The story of my gear

To give you the short version of what you're about to read, my gear has come a LONG way since I first got into this. My first camera, which was given to me by a family friend in the photography world, was a Canon Powershot A540. With 6 megapixels and 4x optical zoom, the world was my oyster! I took that thing with me everywhere, and immediately fell in love with photography. 

Since then...

It's safe to say things have moved onward and upward since then. I switched to Nikon when I bought my first DSLR, have learned the value of good glass and sturdy tripods, and took things aerial with the acquisition of a drone. Here's a preview of the lineup: 

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I try to keep it simple

For all the traveling I do and the amount I need to try to fit in my Lowepro backpack, I do my best to carry as little as possible while still giving myself as much flexibility as I can. Not pictured here are my Manfrotto Befree tripod, Lowepro Flipside backpack, DJI remote, and a few other small accessories. Let's focus on the important stuff. 

Nikon D750

I upgraded from a D90 to a D750 a few years ago at the best time anyone can spend thousands on a new camera - unemployment. The tech startup I was working for had gone under, so I decided a little retail therapy was needed. Despite the timing (not the smartest financial decision my 24 year old self made), I never looked back. This camera has performed in ever condition and situation I've put it in. Even though there are times where I don't execute the way I want, the D750 has never failed to provide the best platform to work from. 

Lens 1: Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR

So full disclosure here: I just got this lens a couple days ago, and I haven't had a chance to go shoot with it yet. I'll probably post something once I do, especially considering the fact that this was an upgrade from the kit 18-55mm VR lens. More to come. 

Lens 2: Nikon 85mm f/1.8

I originally purchased this lens for indoor sports back in college, and it's proven value in so many ways since then. Now, as I focus primarily on landscapes, having that extra bump up to 85mm can really help provide some interesting perspective on things, and the high quality glass in the lens itself really helps things stand out.

Take a look at the two photos below - the crispness of the clouds and the Customs House Tower in the one on the left would be impossible without such high quality glass in my opinion. Then you look at the one on the right, which I took from the top of Killington Mountain in Vermont. I'm going to write a longer post on this shot, but having the 85mm to capture the color palette of fall while giving the views that unique, zoomed in view is something I love to do with this lens. 

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  • Killington, VT

Lens 3: Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR

Again, a lens I originally bought for sports, but have adapted into landscapes.I don't use it too frequently, but when I do realize it's time to hook this thing up, I'm glad I have it. Continuing on the zoomed in perspective from the 85mm, having this much flexibility can give you some unique perspective and pull distant objects onto a more level or flatter plane.

Take the photo below, which I shot from the Cambridge side of the Charles River looking over at the Boston side. To the naked eye, or even with the 85mm, I wouldn't have been able to pull in the buildings of the background and align them with the various vessels on the water to create a line that draws the eye from the river up onto Beacon Hill. The glass in this lens is not as high quality as the 85mm, but it offers a great way to get creative. 

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Key Accessory: LEE Filters

So with the new lens, I needed to get a bigger setup for my LEE filters. I've been using these for a number of years, and they for allow so much creative flexibility when it comes to playing with shutter speeds and light. I'll likely write more about this in another post, but I love the idea of long exposure photography for two reasons. First, it looks cool. Second, it allows you to create an image that is there, meaning it exists, but because of how our brains process light bouncing off of objects, we're unable to perceive the image's existence. 

What these filters do, depending on which one you're using, is slow down your shutter to capture dynamic movement without blowing out the light in the rest of the scene. Again, I'll go more in-depth with this at a later post, but see below where I have a photo on the left of my buddy Eric shooting with me at the Winter Point Lighthouse in Salem, MA versus the photo on the right taken on the same evening. Ever wondered how photographers get that long exposure look with smooth water and clouds? Odds are they're using this type of setup. 

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DJI Mavic Air

Getting a drone was one of the best decisions I made. Despite the fact that I almost crashed it into a main street in Boston within about 3 hours of owning it (PSA: just because you play XBox, that doesn't mean you know how to fly something with a similar controller), it's been one of the best ways to get a new perspective on places I've shot over and over again. Whether it's a top-down shot of a park that I walk through every day or recognizing the texture and color values of a shoreline I grew up on, the viewpoint of a drone is unmatched.

Again, more to come in a future post about that, but if you're thinking about getting one, just do it. The Mavic Air is a fantastic entry-level drone, and even though I'm looking to upgrade to the Mavic Pro 2, I'm in no rush because the Air continues to perform day in and day out. 

  • Quechee Gorge, VT
  • Marblehead, MA

If you've made it this far...

Then bravo to you. I didn't anticipate this being such a long post, but hopefully it gives you some context of what I'm working with and what helps me create the images I'll be discussing in later posts. As always, let me know if you have any questions or thoughts, and thanks for reading!

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