I’m Mark Lobo, a photographer in Melbourne, Australia, where I base my photography business, Mark Lobo Photography. The majority of my work is in the commercial and editorial fields with a people focus, so I’m often working to capture people in their environment in new locations. Because of this, I try to keep my basic kit compact, with everything I need to get me through any situation. This is the stuff that I can always depend on.
Of course, every shoot requires different gear, so dependent on the brief, I’ll source a few extra bits that I add to the kit. These things tend to be specific coloured backdrops, medium format camera and digital back, a few extra prime lens hires, or additional lighting and modifiers.
Desperately in need of an upgrade are my two trusty Canon 5D Mark II ‘s. I consider these bodies to be reliable workhorses, with controls that I’m now so familiar with that navigating through them feels almost like touch typing. There is one recurrent problem that I’ve had with the camera though. I’ve gone through quite a few bodies now and have had to have them repaired several times due to the USB tether port dislodging from the camera’s circuit board! But that’s why you should always have a backup body! I’m sure that with the amount work I put them through, especially moving around on location, it could happen to any camera. Maybe I just need to give it more love.
My “go to” lens is the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L – it’s the lens I start out with when I’m framing my shot. Once I get it my frame, if I can, I’ll switch to a prime. But I find that it’s pretty sharp as it is. It’s a great lens for shooting environmental portraits.
The Canon 50mm f/1.2L is another one that I use for environmental portraits. The depth of field when shooting wide open is just beautiful. I never shoot at f/1.2 though, it’s just way too soft and tricky to get the focus right, even manually. One thing I like to do is use the lens with a Cokin ND8 filter, outdoors, with high powered lighting. By doing this I can shoot outdoors in sunlight, balance the light for a nice blue sky and still use a wide aperture. (See photo of the girl with a hat on.)
My Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L is also a great portrait lens. Like all long lenses it can be hard to focus though, so if I’m shooting portraits with it, I’ll use a tripod and manually focus it using the camera’s “live view” functionality. Actually, I tend to do this with most of my lenses too. The image stabilizer is a big help when hand holding it or in low lighting conditions.
I have a few side projects, shoot a lot of product photography and also have a side business called foliolio which all requires the same kind of gear for shooting still lifes.
A lot of the time I’ll need to do a lot of balancing, clamping, cutting, slicing pinning, taping and zip tying to style a shot. I’ve included a whole bunch of things that help me on shoots like this. The one little thing that I didn’t include in the shot, but is a life saver is product called “sticky dots” they’re basically a clear, double sided flat gooey material that I use to keep things in place when I’m shooting it. Another little thing which is great to use with the 24-70 are extension tubes, which essentially allows the lens to have a closer focusing distance and extending it’s macro range. It’s really good for featuring the finer details and texture of whatever I’m photographing if I don’t have a macro lens handy. I use the Canon EF 25 II Extension Tube and Canon EF 12 II Extension Tube. They can also be coupled, which comes in handy sometimes.
I love using equipment that can take a good beating and working on location so often also means I need to have a portable power source. The Profoto Pro-7B is pretty handy and probably the lighting that I have used most in the last few years. It’s consistent, quite compact and the battery generator actually fits snugly into the bottom of a Lowepro Rover AW II bag and a single head will fit in the top. I do feel bad for my assistants’ backs sometimes though, it’s pretty heavy!
I’m all for mobile photography and love shooting on my iPhone 5. I think an iPhone can often be at your side quicker than a SLR can and with one finger swipe and a tap, a moment is captured. I love using Instagram to share some behind the scenes shots or outtakes from shoots and also capture the things I see in every day life that stop me in my tracks. App wise, I like to use Sunseeker to tell me exactly where the sun is going to be at a specific time. The “3D View” is genius, it’s soooo handy for planning location shoots. There are also some pretty reliable light meter apps (guide) for shooting film and I love using VSCO Cam to edit an iPhone image.
I’ve included a few film cameras, which are more for shooting my own personal work, rather than professionally. There are so many reasons to use film for personal work and it’s pretty much for the opposite reasons for using digital. For me, shooting film is more about the process than the result. It teaches you to take your time, slow down and think about a frame before snapping away. It’s a reminder of what I love about photography and makes me a better photographer in my approach to shooting digitally for clients. Pictured here are the Hasselblad 503CX, Polaroid SX-70 and Nikon FM2.
Sekonic L-758D Digital Master Light meter – The handy thing about this model is you can insert a radio transmitter (Sekonic RT-32CE Transmitter) to use with a Pocket Wizard. It makes it super easy to trigger and meter your studio lights. You can also spot meter with it.
Sandisk compact flash cards 16GB x2 and 32 GB x2 in a hand made Kangaroo Leather holder.
Sandisk USB 3 Compact flash card reader
Canon Speedlights 580EX II x2 – I don’t use these much anymore, but always have them just in case.
USB Thumb drive 16GB
Portable Backup hard drive 500GB
Spare batteries for 5D Mark II x2
Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L rarely used, but it’s good to always have something that will cover a wider range. It’s super sharp.
Film 35mm and 120
Pocket Wizard Plus II x2
Wallet and ear buds (usually in my pocket)
Notebook for “To Dos” and Ideas
Polaroid – I took a photo of the camera that was taking the photo so it wouldn’t feel left out.
Pelican 1510 Carry-On Case (review here)
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Great read thanks Mark & Mark! I’m forever intrigued into the contents of of another ‘tog’s bag and mind. I’ve learnt a little something from this article that I’d never considered before.
Thanks again, Jez
Great article! The Canon Mark bodies are little beasts.