My Landscape Photography Set Up

This is my landscape photography set up. It has changed multiple times throughout the years, but is now at the place where I don’t seem to need to make changes. Landscape is the first medium in photography that I started photographing. As I slowly learned more, the gear I acquired kept growing with it. Currently, there aren’t many pieces needed to create a landscape image. I have one primary camera, the Canon 5D Mark iii, with a secondary back up of the Canon 60D. Luckily I haven’t been in a situation where I have had to only use the 60D. I can’t recommend the 5D Mark iii enough. Even with the new 5D’s that have come out, with a huge amount of mega pixels, the 5D Mark iii keeps going along. It has plenty of megapixels to create stunning detailed prints. The ISO range is fantastic for low light situations, and the ability to drop down to ISO 50 makes it perfect for those long exposures. It’s a full frame camera which works wonderfully with wide angel lenses to capture the whole scene. Speaking of lenses, lets get into those! Really, I only use two lenses. The Canon 24-70mm 2.8, and the Canon 14mm 2.8. A nice wide angel zoom paired with a super wide angel is essentially all you need. That’s not to say I don’t bring out the 70-200mm here and there for those far away shots, but generally, those two lenses do most of the work. Both pair well with the full frame camera, and have the viewing angel to capture the whole scene no matter how big. The 14mm works great for up close wide ranges, and or creating that distorted feeling as if the foreground goes on forever. The 24-70mm is basically the work horse, and photographs most of the scenes. At 2.8 it has a beautiful shallow depth of field, but can hit those higher apertures to have sharp detail throughout the whole images. Paired with the lenses, are Filters!!! What’s a filter right? Everyone seems to be using post production (photoshop cough cough) to edit there images to have the look for filters. Now, I could do the editing in post and make the picture look very similar, but there is just something different when the filter is on the camera. The brand I have is tiffen, and the work great. I use a polarizer for those sunny days to pump up the sky, or to help with reflections that might occur in say a lake. Next up are neutral density filters. I have them in a variety of stops (darkness’s) which can “stop down” the camera for long motion captures, such as blurring water. Those are defiantly needed when out photographing, because it’s difficult to stop down the camera enough in bright sun light to create that motion. Finally, there is the graduated neutral density filter, which is a 2 stop soft edge. It’s made by singh ray, and provides the ability to block out the sky when doing a long exposure, to capture enough light in the foreground. For long exposures, or shots in general, I have a shutter release cable that is wireless (ooo’s and aww’s). It’s by Vello and I notice a huge difference in camera shake compared to the cable version. That is it fokes! Not very much right? Now of course, there is the tripod, which is a gitzo explorer, with a really right stuff bh55 ball head attached, but any old tripod and head will work just fine. This equipment works well for me in capturing the wonderful landscape around us, but find what works best for you and go capture it!

Turner Smith Photography – Colorado Photography Experience

Protecting Your Investment – Photography Insruance

Protecting Your Investment

Whether a hobbyist, professional, or someone who takes just likes to take photographs here and there, everyone has expensive gear. Usually, one will have a camera body, and 1-3 lenses, a tripod, and possibly an external flash. The basics right? However, some may take that to the next level if this becomes their profession, and or a serious hobby. Equipment could include, two bodies, 6 lenses, two tripods, multiple off camera flashes, stands, triggers, and multiple accessories. That becomes a lot of money right? That is where photography equipment insurance can come into play or in professional terms “personal article policy.”

By having photography equipment insurance, one can have peace of mind, that if a lens is dropped and shattered, instead of busting out another chunk of change to replace it, a simple call takes care of it and bam, a new lens at no cost to you (depending if there is no deductible on your plan and the items price, usually there is not one). Over the years, I seem to have acquired a ton of equipment. From school, I now have all the stuff for portraiture, landscape, wildlife, and macro. It all adds up to be a lot of money sitting there.

That is why I got it all insured. I personally have State Farms photo insurance because that is my primary insurance for my vehicle, so it made things easy. For a small fee each month tacked on, around $18, I have every piece of equipment insured. Yearly it comes out to around $225 dollars. Not too bad right? Even a small polarizer is covered. He insured a filter? Yup! Anything and everything is listed. For example, I’m in a National Park, lots of people around, and worst case scenario happens! Someone snatches up my photo bag. Not only did I lose the big ticket items, camera, lenses, etc., but I lost all the little goodies, filters, small reflectors, flashes, batteries, and so on.

In that scenario, the way my insurance would work, is I pop in, say here is everything I lost, and all of a sudden it’s replaced, or fixed if something else occurred. Now, in the case of losing a whole bag, there would possibly be a deductible cause that is a lot of gear. If I’m correct it needed to be over 5 or 10 thousand to hit a deductible. I would gladly have that deductible if it means a ton of money is not lost. When one creates the insurance, you write up everything. Model, serial number, and of course the price that you paid for it new. That way if something happened, you get the price you paid for it, verse the depreciation price. Other things that fall under it are, I drop something off a mountain, stolen items, even if a camera body just explodes, it’s covered.

There are also other insurances available for people whom have a business such as a portraiture company. I personally don’t work in portraiture, but it would be a smart idea to be covered. Be noted of “a professional liability lawsuit. These suits may claim that you’ve been negligent or made an error or omission while performing your services.” Scary right? With insurance you can be covered and it would all be taken care of in the event you had a problem with a client.

Now I’m not saying you have to go with State Farm, there are many insurance companies available, and for even cheaper prices. My only suggestion is look into insurance if your acquiring a lot of gear, and make sure all scenarios are covered. Stolen, lost, broken, and or malfunctions and stops working. Happy Coverage!

Turner Smith Photography – Colorado Photography Experience

Using Color

 Using color in photography is really simple and easy to implement. With spring here, there are new flowers and other plants blooming, but most important COLOR is back instead of the bleak winter. I wait all year for the color to come back for great macro shots, that are not always related with snow or ice. I have am working on a gallery called “color in motion” that I am currently trying to always add to (check out the link below for the gallery). The goal of the gallery is to show soft focus color, so thus the color is the star. It’s something simple and easy to find around your own backyard. Something as simple as a leaf, seems boring and unappealing. What can you do with a leaf? Nothing right? Wrong! There are many opportunities related with simple plants. How does the sun hit the leaf? Is it back-lit showing the veins, creating interesting shadows, or even making the color stand out. Don’t photograph every colorful thing you see, but choose the colors that speak to you, so your not forcing it, but creating something you personally enjoy. Simple is always best when it comes to photography. Look at the mundane that normally seems like something you would never photograph and look at it in a new way. Another tip is going to nature preserves, which also offers great opportunities with different varieties of plants and flowers. Going to some local flower shops is your area, is where you can find multiple varieties of flowers for sale. It’s a macro photographers dream. These are a few ideas for capturing color in an up close manner, showing off it’s glory! Below are a few older images from last year, and a couple from this spring that highlight color!

Turner Smith Photography | Colorado Photography Experience

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Using the Weather to Your Advantage

Currently in Colorado it’s been warm, then it rains or even snows still, and it’s almost May. This post will show how using the weather to your advantage can make great images all year round. Don’t always be looking for that perfect sunset, or gloriously sunny day to photograph. One would be surprised what a gloomy day can offer. Photographing interesting subjects can be made easy when one looks at the small details around them. For example, use the rain the capture the water droplets it creates on small plants and flowers. The droplets create dramatic macro images and add that extra little something that makes the image pop. On a very overcast fall day, walking along with stark trees that had lost all there leaves, presented an image. The leaves all covered the ground creating unique patterns and color. Even without the sun, I was able to take a photograph with great content. When bad weather occurs, it is great for black and white images. Using the sky to create contrast, gives an image a powerful gloomy feel that is dramatic for the viewer. Like something out of a horror movie (great comparison right?). The shadows are black and harsh allowing subjects to be silhouetted and stand out as the make focal point in the image. Just because I live in Colorado, which people deem to be one of the top places to come and photograph, does not mean every day there is a unicorn jumping across a lake with a rainbow sunset in the background. There are many days I feel discouraged because I can’t “see” anything I want to photograph. After looking harder at what’s around me, I can always find something to capture. Below are some example images that were taken not only in my backyard, but at locations very close to my home. Something as simple as a common walking path can lead to something interesting. Look around, and make something out of nothing using the weather to your advantage.

Turner Smith Photography – Colorado Photography Experience

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Colorado Photography Experience | Turner Smith Photography

My Wildlife Set Up

     For wildlife, there always seems to be a debate of what gear is required, and if one really needs something expensive to make a great shot. The simple answer is a great photo can be made with any camera. I had the opportunity to get some great equipment cheap, and jumped on it. Listed below is my wildlife set up, and the gear I use.

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First up is the camera. Canon’s “big boy” the 1DX. Frames per second, iso performance, mega pixels, all can be found in other cameras that do a fantastic job. However, when using different cameras from Canon’s wonderful line up, there is just something special about the 1DX and it’s performance. The frames per second going off like a machine gun when there’s a bird in flight, using it’s fantastic tracking to lock on (especially with a teleconverter) works just like Canon advertises. There is only positive things I can say about the camera, but with it’s current price tag, especially with 1DX2 coming out anytime now, there are many other cameras that do a great job. The camera creates wonderful prints in almost any size one could want with sharp detail even at high ISO’s.

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Lenses and Accessories. Currently I use two lenses for wildlife, but one almost 95% of the time. Which is Canon’s 500mm, f/4. I use this lens all the time with a 2x Teleconverter to create 1000mm!!! Crazy! Once in a while I pull out the 70-200mm for stuff that is right next to me. The lens creates great bokeh  at f.4 and seems smooth a silky. Shooting at f.8 do to the teleconverter still has nice bokeh, and sharp sharp sharp images. Using the 1DX, it’s able to still use auto-focus with the teleconverter attached which is a life saver when tracking a fast moving animal. The lens locks on quickly and once again creates sharp images for printing.

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Accessories! For birds mainly I use what you see above. It’s a canon 580 EX ii, attached to a Really Right Stuff flash bracket, with a Canon off Camera sync chord, and finally a Better Beamer flash extender. That’s a mouth full isn’t it? However, it all creates the perfect flash set up. With the off camera sync chord, one is able to over ride the cameras max sync speed, which I believe is around 1/300th, which is not very fast for a flying bird. This way the flash still pops off, stops the motion, one gets the highlight in the eyes, and fills in shadows. Bam! For all it’s gadgets, it only weights less than a pound, so the camera does not feel unstable with it attached.

The support system! This is probably the most important part for wildlife is a sturdy base to photograph, especially when using a long focal length, camera shake comes into play very quickly. First up is the Wimberly Gimbal head. Super great construction and feels indestructible. I always feel safe when it’s locked down that the camera or lens won’t just fall off. It uses archa swiss attachment, so I have a Wimberly lens plate attached. The gimbal head allows the lens to feel like it weights nothing and move in any postion one could imagine. Holding up the gimbal head is the Gitzo GT3542XLS. This is my favor tripod I own. It feels like a tank. It’s a tad on the heavy side, but sinks into the ground to create a rock solid base. I am 6’4 and it extends over my head, so height is not a problem. It has 3 extendable legs which are fat and beefy, and once again feel really stable. I added the lens coat tripod leg protectors because when picking up the tripod, it gets cold quickly, or when it’s on your shoulder, that weight will add up, so it provides a comfy layer.

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Go out, take your telephoto lens, and capture some wildlife images! They can be created with anything and waiting for you!

Colorado Photography Experience | Turner Smith Photography

Macro Photography Set Up

     Macro photography is one of my favorite mediums to photograph. I love the 1:1 aspect seeing what most people walk by everyday and never seem to notice. I have always slowly added new products and gadgets to my set up, but this one seems to be what I have stuck with for the longest time, and works great. Listed below are the items in my set up!

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First up of course is the camera and lens. I have used my Canon 5D Mark iii on occasion for a tad larger print that can be produced, but mainly I use my first camera, a Canon 60D.The reason is shown in the picture. It’s wonderful “tilty-swivaly-screen.” In those hard awkward shots, it make it great to not have to bend in odd ways, and the image can be sharp using live view. It has 18mp which creates beautiful prints. Attached is a Canon 100mm macro lens. It is extremely sharp and has the great 1:1 ratio. I also use a shutter release cable, and any brand will do.

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Next up is a Kirk FR2 focusing rail. I always had major problems focusing a 1:1 shot and having the portion I wanted sharp, sharp. That is when I discovered focusing rails. This one is much cheaper than others on the market and feels like it cost $1000. It is tough, sturdy, and does exactly what you need it to. It has a smooth movement for easy focusing and works great with 1:1 shots, allowing you to move the camera without moving the tripod. It has the Swiss arca type camera/lens attachment which is great. I have a really right stuff bracket attached to my camera, and any lens to requires one, which makes it easy to pop in and out.

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The fun stuff! Accessories. When the light is low, a flash is usually needed. I pack with me a couple Canon 580EXii flashes, with a canon off camera sync chord. That allows for easy movement of the flash to any spot I need. Next up for the flash is a lumiquest soft box. It attaches and is designed for strobe flashes. It provides soft even light to the shots where only a kiss of light is required. Finally, a selfie reflector??? Yup! Phottix marketed this small reflector for selfies and I received it for Christmas. At first I thought it was useless because I don’t take selfies, but then realized it is the perfect size for macro shots. It’s very portable, fits where you need it in your shots and can bounce great light.

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Last but certainly not least. The most important. A Tripod and Head. I use a Gitzo explorer tripod with a really right stuff ball head. The Bh55 I believe it is. (The beefy one) I have gone through many tripods, but have found if your doing macro, this is the tripod. I has a greatly swivel head so the tripod can move into any spot or direction you can want. Apply that with a sturdy ball head and your ready to go. My only complaint is the tripod can be a little shaky when the middle post is fully extended or the legs are at their lowest. You need to make sure it is set stable in the ground, or sometimes I use my knee to brace the tripod from shake. Other than that small complaint, this tripod is fantastic.

Don’t be worried about price! Macro shots can be taken with anything. Start out with a telephoto lens, or lens that has a macro feature in it’s focusing. Next up, go for a lens. Any macro lens for the fanatic with improve your shots dramatically. Go out and have fun finding the small things in the world around us.

Colorado Photography Experience | Turner Smith Photography

Look In Your Own Backyard

     Tired of driving/walking around, searching, and never seem to find a photo you want in a new area? Well go somewhere you know well. Your own backyard. Even if you do not have a backyard, walk around where you live and there is always something new to see and photograph. From up close, and wide angle, interesting subjects await.

      Macro! Macro! Macro! My favorite medium to photograph in my backyard. There is always something new throughout each day and season. Show what people normally miss by getting up close. Even if you do not have a macro lens, take out your telephoto, go to it’s minimum focusing distance, and BAM, you have a great shot.

       Don’t forget, wide angle. Your backyard has many opportunities to shoot multiple mediums. Street, nature, and in some areas landscape. If you don’t have a backyard, walk around your neighborhood. If makes for great street photography, and in different seasons you can create some fun shots.

 

       Get out there, and photograph places you know, that are one step outside.

Colorado Photography Experience | Turner Smith Photography

 

Winter Wonders

Winter is a great time to photograph the small details that normally aren’t seen. Macro is one of my favorite mediums to photograph in the winter. With new snow fall, frost, or ice, they all create great shots, especially in macro. Each photograph was taken using the Canon 100mm f/2.8 lens, attached to a Canon 5D Mark iii. It’s works in ones favor to take out one lens, whether a zoom, to prime, it allows me to see everything and just simply photograph it, verse worrying about what lens to choose. As you can see below, there is up close, medium, and far away, all using one lens.

Get up close!!! Look at the small details. Newly formed icicles, snow crystals, or frozen moments. The starkness of winter can cause some photographers to avoid going outside. However, make lemons out of lemonade. Winter is a fantastic time to create black and white images. There is of course always white with the snow, but everything else can create high contrast and really stand out.

I always try to also find color in the world of winter. From a leaf sitting perfectly in the snow, to abstracts using holiday lights. There is always something new to find up close during the “snowy” seasons. Go out, explore, and find what interests you! Amazing shots are all around.

All of these shots were taken right in my back and front yard! See what you can find without even traveling but a few feet.

Colorado Photography Experience | Turner Smith Photography

My Current Gear

This is my current photography equipment set up. It works great for landscape, nature, macro, and wildlife. It all compacts together into an easy to transport set up, as well as fits in plan over head bins. I recommend any Canon product, and anything listed below. Everything has survived falls and the trails of being outdoor. If any ever did fail I would buy it again. I also recommend buying used. There are great 3rd party sites that guarantee their products, so your not receiving a mystery from eBay.

Cameras

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 60D Body

Canon EOS – 1DX

Lenses

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L

Accessories

Canon Speedlite 580EX II’s

Canon Extender EF 2x III

Tiffen Polerizers

Singh Ray – Graduated Neutral Density Filters

Tiffen Circular Neutral Density Filters

Gitzo Tripod GT3542XLS

Gitzo Tripod GT2531EX

Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head

Wimberley Gimbal Tripod Head

Lens Coat

Oben CTM-2500 Monopod

Lowepro Lens Trekker Bag

Lowepro Vertex 200 AW Bag

San Disk Extreme Pro Memory Cards

Colorado Photography Experience | Turner Smith Photography

The Start of My Journey

       When I was nine years old my parents gave me my first disposable camera to use. I received the camera because we were moving from one house to another, and they knew I was worried about moving. My parents gave me the camera in hopes that if I took pictures of the house we were leaving, I would feel more comfortable moving to the new one. This was the start of my photography journey.

       Throughout the years I would take many photographs using disposable cameras. Eventually my mother got a digital camera that seemed revolutionary to me. People always comment that my photographs looked good, and I seem to have a talent for it, but I would just kind of brush it off.

       I was always heavily involved in music, playing over 10 instruments, and thought that was going to be my career and main focus in life. While in high school I developed physical health problems with my hands. They slowly got worse over the time, to the point I wasn’t able to play any of the instruments I had learned. Not knowing what to do with my life, I found the camera again, and started taking more photographs.

       This sparked the idea, why not go to school for photography? I had been taking classes at my local community college for a liberal arts degree, focusing on music. Having photography as my new love, I started taking every photographic class they offered and switched majors. I was fascinated and wanted to learn everything I could about photography. I’d spend hours at home watching videos, reading, and learning everything I could about photography. The passion was ignited, and I couldn’t stop taking photographs and learning.

       Once I completed the photography classes that my local community college had to offer, all I had left was the general core classes. I wanted more photography! That is when I discovered the Art Institute. I transferred and with all the credits that I had, I was able just to focus on photography classes. After around a year, I completed my associates degree in photography. Throughout the degree I would lose interest and then gain it back while taking classes.

       At one point I thought about giving up photography altogether, as all the images I was taking were of portraits, or subjects I wasn’t interested in. It always just felt like I was having to take someone else’s ideas, and turn them into an image for an assignment. I had to take classes like that in order to get the degree.

       During my last class, I had the best professor out of all my photographic classes. It was a portfolio class designed to help one build a portfolio, just as the name describes. She pushed me to create new images and focus on a personality that I wanted my images to represent. The passion and love was reunited. I now take the images that I like, for the simple reason that I like them. Whether or not anyone else likes them, I enjoy what I photograph, and now have fun again doing it.

       I have been able to use a variety of equipment, that allows me to take the photographs I want, even with the difficulties of my hands. I call myself a roadside photographer because I don’t hike to the tops of mountains or travel miles by foot with a heavy backpack.

       Colorado photography experience blog is about photographing subjects in every day life. I use my immediate surroundings to photograph, and find the interesting aspects in my surroundings without having to travel far. The goal is to share my experiences, maybe inspire, or help others find their photographic passion.

Colorado Photography Experience | Turner Smith Photography