Photography Trip Packing

November 10, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

_MSP0311_MSP0311 Hi Photo Buddies!  My last blog was about my photo trip I took to Washington DC with my camera club on our annual Fall Workshop.  This was a different trip in that we were dependent on public transportation and would be carrying all of our stuff that we were bringing for the trip, so packing and planning was a must.  There are many ways to plan and pack for a trip, and this is just my version. 

I know after years of backpacking that weight matters!  So one of the first considerations was how heavy were my bags going to be and how many of them would there be.  So I decided on my backpack with photo gear and another bag that would have my clothes.  I decided early on that I wanted a backpack that was not a camera bag looking kind of bag. IMG_1534IMG_1534  I didn't want the traditional bag like a black LowPro bag that looks like a camera bag.  One reason for this is security.  A big guy with a regular backpack is not as an appealing of a target as a big guy with a camera backpack with thousands of potential dollars in it is.  The other reason is that photography backpacks are designed to carry only gear, and there is not much room for extra stuff like coats, sweaters, and souvenirs. So I got a 25-liter smallish bag to carry my camera gear in with an insert that I got off of Amazon to keep my gear safe, much like I do with a MountainSmith bag that I use for a shoulder bag with an insert.  So with this, my camera gear in this took up about one-third of the space, which left enough room for other things that I would need to carry on a daily basis like rain gear, umbrella, water, and a coat.  Also I wanted a small backpack because I learned if you get a large bag you will fill it up!  So keeping a smaller bag keeps the weight down.  My other bag that I was going to use is a roller bag that you would use as overhead luggage.  But one of the days we had to wear a sports coat and there wasn't enough room for the sports coat, extra slacks, and shoes for that day, so I got a larger roller bag to accommodate those items. But, as with larger bags, I did fill it up!  So those were my two bags: my backpack and a roller bag.

_MSP1594_MSP1594 Now that I have the bags, what to put it them.  Let's start with my camera gear.  If you have read my blogs, I used to shoot full frame Nikon with all the fast glass.  And don't get me wrong, it was excellent quality gear but heavy.  I started using a Sony mirrorless system for hiking and backpacking and eventually switched completely to a Sony crop sensor system.  My first thought was to bring camera body and three lenses:  one for wide angle shots, one for midrange shots, and a telephoto for long-range shots and that would be my kit.  My wide would be a Sony 10-18mm f4 (full frame equivalent 15-25mm) and that's what I took.  My telephoto would be a Sony 55-210mm f4.5-6.3 kit lens (full frame 80-320mm).  I chose this one because of size, and I have a good copy that is sharp so that's what I took. IMG_1558IMG_1558  My midrange is where I had my problems making a decision.  I have a Sony 18-105mm f4 (full frame equivalent 24-150ish mm) that is a good lens, but it's large and heavy.  It's bigger than the 55-210mm that I'm bringing for my telephoto shots.  So I decided not to bring that one.  I decided to take a Sony 35mm f1.8 (full frame equivalent 52mm) as my midrange and then I bought a Rokinon 24mm f2.8 (full frame equivalent 35mm), so I decided to bring that.  Now I'm at four lenses and a body.  And I stuck with this for a couple of months shooting with this combo.  I went to Savannah, Georgia and this is what I took and got great photos.  I took this combo to all of our monthly workshops, and they worked great.  But in the back of my mind, I'm thinking I sure am changing lenses a lot.  I would love to just have one mid-range zoom lens.  I considered buying another zoom, a 16-70mm Sony/Ziess lens. But it's an expensive lens, and I couldn't make myself buy another midrange zoom just for this trip.  So I had my setup: the Sony A6300, Sony 10-80mm for wide shots, Rokinon 24mm, Sony35mm for midrange shots, and Sony 55-210mm for telephoto shots.  Well, until I started packing.  Remember I said if you get a larger bag you will fill it up?  My large roller bag was really bigger than I needed, so at the last minute I stuck the Sony 18-105mm in just in case shooting and changing lenses from a backpack got really cumbersome.  So that was my camera IMG_1459IMG_1459 gear:  all the lenses mentioned above, my trusty Sony A6300, some filters that I never used on the trip (but would still bring), a small Jobe table top tripod, and a travel-sized tripod.  I carried the Jobe tripod all the time, and the other travel tripod I brought just for nighttime photography.  I just went into Lightroom to see the lens breakdown of my winner/rated shots from our trip, and out of 309 photos that I considered my best, my 10-18mm took 21shots, 16-70mm (yes, a member let me use his for part of the day) 5 shots, 35mm another 30 shots, 55-210mm 82 shots, 18-105mm 26 shots, and the most was the Rokinon 24mm (35mm full frame equivalent ) at 145 shots. So well over half of my shots came from the mid-range primes and not the zoom.  To be fair, on our museum day I did only take one body and one lens, the 24mm, and shot that all day because of the security at IMG_1562IMG_1562 the museums.  It was just easier.  And to tell you the truth, I really didn't notice while I was shooting that day that I didn't have the other lenses with me and I did just fine.  Another piece of kit I took was a GoPro Session, which I used it once and it never came out of the bag again.  We had a guy that was videoing the whole workshop.  I was just too lazy to do video and stills at the same time, so I stuck to stills and took the GoPro out of my backpack the first day, put it the suitcase, and it never saw the light of day again.

Now for the clothes I took with me.  Let me start by saying I'm not a fashion type of guy and I like what I like.  I want it to be comfortable, lightweight, and an earth tone color so I can mix and match anything in my bag and it looks okay.  I like to take clothing that is quick drying material so if I do get wet it dries quickly, and when washing it dries quickly too.  The clothes I take are the same if I'm camping or doing a street shoot.  Pants are hiking convertible pants, ones that the bottom part of the leg zips off when it's hot and you have shorts. They are lightweight, usually cargo pants with lots of pockets but can also be plain.  Shirts are hiking or fishing shirts that are made out of the quick drying material as well.  They may be long or short sleeve, but most of mine are long sleeve and they can be rolled up if it gets hot.  Undershirts and pants are made out of stretchy, quick-drying material.  T-shirts can be many colors so if I get hot I can take off the outer shirt and still look okay.  Now you know the type of clothes I take and how many.  For this week  Eastern MarketEastern MarketEastern Market in Washington DC, A good place to photograph. -long trip, I had planned on taking three pants and three shirts I could wear more than once or wash one daily and could mix and match so I don't look like I'm wearing the same thing every day.  Well, that didn't quite work out the way I had planned because of the larger bag (you know where I'm going with this).  I packed more stuff.  I had planned on washing clothes while on the trip, but I had enough room that I just took extra socks and underwear and just wore pants and shirts a couple of times so I didn't have to wash.  But normally I wouldn't and would wash clothes.  I usually have a hat of some kind to keep the sun out of my eyes.  I wear glasses and have a hard time without a hat or sunglasses.  I carried a puffy jacket that packs down small and a fleece type of sweater.  I took gloves, a wool cap, and a neck scarf that I never used on this trip but always goes with me even in summer camping when it gets chilly at night.  I also had a rain coat that I think I used once.  I took one pair of comfortable hiking shoes that I already have broken in well with good inserts in them.  I had no foot problems at all, and we walked 50 miles that week.

_MSP2507_Luminar2018-edit_Luminar2018-edit_MSP2507_Luminar2018-edit_Luminar2018-edit Now my computer that I took I discussed in detail in an earlier blog, the 13-inch MacBook Air.  I took a 250gb SSD drive with me that I put all of my photos on and my Lightroom catalog made special for the DC trip that I merged into my large catalog when I got home.  I had cables and chargers for all of my gadgets like phone, camera batteries, external battery (to charge my phone while out and about), and of course a laptop.  I took a little surge protector plug so I could plug all of my things in without taking up all of the sockets in the room I was in (I had roommates that had a lot of electronics also).  I took enough SD cards for every day and changed out daily so the SD card was one copy of my photos.  My daily routine after shooting all day when I would get back was first of all to start charging all of my batteries.  I had the ability to charge three at a time (mirrorless uses lots of batteries).  Next, I would pull my SD card out and refresh with a new one, download to an external SSD drive photos of the day from an SD card, put the SD card in safe place (card holder), and at night when I slept I would charge up external battery and phone.  While we were out shooting, I would plug in my laptop and let that charge so when we got back to house I wouldn't have to have a cord hooked to my computer.  When I traveled on the train I had enough room in my backpack to hold my computer so it was safe place with me not in my checked luggage. I didn't have any issues with electronics.

So these are some of my thoughts on how I packed for my DC trip.  Have fun and keep shooting!

 


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