Traveling light. Photography secrets

AS A PHOTOGRAPHER, IT S VERY LIKELY THAT YOU TRAVEL A LOT. AND WHEN YOU TRAVEL, YOU PROBABLY LUG AS MUCH CAMERA GEAR WITH YOU AS POSSIBLE TO MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS GET THE PERFECT SHOT NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE. BUT SOMETIMES ALL OF THAT GEAR CAN BECOME OVERWHELMING. SO HOW CAN YOU OPTIMIZE YOUR CAMERA BAG TO MAKE YOUR TRAVELING LIFE A LITTLE EASIER? WE WENT TO THREE PHOTOGRAPHERS WHO HAVE LOGGED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF MILES OF TRAVEL BETWEEN THEM, AND ASKED THEM TO SHARE SOME OF THEIR SECREfS FOR TRAVELING LIGHT. TOM BOL For 15 years, my world revolved around traveling light. This might sound a little extreme, but I was a mountaineering guide climbing peaks around the world. And other than a little help to basecamp from a few scruffy yaks, everything I needed for 30 days at a time was on my back in a pack. I cut my toothbrush in half, wore three pairs of wool socks for a month, and slept in an ultralight down sleeping bag (only 3 lbs). Little did I know at the time how my expedition packing would serve me well when it came to packing my camera bag. Now my photography expeditions are shorter, and I stay in hotels more than tents. But I still apply the same principles I learned as a mountaineering guide to keeping everything light. Before I even get to my camera bag, I pack my clothing like I m carrying my suitcase on my back. Who wants to lug a huge, heavy suitcase around? I swear by nylon clothing: pants, shirts, and coats. Zip-off nylon Patagonia pants double as shorts. Nylon shirts offer sun protection, and dry in an instant. Need to wash your clothes? Dip them in a river or sink, wring them out, and you re ready to go. Try that with cotton. I just returned from 10 days in Thailand and Cambodia and my suitcase weighed 30 lbs. What about camera gear? For starters, I use a lightweight Gitzo GT-1550T Carbon 6X Traveler Tripod that weighs 2 lbs with a Really Right Stuff BH-25 LR Ultra-Light ballhead. This tripod folds to 14" and is simple to carry in a pack or suitcase. To the right is the list of camera gear I carry on a standard trip. This gear fits into my Lowepro Flipside 400 AW, which easily fits in overhead compartments on planes. The Justin Clamp allows me to attach one SB-900 to my tripod, which doubles as a light stand. The Rogue FlashBender offers great control of flash for creative effects. My TriGrip is translucent, so I can shoot an SB-900 through it to soften the light. I also have gold fabric for the TriGrip to use as a reflector. Sometimes I replace the D300S with my D3 for fast action sports. I use one other item that keeps my weight down. I recently bought a 13" MacBook Air, and I wish I had bought one much sooner. This computer has plenty of power to run Photoshop, weighs less than 3 lbs, and is as slim as a cell phone. MY GEAR NIKON D800 NIKON D300S NIKK0R 24-120MM F/4 NIKK0R 70-200MM F/2.8 2 SB-900 SPEEDLIGHTS SU-800 WIRELESS SPEEDLIGHT COMMANDER EXPOIMAGING ROGUE FLASHBENDER LASTOLITE TRIGRIP REFLECTOR SINGH-RAY LB COLOR COMBO POLARIZER GITZO GT-1550T CARBON 6X TRAVELER TRIPOD REALLY RIGHT STUFF BH-25 LR ULTRA-LIGHT BALLHEAD MANFROTTO JUSTIN CLAMP 100 MB/S SANDISK EXTREME PRO COMPACTFLASH CARDS ELIA LOCARDI Since 2010, I ve flown more than 400,000 miles with my photography gear. In the beginning, I was able to return to my apartment in Central Florida to repack for each trip. But since adopting a fully location-independent lifestyle in February 2012, my "home" is whatever I can carry with me; that means that everything I bring has been carefully considered for its weight and usefulness. Without the luxury of being able to repack between countries, my methods, needless to say, have been adjusted. And based on my experience, my greatest advice to you: be optimized and keep it as light as possible. It s no fun lugging an extra 30 lbs of gear over the Ponte della Costituzione bridge in Venice or the cobbled streets of Dubrovnik. Travelling light as a photographer can seem like an oxymoron, and being a fully location-independent photographer complicates the matter even further. In order to stay safely within (most) airline restrictions, I ve had to strip my quiver of gear down to include only the absolute necessities. I need to be prepared for a wide array of shooting scenarios but I also have to carry my "home office" for postprocessing —so it s pretty challenging to pack light. And even with all of my careful planning and preparations, I still have to resort to a combination of charming smiles and Jedi mind tricks to finagle my way onto flights from time to time. The bags I use also allow for some modular reconfiguration when I get stopped at the gate and completely denied. Surprisingly, that has only happened to me once in all of my travels, and some fast-acting adjustments between bags saved the day and got me the go ahead. The first step in optimized packing is to carefully consider your shooting environment and to shave off any unnecessary items that take up too much space or add too much to the weight. Do you really need that entire bottle of lens cleaner and a full pack of sensor swabs? If not, take what you think you ll use and leave the rest. How about your tripod? Have you considered upgrading to a lighter carbon fiber model? What about a four-section instead of a three-section rig to save space? Can you limit the amount of lenses and accessories? Just remember to be realistic when assessing whether or not you ll use a lens or piece of hardware. Only select the items you think you ll use for the type of shooting you ll be doing. The bottom line is that every little thing adds up, so what you leave behind is as important in creating a pleasurable and seamless travel experience as what you take with you. MY GEAR TRIPLE DENSITY-U.S.A. PASSPORT NIKON D700 NIKK0R14-24MM F/2.8 NIKK0R 24-70MM F/2.8 NIKK0R 28-300MM F/3.5-5.6 NIKK0R 50MM F/1.4 REALLY RIGHT STUFF TVC-24 FOUR-SECTION TRIPOD REALLY RIGHT STUFF BH-40 MID-SIZED BALLHEAD REALLY RIGHT STUFF L-PLATE FOR D700 JOBY GORILLAPOD FOCUS AND BALLHEAD X LEE SW-150 FILTER HOLDER KIT FOR NIKON 14-24MM LEE 150X150 0.6 NEUTRAL DENSITY (ND) HARD GRAD FILTER LEE 150X150 0.6 ND SOLID FILTER LEE 150X150 0.75 ND SOLID FILTER THINK TANK AIRPORT INTERNATIONAL ROLLER THINK TANK URBAN DISGUISE 50 15" MACBOOK PRO: FULLY LOADED WACOM INTU0S5TOUCH SMALL TABLET IPAD 3 64 GB WI-FI + 3G RICK SAMMON Back in 1978, when I was the editor of Studio Photography magazine, many portrait photographers preached one-light lighting —because you can create beautiful portraits with just one light. I ran many articles on "One Light Wonders." My friend, Frank Doorhof, who teaches at Photoshop World, agrees. He says, "When you think you need two lights, use one light, and when you think you need three lights, use one light." I used one light for my favorite portrait, The Girl with a Pearl Earring —the photograph. Johannes Vermeer s painting, The Cirl with a Pearl Earring, inspired my photograph. My lighting set up: One Canon 580EX II Speedlite, set on E-TTL, placed in a Westcott 28" Apollo softbox. A Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter fired the Speedlite. The behind-the-scenes shot shows the Apollo softbox positioned above and to the right of the subject. If you look closely, you ll see that the softbox is not pointed at the subject; rather, itpointed so that the light is "feathered" and falls across the subject s face for soft and flattering light. You ll also notice in the behind-the-scenes picture that an assistant is holding the black panel of a collapsible 6-in-l Westcott Illuminator Reflector Kit. That was to prevent the light from bouncing off the white wall and into the shadow side of the subject s face. You only need this if the subject is positioned relatively close to the wall, as was my subject when I photographed her. The Speedlite, transmitter, and my Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS lens fit in a small camera bag. The softbox and stand collapse to about 35" —the size of a large umbrella. With one light, you can easily control the shadows. Shadows are important. Shadows are the soul of a picture. Shadows add a sense of depth and dimension to a picture. Shadows are your friend. So keep it light and keep it simple. You might be surprised at the results.

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