I have included this page to satisfy the curiosity of those who might be interested in my photographic equipment, as well as to acknowledge and thank the makers of several fine software products that were used in the creation of Desktop Scenes.
I shoot entirely in digital, and use a fair bit of equipment. I started out with one digital camera and just a couple of lenses, but over time have purchased and used many different cameras and lenses. So the information here is subject to change.
- Cameras: My first "serious" digital camera was the Canon 10D, a 6-megapixel digital SLR. This was used for all of the SceneSets currently on the site. I have subsequently used the Canon 1Ds, 1Ds Mark II, 5D, and now shoot a Canon 5D II. These are all full-frame cameras, unlike the 10D which had a 1.6x crop factor.
- Lenses: The photos on this site were taken with a wide range of Canon lenses, including 16-35mm, 17-40mm, 24-105mm, 28-135mm, 70-200mm and 70-300mm zooms; 15mm, 28mm, 50mm, 100mm and 300mm prime lenses; and specialty lenses including the 24mm, 45mm and 90mm Canon tilt/shift lenses.
- Filters: I use a polarizing filter for many of my outdoor shots in full sun. Otherwise I rarely use filters other than an occasional UV filter for lens protection.
- Platform: I started out with a cheap tripod that broke on my trip to Yellowstone -- never again. I now use a Gitzo 1228LVL self-leveling carbon fiber tripod with an Acratech Ultimate Ballhead and Arca-style quick-release L plates. I have a second carbon fiber tripod for travel. I also use a hiking pole that I have converted into a photo monopod.
- Storage: A selection of CompactFlash cards in sizes ranging from 4 GB to 32 GB. (I remember starting out with 32 MB cards -- now that barely holds a single RAW image!)
- Miscellaneous: A variety of accessories including lens soft cases, a couple of camera backpacks, flash units, lens hoods, remote timer/release, bubble levels, cleaning kits, and more junk that you likely don't even want to know about. :)
Photo Processing Software
The software used to process and adjust digital photographs is as important as the equipment used to take them. In developing my SceneSets I have relied heavily on the following excellent software products to create my images:
Once all my images are prepared, I assemble the actual SceneSets using the gallery program jAlbum, a superb tool that I encourage you to check out.
- Photoshop: I use the industry standard software for general editing, Adobe Photoshop. The latest version, Photoshop CS5, includes numerous useful features I have employed extensively.
- RAW Processing Software: I take all my images in "RAW" mode, which gives me greater flexibility in processing them later on the computer. After dabbling with a couple of different packages, I currently use Adobe Camera Raw for processing, which is part of Photoshop.
- FocalBlade: Photoshop comes with a sharpening filter but it is rather limited in capability. The Plugin Site's FocalBlade gives me far better control over how my photos are sharpened for display. It's really worth checking out!
- ColorWasher: Sometimes images have color casts that need to be corrected. ColorWasher (also from The Plugin Site) allows me to easily adjust the color of images in a fraction of the time it takes using other tools.
- NeatImage: In low-light situations I sometimes have to increase the sensitivity (ISO setting) of my camera, which amplifies noise. NeatImage effortlessly removes nearly all of that noise, while preserving image detail. I consider this software to be like "digital magic" -- a must-have for any serious digital photographer!
- HDR Processing: Sometimes the dynamic range of a scene can exceed that of a camera's sensor, making it impossible to capture all of the bright and dark areas in the same photo. In this case, I bracket shots and combine them using a technique called High Dynamic Range (HDR). The best tool I have found for this is Photomatix Pro by MultiMediaPhoto SARL. I find it far superior to the HDR function in Photoshop.
- Pano Tools / PTGUI: Many of the images in the Desktop SceneSets are not single photographs, but panoramas stitched from many individual shots. I use Pano Tools with the excellent front-end PTGUI for this purpose.
- BreezeBrowser: For browsing, sorting and managing my images, I use BreezeBrowser, the best tool I have found for the job.