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Inside My Camera Bag | Jeff Wiswell

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Hi! I’m Jeff Wiswell, a full-time emergency physician and part-time portrait photographer living in La Crosse, WI.

I had no artistic talent or interest until buying a camera shortly before studying abroad in London as a senior in college about 15 years ago. Our program was very focused on encouraging us to explore the city and I found the best vantage point to be from behind my lens.

This tremendous experience launched a love affair with travel and landscape photography that continues to this day.

That said, being a physician (and the 12 years in training to get there) limited my travel opportunities to once or twice per year. I felt like this was the only time I’d pick up my camera and had to re-learn my technique before each trip.

Around the same time, I noticed how one of our surgical attendings was able to capture unbelievable images of his kids in a way I’d never seen before. Between beautiful lighting and color, those photos wowed me with their sense of emotion. At that point, I made it my mission to do the same at some point.

Upon learning we were having our first child, I threw myself into learning lighting and portraiture. I now find myself constantly analyzing a scene to figure out how I can balance the ambient with off-camera flash for unique exposures.

After discovering how much I enjoyed capturing moments with bold and colorful lighting, I decided to launch a side business out of my love for portraits.

Cameras

I’m now on my fifth Canon camera and I find they keep getting better and better.

Canon EOS R5 – I’ve had this for a few months and have been amazed by its greatness. In particular, I think the eye tracking autofocus is a game changer for portraits, especially with small kids. I practically never see blurry photos in post-processing because of how wonderful this system performs.

Canon R – I keep this as a backup and second camera when I want to avoid switching lenses. I find the autofocus to be lacking for moving subjects but the image quality is wonderful for travel and landscape photos.

With both of these cameras, I find the swiveling screen indispensable when trying to get low angles for a unique vantage point.

Lenses

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L – The ultra wide zoom is my go-to lens for cityscape and landscape photos where I want to make the scene the subject.

When traveling, I carry this and a 70-200mm, but I shoot a 15-35mm about 80% of the time (previously used the Canon L EF 16-35mm f/4.0 but switched recently to get a better aperture for astrophotography). Great photographs give the viewer a unique perspective, which is something this focal range does exceptionally well.

Canon RF 28-75mm f/2.0L – For the vast majority of child and family portraits, this lens provides a great balance between a wide enough focal length and the ability to isolate the background somewhat.

Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L – I’m in love with how small and light this lens is compared to any other f/2.8 on the market. I use this for travel, landscape, and portraits. With portraits, the subject isolation is beautiful and it’s the perfect lens for keeping your distance.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II – I got this lens for an Iceland trip a few years ago and don’t use it very often but find it incredibly high-yield when I put it on my camera. I’ve used this for wildlife (owls, foxes, etc) and sports/action photography like water-skiing.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS – Macro lens which I honestly use very infrequently.

Sigma 15mm f/2.8 Fish-Eye – I don’t use this one much either, but it’s still rather fun to have.

Lights/Triggers

Flashpoint Zoom Li-in R2 TTL Speedlight x2 – I use the AD200s most often but occasionally use these when I need a few extra lights.

Flashpoint eVOLVE 200 (aka Godox AD200) x2 – These are my most frequently used flashes. They are about the same size as a standard flash but pack a significantly more amount of power, especially in tandem.

Flashpoint XPLOR 600 – I mainly bought this as a studio light when just getting started. I use this when trying to overpower the sun and am really grateful for its excellent battery power.

Flashpoint R2 Pro trigger – Simple, cheap, easy to see everything on screen, and reliable for a trigger.

Magmod Magsphere – I use this probably 40% of the time on one of the AD200s, usually with a gel and grid.

Magmod Magbox – I use this most of the time with the focus diffuser. I love that I can add gels directly to it from the side.

Bags/Straps

Black Rapid strap – It’s just so nice and comfortable while being really convenient.

Tripods

Gitzo GT1541T – It wasn’t cheap but it’s light and dependable. It’s been to about 10 countries in 10 years and still in great shape. I’ve also used it to hold a laser level for construction projects and it shows no signs of breaking down.

Really Right Stuff BH-30 with a quick-release clamp – Solid ball head. I love the quick release clamp and L-brackets.

Platypod Max – I thought these were a gimmick because they look so simple, but it’s amazing how much of a unique perspective you get taking images from close to the ground. I’ve also used it in European churches and cities that forbid tripods.

Hardware & Software

Apple MacBook Pro 2019 – connected to an external monitor.

Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop – Not much to say, the gold standard.

Skylum Aurora HDR – I use this for almost all my travel/landscape photos. I shoot all these bracketed by +2 and -2 stops and then the software blends the three images together.

Skylum Luminar – I don’t use this as much, but sometimes it gives the pop that I’m looking for if I can’t get it quite right in Lightroom. I also occasionally use it for sky replacement (guide here).

Misc.

Lensball – I find that these can add an interesting element to a scene.

DJI Mavic Air 2 – I love the view from the air.

Final Words

I learned this late but investing in photography education is truly far more valuable than buying better gear.

www.jlwiswell.com | @jlwiswell.photography



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