The ever-changing list of my go-to gear – Most of the work I do is performed out of my (hand crafted) creative studio, behind the wheel of a heavily modified Land Rover, or through the viewfinder of a Canon. Many of the tools I use are custom fabricated by yours truly, sometimes because what I need doesn’t exist, or more often because I simply enjoy building things with my own hands. I originally posted this on the about-me page at The Layne Studio after being asked “What __________ do you use?” once too often, but since the studio involves more than just me now it’s time this list moved to the blog proper. This post is just an overview, I might write up an in-depth with the how’s and why’s of each category if anyone would find it helpful. Read along for the details or just click here to skip down to the bullet list of links so your inner-consumer can run wild and free. Camera Gear The Big Guns: I shoot with a variety of Canon gear, but my go-to and favorite is the 80D. It’s durable, light weight, and inexpensive enough to take risks when getting the shot. I use three main lenses: a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art (my personal favorite) for most portraits and some travel/vehicle/landscape work, a Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 macro-capable travel zoom, and a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 wide angle for grabbing wide vistas or interior shots. The Canon 10-22mm wide is due to be replaced…likely with Sigma’s superior constant-aperture variant. Yes, I’m a Sigma fanboy…because, science. Rolling Light: I’m also very fond of Canon’s S line of cameras: they’re small enough to go unnoticed, reasonably sturdy, and produce RAW files that come surprisingly close to the quality of a DSLR. My old S95 sits in the studio for quick snapshots, and I usually have an S100 handy (there’s a reason the long-retired S100 still costs ~$200 used). When I don’t have a “real” camera, the HTC One M9 is always with me, which creates passable RAW files. Computing Gear Hardware: In the studio my workstation is a personally built Intel-powered, liquid cooled, quad-core PC tower. It’s currently clocked at a conservative 4.4GHz, drives multiple color-calibrated monitors (lead photo), and houses a RAID array large enough to eliminate the need for a separate file server. Communication and general office needs are handled by Google for Work, with weekly on-site and monthly off-site backups of all data. In the field I use a custom modified ASUS X202E with enough… Tools of the Trade
Long live the 70D! – Not long ago, believing I was fighting with a damaged Canon 50mm f1.4 lens (which is notoriously fragile), I started shopping for a replacement. I considered picking up a Canon 35mm f2 IS USM at first, but after the frustration of a botched shoot caused by failed focus on the 50mm, and stellar performance from Sigma’s rock solid 18-300mm lens, I decided to give Sigma’s Art glass a go and ordered a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art. I’d only just finished calibrating the new Sigma to my trusty 70D when I noticed a dark shadow cropping up in the bottom half of the frame… After a few “WTF?” moments, and a few lensless exposures later, the 70D produced this tell-tale image… That was while pointed at an entirely white screen. I may or may not have been fighting with a damaged Canon 50mm earlier, but I definitely have a dead shutter in the 70D now. In all fairness, it’s hard to fault Canon as I do have around 100,000 actuations on the shutter…and they were not easy miles. The final verdict on the 50mm’s fate will have to wait until my camera is repaired or replaced, but either way, I’m keeping the new Sigma. This last photo is the last photo that my 70D successfully took, and really showcases one of the Sigma’s seldom mentioned talents: macro photography. Web-resolutions really don’t do it justice—those are scratches in the switch, not blur. If you’re considering the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art, and are curious just how sharp it really is, click here for the full-resolution copy of the above image and start counting the grains of dust… I picked up the Sigma as a reliable replacement to the 50mm for portraiture, thinking I’d be able to do landscapes as well since it zooms out to the 18mm mark—one less lens change is one less chance for dirt to enter the camera in the field. I had no idea the minimum focus distance was so low, or that it would be so incredibly sharp. For reference, I’m almost touching the base of that lamp with the front of the lens, and the switch is only a fourth of an inch wide. I can’t wait to get this lens on a new body and see what it can do.… The 70D is Dead
Shining a little more light into the foyer – Most of my time was spent working on the Discovery, but our New Year’s Weekend shenanigans resulted in some productivity around the house as well. The kitchen is mostly finished (at least until the wood-burning stove and pantry get built), and we finally have some light in the new foyer. The chandelier is made of three industrial caged ceiling light fixtures connected together by half-inch conduit sections. The conduits, connectors, fixtures, and cage components are covered in alternating Rustic Mist (bronze) and Carbon Mist (ironish) Rustoleum metallic paint. Middle-sized Edison style bulbs sit in the completed light—brighter than expected but they still put out a cozy warm glow. Update: The Finished Product… Industrial-look Chandelier
Wine and liquor storage for the media lounge – This weekend’s project was inspired from browsing Pinterest in search of more random upcycling ideas (recycling junk into newfound purpose). Most folks have seen the pallet-chopped-off-horizontal-wine-and-glass rack that runs anywhere from $80 to $120 on Etsy and the like. As I’m a fan of not just wine, but rum, tequila, and bourbon—and I happen to have pallet fragments left over from building the media lounge—I decided to build my own with extra storage for a few bottles of liquor.… Upcycled Wine Rack
Less Spaghetti, More Cooling – I made the mistake of performing a coolant flush on the Discovery last year, which in it’s life had never experienced problems with the cooling system. It was long overdue, but instead of being a simple matter of replacing old coolant with new it turned into a nightmare of unstable running temperatures, genuine “repair” failures, and frustrations with the original Land Rover design. I decided it was time to toss out the complexity, hard to find parts, and acid-based coolant and build something better… Inline Thermostat