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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
Just because I brought this comprehensive set of gear doesn't mean I want to carry a comprehensive set of gear; in fact, that was never my intention. My idea when I brought this huge assortment of stuff was that I would build dedicated little packages of stuff for different shooting tasks and I would have different bags and whatnot for getting the gear into those different tasks. So, when I am setting out for the day, what I need to do is to decide what gear I want to take. Now, you may think, well, I'm going to want my wide angle because I like really wide-angle shots, but I'm going to take my telephoto because what if I see something far away? And that's not a good way to go.
It's a better idea to pick a type of shooting that you would like to do that day and just focus on it. So, the other day, first, I decided I was ready to get out of town. I was going to go do some landscapy-type stuff just in some of the parks and preserves nearby. So, I put together a kit that was set for that. I didn't take my macro lens; I didn't figure there were going to be great macro opportunities there. I took a general-purpose lens, I took a wide- angle lens, and I took a slightly more telephoto lens, the type of lenses I am going to use in that environment.
It's actually an advantage to have to pare your system down this way. It makes you concentrate on the particulars of a particular type of shooting. It can be tempting to go, well, I can always run back to the room and grab another lens. But then you're going to be spending more time getting around town than you are shooting. It's good to have some limitations on yourself to make yourself hone in on a particular type of subject matter. On another day, I did decide I wanted to go macro shooting. I had only recently gotten this macro lens, so I was curious to get it out and try it. And because that's just one lens that I need for that, I thought, it's no problem to take another lens with me. So I took my general-purpose lens.
Because even though my idea was I am going to focus on macro shooting, I thought, yeah, but there's probably going to be something to see on the way here or there. One thing about this vacation-type shooting is you're not just trying to get pretty pictures; you're also probably trying to document your trip: you're taking tourist photos, you're taking snapshots, you're taking pictures of landmarks, and things like that. So a good walk-around lens is always an important thing to have. By walk-around lens, I mean a lens that's got a focal length that's going to get you through a lot of different situations. My walk around lens is a 24 to 105 millimeter lens and that's in 35 millimeter equivalency because I use a full-frame camera.
So that gives me a nice wide angle. It gives me a fair amount of telephoto reach. It's not too heavy. It's a good-size lens. It's not super fast. It's f/4 all the way across. So I am not going to get really great super-shallow depth of field out of it, but it's also not going to put a lot of weight on my shoulder. So, that's a walk-around lens. I might again choose to accessorize that with a macro lens. Now, in a situation like that where I am only carrying two lenses, I may not even take a bag. I keep one lens on the camera, and depending on the pants that I'm wearing, I can just stick the other lens in my pocket.
So, that can get me working really ultra light in those situations, which can be nice. On another day, I might just choose to go street shooting. And by street shooting, I mean not just hoping to get that kind of classical street-shooting stuff of daily life, the decisive moment, that kind of stuff, but also the landmark shots that I want to get, the things that I want to show people when I get home. For that situation, I would take my walk-around lens. I have a wide-angle lens that I really like, a 16 to 35 that's very fast. I'll put that in my bag.
And then lately, I've been experimenting a lot with this fisheye lens that I just got, which is a lot of fun, and it can be a way of, if I get out and I find that actually there is not much going around town that day, the fisheye can help me just find something interesting in terms of geometry and that kind of thing. Again, I'm paring down to about three lenses there. If you don't typically shoot a lot of wide angle, you might want to substitute the wide- angle lens for a really long telephoto. I don't tend to see subject matter that I would use with a telephoto lens; I am more partial to wide-angle lenses.
So you could swap that out. I've also got extra media with me. And I might sometimes, like I did when I went out landscape shooting, take a couple of other things like an infrared filter. I have been experimenting a lot with infrared shooting lately, and I took my tripod because I knew that infrared was going to require a tripod. Once you're out, it's pretty much just straight shooting. The only thing you need to figure is, do you have a good way of changing your lenses? Is there a bag you can pick that will help you do that by getting your place to stash something while you're swapping out other lenses? Your lenses are durable.
You don't have to be super careful with them, but obviously you don't want to drop them. You want to work quickly, so that you don't get dust inside your camera or on the lens. How you do it just works out to your own personal coordination. I've found that I can work it by holding one lens and sticking a lens cap in my mouth and doing some other things. That works for me, and I don't even think about when I am doing it at this point; it's just the coordination I have. So, that comes with practice after just a few lens swaps. So, that's my first kind of heavyweight solution to, what do I do when I'm traveling and I want to take a bunch of gear and have a lot of options, but I don't want them all at one time? I pare them down.
I make sure I have the right bags. As you'll see later in this course, there are going to be other times when you make those paring-down decisions before you even leave the house. But for now, I've got the luxury of choosing whatever gear I want, wherever I am, for whatever type of shooting I feel like doing on that particular day.
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