Be Prepared

December 27th, 2011
by doinlight

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.

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