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The course takes a look at the hardware and software issues behind field shooting: assessing storage and backup needs, evaluating GPS geotagging options, surveying power and charging issues, and more. After discussing each of the components, Ben shows how they fit together in different field setups, ranging from an extravagant laptop-based system to a no-computer setup that backs up photos to a compact digital wallet device. The course also spotlights some workflow strategies to consider when you get home, from transferring photos to merging them with a larger photo library.
- Selecting the right gear, from cameras to bags
- Bringing the right battery and storage equipment
- Packing your camera bag
- Getting to the destination with heavy equipment
- Unpacking and setting up the gear
- Geotagging photos on location
- Downloading manuals for convenient access in the field
- Wrapping up a shoot
- Unpacking and transferring images to an editing workstation
Skill Level Intermediate
I'm on to the third part of my trip, and this is the part I've really been looking forward to. I got rid of the car, I got rid of most of my gear, and I'm down to just a backpack. I've hit the trail and I'm out here in this beautiful spot for a few days. Obviously, I have had to really pare down not just my camera, but everything. In packing for a situation like this, obviously you start with what you need to survive. So I've got, you know, food and a stove and a place to sleep and clothes and all that kind of stuff. With the space left over I can think about what my camera gear is going to be.
Now this ultra-light shooting situation is not just for people who go backcountry. Even if you never set a foot off the pavement, you might still benefit from the type of approach that I'm going to show you here. Let's say you are a business traveler who's on the road for a week going to the nine different cities and you want to--you don't want to check anything; you just want to carry your bags. You're going to be in and out of airports. You want to be able to move very nimbly and quickly, so you might think about a real ultra-light situation like this. Maybe you're doing a variation of what we talk about in the last scenario. You're training it or bussing it across Europe and you want to go as light as possible.
So, you're going to ditch the computer, you're not going to carrying any post-production, and you are just going to go with a really light shooting situation. In any of those cases you're going to want to do what I've done here. So, what I've done is I've gotten rid of most of the lenses. I am down to just two lenses. I'm carry my walk-around lens, which is like 24 to 105, which gets me most of what I need. And I was going to do just that. I was going to carry just the one lens, but then I check the weather and found out that it's not going to rain or anything. It's not going to be too cold, so I realized I could ditch the tent and just take a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad and that would buy me three or four pounds.
So I decided to also bring my 16 to 35. That gives me a range of 16 to 105, which is really going to cover most of what I do 95% of the time. Now, as I've said before, I tend to like wide angles. I don't do a lot of really telephoto shooting. If you're the opposite of me, then you could take a walk-around lens and something with some extra telephoto reach, or find a walk-around lens that maybe doesn't go as wide, but goes a little farther in the long end. So that gets me, I think, all I'm going to need for most of my shooting. Now, I am on a loop here.
I'm going to end up where I started, but I've only got so much food. I've got a kind of get through this in a set amount of time. So I'm not going to be stopping anywhere for a day and shooting; I'm just going to be shooting as I'm walking from place to place every day. And so that's another reason I don't feel like I need a tremendous amount of shooting flexibility. For storage, I've gotten rid of the computer. I'm not carrying an iPad. I have no post-production capability of any kind. You'll see how that's going to work when I get camp set up tonight. For power I've got solar and I'll show you that later.
It was a real struggle, but I decided I'm not carrying a tripod. It's heavy, I've got to figure out a way to carry it, and I'm probably going to mostly be in daylight. I just decided it's not worth it. I would rather be a little more comfortable. I did bring a Gorillapod. They're light. It's not a full tripod substitute, but I can make this work, particularly in low light where I might want to do some stuff tonight. So I'm glad I've got that. I've got my normal backpack that I just used for backcountry backpacking. And on my hip belt I put my Spider holster. I'm not carrying a camera bag or a shooting bag of any kind, and I'm really liking thing.
It's keeping the weight of the camera on my waist, on my hips, just like where the rest of the backpack weight is. I could've brought a shoulder bag to carry my lenses in, but I've already got all this weight on my shoulders from the backpack. This would be pulling on my neck and just on one side, so this is working out really well, particularly given that I have a pretty heavy camera, so I am really liking that. It locks so it can't accidentally come out. The camera can't come out of the rig there. The only headache about it sometimes is if I'm walking uphill, my legs bump into it. So, to make up for that, I'm also carrying the sling that I normally wear.
Now, you can also do the same thing with any normal camera strap that has a quick release the way my sling does. So, if I'm walking up hill or something, I can pop the camera out of the Spider holster clip it on to the sling and carry it in my hand with a little stability and then get back on the holster again later. So I'm really liking this setup. I have my other lens in an outside pouch on a backpack. I cannot get through it while I'm wearing the pack, nor can I get to my extra media cards or the infrared filter or the neutral-density filter or the remote control that I brought. I have to stop and take the pack off.
And just like I was talking about before, you know, if you can't get to the stuff immediately in with these, that's really not the end of the world, particularly in this scenario where to be honest I'm glad to have an excuse to stop and take that thing off my back. So, if I do find a situation where I want my wide-angle lens, I can stop, take the pack off, have some water, set up my shot, take the shot, and put it all back all together. So I'm finding that works very well. I'm in a limited-lens-flexibility situation here. That said, I have this ridiculous focal length range of 16 to 105.
Some of the greatest photographers in the world worked with far fewer options than that. Nevertheless, it's not what I'm used to. I'm used to maybe having one more lens with me. But rather than seeing that as an obstacle, I'm really trying to see that as an opportunity. This is a very good exercise. This is a way of going out and honing your vision within a very narrow groove. I'm working with just these focal lengths. I am trying to see the world in terms of those focal lengths and really learn how these lenses work, what they're good for. In a lot a situations, it will make you be more creative. I might come to a situation and go, wow, I really wish I had a more telephoto lens, because I want that thing way over there.
All right, maybe that means I've to get moving, or maybe it means I need to find it different way of expressing whatever it is I'm feeling about that thing that's over there that or that scene that's come before me. So, having to go to a more refined set of lenses doesn't necessarily create a liability. If you work with it, you may find it frees up your eye. It gets you seeing and thinking in a very different way, and you may come back with some different shots. So I'm ready to hit the road again. I feel rested. I've got long way to go and when we get to camp tonight, I'll show you some of this other gear that I've got.