The frame on the back then sits on the mount and securely locks into place. This allows for quick and easy removal for cleaning or changing photos. With this mounting option, there is no need for frames. You get the modern look of your photo “floating” on the wall, sitting just a 1/2” away.
Time and time again you hear the same phrase, “It’s not the gear that makes a good photographer, it’s knowing how to use the gear.” While this may be true, there are limitations on what you can create with the equipment available. At the same time, thousands of dollars of camera gear won’t take award winning photos itself. I’ve put together a list of my most essential items that never leave my bag, so let’s dive right in.
Believe it or not, I started my photography career a bit backwards. Starting mirrorless in 2013 on a Samsung NX1000, I quickly found myself in the hands of a Canon DSLR due to lack of lens selection. A year or two pass and I’m asking myself, should I go back? After all, Sony had already released the Alpha line and held down the mirrorless fort with no competition. It was a long argument with myself, but I just couldn’t go back. Sure, mirrorless is smaller and lighter, but I’m a 6 ft. 200lb construction worker. Those few ounces aren’t life changing to me. Weather sealing was important, and Sony just didn’t cut it. Constantly shooting the coast, I’ve caught myself under a few waves that left me soaked head to toe.
The main reason? I had too much time and money invested in Canon to teach myself the muscle memory and familiarities of another camera system, which is why I currently shoot with a Canon 5D Mark IV. The dynamic range of that camera is so impressive, I can pull details out of shadows and reduce highlights that I thought were too far gone, a necessity in landscape photography.
I decided to go with Tamron for my glass. After reading an article by astrophotographer Michael Goh, he stated that the lens he used was the Tamron 15-30mm F/2.8 SP. As an astrophotographer myself, I need a lens that is tac sharp corner to corner, and this lens delivers. The lens itself is quite large, heavy, and boasts a HUGE spherical front element. But it can take a beating, and is an exceptional lens with a not so scary price tag.
To accessorize the 15-30mm, I purchased the SW150 system from LEE Filters. Because of the spherical element, a special filter system is needed. I use a 1,2, and 3 stop ND Grad to balance the light between the foreground and sky, as well as a 10 Stop ND filter to cut light altogether for those smooth long exposures.
Another great lens by Tamron is the 150-600mm F/5-6.3 SP. Whether I’m capturing wildlife, or getting those really punched in, compressed shots, this lens is perfect. Again, it’s extremely sharp with a large enough focal range, that you really don’t have to worry about missing a photo.
Of course, a large system like this needs a steady base, so I’ve gone with the MeFOTO Roadtrip Aluminum Tripod. This set of legs is light enough to take on long hikes and durable enough to withstand all the elements. My favorite part, the legs are easily disassembled for easy maintenance and routine cleaning. The ball head shows no mercy holding up my camera fully loaded, and preforms exceptionally well in high winds.
My bag is loaded with other miscellaneous items that get me through day to day shoots, but these are definitely the most important. They are the backbone to my landscape photography, and the bread and butter to my creativeness. Equipment is most definitely subjective, and differs with the comfort from person to person, but I’ve found what works best for me.
I owe it all to my buddy Patrick. He was the first one who really got me into photographing whales. After showing me a few photos and video footage he caught of some Grey Whales, I knew I had to get some of my own. In fact, ever since I bought my first drone in 2016, I wanted these kind of photos.
Grey Whales endure the longest migration of any mammal at over 10,000 miles round trip. In the winter months, they make way for the warmer waters of Baja Mexico for birthing and mating. Between January and April, these massive animals head back to the Arctic to feed during the summer. First to migrate north are the males, pregnant mothers, and juveniles. The mothers of newborn calves remain in Baja for an extra month or two until the calves gain the strength for their first trip north.
Fast forward to Valentines day of 2018. I'm driving along the cliffs of Rancho Palos Verdes, a location I commonly visit for sunset. I notice a small fishing boat about a mile offshore. I look at the road, then back at the boat. Boom! A spout blasts above the surface thirty yards from the fisherman. I couldn't stop the car fast enough. I had been waiting two years for this moment. I knew the whale was a good distance away, but was willing to take the risk. The mile plus flight to the boat felt like a lifetime, but I had made it. To my surprise, it wasn't one whale, but two. They skimmed the surface four or five minutes before diving. I had lost them. My first and only whale encounter was short but sweet, and by this time my first battery was running low. I returned the drone to exchange batteries when I spotted two more spouts. They had surfaced again, and I was hot on their tail. I followed and captured their behavior for almost fifteen minutes before they dove one last time, leaving me with a heart shaped spout as if to say Happy Valentines Day.
The coming months I had no interest in my usual photography. I was hooked on whales. In Newport Beach, I had chased one over a mile swimming towards the pier I was standing on. He was exceptionally close to shore, sometimes as close as twenty yards, feeding on crustaceans and rubbing barnacles from his body. Inevitably, he ran into the pier, surfacing just feet below me. Close enough to feel the mist of his spout when he rose for air. Another incredible experience came to an end after the animal turned away and swam out to sea.
In Malibu I had several run ins. Point Dume State Beach is a common location for mothers to bring their calves. Once again, they were all within a few yards from shore, making them very easy to spot, and extending my time to photograph these amazing creatures. However, the amount of whales each day was dwindling down. Almost all had gone north by now, and I was content. After all, I had more photos and video than I knew what to do with.
Safe to say, it was pretty breathtaking start to the year. I had finally taken the photographs I'd been striving for. I reached the goal I set for myself and achieved it, a feeling that no one can take from you. This is why I started photography in the first place. Capturing a moment in time that I'll never forget. Till next year.