Often times when out shooting with other photographers I hear them say, “I wish I had brought my grad ND filter.” Or maybe they didn’t have the lens they needed. “Where is it?” I ask. “It’s back in my hotel room,” is their response. “Why didn’t you bring it with you?” “I didn’t think I would need it,” or “It’s too heavy.”
Truth to tell, I don’t understand the rationale of selecting the gear you think you might need when going out on a shoot. Why not take it all? I suppose if you have 20 lenses (I exaggerate) you can’t take them all with you. But a normal complement of gear that gives you the flexibility you need isn’t that hard to pack and carry.
What’s a normal complement of gear? Here’s what I carry and my rationale for including and excluding what I bring. I have my camera body of course, a Canon 1Ds Mark III. And my Gitzo tripod with a Really Right Stuff ball head. As for lenses I have an assortment of four lenses that cover the range from 17mm to 200mm. I don’t have a lot of overlap, the most being the 24-70 and the 24-105. I carry them both because the 24-70 is fast with superb optics and the 24-105 is image stabilized which makes it good for hand-held shooting. That makes up all the heavy stuff. Oh, I do have a 1.4X tele-extender for the 70-200 to give it a little extra reach. The rest of the gear is extra batteries (3 all together), remote release, extra memory cards, 2 Lee grad ND filters and the adapters to mount them, 3 Singh-Ray polarizers, lens cleaning cloths, a rain cover for camera and lens and that’s about it. Oh, don’t forget the multi-tool. That puppy comes in handy in the most unusual circumstances.
I have a really nice ThinkTank camera bag. I prefer the backpack style. Keep it simple. So with everything loaded up the total weight comes to about 40#. Now that’s not light so the backpack is very important. It has to be comfortable, not too heavy and well padded. And the ThinkTank Street Walker is so comfortable I can wear it for hours. If you care to check it out here’s the link.
So I never find myself in the situation where the one piece of gear I need is back in the hotel room. And consequently, I never miss a shot – at least not for that reason.
Seriously, if you’re in the habit of saying to yourself, “I’ll just take what I need,” consider the old Boy Scout motto – Be Prepared. You never know what strange and wonderful light you may encounter and you want to be ready for the unexpected.