Friday, December 27, 2013

In My Bag

I always have a hard time deciding what camera gear to take on a trip.  This is an emotional problem that has spilt over from other areas of my regular life.  

When I was young I received backpacking and camping gear for just about every birthday and holiday.  My brother and I had memorized the Campmor mail order catalog.  It was our bible.  I could give you the breakdown and specifications of many of the items inside.  I could tell you prices of every backpack stove, weight, fuel type, max BTU's, and all the pro's and con's for each model.  I was proud of the gear that I had and was going to carry it all whether I needed it or not.  Throughout the years I learned to pack my pack more appropriately based on the duration, weather, and location.

This need to be prepared trickled over to all trips that I took.  I didn't matter if I was planning an adventure in the city or on the trail.  Packing a camera bag hasn't been an exception.  

For this trip I know that:

1.  I will be immersed in the city where I will be shooting street photography and street portraits.

2.  I will be on the trail for a night or two.

3.  Part of the trip will be spent with amazing scenery, picturesque views, and magnificent landscapes that will require captures to be in color.

Decisions..... Decisions..... Decisions.....

There are people in the photography community that live by the motto "one camera, one lens".  I practice this mantra..... but only for an evening at a time.  I do limit myself to only one camera bag for a trip.  All gear must fit inside the bag including my iPad with bluetooth keyboard and Zipshot Micro tripod.  I am lucky regarding this rule as I mainly shoot Leica M and micro four thirds camera systems.  The bodies and lenses are small. 

By now you are probably wondering what I brought along with me.  Let's think about the three situations that I will be in.

1.  Street photography:  I brought my Leica M9 of course.  To me there isn't a better camera system to shoot street with.  The camera is small.  It is easy to carry and is built like a tank.  The optical viewfinder is superb for framing.  There is no black out when actuating the shutter as it is a rangefinder and there is no mirror that has to flip up like a DSLR.   The lenses are small and easily fit into a jacket pocket.

2.  On the trail:  My love and I will be heading out during the rainy season and expect to encounter some moisture.  (Please keep your fingers crossed for us.)  I brought my Olympus OM-D E-M5.  It is built like a tank and is dust and water sealed.  It functions and meters perfectly in any situation.  I am a firm supporter of the micro four thirds system.  The lenses are affordable even though the image quality is top notch.  (Please remember that I'm a devout prime lens shooter and am not vouching for any of the zoom lenses that are available.)  People often comment to me that I must have an amazing camera.  I always respond that it's the lenses that make the photos.  

3.  Landscapes in color:  I brought along my Yashica MAT 124 TLR medium format camera.  This is the original MAT 124 made between 1968 and 1970.  It is not the "G" model.  It is a tank.  I only have one roll of 120 Kodak Ektar with me and hope to find a camera shop at one of our destinations.  In the past I traditionally have self developed black and white film at home and scanned the negatives using an Epson v500 scanner.  Moving forward I'm going to start sending rolls to a professional lab for developing and scanning.  I've looked at the math regarding the price of chemicals and time vs. the amount of film that I shoot.  For me it makes more sense to send the film out.  I can communicate to the lab my preferences on contrast and grain and they can work their magic.  I won't have to worry about discarding expired chemicals.  I plan on shooting more color film anyway.  If you have never shot with a TLR camera before send me a message.  The experience can be zen-like.  It is pure photography at the core.  You really feel like you are creating art as opposed to just taking a picture.  I have a second camera, a Yashica A and would be happy working one-on-one with someone.

I'm always curious what others carry in their bag.  Maybe next trip mine will be a little lighter.


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