Michael Speed | Tools for the Field

Resources for Photographers

Tools for the Field

 

Your camera, tripod, lenses, and any filters are all you really need to take good photos.   Anything else you might bring with you really needs to justify its weight in your bag.  Fortunately, there are a couple really robust tools that don't add any weight to you pack, provided you already bring a smartphone.

The two apps listed here are the ones I use the most.  I know that there are a million out there, but to me, the Magic Lantern combined with an exposure calculator gives me everything I need to really nail the shot.

The Magic Lantern (Free for Canon users)

I started my photography journey using Samsung and Pentax Dslr cameras(they share the Pentax mount).  And when it was time to upgrade, there were a few reasons I chose Canon.  First and foremost, the selection of full-frame lenses is really hard to beat.  They basically make a lens for every application.  Secondly, the Magic Lantern.  The Magic Lantern is a software overlay that runs from your CF card.  It unlocks a whole host of features that your camera could only dream it had in the factory.  I use it mostly for the bulb timer and intervalometer functions.  I have also used its focus-stacking feature with some success(very useful for macro).

A situation where I have used the Magic Lantern in the past would be my 'fun' shot of Hunting Santa Groundhog Mountain.  I have a how-to posted here and the original Santa Hunting story posted here.

I started with getting a good exposure for the stars, and used that setting to for my next few exposures.  Since this shot involved me standing in the top of the tower and shooting a spotlight up into the air, I set the camera to shoot continously while I was up there.  I used the two-second timer as a way for me to hear when the camera was getting ready for the next shot.(even though I was a good distance away, I could hear the mirror lock up.)  After a few different angles and some easy post processing, this is what I came up with:

groundhog mountain at night.

 

Exposure Calculator (free on Android, probably something like it for free on iOS)

Using an exposure calculator is an easy and quick way to get accurate exposure information based on a test reading, especially if you are about to mount a 10-stop ND filter!  You can take your properly exposed shot, enter that info(shutter speed, iso, aperture) into the calculator, add the stops that you need, and viola!

I often use this for work when using my B+W 10 Stop ND.  My camera can meter through the filter, but often it cannot produce the exposure needed to get a bright enough shot(even daylight photos shot through a 10 stop filter can require minutes of exposure).  This is really where the exposure calculator works for me.  As you can see in the screenshot below.

This page is being built as I learn of and use new tools.  Keep checking back, or, if you have a suggestion to add to the list, contact me using the link above and I will try it out!