Friday, March 4, 2011


OK so the title might be misleading , we watch to many police shows on TV. I have had questions about what equipment I photograph with, what's in the bag??? I thought in this blog I would show what might be in my bag for either weddings, portraiture or nature. I usually carry all the same equipment in my bag no matter what kind of photography I'm planning on. I may add more of some items but it stays pretty much the same. I might carry 2 quantum turbos for a wedding but only one on a nature shoot. The reason is pretty simple I do not use my flash as much photographing nature and shoot a lot less images then when I'm shooting a wedding. All my equipment is Nikon other then my flash. I switched over to  quantum Trios about 3 years ago, when they were first introduced.  I find the quality of light much closer to studio lighting then any other hot shoe mounted flash. Quantum has been the choice of most well established wedding and studio photographers for years. Until the Trio was introduced, Quantum flashes  required the use of some kind of transmitter to use them off camera or have cables all over the floor not a really workable situation. With the Trio the flash is mounted on your camera's hot shoe and has built in transmitters and receivers, a big leap forward in  technology.
The TRIO and the Quantum Turbo Battery
In combination with the Quantum Turbo battery it is like having studio lighting wherever you go.
I have been using turbo batteries for dozens of years to power my nikon flashes. It would/will allow your flash to stay charged much longer and for it to recycle much quicker. Which would help you not miss a shot waiting for your flash to recharge. We own four Trios one for each of us, one to put on a pole for additional  light when needed and of course backup. If you are photographing anything and getting paid you need backups for all your lens, cameras, compact cards and flashes.
You cannot very well tell the person conducting the ceremony to wait while you go find another camera. I have had flash cards just crash during a wedding, not a happy day, thankfully there are companies that ( for a price) can recover your if not all most of your images. We typically shoot between 1000 - 2000 images at a wedding, you need cards, backup cards and more backups.

The NIKON D300 with a nikon 50mm attached

Side view you can see the 50mm is quite small but a great lens.

I always have 2 cameras on my body at every wedding; the Nikon D300 ( above) and the Nikon D300s.
I bought the D300s after that card crashed. Besides having video capabilities, the 300s has two card slots and allows for you to program how you want to use them, one way is to have one backup the other. This is what I do, I now have a backup of all my images that I shot. The odds of both cards crashing are pretty large so I feel much safer. The lens on the 300 in the above picture is a nikon 50mm 1.4 lens I love this lens for portraiture, candid portraits at weddings or other events. I always have it at 1.4 which gives me almost no depth of view but this is a good thing. When I focus on the person's eye I know their face is going to be tack sharp but all around them will be a beautiful softness. This really makes the face pop out of the image. The other great thing is that I paid about $160 for it. At 50mm the view is about what the human eye sees. It is not a lens you can use all the time but it does make for a great, inexpensive tool to have in your camera bag. Make no mistake all of this equipment, no matter how good or expensive, are just tools, you are the main reason your images come on out great on not so great. 
The Nikon 17 - 55 mm lens 2.8 shot with the 50mm

The lens that I use a majority of the day at a wedding is the Nikon 17 - 55 2.8 lens. I really like this lens . having a zoom from 17 - 55 mm is a great tool. It allows me to crop in camera which is great and the lens is sharp and at 2.8 extremely fast. I use it in combination with my 70-200 2.8 VR lens during the ceremony. With both those lens I feel I have it all covered and if I cannot use flash I can still get great shots in low light. I also use it for landscapes and some nature. It is this lens and the 50mm that I use during the bride prep.

The 70 - 200 2.8 VR lens is my favorite overall lens. I can zoom from 70 - 200 at will and still get crisp sharp images. With its Vibration reduction (VR) I can hand hold it in much lower light then I could ever without it. I use it during weddings, other events, portraiture, nature and landscape. I truly love this lens.

The nikon 12 -24 is a nice complementary lens, I use it less then any other but when I do it gives me a look like no other lens I own. The wide angle at 12 mm is a very interesting look. I use it during the reception to catch wide angle views of the dance floor. Many times I will hold it about the crowd pointed down at a group of people dancing and get a great shot from an angle you don't really see often.

A few tools I always have with me in my bag. My compact cards in their wallet. The wallet is hard plastic and protects them,  extra camera battery and charger. Just in case I need a extra battery or need one charged.
Bottom images is lens cleaner with micro cloth ( a great product) and my remote that I use mostly in nature.

Like most pro photographers I have had dozens of bags throughout the years. The company I now use exclusively is Think Tank a great professional and practical bag. I own 2 the airport bag, which I have used for years in my travels and love. Recently I bought 2 retrospective lens changer bags in many great features that I wont go into now. We love these bags and they don't look like a camera bag. A great feature for security.
My work station.  My desktop Mac, I would never buy another PC EVER, I repeat EVER.
You can also see my Wacom Bamboo tablet ( really need it if you do any PS work) and a few of my external disks. Plus my surge protector with built in BU. You can also see my Cisco Valet router. The easiest  way to go wireless available.
That is it  pretty much. I always carry water and power bars in my bag plus some other small things.
If you have any questions about any of this just ask in your comment. I'll get back with an answer.


Prasad N said...

Very infomratiive

Patricia Lynne said...

Wow, you're packing some heavy duty heat. ;)

JP Brandano Photography said...

I need it lol But you do not know how true your words are. Walking around with this bag loaded is hard work!!!:)

Anonymous said...

Let me just say I am officially jealous!!! I wish I could afford an awesome camera like that! Great post, quite informative. Thanks for commenting and following my blog; I'm now following yours as well.

Mari S. Wilbur said...

Great gear to say the least!!!

Debbie said...

Sir... Hand over that bag :P

Anonymous said...

Wow, you carry a lot of stuff!! But you are right, this is one of the most important days in a person's life, you don't want to muck it up. How many people do you have helping you shoot a wedding?

Sherry said...

Jim - as a photography novice I learned A LOT today! Thank you!

JP Brandano Photography said...

Thank you everyone any questions just email them to me, I'll answer as quickly as I cam

Rita Venter said...

Love your blog. I dabble in photography and am always invited to every function to play photographer. I can see see great tips here. :)

JIM said...

Thank You Rita.. I actually wrote a post on always being the one with the camera at family events
Thank You .. Hope your following

FAYErydust said...

Is that your first camera? If not, what was the first camera you used when you were just starting photography?

Here in the Philippines, cameras are VERY expensive. if you are going to recommend a good camera which is VERY cheap, what is it?

JIM said...

Faye the best camera for you is the one you can afford. I am not being funny it is true. The camera is a tool you are the one that will get the great images. If you can afford a nikon or Canon 355 dslr I would. Used is good just make sure it works have a few days to use it before the sale is complete. Once you have it then study and you can do this on line. Many good photographers have web sites with free info. Plus I will always help you with any questions.

FAYErydust said...

What's your first camera?

Digital Gold said...

Very nice equipment collection. Thanks for showing off all of your tools.

All the best,

Miami wedding photographer

Dania Reichmuth Visual Artist said...

Hi What is the guide number for the Quantum trio flashes? thanks a lot