It’s really “the vision thing” that counts the most, but photography doesn’t happen without equipment. From 1999 to 2005 I used several early models of Olympus digital SLRs, each with its lens permanently attached. In 2005 I went modular, switching over to a Canon EOS 10D body and two lenses. I skipped upgrading to the EOS 20D, but after that Canon had me well trained and I dutifully updated bodies with each new release, passing through the EOS 30D, 40D, and 50D before arriving at the EOS 7D that I’ve used since the fall of 2009. All these Canon bodies have a crop factor of 1.6, so that a 100 mm lens acts like a 160 mm lens would on a 35 mm film camera. Because I do so much macro work, the magnification generally helps me. In spite of that, in December 2012 I began using a full-frame camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
As for lenses, the one I use most often is the Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS USM macro. The lens I use next most often is the Canon EF 17–40 mm f/4L USM, which gives me the wide-angle capability that’s often necessary for landscapes. Once in a while I pull out a Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS USM telephoto, which I normally use in conjunction with a Canon 1.4x Extender EF 1.4X II. As of December 2012, I began using a Canon EF 24–105mm f/4L USM lens as well.
From time to time I use my camera’s built-in flash for fill light when I have a backlit subject. I also sometimes use it if I come across a macro subject that I want to photograph with a great depth of field: the flash compensates for the insufficient amount of light that a very small aperture would otherwise pass on to the sensor even in broad daylight. If I set out specifically to photograph a macro subject that requires a great depth of field, I bring along my Canon MR-14EX ringlight flash to avoid unflattering shadows that the built-in flash can create. (For an example of a picture taken with the ringlight, you can look at this one of fallen juniper needles.)
I have my camera set to photograph in RAW mode so that I’ll preserve the greatest amount of data possible with which to edit pictures. I do all my editing in Photoshop, keeping up with the latest version of the program.
As for paraphernalia other than camera equipment, one of the most useful things I carry with me on my many nature jaunts is a pad that I can put on the inhospitable Texas ground when I want to kneel or sit to get a better angle for a picture (sitting is better than kneeling because it provides more stability and is easier on the body’s muscles). Every damaged piece of the pad—and there are many over time—means one less damaged piece of me.
I also carry sunscreen with a high SPF rating and douse myself with liberal amounts to try, belatedly, to keep my skin from aging unduly. I reduce skin damage in another way by using insect repellent; it doesn’t keep me free of chigger bites, but it lowers the number of them.