What I Use: February 2015

I often get asked about the camera equipment we use, and I decided it was good fodder for a blog post. I have purchased most of these products myself, or I will tell you otherwise. Either way, it is equipment that I truly use and recommend.

What I Use: February 2015

Photography

Cameras: In addition to his full-time job as an I.T. Director, my husband has a podcast/video business, and he fancies himself a bit of an amateur photographer. Suffice it to say, we own more than our fair share of photography and video equipment. B I got my Sony for Christmas, I would switch back and forth between his Nikon D7000 with 50mm lens and my Canon EOS Rebel SL1 with the kit lens which I received for review purposes (read my review).

I like the Canon for my outfit shots, especially when I have to do my own and use the timer feature, or when my kids are taking them. I can hand it to my daughter, set it on auto, and the pictures turn out really well for the most part.

The Nikon D7000 with that 50mm lens is amazing for food photography, and I know just enough to be dangerous with the aperture priority setting.

Then for Christmas this year, my husband gave me a new Sony mirrorless camera. (I’d had a Sony NEX-5R mirrorless camera for a while that I liked a lot, but it broke not too long ago.) He did some research and decided on the Sony Alpha a6000.

Sony Alpha a6000 Interchangeable Lens Camera

Since we still have the lens from the old Sony NEX that I can use on it, he just bought the body along with a fast 35mm lens that is pretty much great for everything, even my outfit pix, if I hand it to someone who can stand far enough away to get me in the shot. The Sony a6000 has become my go-to camera for just about everything, and my husband has been happy to reclaim the old Nikon and Canon for himself. I miss the tiltable LCD screen on my old Sony that would flip over so I could see myself when I was doing video, but otherwise, my new Sony is my most favorite camera ever.

Backdrops: I’ve had to up my game with food photography to stay relevant and competitive in the blogging space. I still laugh (or shudder, is more like it) at some of the horrid food photos I posted before I learned about proper lighting and placement. For a while, I just concentrated on using natural light and learning how to use the manual settings on my camera, but lately I’ve really moved up in the world and purchased some equipment that has made a HUGE difference in the quality of my photos.

I bought this faux wood photography backdrop paper, which I like okay. But my favorite backdrop is this vinyl barn wood backdrop from Etsy. This is what you most often see behind my food pictures these days. Sometimes I will just use my dining room table so there is some variety, but I really love the vinyl backdrop. Everything just seems to pop on it, and it’s super easy to roll up and store.

Lights: My husband also ordered me this Day Light Umbrella Continuous Lighting Kit, which makes a HUGE difference when I don’t have enough natural light coming in through the windows. We leave these set up in the dining room at all times. (Of course, we take them down when we USE the dining room, but that is only about twice a year.)

Day Light Umbrella Continuous Lighting Kit

We upgraded the lights from the ones that come in the kit to these. We also put daylight bulbs in the chandelier in our dining room.

Remote: I just bought this Wireless Shutter Release Remote Control and can’t wait to hook it up to my Sony a6000 and start using it. The purpose is to get better outfit photos when I don’t have anyone around to be my photographer.

Tripod: I love the GorillaPod. It’s so flexible and easy to use. I don’t usually need a full tripod; I can just set the GorillaPod on a table, hook up my Sony a6000, and shoot a video or set the self-timer and take outfit shots.

Computers

Desktop: We were always a P.C. family until I started doing blog design back in 2008. My husband works in I.T., and he’s always testing out new computers for work, so we always had several floating around at any given time, but none were mine. When I decided to take up blog design, my husband decided that it was time for me to have my own computer, and he hooked me up with the biggest and bestest iMac money could buy at the time. I’ve been sold hook, line, and sinker on Apple products ever since.

I’m currently on my second iMac. I actually downsized to the 21.5 inch size when I got my second one, as I’m no longer doing blog design and didn’t want or need a behemoth computer. It sits on my desk in my office, and it is mine-all-mine. The kids know not to come within two feet of it. I’m not even sure which version it is, but it’s about two years old. I think it has the retina display. You can see how techie I am. (NOT!!!)

Laptop: I got a laptop a few years ago when I started traveling for blogging and needed to be able to do work when I’m away. It only made sense to stick with Apple, and I wanted the lightest thing possible for travel. I had the smallest Macbook for a while, and then my husband convinced me to sell my Macbook to a friend upgrade to a Macbook Air. I love and adore my Macbook Air. It’s incredibly fast, lightweight, and just an all around modern marvel. Still, I prefer a desktop for daily use. I know many bloggers use only a laptop, but I love having a full keyboard and a mouse and a big screen.

Tablets: I don’t need a tablet for work, but I did receive an iPad Mini from the fine folks at CVS Pharmacy when I attended a press trip a couple years ago, and I adore it. I use it to surf Facebook and Pinterest, and I do all my e-reading on there through my Kindle app, although a Kindle Paperwhite is on my wish list. My husband asked for one for Christmas, and he loves his because it’s easy on the eyes. Plus I don’t need the distractions of email and Facebook notifications when I’m trying to read. So maybe I will put that on my birthday wish list!

Printer: I have an old Epson Artisan 810 that I received for review several years ago. It has since been discontinued, but it still works fine for my purposes, which is mostly printing out contracts and scanning them back to my computer so I can email them back to brands and PR agencies.

Phone

Smartphone: I have tried out quite a few phones over the years between blog reviews and my own purchases. At the moment, I am totally head over heels in love with my Moto X. I received a 1st generation Moto X to review, and I liked it so much, I bought myself the 2nd generation when it became available. It is best to buy directly through Motorola because you can design it just the way you like it.

I’ve been an Apple girl for some time, and all my computers and tablets are Apple so I was afraid I’d regret making the switch, but I haven’t looked back yet. Even with the much anticipated release of the iPhone 6 and it’s super-dee-duper camera, you will have to pry my Moto X out of my cold dead hands. I love the Google Now app. When I’m driving, I don’t have to pick it up, I just speak, and it answers and navigates me where I want to go or makes a phone call or sends a text. If a text comes in, it speaks and tells me I have a text and asks if I want to hear it and reply. It is AMAZING. Read my full review.

Plus, how CUTE!???

Customized Motorola Moto X

My phone runs on Verizon Wireless. We have the family plan, and we’ve always been happy with it.

Organization

Google Calendar: I am a HUGE fan of Google Calendar. After years of using my momAgenda, which is a great calendar for managing a family, my husband convinced me to go digital. I love Google Calendar because it’s on my phone so I can make appointments when I’m out and about. I sync my calendar with his, so we hardly ever double book anymore. (I say hardly ever because I am an airhead, and I’m always doing something goofy with my calendar and messing up and putting things in wrong. But it’s still MUCH better than it was when I was working off a paper planner.)

I got sucked into the Erin Condren hype and ordered a gorgeous Erin Condren planner at the beginning of this year. I love it; it is beautiful, and I keep trying to use it, but I am so connected to my Google Calendar that I am finding that it’s just not practical for me. I still keep it on my desk and fill it in from time to time, just because I paid for it and it’s pretty, lol. But the Google Calendar is what keeps me {somewhat} sane.

Blog Planner: I just signed up for the Elite Blogging Academy Course, and along with it came this nifty blog planner. I love this thing. It has daily checklists, goal setting pages, post planning pages, stat and expense trackers and more. I am a huge fan of a digital calendar, but sometimes you just can’t beat pen and paper. This is one of those instances.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.56.18 AM

Assistance

It takes a village: Christina and her team at Inspired VA Services help me with some of the more mundane administrative blogging tasks. If you’re a blogger looking for a VA, definitely reach out to her. My friend Steph helps me with social media and some of my blog posts.

Colleen and Tonya are part-time contributors to help me round out my content, and sometimes I hire them to do extra photography as well. My friend Grace at Sevco Design is responsible for my gorgeous design and the sassy blog graphics I use for various features. And I recently hired Joanne at No Fuss Accounting to handle my bookkeeping.

Who am I forgetting? Oh, yes, the team at AdThrive manages my ads, and my blog hosting is through Synthesis. They are absolutely fantastic. The customer service is 2nd to none. If you’re a blogger looking to upgrade your hosting, definitely check them out.

Education

Blogging Classes: I cannot recommend highly enough the blogging courses offered by Blog Clarity. Melissa Culbertson knows her stuff. I took Pinning Perfect not too long ago, and it was fantastic. I’ve heard only good things about her Media Kit and Content Brew classes. I’m working through the Elite Blogging Academy now. It is also very good.

Coffee

Every office has a coffee maker, and mine is no different! I have the Keurig K75 Platinum Brewing System, which I received for a blogging promotion. We were already Keurig devotees at that point; I donated our old brewing system to my grandfather’s lake house in Maine, where we vacation every summer.

Keurig K75 Platinum Brewing System

 

My favorite coffee is Newman’s Own Special Blend, and I place an Amazon order at least once a month.

I’m sure there’s other stuff I use. If you think of anything I should add, let me know!

Whether you’re a blogger or not, I hope this was fun and maybe a little bit enlightening. If you like this post, I will do these somewhat regularly. I don’t update my gear all that often; I tend to find what I like and then stick with it for a while, but as I discover new gadgets and gizmos, I’m happy to share!