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Equipment for ravel PhotographyEquipment for ravel Photography

With any photographic tour or course abroad, there will always be a compromise between the photographic equipment you would like to take and the weight you can carry on a flight. Another issue that sometimes has  to be considered with modern digital cameras is power for charging batteries.

As a landscape photographer my gear is not the lightest available. I normally shoot with a full frame DSLR to get the best quality and that requires full size lenses to go with it.

Most of my work is done with just two lenses. A wide angle zoom (17-40mm f/4) and a telephoto zoom (70-200 f/2.8) the f/2.8 zoom could be replaced with a lighter f/4 equivalent but it will still autofocus with a 2x converter and uses the same size filters as the wide zoom so it wins out on convenience. If it is a really important trip I also carry an ultra wide 14mm f/2.8 and a 50mm. F/1.4 and a spare camera body.

Apart from protective filters for each lens, I also carry a polariser, an  infra-red filter and two strong neutral density filters (6x and 10x) I don't bother with the bulky graduated filter kits so popular with  landscape workers because I can achieve the same or often better results with multiple frames or a long exposure and a black glove.

I carry three batteries for the camera and the means to charge them from either the mains or a car battery. This means that I usually have two batteries charged and in hand while another is charging. In addition to those I have a couple of much higher capacity power packs that sling from my shoulder or the tripod and run the camera through a cord. These alone would run the camera for a couple of weeks heavy shooting without charging but they can also be used to charge and run a multitude of other electrical gadgets such as an iPad which I use for mapping, internet access via a mobile WiFi modem and even remote shooting of the camera on occasions.

Even more importantly for me, I can wear them inside my warm clothing and it allows me to carry on shooting in temperatures far below the normal operating ranges of the cameras.

The  heaviest single piece of gear I take with me is a tripod. I consider a tripod an essential item and do not like to compromise too much on the weight as a flimsy tripod is just a waste of time. During my Iceland  trip the tripod had to withstand 45mph winds, being hit by powerful waves, being used as a climbing aid and even digging a vehicle out of a snow drift. I don't treat my tripod gently, my thirty year old metal Manfrotto has been repaired on location multiple times and I can still obtain original spares for it online if I need them. I do look at carbon fibre equivalentsfrom time to time but I'm not sure they are robust enough to survive life with me for very long.

Another thing that I consider essential in many environments is a good pair of Wellington boots. I'm not talking about the cheap hardware shop gumboots that I grew up with on rainy days. I invested a few years ago in comfortable neoprene lined boots with well designed  soles. I can walk in them for miles if needed, cross streams or shallow rivers, trudge through slush, snow or mire but most importantly for me, I can stand where I need to take my picture without worrying about getting my feet wet.

One of my college lecturers, who was also an old  news man, used to say "If your pictures aren't interesting enough, you're not close enough." He had of course borrowed the quote and I'm not sure he intended it to be about landscapes but the idea certainly stuck with me. He also used to say "1/60th at f/8 and be there..." Which I still hear in the back of my mind sometimes when setting up in a good location;    thanks Eric.


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Always find your way Home - Vegvísir
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