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What’s in Your Bag? with Landscape and Street Shooter Andy Williams

April 13, 2011 575 comments

Do you know all those times when you’re out shooting and you run into another photographer? You sneak glances at their gear to see if they measure up to what you’ve got (or because you covet thy neighbor’s glass.) Don’t worry, we all do it!

Now we’re letting you do it shamelessly and without fear of getting caught. Let’s see what SmugMug’s House Pro Andy Williams of Moon River Photography puts in his bag. Read all the way to the bottom — you may just win something…

I’ve owned lots of gear, but my collection has actually shrunk over the years and now I only keep and carry what I actually use.

Bag

Let’s start with the bag itself.  For years and years, I’ve been using the Crumpler Farmer’s Double and I still love it.  It’s my bag of choice for a day trip or short outing. Look for it used, because Crumpler doesn’t make it anymore. :)

Crumpler Farmer's Double

For longer trips, I’ve recently settled on the Kiboko bag from Andy Biggs’ Gura Gear.  I’ve had the opportunity to try a whole lot of bags – top of the line models from Lowepro, Crumpler, Tenba and Think Tank – and I chose the Gura Gear bag:

It’s super light, made from the same fabric used in America’s Cup sailboat sails!  It’s less than half the weight of the big bags from the other guys, and when you carry it all day that makes a big difference. It holds plenty: two bodies, plenty of glass, accessories and more.  You can even put a 500mm f/4 in it!

The suspension system is awesome, it rides well, and you feel like you’re carrying much less weight than you actually have.  And, it hides when you don’t want to use it.  This bag will easily swallow up 35lbs of gear with room to spare. Everything about this bag screams attention to detail – the way the suspension system tucks away out of sight when you’re not using it, the built-in raincover, the zipper pulls that are glove-friendly. They’re out of stock most everywhere right now, but Andy Biggs assures me that he’s got some really cool stuff in store for his fans really soon.

Tripod

As a landscaper, this is without a doubt one of the most important pieces of gear I own.  I recently started using the newest carbon-fiber kit from Really Right Stuff, their TVC-23. Expensive? Yup. But the stability of this rig just can’t be matched by any tripod I’ve used (including the top of the line Gitzos). It’s super strong and super lightweight at only 3lbs.  I pair this tripod with the Really Right Stuff BH-40 ballhead which also supports the lenses that I use regularly (up to 300mm).  I do own the larger RRS BH-55 ballhead for when I need to support a 400mm or 500mm lens. For years, I was using the Gitzo 2530, and what I like about the new RRS ‘pods is their stability, and the way the head comes together with its “Apex Lock” system. It is without a doubt the sturdiest, lightest tripod I’ve ever owned.

For traveling, and lightweight (like backpacking), I also have the Gitzo 1541 and a RRS BH-30 which is a super lightweight combo!  I shoot lots of panoramas, and so a very important piece of my kit is the Really Right Stuff Pano Head, which I use for stitched panos in the landscape.

Glass!

I admit I’m a bit of a glass snob. I’ll use primes when I can, but I do love a couple of zooms I own.  Let’s go from small to big.

  • First off, the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye zoom – super ultrawide on the full-frame 5DII and for really fun landscape videos on the 7D.  Sharp and reliable!  But… I do have my eye on Canon’s newly announced 8-15mm fisheye zoom though, and expect to be shooting with it this summer.
  • Canon’s 24 f/1.4L Mark II – a fantastically sharp wide angle lens, I’m so in love with this glass that I gave up the supremely sharp Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 for it!
  • For all-around use, I have one of the very first copies of Canon’s 24-105L and it’s a workhorse lens for me.  If I’m out for a day and I can’t take a lot of glass, I’ll grab this.
  • For portraits, I have a couple of excellent choices: Canon’s 50 f/1.2L and Canon’s 135 f/2L. Given enough room, I love shooting portraits with the 135L, it’s one of the sharpest lenses ever, bar-none.  Love the 50mm 1.2 for it’s ginormous lens opening – and it’s my go-to lens for extreme low-light work.
  • More reach?  I’m not the first guy to say that Canon’s 70-200 f/2.8L IS Mark II is a favorite.  I own it, have owned the prior model, and won’t ever be without it.  Super sharp, great IS so you can shoot in low-light when needed.  Fast on the AF.  And yeah, I use it in the landscape, too.
  • Recently, I’ve been using Canon’s newest zoom, 70-300 L IS. It’s not fast (f/5.6 at the long end) but boy is it sharp and what a convenient little package.
  • If  you’re wondering about birds and wildlife: I don’t own really long glass but when I need it, I usually rent a 500mm f/4L or 600mm f/4L from BorrowLenses.  When I travel to Africa for three weeks this October, I’m doing just that!

Bodies

No surprise here – I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 7D.  The 5D Mark II is a super landscaper’s camera, great performance, high pixel count, HD movies, and more.   When I need a faster frame rate and a bit faster AF, I reach for the 7D.

Funny, I used to be a 1Ds Mark III snob… but I cannot for the life of me figure out why one would buy that camera body at nearly 3x the cost of a 5D Mark II.  Sure, I’m awaiting the rumored 1Ds Mark IV like most Canon shooters, but the sane part of me says, “why”?

(Those of you that know me are probably laughing right about now!)

Filters

Guess what?  I own only two, a circular polarizer and a neutral density filter.  I use the CPL when I want to get the best sky possible 90 degrees or so from the sun.  I will also use it in certain circumstances like fall foliage to get richer colors, and of course to lose reflections when shooting water.   I love my 6-stop ND filter, to smooth out the water in a waterfall or running stream in daylight.

Miscellany

On my 5DII and 7D bodies, I add a Camdapter Hand Strap – super comfortable! I always carry my Infrared-converted Canon SD-980IS, camera manuals (you never know!), extra batteries, an intervalometer for timed exposures, a remote shutter release, headlamp, flashlight, shooting gloves for the cold weather, plenty of CF cards, lens cloth, lens cleaner, a mink brush, Giottos mini-Blower,  The Photographer’s Rights, my business cards and a leatherman for when things go wrong.

Everything Else

After I shoot there’s plenty to do!   I use Adobe’s Lightroom 3 (and SmugMug’s awesome built-in uploading), Photoshop CS5, Auto Pano Pro for my stitches, all on an Apple Mac Pro with two 30″ HP Monitors.

Win This MetalPrint

It’s not all work, and no play though. Now that you’ve gotten a close look at my gear bag, here’s your chance to take home something fun (note: Ts and Cs here). Comment on our blog post below and “Like” us on Facebook. One winner will be randomly selected on Monday, April 18 at Noon PDT to win a big and beautiful MetalPrint of this Mono Lake Tufa photo. You can see how it will look on your wall here.

Enjoy (looking into other photographers’ bags) photography,
– Andy

—————

UPDATE! We were totally blown away by the response to this giveaway, so we are sharing the love and randomly selecting THREE Winners!

First place, and the winner of the MetalPrint, goes to Darlene Buck. The two Runner Ups, and the winners of a free year of SmugMug Pro each, are Jordan Van de Vorst and Jenny Sipes. Congrats!! Katherine from our team will be emailing you each shortly with details of your prize.

Thanks to everyone who participated. There is a lot more goodness where this came from, so keep yer eyes on this blog, Facebook, and Twitter for many more giveaways to come.

Guest Blogger: Why Andy Marcus Loves SmugMug

March 3, 2011 3 comments

Today’s guest blogger is Andy Marcus of incredible, lick-the-screen-delicious Fred Marcus Photography in New York. He’s been a Smugger since 2009 and we had the privilege of gabbing with him on the way to WPPI. Here’s what he says about SmugMug and how his Pro account has given their world-class business an edge in the digital age.

Photos by Fred Marcus Photography

Pro Features for Pro Photographers

We use SmugMug at Fred Marcus Photography because it’s one of the easiest and most effective tools to market our business.   We’ve been around for 70 years and have made a name for ourselves, but I find that our venues are constantly being bombarded by dozens of other photographers vying for recommendations and attention, too.  How do we stand out and make our studio the one that the venues remember?

After each event we create a SmugMug gallery for the venue so they can share and use them for their own marketing purposes.  SmugMug has made watermarking our images so easy: I can upload high resolution files and be confident that no matter where they end up, our studio name will be on them.  I would normally never share files that could be printed to our clients, but with watermarking it’s a win-win situation for both the vendor and our studio.  They get great photos and we get the advertising.

Just the other day a popular wedding blogger got a link to our SmugMug site and shared more than a dozen of our images with her 2,000 followers. Within minutes of her publishing that story our website received dozens of hits from people curious about our work.

It has gotten to the point now where our vendors can’t wait to log onto our SmugMug site and see images of their events.  The cake designers want their cake photos, the lighting and staging companies want the images we shoot of the décor and ambience. The florists want shots of the floral décor and bouquets and the party planners, coordinators and caterers want shots of everything.

Luckily for me and my staff all the functionality SmugMug builds into their “Share” button makes their wait very short. I can send our vendors an email containing links with just a few clicks of a mouse. SmugMug also generates easy embed codes for all our images, so I can show them off on a blog or a forum with no hassle. Not to mention the ease at which I can connect to a number of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

I always like to be one step ahead of my competitors, and SmugMug helps me stay there.

- Andy Marcus

Facebook Giveaway: Lowepro Bag and Fine Art Print

March 1, 2011 3 comments

News flash! We’re doing another giveaway on Facebook for an awesome, versatile and sturdy Lowepro Pro Trekker 600 AW bag and a genuine box-framed print by our superstar pro, Andy Williams. That’s a $700 value winnable with just a few keystrokes:

Don’t know Andy? Get to know him, his amazing landscape and street photos on Moon River Photography and see why he’s our often imitated, never duplicated House Pro:

The 16 x 20 print is high-quality art paper mounted on masonite for durability, then set in a glass-free black wood frame. It’ll look faboo on any wall. (Full specs here.)

To enter: Visit our Facebook page and post why you need a new bag for your loot. We’ll pick a random winner on Monday, 3/7 at noon PT.

Happy packing!

Bulk Downloads, Cart Update, Bug Fixes

October 22, 2010 11 comments

Filenames and Custom Domain for Bulk Downloads

As soon as we added bulk downloads to the site a few weeks ago, you asked for two more things: use original filenames as part of the downloaded filename, and your custom domain in the download url. Today, we added both! Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

Shopping Cart Update

SmugMug-Pro-Shopping-Cart

Are you a Pro? We updated the ‘buy multiple photos’ page to use your personal branding, and to show SmugMug’s mini-footer instead of our full footer. We also updated the footer in the main shopping cart to use only the mini-footer when photos are bought from Pro sites.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed a bug where videos playing in full screen had a frame-grab of the video as a background instead of the normal black background.
  • Packages with cards in them now show an error when the image being used to fill the package does not meet the size requirements.

Enjoy,

The SmugMug Family

Photo Packages and Event Marketing

Sell more, price less: Packages for Pros

This week is pay dirt for Pros. Sell groups of prints and products for totally pain-free purchasing. Packages are here!

Create and configure them from the Pros tab of your Control Panel. Choose your print lab, products, and applicable galleries. Then name your price. When your customers buy one they’ll just need to select their images and check out. Questions? See our full help pages. Did we get it right? Speak your mind on our forums.

Pros please note:

  • The print lab you specify for a package trumps the lab you’ve set in each gallery’s custom pricing. If they are different, a photo ordered through a Bay Photo package will print through Bay, while a regular order from the same gallery could print through EZ Prints.
  • At this time, digital downloads and custom photo cards are not available for purchase through packages.
  • Color correction is currently applied to ALL items ordered through packages. As we improve this feature we’ll let you specify your desired settings, so stay tuned.

Event Marketing and Choosing Favorites

Our Pros have shown us incredible patience through the last year and we hope that this moment has been worth the wait. Introducing Event Marketing and Favorites:

Events are Sharegroups on steroids. Create an Event and assign galleries to it. You get a link to the page to share with any person you wish. They’ll see all of those galleries on one handy page.

Additionally, you can enter a list of key clients (say, the bride). For each Participant you add, we’ll generate a custom version of the page that also contains a Favorites folder specific to them. When each Participant browses those event galleries, they can tag the photos they like best. A copy of each gets placed in that Favorites gallery, and both of you can review their selections at any time.

You can start managing your Events right now from your Pros tab. Visit our full help pages, send your customers to our visitor help, and as always — let us know what you think on our forums.

Last but not least, we brushed up the site with a slew of bug fixes:

  • We tightened up the layout of our recently-added Sales Tax tool, so things should look neater in that space. You can also enter tax rates with up to three decimal places.
  • Keyworders rejoice! Editing keywords now won’t unexpectedly clear them.
  • Keywords links work properly from the lightbox again. (Whoops)
  • Browsing by date on an invalid user’s site now redirects back to our general homepage.
  • Sepia and Tanning Salon are back in service. Find it under your gallery Tools button > Color Effects.
  • We added another great deal on our ClubSmug page for those wanting to try a Showit Website. Log in and check it out!

And a couple updates to our beta Stats feature:

  • Video views are more accurate and are recorded more quickly.
  • Single day views should appear as a dot on the graph.
  • You can now grab a permalink to the page if you’re viewing stats for a single day.

We hope our fans love these new additions and will stay tuned for lots more. If you’re attending WPPI next week, don’t be shy. Please come see us in booth #1518 and say hello!

Happy marketing,
The SmugMug Family

Unveiling SmugMug Pro

March 4, 2010 2 comments

Many thanks to so many wonderful pros who invited us to their homes and studios this past year. Never in my career have I seen so much generosity of time while you patiently explained the nuances of your workflows.

Although we have tens of thousands of pros, many who have been with us for years, this year was different. Groups of passionate photographers approached us to say, “You’re off to a good start but it’s not enough. To become great, you need packages. Folders & favorites. Event marketing. Smart galleries. User group meetings. Coupons. Powerful SEO. A great pro lab. Better branding. Deeper customization. And more.”

SmugMug Pro

So we doubled our engineering team, rolled out SmugMug User Groups, and shipped a dozen new features. You can track the details on our release notes blog.

Packages, folders & favorites, and event marketing are imminent. With luck they’ll be live for WPPI next week, but if not, come by booth #1518 for demos (and for an invite to our party Tuesday night).

Soon after they’re live, we’ll display the new SmugMug Pro logo on our site for pages you don’t brand as your own.

Now that we have so much feature momentum, you can expect some more big surprises in the not-too-distant future.

Categories: Andy Williams, Sales

How To Sell Cards

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

With our latest release, you can now make a card for your customer and price it at your pro pricing :D I’ve had some questions from pros on how best to deal with selling cards, so here goes.

First, you need a good display gallery of the cards. Of course, we have cards.smugmug.com, but that won’t have your branding. Great in a pinch, but here’s another way, I’ve set up galleries on my site to show off our 5×7 cards and our 4×8 cards.

How to do this? It takes only a couple minutes, and I’ve made step-by-step instructions here on Dgrin.

Next, let your clients choose their holiday photo and then pick a card template, and some text to put on the card. You then make the card, when logged in, go to the photo in the client gallery and choose “Buy” then “create a card” – or, again, logged in, visit cards.smugmug.com and find the card you want, and click the ‘make this card’ link under the card, it will bring you right to the card maker :) Make the card, and on the ‘Create’ tab in the card maker, choose ‘just window shopping’ – the card will then be placed into your “My SmugMug Creations” gallery when finished. Go to that gallery, and use the tools menu to choose ‘Move to Gallery’ – and place it in a new gallery just for your client – e.g., ‘The Smith Family Holiday Card’.

Last step – you’ll want to price this card at your pro pricing – so, choose tools, set prices, and first apply $0 to all products, then type in your prices for the cards. Click save and voila, your done!

Categories: Andy Williams, Sales Tags:
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