WHAT GEAR DO I NEED FOR A PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP?
Don't stress too much about camera equipment! The main aim of my photographic workshops is to help you improve, individually, as a photographer using the camera gear that you already own. You do not need to have the latest DSLR and a huge arsenal of lenses. As you will see below, my own camera outfit is fairly modest and streamlined – that's simply because I like to travel fairly light and have as little cumbersome gear as possible between myself and what I'm trying to photograph. However clichéd it may sound, it really is all about the light, the location and taking your time to consider viewpoint, composition and exposure.
On some of my workshops, we might spend an hour or so stripping gear right back to a camera plus 50mm lens – a kind of '50mm lens photo detox' – just so that we can concentrate on the fundamentals of photography.
DSLR or Compact System camera with ability to shoot RAW
Wideangle to mid-telephoto lenses or zoom
Spare batteries & charger
Extra memory cards
Lens cleaning cloths
Notebook and pencil
Circular polariser (recommended)
Neutral density and graduated filters (optional)
10-stop 'Big Stopper' neutral density filter (desirable)
Waterproof jacket and trousers
Good walking boots and wellies
Layered clothing, gloves and hat
Sunhat, sunscreen and lip balm
Laptop and card reader
Selection of 10 of your favourite images, either on your laptop, or a memory stick
PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP EQUIPMENT LIST
Either a DSLR or Compact System (mirrorless) camera with the ability to shoot RAW format images is ideal. What's the difference?
Essentially, a DSLR has a mirror and prism system – light entering the lens bounces off these to end up in the optical viewfinder. When you take a picture, the mirror flips up, allowing light to hit the sensor and make a photograph. All the main manufacturers have well-established DSLR systems with numerous lenses and other accessories to choose from. You can also choose from a range of camera bodies, from basic models ideal for beginners, right up to high-tech heavyweights for professionals. DSLRs also have an LCD screen on the back where you can not only review your photographs, but also use a 'live view' mode, rather than looking through the eyepiece into the optical viewfinder.
Compact System cameras are the new kids on the block. They're mirrorless, doing away with optical viewfinders. They are usually much lighter and more compact than DSLRs. So, why doesn't everyone change to mirrorless cameras? Well, they have drawbacks too. As well as fewer lenses and accessories, they're thirstier than DSLRs when it comes to batteries; focussing is often slower, and their cropped sensors are not as sensitive to incoming light as, say, a full-frame DSLR – and that can have limitations when it comes to low-light photography.
Which is best for you? The camera that takes the pictures you want to take. If you like it and it feels comfortable in your hand, it's not overly-intimidating, yet offers enough features to help you realise your photographic ambitions, then it's probably the right camera for you.
For full-frame, the following lens line-up is ideal: 16-35mm, 50mm and either a 70-200mm and 300mm or a 70-300mm. Specialist 'extras' might include a 100mm macro lens and a longer telephoto for wildlife, particularly bird, photography. If you only have a 'standard' zoom, 24-70mm or equivalent, that is absolutely fine and will serve you very well for anything we cover in the workshops. Essentially, you want to have a lens (or combination of lenses) that allows you to shoot fairly wide and a telephoto. For DX or APS-C users, aim for focal lengths of at least 18mm to 200mm.
If you can, please bring a sturdy outdoor tripod. After a camera and lenses, it's the most essential item of equipment. Manfrotto and Gitzo are excellent brands, but there are many others.
Camera bag choice is largely down to personal preference. I use a backpack-style bag so that I'm not pulled off-balance when walking across boulder-covered beaches or along mountain paths. I often use it in conjunction with a smaller, holster-style bag attached to a waistbelt – allowing me to easily and quickly access a camera without having to always remove my backpack.
A remote cable release (or remote switch) is essential. Although most cameras have self-timers, it's still useful have a cable release to lock the shutter open for very long (bulb) exposures. Don't forget to bring plenty of digital memory, extra batteries and a battery charger. You will also need a lens cleaning cloth or two, particularly on coastal workshops where sea spray may be an issue. A back-up camera, or compact, might be useful, along with a notebook and pencil. For pre-dawn shoots, a small head torch can come in very handy – both for negotiating paths to reach our viewpoint and also to find what you need in your camera bag!
A circular polariser is highly recommended to help reduce reflections on water or shiny surfaces and to accentuate colours. I also use graduated and neutral density filters, including a LEE Big Stopper (a 10-stop neutral density filter which is a must for daytime long exposures). These aren't mandatory, but you may find them useful on workshops. I'll have some filters with me that you'll be able to experiment with, assuming our gear is compatible.
We will be outside, taking photographs, come rain or shine. Please ensure you bring a good rain jacket with you. Waterproof trousers are also a good idea, as is a small travel umbrella. Sturdy footwear with good grip and ankle support is essential. We might need to wade into the sea or streams to set up a shot, so please also bring wellies. Layered clothing is very important. Please pack a pair of gloves and a thermal hat. Other useful items include sunglasses, sunhat, sunscreen and lip balm.
If you have one, please bring a laptop with a card reader for transferring your images and ideally with Lightroom installed. I use the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan which costs just under £10 per month and includes Photoshop as well. Don't worry if you don't have a laptop. We can load a selection of your images into mine. We will often hold a photo critique at the start of the workshop so, even if you don't have a laptop with you, please bring a memory stick with a small selection (no more than 10) of your favourite images.
WILLIAM GRAY: PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR
Canon EOS 5D MkIV
Canon EF 16-35mm f4L USM
Canon EF 70-300mm f4L-5.6 USM
Canon EF 50mm f1.4
Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro USM
Lee Filters Big Stopper 10-stop Neutral Density