has windows behind me, so I usually will over-expose in the bracketing.

The camera sits on a Bogen/Manfrotto tripod, a hand-me-down from Alexander who once used my cheaper Bogen &  sent me this one instead.

I use a remote trigger for the shutter; sometimes it ends up in detail shots, here it’s in my left hand. It can shoot right away, or with a delayed timer ticking down. My kids love to take pictures with it.

remote in my left hand

The lights are ones I bought several years ago. I am brain-dead when it comes to flash systems, so I like to use continuous lighting.  The lights are OK – they could be stronger. Next ones will be. These were designed for product shots for Ebay –   I got the 55 watt bulbs.  The stands and fixtures are too flimsy. I hope to upgrade this end of things in 2012.

Much of the year, my shop is mayhem; open to the public 7 days a week, and other craftsmen & women in the room. So I sometimes shoot very quickly, and those pictures show it. But I always use the tripod, and when I can, try to light it with the daylight-balanced lights. If the shots are going to be keepers beyond the blog, then I certainly kill the overhead fluorescents.  In the winter, the museum is closed, that’s why the winter months I get more blog posts out – I keep the lights & tripod out all  the time, so I can set up a shot easier.

For the birds, I switch lenses to a 55-300mm zoom. But that’s a  small lens for birds.  You still have to get real close to them…



3 thoughts on “the camera gear I use…

  1. red tail hawk?

    Being the child of a professional photographer, I’m more interested in the bird … and yes, 300mm is about 30% of what you really want for birds.

    Being the child of a professional photographer – part 2. Your blog photos are very good Peter, well thought out, getting right to the point you want to illustrate. Dad didn’t live to see the day when the very rapid advances in photography made it possible for many of us to do pro quality work without needing to hire the pro.

    Keep ’em coming, esp the birds. :)

  2. Like your woodworking/carving tips, I’ve used some of your photography tips when I send friends and relatives a shot of something I’m doing in the shop, and I must say, you have improved me in both areas.
    Thanks Peter.
    And the bird pictures are always very cool too !
    Thanks again.

  3. Peter,
    Thanks for the great information. You have some beautiful work on this blog and equally impressive photography. As a knifemaker, I can fully relate to the difficulty of making good photos of your work. In fact, I think it is more difficult to take a good picture of a knife than it is to make the knife itself. I certainly agree with you on using well-placed background lights instead of depending on the camera’s flash. I look forward to reading more.

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