About John – and the camera

Hi — I’m John Mackey, a Cambridge-based composer of “concert” music. That is, not movie music. I write music that you’d hear in a concert hall (if I’m lucky) — only I promise it’s more fun than you’d think.

I also enjoy taking pictures. I’m not very good at it yet, but it’s a fun hobby. Lordy McCash, it’s also an expensivehobby. I take pictures of concerts, trips, food, and my cat, Loki. You’ll see lots of pictures on my blog — some of them better than others.

Enjoy. Or mock — whatever you wish.

I have used several cameras over the course of the life of this blog — an old 4 megapixel Canon, then a Sony DSC-T9 (sucked), then a Canon SD800 IS(a great little camera). Want a nice point-and-shoot? Go with Canon, and avoid Sony unless you want your pictures cartoonishly processed.

I used a Canon Digital Rebel XTiduring the summer of 2007, and in September 2007, I stepped up to the Canon 40D. I used a full-frame Canon 5D Mark II starting in March 2009, and as of this writing (March 24, 2012), I have started using the Canon 5D Mark III.

My current setup is the Canon 5D Mark IIIwith these lenses:
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II– I purchased this lens to replace the 10-22mm lens I used to use on my crop camera. It’s a fun lens with incredible color, and does a beautiful job with interiors, as can be seen in this blog post.
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II– currently my default lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM– a fantastic prime lens, and a relative bargain
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS– great for concert and sports photography – but it’s a heavy beast
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II– a real beauty. Portraits of something as dull as a milk carton end up looking like art when shot through this lens.  I don’t use it much because it’s extremely heavy.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS Macro – the most-recent addition. You can see some shots from this lens on this blog post.

Good lord. When I look at the equipment in a single list like that, it’s a little embarrassing. If you think the shots on the website are good, don’t give credit to me. Give credit to the over-the-top pro-level equipment that I’m using.

Recently sold lenses include (you’ll see lots of shots from these lenses on the blog) :
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
– an ultra wide-angle lens — lots of fun, but tough to use well. I used this lens for a few years, but sold it when I sold my 40D, as this lens is not compatible with the 5D body.
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS
– a great all-purpose lens — but I replaced it with the 24-70mm f/2.8 L
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L
– a spectacular, if a bit expensive, prime lens. I used this lens the most, including for almost all of my food shots. I sold it once I moved to the full-frame camera.

I use Hoya Pro and B+W filters on all of the lenses, rather than lens hoods. (Hoods are too bulky, and also seem to freak people out.)
I also occasionally use a close-focus lens attachment like the Canon 500D, which allows lenses like the 70-200mm to function as a macro lens.

I had the Canon 100-400mm lens for a few months, but I never used it. Here’s the 100-400mm…

I finally sold it and replaced it with the 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS. (The 100-400mm lens was an awfully expensive toy to just sit unused.)

Here’s the (almost) current setup, minus the 50mm lens (which I used to shoot the photo).  Left to right: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS, Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L (I’ve since replace that lens with version II), Canon 85mm f/1.2 L, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L.  Background: Loki.


Here, left to right, is an older setup: the Canon 40D with the XTi’s kit lens, the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5, the 50mm f/1.4, the 24-105mm f/4 L IS, and the 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS. You can tell that I took this picture before I understood the importance of white balance.


I almost always shoot in aperture priority. I rarely do much post-processing beyond the occasional tweaking using Aperture 3. I use Dfine 2.0 for noise reduction when I shoot at high ISO.

When I travel, I take the 24-70mm f/2.8, and if I’ll be at an important concert, I take the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS. The other lenses see much less action.



comments for this post are closed