Images copyright Jordan Chapell. All rights reserved.
If I told you I inherited my outdoor photographer genes, I don’t mean that I come from a line of professional photographers. Instead, I grew up in a family that prioritized time away from our suburban life with regular time exploring forests, fishing, hiking, and taking annual trips to the mountains. I grew up watching my dad take a photo…then retake it…and retake it again. You just never knew if the third or sixth click might capture a slightly better vantage or emotion. His commitment to capture our world is now captured in bookcases of photo albums (those physical things that hold actual photos). My mom is a professional musician, so these silly creative pursuits weren’t quite so silly in my house…
Somewhere in the middle of a career in finance I began to seriously explore photography as my wife and I jumped deeper into mountain adventures, and the two passions have been joined at the hip all along. We now live in Colorado, where you will hopefully find me chasing light and landscapes, or shooting climbers, runners, hikers, or anyone enjoying the outdoors.
Today, my wife and I have two joyful kids that we take out with us as often as we can. I hope that the scenes you see here do justice to the incredible world and adventures out there!
I'm deep in the Sony system. As a serial second-hand upgrader via Craigslist/Ebay, I worked through virtually the entire NEX system (Nex3, Nex5, Nex5n, Nex5r, Nex6), and then the incredible Alpha A6000. I think the A6000 is probably the perfect crop sensor camera if you are starting in mirrorless, and I've taken thousands of shots on that trusty camera. Even after the advent of the A6300/A6400/A6500, I still think the a6000 is a sweet spot of price and image quality to start out on. I'm now shooting with the full frame Sony Alpha series. I started with the original A7, then the A7II and A7Rii, and now the A7Riii, with an a6400 as a backup.
Throughout these camera bodies, I've shot with a wide assortment of native E and FE lenses, as well as adapted Minolta, Zeiss, Voigtlander, Sigma, Canon, and Rokinon lenses from the 1950's - modern times. Some of our favorite images were made with <$25 (or free!) manual lenses that are paired with today's top digital sensors. While top dollar lenses make images easier to create or better on the margin, they haven’t helped me conjure up a good sunset or compose a strong story. Having said that, I’ve tried out most of the native Sony lineup, and would have a hard time missing out on some of the high quality lenses that are available. I’ve only ever bought a couple lenses new (out of 50+ lenses), so I’m a big believer in searching out scratch n’ dent deals wherever possible. While this is expensive, technical gear, I hope if you saw me and the dings and dents on my gear you would know that I bought it to capture adventures, not to be babied or look good on the camera.
Currently, the main lenses I’m using include:
Autofocus Prime Lenses:
Manual Focus Prime Lenses:
Minolta MD 50mm F2
Canon 135mm F2L
For the last few years we have also kept a second-hand Sony RX100 (or one of the following generations) on hand for adventures that require something more compact. I am blown away by the images that can be made by this pocketable camera's 1" sensor. If I could only have one camera/lens, this would be it…probably—Gear decisions are hard!
I get asked all the time what camera I recommend. Everyone has different priorities, but I think the Sony A6000 is probably the perfect crop sensor camera if you are starting, and I've taken thousands of shots on that trusty camera. Even after the advent of the A6300/A6400/A6500, I still think the a6000 is a sweet spot of price and image quality to start out on. If you can afford another lens or two, a telephoto lens (Sony has the SEL55210 55-210mm and a wide aperture prime for low light and blurred background shots, such as the Sony 35mm f1.8, Sigma 35mm F1.4, or budget friendly Samyang 35mm f2.8.