Of course, the most important piece of camera gear is your educated eye. I think that I really have my mother to thank for that, I remember her dragging us kids through museums, and endlessly sketching and having us pose for her. There is so much photography and videography around us, you only have to open your eyes and when an image strikes you as “right”, asking yourself: what made that it work? How could I do that?
Some books have helped me. Photographing America: Henri Cartier-Bresson / Walker Evans is an amazing journey through America through the lenses of two of the most famous street photographers.
Magnum Streetwise surveys the work of photographers from the Magnum Agency, famous for street photography and photojournalism. You get a real feeling for how each photographer’s style and subject is influenced by their philosophy, with extensive notes.
Magnum Contact Sheets is mainlining the good stuff. So much of being a good photographer is the time spent editing. See how the masters selected the best from the good.
My camera gear is very minimal, I generally use a Sony a6500 mirrorless camera (link to newer a6600 https://amzn.to/3DIA3fA). Light weight, in-body optical stabilization, with electronic instead of optical viewfinder the image I see is closer to what I will publish on my Instagram @realwrolf. I fully believe that mirrorless is the next generation, and DSLRs are destined for the dustbin.
With the Sigma 30mm prime lens https://amzn.to/3ASnufQ I get excellent low light performance, and with f1.4 maximum aperture I can create great bokeh (background blur) for portraits. The a6500 has an APS-C sensor that is smaller than the full-frame Sony a7 III, so this is equivalent to a 45mm lens – a “nifty fifty” with a field of view that corresponds to the human eye. I zoom with my feet.
I also carry in my camera bag a Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS lens https://amzn.to/3DNykWy, which works well in daylight where I don’t need the wider aperture of the Sigma 30mm and may want to get longer shots.
Still in my bag is my first camera, bought in 2019 to take to Iceland, a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS60S https://amzn.to/3jbqJZP, but the last time I used it was when one of my batteries ran out, and I had neglected to charge the other one. I got a lot of mileage out of this camera for $300, I heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to step up from a cell phone, but is not ready for what to me is a serious investment. And of course I use my Moto G Power https://amzn.to/3vr80hR whenever I don’t have my camera, though now that the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G https://amzn.to/3lO4OtF is out I would get that, a friend bought them for her whole family and is very happy.
I shoot JPEG. I have tried, and the reality is that the camera’s RAW to JPEG algorithm is better than anything I can do manually. Plus in my fantasy that I would sell my stuff to Reuters, they only accept JPEG originals.
My laptop runs free open source Linux (Ubuntu), not Windows, and I use the Shotwell app that comes with it to manage my photo library. That integrates well with GIMP, the free open source competitor to Photoshop (runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux). My editing is very light – occasionally I crop; auto-adjust light levels pm color photos; adjust contrast and exposure; and occasionally I remove wrinkles and skin blemishes from portraits. My ‘dark room’ time is mostly spent on selecting and labeling the images that I want to use, then dragging and dropping into Google Drive so I can post them from my phone to Instagram.
I experimented a little bit with programs to schedule posts to Instagram, but so far it seems that Instagram always requires you to post on your phone.
I print with a Canon PIXMA Pro-100 https://amzn.to/2YUktPv that I picked up used for $100, couldn’t beat the price though I have spent a fortune on ink. I use Nextpage ink https://amzn.to/2XpDYi4, much cheaper than Canon, and Red River60 lb Polar Matte paper. MCS format borderless frames https://amzn.to/3j9vQd5. People generally want 5″ x 7″, but I can print as big as 13″ x 19″. I never researched printers because I found this one so quickly at such a low price, it works well but is quite slow.
My best images are on sale at wrolf.picfair.com.