Sunday, August 05, 2012

GOING LIGHT(er)

Gear for upcoming Las Vegas conference assignment.
I'm just returning from an assignment and preparing for another in a few days. Three trips in three weeks, all requiring travel. The only thing I don't look forward to on these assignments is the journey itself, more specifically, moving lots equipment through airports, etc.

Let's face it, I'm getting older and carrying, or wheeling, several cases and bags is just not appealing. And when I arrive, am I using all the equipment I've lugged across the country?
So back to these three assignments.

I'll skip to the last one first which is why I'm writing about this. Due to travel restrictions during this assignment I will be limited to 50 pounds, including both photographic equipment and personal gear. So with that in mind, I decided to experiment and see how light I could go on the first two jobs, yet still be comfortable that I could fully cover the assignments.

On the trip I just completed, a still photo only job, I brought two bodies, three lenses and a flash. The trip was only three days, with two of those being travel, so I only needed minimal personal gear. I put a D700, 14-24mm, 70-200mm and a SB900 flash in ThinkTank pouches and then packed them in my carry on bag along with one change of clothes. The other body, a D3s with a 24-70mm, along with laptop, hard drive and cables, were carried in my briefcase. Pretty minimal for sure. The job was a success, however, I could have used my 10.5mm lens. Thought about packing it, but when trying to lighten the load, you have to make the cut somewhere, right? And that is the problem. There has to be compromise and while the 10.5mm would have been nice, it really wasn't necessary.

I leave tonight on another assignment, a conference in Las Vegas, and I am going to lighten up even further. I'm taking a D3s, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, a SB900 along with SU800, because I just don't like on-camera flash. There is also a possibility I will need (or want) to shoot some video so I'm also bringing a Zacuto Z-Finder DSLR optical viewfinder. But most significantly, I am going to leave the laptop at home and rely on my iPad to process and transmit imagery. This is something I've wanted to try for a while and I'm really looking forward to the challenge. Most of this gear will pack into a ThinkTank Change Up Belt Pack bag, so won't even need the briefcase.

Which brings me to the final assignment and the reason for this experiment in minimalism. Fifty pounds is not very much. and it doesn't help that this is the most challenging of the assignments. It is also primarily a video shot, so first decision I've made is to use with the D3s instead of a video camera. I've become more comfortable with using the D3s for video and since no interviews are required, I think this is best choice. The other decision was to leave the tripod at home and rely only on a monopod. Something I learned when covering FLIP, unless it is a perfectly calm ocean, using a tripod is all but impossible. I have some concerns, such as the five minute shooting limit on the D3s.

There is no doubt that I could probably go even lighter on at least two of these trips, but it's baby steps for now. Any suggestions are welcome and I look forward to updating along the way.

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