After many years of shooting and printing, criticizing my own work, reading tons of published material, participating in industry events and studying the composition and light of master photographers and painters, I got to the point where I can see my subjects just by walking around and pre-visualize how my camera will record them. Before taking my camera to my eye, I have already made all the main decisions on what to shoot and how to do it.
I am an engineer (who reads manuals from cover to cover including the 430 pages of the D3s') and setting up my cameras so that they do what I want is not a big deal.
I like to photograph hand-held and use a tripod only when absolutely indispensible (after years of running up and down the Green and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire with a 30lb Manfrotto monster).
I strongly appreciate the portability of mirrorless camera systems and, at the same time, the competence and image quality of large and heavy full frame gear.
I have done a lot of different photography but today I mainly shoot landscapes, plants, and old architecture, and do still-life studies in my home DIY small studio. I do some animal photography, especially shore birds (and the birds at my feeders), just because I am often out in Nature. I love to photograph in natural light and heavy weather.
I prefer zoom lenses because they allow me to exactly frame my pictures in-camera (with some room around the perimeter for easier post-processing). I tend to close down my lenses one or two f/stops to shoot as close as possible to the lens sweet spot. I use extreme wide angles very rarely because I don't like what they do to the spatial relationship of different objects in the picture. With wide landscapes, if called for I prefer to shoot a 2 or 3 frame panorama which also increases the resolution of the capture.
Especially in the Northeast, where the vast and majestic landscapes of the West are missing, I often use a medium length zoom (i.e.: 80-200mm) to isolate the more intimate corners of larger panoramas (the pictures within a picture).
I typically bracket my exposures +-1 f/stop (or more with very high contrast subjects). Bracketing is painless and costs nothing, and provides additional insurance of proper exposure. With very high contrast subjects I also use realistic High Dynamic Range processing. HDR is somewhat controversial but some of my "grade A" pictures would not exist without it.
I built my own in-house still-life stage that allows me to light my subjects from every direction. The photos of back-lit thin flowers are breathtakingly beautiful. The flowers become semi-transparent and the pictures look like watercolor paintings. When I get inspired, I also process pictures of other subjects for a painterly look.