My tuition has been deeply impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. See the current situation here:
Below is a list of the equipment I use regularly for my photography, as well as some asides where appropriate. With regard to my experience with different cameras, I have handled and given tuition on just about every modern SLR, most Compact System Cameras and compacts from every major manufacturer.
Pentax K-3 DSLR
I use Pentax DSLRs because I had Pentax fit cameras when I first 'went' digital back in 2005, and it made sense to stick with the brand and avoid a complete change of system and the expense involved. However, I have never regretted my choice, as the cameras suit my way of working with excellent ergonomics and features, excellent weather-sealing being one of the main attractions for me. I carried out a review of the camera for Outdoor Photography magazine, you can see it on this old blogpost.
I use the optional vertical grip as I prefer the feel of the camera with it, and there's also storage for a spare memory card and the remote release.
Pentax DA 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
This is my standard zoom lens, which gives me a nice range from wide angle to short telephoto, weather-sealing, and excellent image quality. It's not the widest aperture, but that means that the lens is relatively compact and lightweight, which I usually benefit more from than I would from an f/2.8 lens.
Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4 Lens
This is a beautiful lens for portraits, landscapes and detail shots, especially when utilising the shallow depth of field that it offers, but even at smaller apertures, it's a lovely, sharp optic.
A 50mm lens is a great first step into 'prime' (non-zoom) lenses, as they're generally very good value, with wide apertures that allow a lot of flexibility with regard to depth of field.
Pentax DFA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro Lens
After several years using an old Sigma 105mm macro lens, I've changed to this Pentax one, as it offers weather sealing, and better resistance to flare. It's also more compact, and lighter in weight, but when asked what macro lens people should buy, my reply generally is that it's very hard to buy a bad macro lens, and any model from any of the main brands, including Sigma and Tamron, will serve you well.
All true macro lenses will give you 1:1 or lifesize magnification, but the different focal lengths will dictate how close you need to be to your subject and what field of view you get. Something around 90-105mm is often the first macro lens people end up with.
Pentax DA*300mm f/4 Lens
I used to have a Tamron 300mm f/2.8 lens, but I found it too heavy to carry around all the time, so when Pentax brought this lens out, I had to have it. It's so sharp, and focuses quite closely, so I use it for all sorts of shots, from birds and other wildlife, to fungi and flowers.
This lens is also weather-sealed, so I can happily plod about in a downpour and get pics I'd otherwise miss.
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 Lens
Every now and again I want a wider field of view than my 16-85mm gives me, and then I reach for this Sigma, although normally it doesn't come out with me. Not the highest quality lens out there, but it does the job for the odd occasions I need it.
Hoya Circular Polariser Filter
The only filter I regularly use is a polariser, which takes reflections off surfaces. Classic use is to make blue skies more blue and help white clouds stand out, and to take the shine off water, allowing you to see down into the depths, or increase the contrast between the water and surface plants.
However, this filter can make a massive difference to the look of foliage in woodland etc, as it takes the silvery shine off the leaves, and allows the true green to show through. It even helps with macro work, especially with toadstools.
Manfrotto 055cxpro3 Tripod
Many of my photos simply couldn't be taken without a tripod, or at least not without a great deal of compromise.It allows me to pick whatever aperture, ISO and filtration I want, and not worry about camera shake from a slow shutter speed, but it also gives me control and repeatability - if I've got the perfect composition but my exposure needs a tweak, I can do that without affecting anything else.
This Manfrotto also lets me support the camera literally millimetres above the ground, or up to head height and beyond, so it's hugely flexible.
I'd always assumed creating a custom colour profile for your camera was a complicated and long-winded process, but it turns out it just takes a couple of minutes, and is as easy as importing and exporting an image, the software does all the work. Working seamlessly and simply in Lightroom, a custom profile ensures that the images from your camera have true colour, and consistency across different cameras too.
The Passport also has colour swatches to allow you to set White Balance absolutely correctly, and it's a really useful tool when shooting RAW, probably even more so if you're a studio portrait shooter, but I've found it gives me much better and workable colours at the start of the processing workflow.
Manfrotto Manhattan Mover-50 Bag
Picking the right bag to carry your gear in is important, as it needs to suit the way you work, and fit all of your equipment in without being cramped, which might mean some items are difficult to get out when you need them. Having used a Lowepro bags for many years, I needed a new one as the zip had failed, and I've now switched to this Manfrotto as I found it offered the features I was after, at a reasonable price.
Picking the right bag can be a bit tortuous, as there are so many options, and rarely does a bag have everything you want or need (or maybe they do, and I'm just very picky). Simply visit your local camera shop and try out their bags, it's best if you take your camera and lenses along with you, to make sure everything fits okay.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic
I've always shot RAW files rather than JPEGS, originally because they were significantly sharper than the JPEGS from my first DSLR, but these days just because I prefer the control and flexibility it gives me.
Originally I used Capture One software, but when I changed to my Pentax K-5 in 2010, I swapped to Lightroom and have never looked back, not only does it provide excellent image processing capabilities, but it's also a great way to organise and keyword your pictures.
I can offer tuition in the use of Lightroom, including importing images, the Library and Develop modules, and setting up default processing to speed up your workflow.
I couldn't resist buying this software when it was on offer for under £40, but even at full price it's amazingly good value, currently just under £50, which gives you a very powerful Photoshop alternative, with the vast majority of features that PS has, and a few extra nice ones thrown in for good measure.
If you're looking for an image editor, but don't want to be tied into the subscription model that Adobe now use, have a very good look at Affinity Photo, and if needs be, ask me to help you with some software tuition.
Adobe Photoshop CS2 and Elements 10
Photoshop for me is simply a good way of producing leaflets, posters, and putting text on photos, I do very little in the way of 'post-processing' with it, as Lightroom does so much.
I rarely use either of these programmes now, as Affinity Photo does all I need, without the need for the Adobe subscription.
Send us your questions and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Totally normal man
"I was a little nervous having a man come to my house who I haven’t met before but Daniel was brilliant. He explained everything clearly and he didn’t rush the workshop. I was free to ask any questions as we went along. We went through my photos and helped me understand Lightroom. I would recommend anyone to Daniel. Helpful and friendly" Nicole Scott via Trustpilot
Birds of Prey workshop
"Attended a Birds of Prey workshop. Excellent opportunities for photographing birds both flying and perched. Daniel knew the location well and so backgrounds were suitable too. Photographing them flying is challenging and Daniel patiently took us through how to get the best shots. I have a great set of images from the day so thank you Daniel." Nevil Osborne via Trustpilot
London Photo workshop
"This was my second workshop with Daniel and it was excellent. I was introduced to the rest of the group and away we went stopping at different parts along the river Thames. The highlight for me was how varied the river actually is for taking photos and of course the harvest moon an added surprise that evening." Andrea Forshman via Trustpilot
Fun and accessible
"I have attended a number of courses and workshops with Daniel over the years and have always found them to be fun and accessible to attendees with a broad range of skills. No one feels left out and the days move at a good pace, with plenty of opportunity to take photos following a bit of classroom learning. I would recommend for beginners and experienced photographers alike." Anna Casbolt via Trustpilot
First Class Photography Tuition
"I have attended most of the courses run by Daniel and the only things remaining on my wish list are the London walks. Every course I have taken I have come away with knowledge and understanding, so if you’re hesitating, just sign up, you won’t regret it. Classes are small and friendly with some of the time on one to one tuition." Carol Ferguson via Trustpilot