Tag Archives: luggage

Travel, Luggage and Photography

The-Road-To-The-Mountains_U9A1512.jpg

My June column has been published on the National Parks Traveler website.  This month’s publication deals with travel, luggage and photography.  Click on the photo to be taken to the link.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Equipment, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

Anticipation (AKA Packing For My August Photo Trip)

Vacation Map

Is it too early to start talking about an upcoming trip?  Will I jinx things?  I hope not, because I’m going to write about it anyway.  You see, I live(and work) for my vacations.

Yes, I am packing already for a trip I won’t be taking for another 2-1/2 months. Planning for a trip is part of the fun for me. Besides, it’s helpful for me to pack early because then I have plenty of time to really think, then unpack, then repack.  No last-minute packing for me, by golly!   My Type A personality likes to get it out of the way early.

I’ve noticed that many photographers are curious as to what  camera-lens setups their peers take with them when traveling.  I know I’m always curious as to what other photographers take with them when traveling.  So I am going out on a limb here and will assume you are curious as to what *I* pack for such a trip.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Allow me to digress for just a moment.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I receive 4 weeks of vacation a year – a drop in the bucket, I know, but I’ll take what I can get. Most of my vacations are spent flying to some favorite place out West, renting a car, and staying in a hotel/lodge/resort as a base.  I’m so over tent camping (my rheumatoid arthritis dictated that); I like my “beauty sleep”, a desk onto which I can place my laptop, and a nearby bathroom.  Sure, I could do that with a SUV-trailer combo, but I don’t own either and don’t want either at this point in time. So, I sing the praises of hotels and lodges.

I usually visit some place I’ve visited previously and really enjoy, but I also try to make at least one trip somewhere to which I have never been. This 2012, I am traveling the last week of August to a place I’ve only briefly been (Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado).

0952_Square Tower

I’m also going to visit a place to which I have never been (Arches National Park, Utah).  It’s going to be hot and dry at both places (for the most part), and I plan on hiking from sunrise to sunset, since I’ll be stationed 5 days at Mesa Verde and 3 days at Arches before heading to Durango CO for a day via the scenic Million Dollar Highway.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Ok, back to the subject of this post.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I always take 3 bags for domestic trips, one of which I check in at the counter.

1870_Three Cases Old

The checked bag is the largest one holding all of my clothing, extra shoes, toiletries, underwear, tripod, some food (Clif Bars, those Land O Lakes Mini Moos  half & half packets, trail mix), water bottles, hair dryer, assorted cords, and – oh yes – my little 4-cup coffee maker along with a bag of good coffee. It’s a Samsonite Brght Lite polycarbonate hard-side, hot pink 28-inch spinner behemoth that’s a little awkward to lug around but is still a fantastic piece of luggage. I deliberately chose the hot pink color to better identify it on the baggage carousel….besides, who in their right mind (other than the owner) would want to be seen walking around with such a garish suitcase?

The two carry-on bags consist of

1. My laptop case which I purchased at my employer’s company store, packed with my 15-inch laptop, mouse, portable hard drives, cords, memory card reader, and various documentation like my boarding pass and confirmations for my hotel(s), rental car, any tours, etc.; and

2. My Think Tank Airport Antidote 2.0 camera backpack, which is usually stuffed with two or three camera bodies, my 70-200mm lens, 16-35mm lens, 24-105mm lens, and 50mm f1.2 lens (sometimes I even lug my 85mm f1.2 lens around). This case is wonderful and is sized to fit in the overhead bins of both domestic and international airlines (I can tell you this is true from personal experience). I’m a short person (5’2”) and this pack doesn’t overwhelm me sizewise or weightwise (well, the weight thing is a challenge, since I usually overpack). Into the Airport Antidote – in addition to the cameras and lenses – I also pack 35 CF cards (that’s right – I said 35 cards of 4GB and 8 GB size), 5 extra camera batteries, two Lee 4×6 .9 graduated ND filters (which I hand hold flush against the camera lens), my slim-mount circular polarizer filters, slim-mount UV filters, a couple of round grad ND filters (77mm and 82mm), a 6-stop 77mm ND filter, and a backup memory card file storage device (Sanho Hyperdrive).

1874_Think Tank Open

I also pack my lens hoods, which I may or may not use if I am taking photos requiring the use of either the circular polarizers or the Lee graduated ND filters. The Airport Antidote allows the packing of a 15-inch laptop as well, which I did for my international trip.  For domestic travel, however, I prefer to transport my laptop in a separate laptop case.

Yes, it is quite the load to lug around, but I use practically everything I take with me on a trip…including the coffee maker.

Oh, and I always wear my Domke PhoTogs photographer’s vest. I have one in black, and another in khaki.  I LOVE all the pockets into which I can stuff my wallet, iPhone, memory cards, extra camera batteries, extra pair of glasses, business cards, pen, etc. And it looks good on me, too (don’t you think?).

D2C0250_RebeccaLatsonPhotography

For this upcoming trip, however, I’m changing things around. I’m not going to take the Pink Monster, nor will I take the Think Tank backpack. Instead, I’ve been packing (I began a couple of weeks ago packing/unpacking/repacking) an IT Luggage Shiny Large Dots 24-inch hard-side black roller with large white and pink polka dots. When I purchased that little case, I felt pretty sure it would be an almost one-of-a-kind-easy-to-spot-at-baggage claim kind of case much like my hot-pink suitcase.  Nope. When I flew to Seattle back in April, I saw a young lady retrieving the exact same case. So I’ve applied strips of neon-green duct tape to my case. That ought to set it apart.

1878_IT Roller Case

Believe it or not, I’ve packed almost as much into that little case as I ever did in the Pink Monster! This includes the addition of three large water bottles for my hikes, an extra pair of hiking boots, hat, a pair of Keen sandals, and my Induro Carbon 8X CT213 tripod with an Induro BHD2 ballhead (I had to unscrew the tripod head and place it elsewhere within the case). It excludes the coffee maker (my hotel rooms all have coffee makers, so I’ll still take my bag of coffee, the little #2 filters, and my packets of half & half, ‘cause I gotta have my coffee). I’m beginning to realize that I don’t need as much suitcase space as I thought I needed for trips lasting up to 2 weeks. The weather will be relatively consistent (i.e. hot and dry), but I’ll still pack a raincoat and a couple of lightweight fleece tops, since I expect the mornings and evenings to be quite cool.

Below is a shot of my new case, partially packed (the tripod is hidden underneath other stuff, and I still have a few more items to pack):

1880_IT bag open

Regarding the packing of the camera equipment, I’m taking a camera backpack that I originally was going to stuff into the 28-inch suitcase. As I was going to sleep one night, the light bulb went on and I realized there was no way in hell I could pack that particular camera backpack in the smaller case and also take the Think Tank pack. This required some revisions of what I really wanted to take with me for this trip, in the way of lenses.

I’m still taking the three camera bodies (two Canon 5D Mark II bodies and a rented Canon 5D Mark III because I can’t afford to purchase one outright for myself…yet); I am a firm believer in camera redundancy. I like to know that if one (or both) of my own camera bodies break down, I’ve got that extra one. I am paring down the lenses I take. I’ll just have the 16-35mm, the 70-200mm, and I’ve rented a 14mm fisheye (I want to get in as much as I can of the cliff dwellings in Colorado and Delicate Arch in Utah). I may take the itty bitty 40mm pancakeCanon lens I’ve pre-ordered so I can test it out and then blog about it (provided I receive that lens in time – according to my order history, the processing is still “pending”). And of course, I’ll still take all of my filters and lens hoods and memory cards and such.

What backpack am I taking, then? It’s the Lowepro Fastpack 350.

1902_Lowepro Front

1901_Lowepro Back

Compared to my Think Tank pack:

1883_Lowepro Vs Think Tank

It’s awesome! I’ve used it a couple of times for my Brazos Bend State Park and Brazoria NWR photo ops. This pack is lightweight (well, it feels that way compared to my Think Tank, when packed) and  nicely padded.  Retrieving a camera/lens is relatively convenient – you don’t even have to take the backpack off in order to access things, although I still find I need to take the pack off to get to my gear – I haven’t quite gotten the method of  swinging-the-pack-around-on-one-shoulder-while-still-standing ironed out just yet. The top portion of the pack can be used for items like memory cards, filters, snack/lunch, extra water bottle, and light jacket or fleece pullover; that’s the main reason for wanting to take this pack.  I’ll be hiking in some really hot areas, where the temps get into the triple digits.  I need to be able to carry more than one large water bottle, plus some snacks.  The Think Tank doesn’t allow for that, but this Lowepro Fastpack 350 sure does.  There is even a padded, zippered slot where I could easily pack my 15-inch HP laptop, if I wanted (and yes, my laptop doesfit in there).  One side of the pack also has a mesh pocket for a large-sized water bottle.  The only caveat another photographer might notice is that there is nothing handy for attaching a folded tripod to the pack.  Not an issue with me, since I use my tripod as a hiking staff to help me maneuver around.

1886_Lowepro Bottom Open

1889_Lowepro Open

Two-and-a-half more months to go, and I am sooooo ready for this trip Open-mouthed smile

1923_Ready to Go

What do you pack for your photo trips?

*Note:  with the exception of the map image, and the Mesa Verde cliff dwelling photo, the rest of the photos in this post were taken with a Canon Powershot G11.

8 Comments

Filed under Equipment, Photography, Travel