Mark D Stephens: Adventurer, writer, photographer, ambassador of the sonoran desert
Photography of Mark D. Stephens
Mark D. Stephens portrait while working in Mexico
Mark Stephens on assignment in Chetumal, Mexico
Canon Powershot A610 digital point-n-shoot camera
Truth be told, I have one of these Canon Powershot A610 cameras for grunt work

So, what kind of camera do I use?

(Does the kind of camera one uses have much to do with the results?)

The basic details:

  • 35mm Canon Rebel Ti camera
  • 50mm, 28-200mm, and 19-35mm lenses
  • Fuji Provia 100 and Sensia 100 slide films, almost exclusively with a few exceptions. I like their color dynamics for outdoor work
  • Speedlite 580EX Flash
  • Canon FS4000 slide scanner - to make these photos available for your viewing pleasure on the web (or theft)

Did I hear you groan? Right, I'm not using a digital camera. Unbelievable, isn't it? In today's age to boot! What could be the matter with me?

If you're still reading, here is what I like about this photo-making box:

  • It's more than a point-n-shoot camera
  • It's inexpensive for a single lens reflex (SLR)
  • It allows me to snap on some fancy pieces of glass so I can pretend to be an artist
  • It's making me a few bucks here and there so I can eventually buy something like a Canon 30D, 5D, 1DS Mark II, or something along those lines.

Bates Ranch, Organ Pipe National MonumentSo, what do you say we cover those first three items above? Minor note: I've included some of my favorite photographs here and you can click on any of them for a larger version.



1. It's more than a point-n-shoot: A SLR camera body allows me to make particular choices as I rattle off some film. For instance, I enjoy being able to have control over shutter speed, and a pesky little thing called aperture. Another point, even though it might seen trivial, is the size. It feels much nicer to operate with something that requires two hands when not tripodded.

On the page about Puerto Lobos, Mexico you can find photos made with a silly point-n-shoot. It was on it's last leg any way, but the lens on that thing wasGRand canyon, South Rim, Mohave Point substandard when I realized my pictures sucked. I couldn't get decent focus - or predictable focus anyway - from that camera and after taking a few exciting trips, I wanted a better way to make nice photos and be happy with them. So I needed something more than a point-n-shoot.

2. It's inexpensive for a single lens reflex (SLR): While I did spend about $300 on the camera, it's on the lower end of the cost scale for a SLR camera that has a brand name and a wide assortment of lenses and accessories - OEM and third party alike.

3. It allows me to snap on some fancy pieces of glass so I can pretend to be an artist: Of course I'm being silly. I learned, though, from other photographers to put the money into lenses and not the camera body. The body is really just a box. The lens is where the magic happens when making a photograph. Frankly, I only have three lenses: 50mm normal lens, 28mm-200mm zoom, and 19mm-35mm wide angle.

Greg with Samantha; he laughs, she criesI wish like crazy that I hadn't wasted my money on the 19mm-35mm wide angle - a prime 19mm would have done just fine. I never move it beyond 19mm and most of my photos are likely taken with that lens. I should have purchased a prime lens (fixed focal length) because those, arguably, have better optical quality over a similar lens with zoom capability. But more importantly, when shooting with a wide angle I have never wanted to just zoom in a hair so the scene wasn't so wide. Most of the time, I wish I could get wider than the 19mm.

The 28mm-200mm is, funnily enough, a somewhat pathetic third party: Beaver falls Havasupai canyon Grand canyonQuantaray. I was in a pinch one day before a trip and limited myself to a slim budget. However, it turns out that this lens has made some fine photographs for me and therefore was a fantastic bang-for-the-buck buy at $200. It's not exceptionally "fast" at f/3.8-5.6, but I'm a having a fun time with this lens. See this photo to the right, made at Beaver Falls in Havasupai Canyon with this 28mm-200mm lens (click on it for a larger version).

An important item to mention is that I've found having a bunch of lenses is a pain and often limiting. If I slap on the 50mm and leave the others at home I can concentrate on lighting, composition, and perspective. Equipment likes to get in the way of artistry. It's kind of fun to see what you can do when you limit your equipment and simply rely on skill, intuition, or good ol' fashioned dumb luck.

More Photos:
Click on any for the larger version and caption

Toyota Tacomas with Snorkels ARB La Mision de San Miguel, Patagonia, Az
28mm-200mm, Fuji Sensia 100
Tacos with Snorkels
28mm-200mm, Fuji Sensia 100
La Mision de San Miguel; Patagonia, AZ
Beachin El Desemboque, Mexico (sonora)
Mission at Tubutama, Sonora, Mexico
28mm-200mm, Fuji Sensia 100
Desemboque, Sonora, Mexico
19mm, Fuji Provia 100
Tubutama, Sonora, Mexico
Jeep rubicon Off Roading arizona
Brooke sits in a restauarant in Mexico
19mm, Fuji Provia 100
Jeep Rubicon Sonoran Desert OHV driving
28mm-200mm, Fuji Provia 100
Mexico: Brooke enjoys sitting in a cafe in Guanajuato
Buddies at Papago Well, El camino del diablo
Jeep off roading arizona sonoran desert
28mm-200mm, Fuji Provia 100
Expedition buddies
28mm-200mm, Fuji Provia 100
Dave gently brings his Jeep down the rocky ledges, making his way to Devil's Canyon
CAnyoneering through James Canyon, Arizona.  Uwe is ahppy to be in the water
Sunset on the New River Mountains
28-200mm, Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 800
Canyoneering in Arizona
28-200mm, Fuji Provia 100
Sunset on the New River Mountains
Coke Ovens near Florence, Arizona
Checking out the trail, Jeep style with no doors
19mm, Fuji Provia 100
Coke Ovens near Florence, Arizona
28mm-200mm, Fuji Sensia 100
Checking the trail
Greasy Spoon Trail, Sedona Arizona
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Mark D. Stephens: Adventurer, Writer, Photgrapher and Ambassador of the Sonoran Desert