The Setup

Hey everybody. Iv’e written about what I do with graphic design, video, and photo, but today, I’m going to tell you the materials and tools I use to make art. I’ll be giving you my setup, and my opinion of the best beginner setup. Let’s get started!

Let’s start with photo. I started taking photos when I was little with a small handheld digital camera, and now I use a Canon EOS 80D DSLR.

I love this camera and I use it for everything. I’ve filmed shorts with it, I’ve taken photos everywhere, and I don’t have any problems with it. Although it has a cropped sensor, it’s never held me back or been much of a problem. Since it’s cropped, it zooms in 1.5x by default, so the cropped sensor helps when I take sports or telephoto photography. The sensor is 24.2 megapixels, it has a built in flash, a  vari-angle LCD screen, live view mode, and it’s WiFi enabled. This means I can get my photos straight off my camera with the Canon Camera Connect app on my phone. The battery life is very good as well. I’ve gone four days of shooting all day without charging the battery. I recommend this camera for someone who wants a good all rounder for a reasonable price.

I use three Canon lenses. The one I use the most is my Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II zoom lens. It has a good range for close up subjects, and I use it for panoramas, astro-photography, group photos, and event photography. The f/ is nothing to write home about, but paired with the built in flash, it isn’t a problem. The slight zoom on this lens makes it more versatile. I can shoot a group of people close up and then a person from across the room in seconds. This is also the lens I use the most for video and film. The 18 mm measurement is great for establishing and master shots when making a movie. This is the lens you want to use for shooting multiple actors and the environment.

Montecito, October 2016 (18-55 mm)

I also use a  Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM fixed lens. I love using this lens for portrait photography and more artistic shots. The low f/ makes the background of any image blur and the foreground or subject pop out. This is why I and many photographers use this lens for photo shoots and portraits. This lens make photos look less like reality because of the blurred background, thus making every photo more abstract. However, you’ll only get this effect if the subject is a couple feet away from the background. Don’t use this lens if your’re taking a photo of someone leaning against a wall or something on a blank background. The low aperture also makes photos plenty bright, allowing for a faster shutter speed or lower ISO, making photos super crisp. The only drawback with this lens in my opinion is the fixed measurement, you won’t be able to open up or close up the frame when using this lens. Sometimes it can be awkward when you’re taking a photo of one person, and then a group of people ask for a group photo. Either you have to change lenses while they stand awkwardly, smiling. Or you can be the awkward one and have to step back 10 feet just to fit everyone in the shot. For video, I use this lens for close ups of actors. After getting a shot of the actor(s) in the setting with the 18-55 mm, I do close ups with this lens for dramatic shots. The blurred background works great for video, making shots more cinematic.

Sequoia, March 2017 (50 mm)


The third lens I use is my Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II telephoto lens. I use this lens for sports, music/performance venues, and individual star photography. This is definitely the lens I use the least, but it is really useful when the situation is right. The aperture can be a bit of an issue in low-light situations, but if you are shooting in a well-lit environment, there won’t be a problem. Plus, you can always boost the exposure later in an editing program.

Full Moon, December 2016 (55-250 mm)

I keep all of my equipment in a PhotoTools DSLR Compact bag. It fits my camera body and the three lenses nice and snug.

I also have a Blue Yeti microphone. This microphone is great for beginners and professionals and records good sound. It is also a USB Mic, so you can plug it right into your computer.

I use Sennheisser HD 280 Pro headphones. I love these headphones. I’ve had them for a year and a half with no issues. They have awesome sound quality and you’ll see these headphones widely used by DJ’s, recording artists, gamers, and sound technicians across the world.

Now, let’s talk about what I use for graphic design and editing. All of the programs I use are made by Adobe, and I have a monthly subscription to Adobe Cloud Suite, so I get access to all Adobe programs. These are the ones I use most, however.

The first Adobe program I learned how to use was Adobe Photoshop. This is one of the most useful tools I have ever used. I don’t use Photoshop for quick photo edits like brightening exposure or changing the white balance, I use it for jobs from my mom’s interior design studio where she asks me to remove chairs, insert furniture, change paint color, etc. I also use Photoshop for art, and I’ve turned black and white photos to color, I make posters, and I design T-shirts. Photoshop is a very useful tool for photo and pixel manipulation.

I use Adobe illustrator the most. I use Illustrator for vector art, which is what most logos, t-shirts, and graphics are designed with. It is a very fun program, and I create far more with Illustrator than I do with Photoshop. I primarily use Photoshop for jobs, and Illustrator for art. I think I like using Illustrator because I feel like I’m always creating something new. Photoshop can be creative as well, but I feel like I use Photoshop for putting together photos that someone else took, I’m not really creating something new.

The other program I use for photo is Adobe Lightroom. This program is great for quick edits of a lot of photos at a time. You import the photos you took on that day, and you can then edit and save or discard photos quickly. There are plenty of tools in Lightroom for editing photos, and it’s possible make crappy photos look good. I like keeping things natural and shooting photos well, but Lightroom can be great for adding finesse to your photos.

For video editing, I use Premiere and After Effects. Premiere is an awesome program and it is very simple to use. I just like the organization of it. After Effects is not the optimum or Hollywood level compositing and visual effects program, but it is great for amateur filmmakers looking to make cool effects for their films. Also, Premiere and After Effects can work on the same project. After you’re done editing the timing and clips in Premiere, you can open your Premiere project in After Effects as a composition and then save the After Effects work back into the original Premiere project. They’re fun and easy to use, with some practice.

I’m a PC guy, but I can use Mac as well. My PC is a Digital Storm Vanquish 5. It’s marketed as a gaming PC, but most gaming PCs are great for running Adobe programs and any design or compositing. Here are the specs on my PC.

Processor: Intel Core i7 6700 3.4GHz

GPU: Asus GTX970 Turbo Reference
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z170 HD3P
Memory: 4x 4GB 2666MHz ADATA
PSU: Corsair CS750M Semi-modular
Storage: ADATA SP550 240GB SSD, Toshiba DT01ACA100 1TB 7200RPM 32MB Cache HDD

That’s it for my setup, links for all the equipment I use are down below. See you next week!




18-55 mm Lens:


Fixed 50 mm Lens:


55-250 mm Lens:


Equipment Bag:






Adobe Creative Cloud:




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