BLOGS

KELLY’S CAMERA, COMPUTER and SOFTWARE RECOMENDATIONS

I thought that people might be interested in the camera. computer, software, and photo-shoot extra equipment that I use to create my images, so I’ve listed that equipment below.

COMPUTER SOFTWARE

If you would like to see what my photos look like straight from the camera, and then compare those images to the finished versions after they have been tweaked in Photomatix and or Photoshop click HERE for the Photoshop edits, and HERE for the Photomatix/Photoshop edits.

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PHOTOSHOP SOFTWARE

My favorite photo editing software is the full blown Photoshop version. When I was originally trying to decide what software to use, I decided to learn the industry standard because I consider my time valuable and didn’t want to learn something that I would latter outgrow, and then have to learn another new software program down the road.

I am so grateful that I carefully considered this choice, and have never regretted it. Photoshop offers so many special ways to edit images, and I am still learning even after 8 years of using it. It’s just an incredibly powerful image tool, and I really love it. I have most of my image editing down to a system now, so it doesn’t take very long to get the look that I am wanting.

If you would like to try out Photoshop, Amazon has a free trial version (this is how I originally became familiar with the software). You can check it out by clicking on this Amazon link

 Adobe Photoshop CC | Free Trial Available

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Photoshop Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is a fantastic program to quickly view your photos, rate them, make edits, resize and rename them. It also lets you create books, slideshows, PDF documents, web galleries,  contact sheets, etc with your images. It is just a wonderful program that works very nicely in addition to Photoshop, or as a stand alone program. It can’t do all the cool things that Photoshop can, but it really has a lot to offer.

If you would like to have both Photoshop and Photoshop Lightroom on the subscription plan, Adobe offers a really nice inexpensive plan for photographers. Just click on the link below.

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PHOTOMATIX HDR SOFTWARE

I noticed many people using HDR software on landscape images, and decided that I wanted to use that type of software for my long coated German Shepherd, horse, and  landscape photo editing to create images that are like paintings.

After trying out the free trial version of Photomatix I fell in love! My images were given a painting type special affect quality that is difficult to obtain any other way, and it is very easy to use! If you would like to check it out for yourself, CLICK HERE to go to the Photomatix website. They still offer a free trial version!

I originally had problems figuring out how to get the HDR affect since with live action long coated German Shepherd dog photography there was no way that I could obtain 3 copies of the same image with different camera settings in order to combine them in the software for the true HDR affect. So….I decided to combine three copies of the same image to create one Photomatix image, AND IT WORKED! I was so happy!

Many times I will further enhance the Photomatix image using Photoshop. Combining these two pieces of software gives me the greatest freedom for expressing my artistic ability. You can get a free trial Photoshop version by clicking on this Amazon link Adobe Photoshop CC | Free Trial Available

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CAMERA EQUIPMENT

Camera and Lens

My favorite camera setup for long coated German Shepherd, puppies and horse action photography is currently a Nikon D7200 with a Nikon 18-300mm lens. This setup gives me distance focus flexibility in addition to being able to take clear photos when a dog is right on top of me.

I researched the full format camera’s offered by Nikon and Cannon, and some of those setups that I thought might meet my needs were at least $6,000 or more. But…and this is a BIG BUT…none of those could do the type of photography that I like to do! Let me explain…

When I’m out in the field and taking action shots of long coated German Shepherd’s and puppies, they will run almost 1/4 mile away chasing deer, ball’s, each other, etc. I need a camera and lens setup that can zoom out that far from a hand held position with no tripod. Then as they come racing back towards me (and often overtop of me! LOL), I need to catch those special photos when they are leaping onto my lens, me, each other, etc! The full format camera’s do not (at least the last time I checked) offer a zoom lens that has that type of flexibility. The full format zoom lenses stop taking photos feet away from where I am sitting or standing, and that means I would miss some of the best photos when the dogs or pups are almost on top of me! If I had that camera setup I’d probably be going into a fit because the camera would stop focusing and taking the photos.

Of course…you could buy that expensive full format Nikon camera and stick the 18-300mm lens on it and it would work…but your photos will not be full format. So why go to all the additional expense to basically produce the same quality of images that you can get with the Nikon D7200? It wasn’t worth it for me, and Cannon doesn’t even offer an 18-300mm lens…at least not the last time I looked.

So…to make a long story short…after much, much research…I realized that for me…nothing beats the Nikon D7200 with the 18-300mm lens for my needs. Another fantastic plus with this setup is that I never need to change out my lens! This lens does it all, and I have been thrilled with it. In addition, since I don’t swap the lens, the inside of my camera, and the sensor stays very clean. I don’t have dirty sensor problems that can be expensive to repair, even though I take photos in dirt, mud, snow, sleet, etc. The dirt stays on the outside, and doesn’t get inside the camera.

If you are interested in checking out this wonderful camera and lens, Amazon sells both of them. Just click these links below to go to Amazon and check them out.

Nikon D7200

Nikon 18-300mm lens.

If you would like to buy a used Nikon camera and lens, contact me. I have a couple of Nikon D90’s and maybe a few lenses that I am selling for a very reasonable price.

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Video

I also enjoy making videos during my photoshoots of the dogs and horses. My Nikon D7200 does a fantastic job, but over the past few years I’ve wished that I could make videos at the same time that I am taking photos.

So…I bought a GoPro Hero and love it! I mount the camera to my forehead, and use it for the videos and my Nikon D7200 for the photos! It is a great combination that I highly recommend. They also offer many other mounting alternatives, including mounting it to the dogs!

Check it out! They are awesome cameras! I hope to post more of my videos in the near future for everyone to see!

GoPro Hero. Awesome video camera. I have the GoPro Hero 3 Black.

I don’t have this GoPro Hero Session, but it looks really cool, and might be a good inexpensive starter camera for someone just getting into the GoPro cameras.

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If you would like an LCD Touch BacPac for it, check this out! I bought a LCD BacPac for my GoPro. It comes in handy when you need to see the video you just shot.

This GoPro remote comes in handy for videos such as when the camera is mounted on the dog, etc. and you need to control it remotely.

Here is a nice accessories kit for the Black GoPro. My favorite item is the head strap so that I can mount the camera to my forehead.

Here is the Dog Harness for the GoPro that I bought, but haven’t tried out yet.

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Memory Cards for the Cameras

I’ve had great luck with the SanDisks over the past 7 years that I have been buying them. I did have one or two go bad over the years, and contacted Sandisk and they replaced them for free. It appears they are still offering the lifetime warranty for some models and you can read about that HERE if you wish.

These are the memory cards that I buy for my camera. I prefer the larger cards so that no shots are missed during my photoshoots due to having to swap out cards. This particular card is also very fast, and has no problems with taking tons of photos in 20 to 90 degree weather. The Nikon D7200 has two card slots, so if you buy two of them that will give you 256GB of storage.

Memory Card for the Nikon D7200 Camera

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Memory Card for the GoPro Video Camera

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Card Reader

I have several Transcend card readers and they seem to hold up well. I haven’t tried this model out yet, but it is a best seller on Amazon.

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Batteries for the Camera’s

Okay…the only thing worse than your memory card filling up and you don’t have a replacement, is your battery dying without a replacement. I try to carry at least 4 extra batteries for the Nikon and for the GoPro, so that I can keep on filming no matter what.

Nikon D7200 Batteries

I ordered this spare battery for my Nikon D7200. I already had some extras from previous models, so I have approximately 5 of these.

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GoPro Batteries

The GoPro burns through batteries VERY quickly. Depending on your settings, you might only get 1/2 an hour shooting time per battery.

Here is a nice battery and charger for the GoPro.

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Even though I normally buy only OEM batteries for equipment, I did make an exception and tried out the Wasabi batteries and charger. They seem to work very well with no issues. Since the GoPro burns through batteries very quickly, this has been an inexpensive way to have additional charged batteries. Buy at your own risk though since they are not made by GoPro.

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Tripod

I can’t remember if this is the TriPod that I bought, but it is a best seller on Amazon. I don’t use tripods very much with my dog and horse action photography because I find them to restrictive, and I miss shots with them. But…if you want to use the Nikon for video, it comes in really handy. This way you can film while dog training, doing obedience work, etc. and there is no bouncing around to make people seasick…LOL.

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Camera Bag for Photoshoots

I’ve learned to travel really light. When I’m in the field taking dog or horse action photos, the last thing I want to mess with is a huge, heavy, bulky camera bag. Since I only use one lens (the Nikon 18-300mm mentioned above) I don’t need a bag for my Nikon camera and lens during a shoot since both are strapped around my neck. If I also have the GoPro, it will be mounted on my head, or on a dog. The only thing I use the bag for is to store extra batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning kits, rain sleeves for the camera, etc. This is the type of bag that I carry…I like the rounded bags that conform to my body better than the boxy square or rectangular bags which always seem to get in my way.

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Other Camera Equipment Items

Rain Gear for Camera’s

Rain Gear for the cameras. I bought all of these, but for dog action photography I prefer the more inexpensive OP/TECH rainsleeves. The others just seem bulky and it’s difficult to focus the lens quickly. I think they are designed more for tripod usage than hand held, but that is just my opinion.

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Lens Cleaning Supplies

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Other Items Used on a Photoshoot with the Dogs

A good rainsuit is worth its weight in gold for days you are shooting in the rain, or kneeling, or laying on your stomach in the mud or snow! Sometimes I use mine when I am walking through tall damp grass, or if their are a lot of ticks out. This is the brand I bought, and it has lasted through several years of really hard usage. It is very comfortable, easy to adjust, and lets in a lot of fresh air to keep the sweating down. I wear it all year around. It is the best rain suit that I have ever found. I am a medium sized woman, but bought an XL size so that I could wear it over bulky winter coats and pants. This extra large size also gives me extra air in the summer.

I was shot in the face in 2009 with a Magnum rifle while taking photos of my dogs. It was NOT hunting season for most animals. That shot almost killed me.

Anyway…I now wear a bright orange hunting vest while taking photos even if it is on my own land. People are crazy anymore, and they think that hunting season is year around, and that they don’t have to stay on their property. Even if they stay on their property…bullets do not. Better safe than sorry. So, I almost always wear my orange vest, and I have also bought vests for the dogs, (but don’t usually put them on the dogs unless it is deer season). Below are the vests that I like and have bought.

This is a fantastic, light weight, airy vest, and I love it. I bought a really large one because I like extra room to move in, and also wanted something that would work in the winter over large coats in addition to wearing it in the summer. It also has pockets that are great to put some light camera stuff in such as the Nikon pen, little bags with memory cards, etc. I also stay cool in it due to the mesh material.

This is a very nice vest for the dogs. I saw no need to buy anything more expensive since I figured the dogs would tear them up in the woods anyway. I also wanted something that would rip in case my dogs got stuck  somewhere out of my sight and I couldn’t find them. This way they can rip themselves free and come back to me. But don’t get me wrong…this seems to be well made and I think it will hold up very nicely. The dogs don’t seem to mind wearing them even though they are long coated German Shepherds and I tried them out on a warm day. It’s also very easy to put on and take off them. I bought two, and plan to buy more in the future as needed.

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COMPUTER EQUIPMENT

After many, many years of using a PC professionally and at home, I finally made the big leap to a Mac, and am thrilled! I used to manage corporate and University computer help desks, and we used only PC’s. What a headache! Even my home personal computer had to be rebuilt at least once a year due to issues!

MacBook Pro with Retina Laptop Computer

I have now owned a MacBook Pro for over 3 years, and RARELY have had any problems with it. But…the best part is…I have not had to rebuild it even once! I also have not lost any DATA since using it! I was always losing data with PC’s due to all the issues with locking up, viruses, needing to be rebuilt, etc. Even if I backed up all the time, data would get corrupted and the backups might not be good.

Anyway…if you want a good solid computer (and don’t want to pull out your hair) especially for graphics, working with images, videos, etc., I recommend getting a MacBook Pro Retina with a Thunderbolt display! Amazing combination with amazing graphics that I personally recommend. If you do this…I also recommend bumping up the ram as high as the computer can handle and getting the one with the largest screen! It’s worth it! Check them out on Amazon by clicking below.

If I was going to buy a new MacBook Pro, I’d choose this one.

My current Macbook Pro Retina is a 15″ with 16GB RAM, 520GB hard drive and it has been fantastic. The hard drive is big enough since I always save data to an external HD (After working professionally in the computer help desk field, I’ve learned to never save anything important on the main hard drive because that is the one that will normally crash if you get a virus, etc. and therefore the data might be lost forever. So I always save important stuff on an external drive).

The great thing about a laptop is that you can take it anywhere.

New vs Used…I’d never recommend buying a refurbished or used laptop…I’ve worked on to many laptops professionally and they often take a beating. This is one area where new is best.

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Apple Thunderbolt Display

If you get a laptop, try to get the wonderful Apple Thunderbolt display for a larger screen. I love mine!

But unfortunately…Apple decided to discontinue making monitors in 2016, so you will probably have to get a used one, or a different brand. I found some used ones available on Amazon if you are interested.

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Hard drive

Okay…now you have a computer and monitor, but where are you going to store all those lovely photos you have taken? As I mentioned earlier…As an X-Computer professional, I NEVER store anything important on the main computer hard drive. It just makes that data to vulnerable to attacks such as virus’s, computer hardware crashes, etc. Therefore I buy an external hard drive to store this data on. If you have enough money, I highly suggest buying extra hard drives and creating what is called a RAID (redundant array of independent disks) backup system.

I tend to buy large hard drives because I can take 64-128GB’s of RAW photos and videos with my Nikon D7200 within an hour or two. So I fill up hard drives quickly. I’ve found that it is much better to have extra unused space, then to run out of space.

So this is the hard drive that I’ve been purchasing over the past 6 months or so. I have around 2-3 of them at this time and they are holding up well. A little noisy…but the price is good and they are very large.

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COLOR MANAGEMENT

Have you ever noticed how the photo color looks fantastic on your monitor, but when you see it on a different screen, or print it out, then the colors look AWFUL?

The reasoning behind this is that your monitor or printer needs to be calibrated so that the colors you are seeing are accurate, and will display correctly on all monitors or printers that are calibrated. There really isn’t any room for guessing on this if you want to get it right. Therefore you will need a calibrator for your monitor, and another one for your printer if you are going to be printing.

Here are the calibrators that I have bought and use after doing tons of research in this area.

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Monitor Calibrator

I have an older X-rite monitor calibrator for sale if someone is interested. You can contact me HERE.

If you want the most recent model, below is the one that I bought, and it does a great job. I really like it.

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Printer Calibrator

Okay…now you have a good computer, monitor, and calibrators. But…what about a scanner and printer?

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Scanner

Here is the scanner that I bought after doing a lot of research. This allows me to get beautiful scans of my artwork so that I can sell prints. Many scanners are not of high enough quality to do this…so research carefully before buying.

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Printer

Here is the printer I selected after doing tons of research for the best printer for making prints to sell. This one is capable of doing everything that I need in addition to creating archival quality prints. It also prints on canvas so that the prints look a lot like a painting.

Well, that covers most of the critical components to my photography. I’d have a horrible time functioning without these items, and I hope you found this information interesting!

Maybe some of these items will help you with your photography and art goals 🙂