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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
When you're ready to hit the trail of course the first thing you've got to do is pack your shooting bag, and again you've got to decide what kind of shooting you think you want to do. I decided to outfit with my walk-around lens because it's very reversible, my wide-angle and my fisheye, because it's taken the bulk of the day to get here to the camp site. I don't think I am going to go that far, and this river near here looks really nice and it's still got some dappled light on it. So I am just going to stay around the river, and that's about being in a space that's enclosed with a lot of trees. So I think I am probably mostly going to want wide-angle stuff. So I'm throwing that in the bag.
I've taken some food, flashlight just because you never know when you might end up staying out after dark. I've got a knife, which can come in handy for cutting branches out of the way and that kind of thing. And I got my wireless remote control, because I am thinking some self-portraits might be fun if the light is still good. Curious thing about bags. It's--I don't know what the actual definition of fetish is, but I've definitely got a thing about bags. The search for the perfect camera bag is both exhilarating and really frustrating, because there is no such thing as the perfect camera bag.
On the upside, that means you need a whole bunch of them. The thing about a bag is, for a long time I was thinking I've got to have one really easy access to every single thing that I am carrying, and that's not true. I need easy access to the things that I'm using a lot, like lenses. Things like my infrared filter, my neutral- density filter, my remote control, I'll use those maybe once or twice on a trip. I don't have to have instant- ready access to those all the time. It's okay if I need to stop, take the bag off, dig those out, and then put them back when I've done. So don't get hung up on, well, this bag is great for this, but I can't get to that really easily.
You only need this easy access to the stuff that you regularly use. I really like this bag pack, because it's got a lot of space. It evenly distributes the weight on both shoulders. But I can sling it off one shoulder, get into it, dig the lenses out that I need, and make my lens changes very comfortably without having to take it completely off, and then I can get it slung back on. Now occasionally I get a little bit tangled up in it and to be honest, that doesn't bother me that much because that's not something I need to be looking at while I am doing. I can feel my weight through it and while I am doing that, I look around for other shots.
Same way with the tripod. Setting up the tripod, taking it down, it's a chance to look at the area around you while you're adjusting your tripod. I also really love this tripod. It's a great lightweight, very sturdy, very durable tripod that's great for hiking. I have a larger tripod that I use if I'm working at home or if I'm not going to be carrying it a lot. It gets me a little more altitude on my camera. It's got a few more features. But this has pretty much everything I need for most of the type of stuff that I want to do out in an environment like this.
One of the most critical is that the legs can be extended straight out. That lets me stabilize the camera very low to the ground. So if I am wanting to get low-angle shots I can set up my tripod for that. Of course, your tripod head is critical. I really love these ball head. This is the Acratech ultimate ballhead. It's single motion to get my camera position. It's all open. It's very easy to clean and it weighs less than pound. So tripod and head selection is very critical. I am using a camera that has two media slots in it.
That means it can take both a compact flash and an SD card at the same time. Now there are a few different advantages to this, and we're going to look at some others when we get to that scenario. What I'm using it for here though is in the SD slot I'm keeping an Eye-Fi card. This is a normal SD card. It's a pretty speedy SD card. It's got 8 GB of storage, but it also got a Wi-Fi transmitter in it. That means it can automatically communicate with other Wi-Fi devices. I decided that I wanted to take a self-portrait, because when I get back to it an area with some connectivity I want send out a picture of myself.
And the type self-portrait I wanted to take, I wanted to really show the trees around me, so I needed a really wide angle. It was something that I couldn't do with my phone. It's hard to do self-portraits with the phone, other than an arm's length. I knew I wanted a winder vantage point. It was kind of dark. I needed a higher ISO. It was really a job from a SLR. So I shot through the Eye-Fi card rather than to my normal compact flash card. When we get back to camp you'll why I did that. I can actually transmit that image directly to my phone and later I'll be able to send it out somewhere. This strap is something that I've used in other lynda courses and I get lots of email, people wanting to know what it is.
It's not exactly a strap so much as a sling. The camera slides up and down the very easily. This is something called a Luma loop made by Luma Labs and unfortunately, they don't make it anymore. There are other camera slings out there. I don't like any of them nearly as much as this one. So if you're interested in this kind of mechanism, take a look at some slings. It's very convenient, because your camera just hangs out down here by your hip and you slide it up and down. Whether you're using a sling or a normal camera strap, I really recommend one that's got a release mechanism up here for getting the camera off.
This is great if you're working with a tripod. I can just pop it off the strap, stick it on a tripod, and pop it back on. So it's a much easier than having to take it off over my head, particularly if you've got a pack on. You may have noticed that I'm keeping the camera strap underneath the backpack strap. That's why I can get the backpack slung off one shoulder. Finally, one last thing: a lot of times you set out into an environment like this with a particular something in mind and you don't find it. Very often, tromping through the woods you don't what you're going to find. Same thing tromping through a little European town.
If you don't find images that your were hoping to get or if you just feel like, well, I don't know, I am not really seeing anything, then just relax and start playing with light. That's what I started doing here. Shooting inside of forest is hard. There are all these lines everywhere, and it's hard to shoot the whole forest for the trees, if you will. So I just started looking for the interesting light and working that. I started playing with the geometry of the trees and working that. So I was very glad that I had my wide-angle lenses. That was the right choice for this situation, because it allowed me to just fall into an almost purely mechanical mode of, I'm just going to start doing exercises until I start seeing something and working with the lines, working with light and shadow really got my eyes going.
And I feel like after while I've got warmed up to the environment than I was in and I started seeing more things that were more interesting to me than when I first set out. Again, that's partly because I made the right gear choice and partly, that's experience. Pay attention to the lenses that you're using in a particular circumstance, the lenses that work out well for you in particular circumstances, and you will have an easier time choosing the right lenses when you go into that circumstance again later.