I have always been too focused (pardon the inevitable pun) on making an image to bother with field notes. Of course these days all digital cameras record not only the lens, exposure, and date/time but often GPS location as well.

If you scroll below most of my images you will see notes on the placve and time, camera and lens, exposure and more - usually from camera data, sometimes from memory.

To "calculate" exposure I combine several common techniques. First, I carry an incident light meter, which I find very useful, no matter how old fashioned, in judging overall light on distant subjects. Next, I "shoot to the right"; i.e. I routinely over-expose 2/3 stop above that indicated in-camera. As has been extensively discussed elsewhere, this gives me the best chance of preserving maximum information in hightlights (recovered in post-processing) without blowing them up. And then I usually bracket three shots in 2/3 stop imcrements.

In spite of all that, and many years shooting the zone system with a Pentax electronic Spotmeter, I find my best "exposure calculator" in in my eyes and brain. Practice makes better (not necessarily perfect).

Over the last fifty years I have used a fairly wide variety of cameras and formats, Items in bold are those I currently use:


35mm Film:

  • Rollie 35
  • Pentax 35 Spotmatic system (multiple lenses)
  • Olympus OM1 system (multiple lenses)
  • Leitz-Minolta CL
  • Nikonos III
  • Pentax LX system (multiple bodies and lenses)
  • Contax G1

4x5 Film:

  • Toyo 45G monorail film camera
  • several Toyp 45AII field film cameras
  • several Toyo 45-D monorail film cameras
  • Canham 4x5 wood film camera

Over the years I owned many fine lenses for my 4"x5" film cameras:

  • Schneider Super-Angulon XL 72mm f/9.6
  • Fujinon SW 90mm f/8
  • Nikkor-SW 90 f/8
  • Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f/4.5
  • Nikkor-SW 120mm f/8
  • Nikkor-AM ED 120 f/8/li>
  • Fujinon CM-W 125mm f/5.6
  • Fujinon CM-W 123mm f/5.6
  • Fujinon CM-W 150mm f/5.6
  • Rodenstock Sironar N 150mm f/5.6
  • Schneider-Kreuznach Angulon 165mm f/6.8
  • Fujinon A 180mm f/9
  • Nikkor W 180mm
  • Nikkor-W 210mm f/5.6
  • Nikkor-AM ED 210mm f/5.6
  • Fujinon A 240mm f/9.0
  • Nikkor-W 240mm f/5.6
  • Fujinon CM-W 250mm f/6.3
  • Fujinon W 250mm f/6.7
  • Fujinon C 300mm f/8.5
  • Fujinon W 300mm f5.6
  • Nikko7r M 300mm f/9
  • Fujinon T 400mm f/8
  • Nikkor-M 450mm f/9.0
  • Fujinon C 600mm f/11.5

Digital

Now the the digital age is upon us, and film, to my great regret, is very difficult to obtain and process, I have worked up through a steadily more sophisticated series of digital cameras:

  • Sony DSC-V3 digital with Zeiss lens
  • Canon Powershot G11
  • Panasonic MDC-ZS10 with Zeiss lens
  • Canon 50D digital APS digital 12 mpx
  • Canon 5D II full-frame digital 21mpx
  • Canon 5D III full-frame digital 22mpx
  • Canon 6D full-frame digital 20mpx
  • Canon 5DS R (two bodies) full-frame digital 51mpx
  • Canon 6D II full-frame digital 26mpx

To make full use of my Canon DSLR cameras, I've owned and used an arsenal of Canon and 3rd party lenses. Bold items in the tables below are those I currently use:

  • EF 11-24mm f/4L USM
  • EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
  • EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
  • EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
  • EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM
  • EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM
  • EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM
  • EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
  • EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L II IS USM
  • Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5.6-6.3 Di VC USD
  • IRIX 11mm f/4 Blackstone
  • EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM
  • EF 24mm f/2.8 II IS USM
  • TS-E 24mm f3.5L II
  • TS-E 45mm f/2.8
  • EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
  • TS-E 50mm f/2.8L
  • EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
  • TS-E 90mm f/2.8
  • EF 100mm f/2 USM
  • EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
  • EF 135mm f/2L USM
  • EF 200mm f/2.8L USM
  • EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM
  • EF 300mm f/4L IS USM
  • EF 400mm f/5.6L USM
  • EX 1.4 II
  • Extension Tube 12mm
  • Extension Tube 25mm

Having added Sony a6300 mirrorless bodies, I mate these with compact native Sony E lenses, albeit with a substantial reduction in sensor size, and any of my FF Canon lenses through a Metabones adapter.

  • Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS super-wide zoom> (=FF 16-24mm) super wide zoom for interiors and scenics
  • Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS (=FF 24-105mm) mid-range zoom
  • Sony E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS (=FF 90-335mm) long zoom
  • Sony E PZ 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS (=FF 28-320mm) power zoom for stlls and video
  • Metabones Canon EF to Sony E Speed Booster Ultra II 0.71x (fifth generation)
  • Smallrig cage
  • Zoom H1n X stereo microphone
  • Samsung and iPad tablets connected via wireless to control Sony cameras

That's a fair question, although any dedicated photographer will know. First, technology has evolved very rapidly over the last fifty years - from Brownie box to full digital componentization. Most serious photograpohers are always at least as curious as their wallet allows. Second, one's personal style of seeing, processing, presenting, and eventaully, carrying (or not) evolves continually. I have reached the age where I shoot only what I can carry comfortably to the car, and only where I carry only the one camera and lens with which I will shoot, not more than 50 yeards from the car.

In the end, it is the photographer, not the equipment, which makes the image!