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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 made it back from the wild, and now it's time for me to go home. I packed my bags. I'm just waiting for the cab to arrive to take me back to the airport. As I'm sitting here, I'm thinking about what worked and what didn't. It's not a bad idea after a trip to assess your strategy, figure out what you might do different next time. And for the most part I think I got it. There are some things, though that I think I'd change. In the heavyweight scenario, I brought too much stuff. Now, that doesn't matter once I get here, since I was just dropping the stuff down and leaving it and I have plenty of room, but it does make the bags heavier.
I overestimated how much time I was going to have to spend practicing and experimenting with this thing or that thing. I didn't do as much flash stuff as I thought I was going to do. I brought three flashes and a full wireless remote setup. I could have left the remotes behind and probably just brought one flash. That's all I ended up using, maybe two. But that actually would have significant lightened this bag right here. So I think that could have been a significant weight savings. Otherwise, I was glad with that setup. I'm glad to I had my computer with me. I had work that I needed to do, so it was good that I had a full post-production rig.
It was good that I had lots of ways of making connections to the outside world. So I'm glad with all of that. The middleweight scenario, I think I got mostly right. I had the camera gear exactly right. For post-production, I don't know that I actually needed the iPad. Because I was camping, I had no Internet connection. It was really just an extra pound and a half to carry around. It didn't prove to be that useful in terms of editing images on the iPad, because there wasn't that much I could do it with them when I was out there, because I didn't have any way of getting them out. I did not end up using it for reading or watching movies or things like that, so that was extra weight that I was carrying.
Now, that said, that same middleweight configuration in a different application, I would have been glad to have the iPad. If I was taking a train across Asia or backpacking across Europe or something like that then the iPad would be great, both for the post-production capabilities and just as a computer replacement. It's got a full-size keyboard, virtual keyboard, that I can use. It's much lighter than a laptop computer. It's also more durable. If I was backpacking across Europe or something like that and shoving an iPad into a backpack, I feel much more confident than shoving a laptop computer into a backpack, which can flex and bend, and you don't want stuff getting in the keyboard and that kind of thing.
So I really like the durability of the iPad. I think it would be great in that middleweight situation for a different specific scenario. For the ultralight situation, I had everything that I needed to survive, so my backpacking setup was okay. For the camera setup, I brought too much stuff. I had that infrared and that variable neutral-density filter with me that I never ended up using, because I didn't have a tripod. I had the Gorillapod, but it's short so I didn't end up setting any shots with it. And you might think well, those filters don't weight very much. What's the big deal? That's true. They don't weigh that much, but they take up space and probably most significantly, they're falling out of my bag when I'm trying to get other gear.
I wouldn't want to lose them. They're expensive. So there's just no need to have them along. I'd probably leave those behind in any situation where I'm not taking a tripod. Another thing on the ultralight scenario is I could've actually gone maybe with a different camera. I love shooting with my full-frame SLR, but boy, it's big and heavy. And something to consider in those instances, if you're wanting to get weight down but you don't want to give up your SLR, is I could've gone to a cropped-sensor body if I had one. Something like a rebel, something that's a physically smaller camera, lighter weight.
It still works with the lenses that I have. Now, of course, those lenses behave very differently. They end up with an effectively longer focal length. You can get lenses specifically made for cropped-sensor cameras that are smaller and lighter. So in an ultralight situation, I might be willing to give up some of the advantages of full frame, that is, not being able to get super shallow depth of field and just generally having a slightly different feel to the images. I might have been willing to give that up to have a smaller, lighter camera. Overall, my bag choice has worked out fine. I was really pleased with how I was carrying everything.
The Spider holster was a real treat on the backpacking trip. I've never used one before, so that was really nice. So if I felt like the way that I was managing my gear worked out really well. Some other things to consider. Boy, it's so easy to forget a tripod plate. They're not that expensive. So I'm wondering if I should get some more and just stick them in different bags. If there are a few bags that I switch between for different kinds of trips and I'm doing that regularly, it might be worth just knowing that if I grab this bag, I've got the tripod plate that I need. I've got maybe there's a media card stuck in there, just in case I forget to bring enough media.
An inexpensive remote control, if I am always forgetting remote controls, that kind of thing. Ziplock bags and each bag that you're carrying can be really handy, just in case you run into foul weather. Things like that that you can stash inside of a bag and not have to think about when you grab that bag. Another thing was, I haven't used that geologging device very much and I have to relearn it every time. And it's a drag to get out in the middle of nowhere, thinking your own vacation and now you got to sit around reading manuals, even if you're able to read them on your phone. So it's important to really be familiar with your gear before you leave, not so that you've got the capability of using it, but just so that you have more time to go out shooting or have fun while you're on vacation.
So I should have worked through that some before I left. Again, I was shooting with a brand-new camera. I could have done a little more study on that before I left. So knowing your gear, knowing your bag, being comfortable with your equipment before you leave is something to spend some time on at home so that you're not wasting time doing that when you get to this place that you've been dying to see. I think that's pretty much it. Though for the most part my choices were good and I feel confident in the pictures that I've taken, I'm going to be glad to get home, see on my bigger monitor, and work them up into good final prints. Now, I've just got to get myself home.