A Word on Equipment

May 31, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Most photographers carry a lot of gear it's just the nature of the beast.   Now if you came here looking for a long debate on lenses, cameras, and the manufacture of those things, I am not going to talk about them.  The internet is full of that kind of information and people debate that all the time.   What I want to talk about is the other stuff that I don't find a lot of online.   A look at the gear that you use out in the field.  


The most important piece of gear a photographer has (aside from camera and lenses) is actually the camera bag.  I know that sounds pretty trivial, but when you spend 8 hours out taking photos, you quickly figure out nothing is trivial.  For example, if you get a messenger style camera bag for your large lens and heavy camera, it could end up causing a lot of pain.    All that weight on one side of your body for the day, can really start to hurt.  Pain means that you will probably stop taking pictures earlier in the day, and will end up missing shots.   Another problem with camera bags is ease of getting to things.   If it's a complicated process to get to your stuff, you will again miss shots.  Eventually, you might even start to avoid changing lenses, because it means getting into your bag and it's a pain in the butt.  When people are tired, they naturally start taking shortcuts.  Now here comes the bad news:  there is no perfect bag.  


I have two bags and they handle 99% of my days out.   One is just your standard camera backpack.  It holds all my lenses (though I have to pack it full) and it has the quick access pocket for the camera.  I use this in the city, when I might go inside shops.   It's compact and stays on my back out of the way.  It's a simple solution, but by no means my favorite option.  I use this roughly 20% of the time.   Again, if I think I will be going inside shops or restaurants, this is the bag I use.


For most of my camera days, I use a utility belt (think batman).   I have an individual bag on the belt for each lens, and a couple bags for filters and accessories.  I find this to be the best setup because it keeps all the weight on my hips (which reduces a lot of the physical stress of carrying all that equipment), and I can reach all my lenses and filters within seconds.   As there is no perfect bag, here is the problems with this set up: You can't go inside, as you will run into everything; it kind of disrupts your arm flow while walking and I find that a bit annoying (but just a bit, it can be ignored);  and it only works for day trips.  If you are actually in the wild and plan on camping, you can not wear a camping backpack with this setup.   Camping backpacks are large and have hip belts and you already have something on your hips.


Filters: if you are outside, there is one filter you have to have and that is the circular polarizer.   If you have ever worn polarized sunglasses, you get the idea, but basically the filter blocks some of the reflected light, which makes your pictures look better.   The other filter I use often is the graduated neutral density filter.  It's a long name, but it's a rectangular filter that is clear on one end and dark on the other.  So when you have those big fluffy clouds in the sky, this helps them to not be washed out and yet still have definition in the land under the clouds.


Finally I carry a small little backpack that is designed for cyclist.  It's just big enough to have a water bladder (staying hydrated is important), a snack, and if I shove it in, a sweater or rain jacket.


That gear gets me through most of my shots.  The main thing I wanted to point out was the utility belt.   I love that thing and have not looked back since getting it.


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