What I’m Using

Below are the list of tools that I personally use to build this website, create my photography gallery and shoot beautiful photos.

I have also included a list of photography courses and books that I found really helpful that got me to where I am today. I hope you can get a lot out of these resources as much as I do. Feel free to send me any questions you might have about them and I’d be happy to help!

What I Use to Create This Website


BlueHost Web Hosting

BlueHost
Hosting is one of the required tools if you want to start your own personal photography website. There are plenty of hosting options out there and I’ve pretty much tried most of them.

Some of the things that I’m looking for in a web hosting is loading speed, website uptime and customer support. BlueHost ticks those three things and they’re the company that I trust to host all of my content on this site.

In terms of pricing, they’re pretty competitive. You can start building your own website for less than $5 by using this link.


NameCheap Domain Name

NameCheap
After hosting, you’ll need to secure a domain name so that you can start registering a name for your photography site. Domain name registrar like NameCheap is where you can purchase and secure a domain name such as www.yourcoolsitename.com.

Like hosting provider, I have also tested several registrars. I’m looking for a registrar that’s easy to use and has clean interface. Some registrars will shamelessly bombard you with tons of advertising in order to squeeze every penny out from you. Avoid them at all cost.

NameCheap isn’t one of them and that’s why I trust them with my domain names. You can start securing your domain from NameCheap quickly and easily here.


Wordpress Logo

WordPress
After securing hosting and domain names, you need a platform to run your website. In the old days, people have to build website using HTML. For some people, this process is very hard and tedious, often taking years to master using HTML.

WordPress is here to solve that problem. Now you can build your website without even typing a single code of HTML. The WordPress that I’m talking here is not the WordPress.com blogging platform (which is similar to Blogger) but the standalone install that you can get for FREE from WordPress.org.

You can install WordPress straight from BlueHost dashboard using their one-click install feature or manually by downloading the software package from WordPress.org. I built PhotoSeis.com entirely using WordPress and I’m loving every minute of it.


Clicky Web Analytics Logo

Clicky
Clicky is the company that I trust for my website’s analytics. If you want to know what’s going on with your website on any given day (which you really should), then give Clicky a try.

They will give crucial stats like the number of visits, number of views that a page has, time spent on site and a lot more. This data is essential for improving the quality of your site.

Another popular, free option is Google Analytics. I used Google Analytics several years ago but stopped doing so because over concerns on how they will use the data that they gather from my website. If you don’t care about Google using your stats, go with Google Analytics.

If you’re a person who don’t mind paying a bit for extra layer of privacy and security like me, go with Clicky.


What I Use to Showcase and Sell my Photos Online


SmugMug Logo

SmugMug

I use SmugMug for 3 things: for my online photo backup, for showcasing my photo and for selling prints of my photo. They’ve created a wonderful and easy solution for photographers who wanted to do those 3 things.

They give you unlimited storage for all of their plans, beautiful templates to showcase your photos and an easy way to set pricing to sell your photos. Most of their plans are very affordable. I personally use their Portfolio plan.

If you want to get started with SmugMug, you can get 20% discount by using this link. You’re welcome!


Where I Learn Photography Online


CreativeLive Logo

CreativeLive

I’ve learned so much out of CreativeLive that I can’t imagine myself without them today. They invite various world class instructors to talk about specific topic and most of them speak from their experience.

You’ll get hands-on training from the world’s best teachers in photography. My favorite instructors are Jared Platt (Lightroom Workflow), John Greengo (Travel Photography) and Tamara Lackey (Work Life Balance).

You can get started browsing some of the popular courses in CreativeLive here.


My Favorite Photography Books


Bryan Peterson Understanding Exposure Book

Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure

Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure book is the first photography book that I read and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s just starting out in photography. He talked about Exposure, the most important element in photography no matter what camera you’re using.

This book is constantly on the Best Selling chart in Photography category in Amazon.

I have the privilege to be interviewed by Bryan after winning my first international award and he published the interview in his newsletter.


Cameras I’m Currently Using


Sony a7ii Camera Body

Sony a7ii

The Sony a7ii is the camera that made me finally switch from Nikon to Sony and is my primary camera body. Before purchasing the Sony a7ii, I was using Nikon D600. I didn’t have a good experience using the Nikon D600 due to the oil leaking problem on the sensor.

As I am getting older, I also feel carrying a DSLR body with several pro lenses to be a pain in the neck (literally). I was looking for a lighter full frame solution and then the Sony a7 came out. I didn’t immediately jump to purchase the a7 due to the ergonomics and autofocus speed.

Then Sony improved a lot on the a7ii and I finally decided to jump ship from Nikon to Sony. I sold all my Nikon lenses except the 70-200mm VR and 90mm macro and added several Zeiss and Sony lenses to my new arsenal.

So far, I am enjoying the a7ii. I have shots some great photos with it in New Zealand and will continue using this camera in many years to come!


Sony a7s Camera Body

Sony a7s

This camera was my prize for winning the Sony World Photography Awards. At that time, it was Sony’s flagship camera. The Sony a7s is geared towards videographer and it has one thing that shook the world: unrivaled low light performance (ISO 409,600).

There has been many tests done out there about how great this camera perform in low light and I can attest to that from my experience. I use this camera all the time for low light situation and for casual shooting.

One tip for using this camera in low light: turn off autofocus and use manual focus with focus peaking. You’ll have a much happier time shooting.


Ricoh GR Limited Edition

Ricoh GR Limited Edition

This is my everyday camera. I have it in my daily bag all the time. It’s small, sharp and has APS-C sensor. Kudos to Ricoh for putting such a large camera sensor in a pocket sized camera.

You can’t zoom with this lens as the focal length is fixed at 28mm (same focal length as the iPhone). It’s good enough for 90% of situation that you’ll encounter in your life.

Given that limitation, I still loved the sharpness of this small, lightweight camera. Some people even said that this is the small brother of the expensive Leica Q camera and I agree with them.


Leica Typ 109

Leica Typ 109

This camera was given to me as a gift by my generous Cousin. I told him that I entered some pictures in the biggest photo contest on earth and he promised me to give the compact Leica 109 if I win 1st place in the contest.

Lo and behold, I did win 1st place!

I use this camera whenever I want to travel light. The focal length is 24-70mm which is good for most day to day situation that I encounter.


Sony RX100M3

Sony RX100M3

This used to be my go to camera before I got the Ricoh GR and the Leica 109. I was drawn to the large 1″ sensor and 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 Zeiss lens in a pocketable size.

I was planning to sell this one but my wife wanted this camera because it’s small, take great photos and can wirelessly send photos to her iPhone.

You can also flip the rear LCD for selfie mode… I know, I know. So, I gave it to her and she’s been using it ever since. If you know someone who loves a small camera that can take great pictures and can send them wirelessly to a smartphone, definitely give this one a look.


Zoom Lenses I’m Currently Using


Sony 16-35mm f/4 FE SEL1635Z

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 SEL1635Z

This is my by far my favorite zoom lens in the FE lens lineup. It will give you ultra wide (16mm) to normal wide angle (35mm) reach.

For a zoom, ultra wide angle lens, this lens is a strong performer. Optically, it is sharp and has very minor distortion and vignetting.

I’m also loving the build quality of this lens. It has that strong metal feel. I use this lens to shoot landscape, interior and street photography.


Sony 24-70mm f/4 FE SEL2470Z

Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 SEL2470Z

This lens was given to me, along with the a7s, as a prize for winning the Sony World Photography Award. The 24-70mm is the most commonly used focal length range in standard situation. Most people use this lens all the time with their a7 camera.

I’m not one of those people though. I still keep this lens if I want to travel light. However, for most of the time, I use the 16-35mm. I feel that the quality of 16-35mm surpasses this lens and it has less optical issues than this one.

The bottom line for me is that this is a lens that’s nice to have, but not a must have.


Sony 70-200mm f/4 FE SEL70200G

Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 SEL70200G

I use this lens to shoot sports event or wildlife. It would have been nice to have the f/2.8 version of this lens but I liked this one better due to its lighter weight.

This lens has a professional build quality and it has several switches on the lens body for quick access. One thing that Sony can improve on this lens is the tightness of the switches.

The switches can be moved so easily and I sometimes trip them accidentally. For a quick fix, I often use a Play-Doh to prevent the switches from moving.


Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR Nikkor Grey

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR

This is one of the lens that I still keep after selling all of my Nikon lenses. This is a very rare lens that Nikon produces but the primary reason why I kept this lens is because I shot “Orangutan in The Rain” with this lens.

So yeah, you can say that I’m emotionally attached to this lens.

In terms of quality, it’s a perfect 10. You’ll see lots of people saying the same thing online about this lens. It’s very sharp and has great, professional build quality. I use the F Mount to E mount lens converter whenever I want to use this lens on my Sony a7ii.


Tamron 70-300mm VC

Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC

Whenever I need more telephoto reach, I grab this lens. This lens is also a leftover of my Nikon lenses that I didn’t sell when I moved from Nikon to Sony.

I shot the Solar Eclipse that happened in 2016 with this lens. You’ll need to use the Nikon F to E Mount converter if you want to use this lens with an a7 camera.

Now that Sony has made a new 70-300mm lens for the FE mount, I might consider selling this lens.

The Prime Lenses I’m Currently Using


Batis 25mm

Zeiss Batis 25mm

The Zeiss Batis is an expensive lens for a good reason: superior optical quality. Zeiss created the Batis line specially for the E-Mount and this one is a KILLER lens for landscape.

I could not find any flaw on this lens. It’s virtually distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration free. In terms of sharpness, it’s simply perfect.

I use this lens whenever I want the maximum quality out of my landscape shot and this lens never disappoints me.


Batis 85mm

Zeiss Batis 85mm

Another focal length that Zeiss made for their Batis lineup is the 85mm. If the 25mm is the perfect lens for landscape, the 85mm is the perfect lens for portraiture work.

The 85mm has everything that the 25mm lens has but it has one more strength: bokeh (out of focus blur). The out of focus blur that this lens produces is simply exceptional. It is very smooth and silky.

I always use this lens for my portraiture work and like the 25mm, this one never disappoints as well.


Sony 55mm SEL55F18Z

Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 SEL55F18Z

The Zeiss 55mm lens is one of the first few lenses that Sony releases with their a7 series. It was regarded as one of the sharpest lens for Sony a7 before Zeiss launched the Batis series.

After buying the Batis, I found myself using this lens less. I rarely shoot with the normal focal length like this 55mm but I still use this lens occasionally for street photography purpose.

If you want a very good, general prime lens, then this is the lens to get. If you want prime lenses for specific use like landscape or portraiture, skip this one and look at the Batis series.


Sony 35mm SEL35F28

Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 SEL35F28

I purchased this lens because of its small size and light weight. I use this lens with my a7s most of the time. When combined, they become the smallest full frame camera combo!

This lens was released along with the 55mm and it also gives a good performance. Although optically it’s not as good as the 55mm or the Batis series, it wins hands down in terms of compactness and convenience.

Together with the a7s, I use this lens for everyday photography use alongside my Ricoh GR.


Tamron 90mm Macro

Tamron 90mm Macro f/2.8

This Macro lens is also a leftover from my Nikon lenses that I’ve mostly sold. I kept this lens because this lens is probably the cheapest and the sharpest macro lens that you can find.

I don’t shoot macro a lot and I see no need to purchase Sony’s more expensive 90mm Macro lens. I’m sticking with this lens for my Macro work and so far it has given me beautiful quality even when mounted on my a7 bodies.

If you want to use this lens on your a7 body, you have to use the Nikon F to E Mount lens converter. You won’t be able to use the autofocus of this lens but I rarely use autofocus when shooting macro so it’s not a concern for me.


Minolta 50mm MC f/1.4

Minolta 50mm f/1.4 MC

I purchased this rare, ancient lens from an online auction because I’m attracted to it’s classic look and metal build. I got it for less than USD $100. You heard it right, an f/1.4 lens for less than USD 100!

This lens is built like a tank and the optical performance is quite good for the price.

When you shoot at f/1.4, this lens will give you soft, beautiful glow that can look so pleasing for a woman’s face. If you need sharpness, stop down to f/4 or f/5.6.

To mount this lens on your a7 body, you need to use the Minolta to Sony E Mount lens converter.


The Drones I’m Currently Using


DJI 4

DJI Phantom 4

I bought a drone because I was bored with the usual angle of view in photography. A drone will let you explore different angle of views that you won’t be able to get with your normal camera.

I looked at several drones but ended up with DJI 4 because I’m a total newbie and they’re the “Apple” of drones. DJI have clean, simple interface on their apps and the drone is very beginner friendly. How beginner friendly? According to their ads, even a 4 years old can fly this thing!

If you ever get bored with photography or videography at some point your career, I highly recommend getting a drone like this one to reignite your passion.


The Computers I’m Currently Using


Mac Mini

MacMini

This is the general computer that I use at home. I use this as a hub for printers, scanners and backup hard drives. I wasn’t happy with its performance initially so I upgraded both the hard drive and the RAM on this Mac Mini.

I upgraded the Hard Drive to SSD (Solid State Drive) and the RAM to 16GB. Disassembling and reassembling the Mac Mini was quite a fun experience for me.

It has gotten a lot faster after the upgrade. It’s fast enough for me to do majority of work there like word processing, spreadsheet, web development and even basic photo works. I haven’t tried it for video editing though.


Macbook Pro Retina 13"

MacBook Pro Retina 13″

The MacBook Pro 13″ Retina is my daily computer and this is where I get most of the stuff done. I use this computer for updating this site, Lightroom and PhotoShop editing during travel and video development.

It’s not as fast as my 15″ Retina but it’s a lot lighter. I always leave this 13″ Macbook Pro on my bedside table for convenience. Whenever I need to do something quick using my laptop, this is the computer that I turn to.


Macbook Pro Retina 15

MacBook Pro Retina 15″

This is the computer I use if I need maximum performance for my photography or video works. This is the only computer in my house that has the i7 Intel processor.

It’s larger and heavier than the 13″ but the screen is bigger and the processing speed is faster. I generally leave this one at home in my photo studio and travel with the 13″ one but it’s still nice to have this computer in case I need to do heavy lifting in photo or video works.

If you’re mobile most of the time, I recommend getting the 13″ Macbook Pro. However, if you don’t travel a lot with a laptop, want maximum performance and don’t like the idea of having a desktop, get this 15″ version.


The Photo Editing Software I’m Currently Using


Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom

90% of my post processing work is done in Lightroom. I use Lightroom to organize, edit and share my photos. If there’s major edit that needs to be done or if I want to enhance a photo for my portfolio, I bring the editing further into PhotoShop. I don’t do that very often.

Think of Lightroom as a machine that processes photos. The RAW file comes in, you do the edit and then the final JPEG output comes out. You can add keywords, tag and organize photos into folder.

I have to say that it’s quite a challenging software to master but once you get the hang of it, you can save countless hours doing your photography work with this tool.


Photoshop Logo

Adobe PhotoShop

As I previously mentioned, I rarely use PhotoShop to edit my photos. I use this software when I need to do advanced cloning or want add that extra touch of perfection for my portfolio use.

Because Lightroom and PhotoShop are both made by Adobe, you can switch back and forth easily between Lightroom and Photoshop when editing your photos.

If you’re just getting started with photography, I recommend getting and learning Lightroom first. Then, add Photoshop to your toolbox later if you feel you need to.


Google Nik Collection

Google Nik Collection

“There’s no free lunch” they say, but there is one in photography world! The Google Nik Collection is a FREE, powerful editing plugins that integrates beautifully into PhotoShop. They make photo editing a lot simpler and have saved me countless of hours working in Photoshop.

They used to sell their software for quite a bit of money. Then Google bought them and make their software free for everyone to download with no strings attached.

Thank you Google for giving photographers our free lunch!


My Essential Photography Accessories


Wacom Intuos Pro Medium

Wacom Intuos Pro Medium

I used this pen and tablet combo to do very precise editing in my photo editing works. The brush and tablet are both pressure sensitive which can make precise editing a breeze.

I won’t recommend this to you if you’re just starting out in photography. Lightroom with a keyboard and a mouse will solve most of your problem.

However, if you’re advanced enough to use PhotoShop and want to get precise control on the look of your final photos, then by all means get this gadget.


Shuttle Contour

Shuttle Contour

I purchased this tool to speed up my photography workflow in Lightroom. The ideas is rather than using a mouse to click and drag to make changes in Lightroom, you use a wheel.

For instance, if you want to cull your photos, you have to press the arrow button on your keyboard several times. The Shuttle allows you to cull your photos quickly using the wheel. You can also switch settings like Exposure, White Balance and Contrasts using the wheel as well as making changes in each of them.

The Shuttle Contour is completely programmable. You can change what each button do for any applications, not just Lightroom.


Fotopro C4i Tripod Red

FotoPro C4i Red Tripod

I have spent lots of money trying to find the perfect travel tripod and this is the best one that I could find for my need. It’s light, folds to 12″ (30cm), fits inside my backpack and very affordable.

I chose the color red so people will be aware of it and won’t accidentally hit my camera.

If you’re using a mirrorless camera like me, you’ll be very happy with this tripod. It can withstand your camera body weight plus the zoom lens weight easily.

However, if you’re using a heavy DSLR body with a professional lens, I won’t recommend this tripod to you. You’ll need a bigger tripod for stability.


Peak Design Capture Camera Clip

Peak Design Capture Camera Clip

Peak Design is one of my favorite company in the photography world. Unlike regular company who relied on investors for funding, they use crowdfunding to raise fund. This means that they’re free from the corporate pressure and bureaucracy which can make them more focused in innovating products that their customer needs.

Their first product is this Capture Camera Clip. The idea behind this product is that it’s hard for you to have your camera ready when the important moment arrives during your travel. You usually store your camera inside a bag and when an important moment happen, you still have to dig through your bag to find your camera.

The capture camera clip solves this problem. You can attach the base of the clip either on your backpack strap, your belt or anywhere you find convenience for you to reach your camera. The clip mounts onto your camera’s tripod socket and voila, you can attach your camera outside the bag for easy access!

I have to say that I find this kind of system very convenient. Kudos to Peak Design for finding such an innovative solution in carrying a camera!


Peak Design Lens Camera Clip

Peak Design Lens Camera Clip

This product is built on the Capture Camera Clip idea. This time it’s applied on lens. Oftentimes, the lens changing process can be very slow and painful.

You have to dig through your bag to find the correct lens and you sometimes have to juggle through the front lens cap, rear lens cap, lens hood… you get the idea.

The Peak Design Lens Camera clip solves that problem. With this innovative solution, you can change lenses quickly and easily. I can’t live without both the Camera Clip and Lens Clip!


Peak Design Cuff

Peak Design Cuff

Another thing that I like about Peak Design is their idea of modularity. They want you to be able to make changes quickly and easily. After applying the concept to Camera and Lenses, they’re taking it one step further and apply it to camera strap.

The camera cuff is a wrist strap that can be easily installed and removed. It’s very low profile and very effective from protecting your camera from accidental drops. I use the Cuff on my smaller cameras: Ricoh GR, Leica 109 and sometimes Sony a7s with 35mm lens.

If you’re not using the Cuff from your camera, you can morph the Cuff as a great looking bracelet. Now that’s some creative thinking!


Peak Design Leash

Peak Design Leash

The Leash is a 4-in-1 strap solution. You can use it as a sling strap, neck strap, safety strap or video stabilizer. Like other straps in Peak Design lineup, you can quickly connect and disconnect this strap thanks to the Anchor system.

This strap is very lightweight and is very easy to store. I use the Leash during casual travel or shooting situation. I usually use it with the Sony a7s / a7ii and any prime lens combination that I own.


Peak Design Slide Lite

Peak Design Slide Lite

In my opinion, the Slide Lite is the best, most innovative strap made for mirrorless camera. I use this strap whenever I use my Sony a7s / a7ii and any zoom lens combination.

One advantage that this strap has over the Leash is that it has an aluminum quick adjusters that let you quickly change the strap length on the fly.

I also feel that this trap is very comfortable to use on my neck / shoulder. I never feel tired carrying my camera with heavy lenses such as the 70-200mm when I use this strap. This one is a must have if you carry mirrorless camera in combination with any zoom lenses.


Peak Design Anchor Links

Peak Design Anchor Link

Some of you might already have a beautiful strap that you love but you want the functionality of the Peak Design Anchor system. Is there a way to combine the two? Yes there is!

The answer is to get this Anchor Link. You mount the Anchor Links to both ends of your camera strap and you can enjoy the modularity of the Peak Design system immediately!

I personally have a hand made, really stylish looking leather strap that I use with the Anchor Link and I’m loving it!


JB Design Bamboo Grip for a7 Camera

J.B Design Bamboo Grip for A7

One of the downside of the a7 camera series is the grip. The grip is not long enough for most people. I feel my pinky finger don’t have a place to rest comfortably on my camera.

Thankfully, JB Design made a very clever solution while adding a beautiful look to the a7 camera. I bought their Bamboo Grip for a7 to get a better grip when I’m using the camera.

The grip is very light and can make the a7 looks even more sexier!


JB Design Wood Grip for a7ii

J.B Design Wood Grip for A7ii

Sony fixed the grip issue on the a7ii camera series. The grip is now slightly longer and more comfortable to hold. So why did I need to purchase a grip for this camera?

In this case, it’s purely for aesthetic reason. I got very accustomed to having that touch of wood on my camera and so I decided to spend some money to get that feeling on my a7ii.

I know I’m a weird guy… but aren’t we all? :)


What I Use to Carry My Camera Gears


Manfrotto Active Backpack

Manfrotto Advanced Active Backpack

This is the backpack that I use 90% of the time. The primary reason why I got this backpack is because it looks very low profile but it can hold plenty of stuff inside.

I can easily fit 2 Mirrorless Bodies, 2 Zoom Lenses, 2 Prime Lenses, Laptop (up to 15″), Tripod and additional camera accessories.

This bag also has lots of paddings inside which really helps in protecting your camera gears from accidental bumps or drops.


Manfrotto Drone Backpack

Manfrotto Drone Backpack

I use this bag when I need to bring my DJI 4 drone along with my full frame cameras. Basically, this bag can fit your DJI 4 drone, 1 mirrorless camera with 1 lens attached to it, a tripod and a laptop up to 17″ in screen size.

It doesn’t look as slim as the Active Backpack but it’s understandable since the drone is occupying 90% of the space here. Like the Active Backpack, this bag also provides ample of paddings to protect your gears.

This bag’s original weight is quite heavy compared to the Active Backpack so you might want to plan carefully on what gears you want to put in here to avoid straining your shoulder.


My Favorite Places to Shop Online


Amazon Logo Black

Amazon

I’ve been an Amazon shopper for as long as I can remember. This is the first place that I go to find virtually anything that I need.

They have quite a wide selection of camera and lenses with competitive pricing. I generally use Amazon’s pricing to establish a pricing baseline for a camera or lens that I want to purchase. However, I do not take the customer review seriously when purchasing a camera or lens here.

Most of the reviews in Amazon are written by regular (non-professional) photographers so I still do my research outside Amazon when I want to purchase a camera or lens.


BH Photo Video Logo

B&H Photo

B&H Photo Video is a camera superstore in New York. I had a chance to visit their gigantic store when I visit NYC in early 2016.

They offer quite a range of selection in camera, lenses, computers and other accessories. You’ll be able to find specialty items like super telephoto lens, camera collectibles and lens collectibles easier here than in Amazon.

In terms of pricing, they’re pretty competitive as well. Their customer service is pretty helpful too in case you need more information on the item that you want to purchase. I recommend taking a look at B&H Photo if you want to find a specialty item or hard to find camera / lenses.


Adorama Logo

Adorama

Adorama is another online camera store that I love. Like B&H Photo, they’re also based in New York City. I have never been to their physical store but I have purchased quite a few items from them online and I’m quite happy with them.

Apart from competitive price, they’ll frequently give you a very good deals for cameras, lenses, computers and other electronics.

If you want to be notified of such deals, use the link above and join their mailing list. You might never know what they have in store for you!