As a photographer I’ve spent way too much time thinking about how to carry my gear, 40 years actually. As a member of the Bag-of-the-Month Club, I’ve owned and tried literally hundreds of bags, slings, packs and rolling cases. I have some opinions, well founded, in trial and error. Please allow me to share some thoughts.
First: Decide how much you need, and
can carry. I have a three lens package
too the right. Nikkor 17-35 AFS f 2.8.
Nikkor 24-70 AFS f 2.8, and the
Nikkor 70-300 AFS VR. One body
usually the D700. A second body as
a back-up is stored away just in case,
but is not carried often. I’ve found
that I can do virtually 95% of my
shooting with this package. Of course
I own a large selection of other lenses
but most are collectors items or back
ups, or specialized lenses like the 200mm Micro Nikkor, and Nikkor 85mm f 1.4.
Second: Decide how you will be working. For general assignment work I carry the system above
it is my “go to” set of gear. I’ve found the easiest way to carry it is a Pro Speed Belt system by Think Tank shown at the top. It takes the weight of my shoulders, and after shoulder surgery that’s a good thing! It’s also very easy to work in the field with everything close at hand. If you have to move fast, which I seldom do anymore, all your gear is with you and not on the ground.
Third: If you have to carry more gear and
have the back health to do it, a back pack
is the way to go. The one I’m very partial
to is the Lowpro Mini-Trekker. I’ve used
these for many years and find them to be
just right to carry a body, four lenses and
some other accessories. Fully loaded it
still can be kept to around 20 pounds and
it has a good strap system and opens and
is easy to work out of. This pack and the
others shown in this blog are all from
very reputable bag makers. Lowepro,
Think Tank, and Maxpedition are all very
well made and I’ve virtually never had a
failure with any of these brands. I’m sure
there are lots of other good ones out there
but over the years these three brands
have proven to be the top of the mark for
quality of materials, and construction.
They are also some of the most thoughtful
designs that really work in the real world.
That really matters…….
Fourth: When doing travel photography the rules change, the name of the game here is don’t
carry anymore weight that you really need to. Travel should be fun and taking too much gear
and trying to carry too much weight will ruin the experience.
While on a trip to Disney
World with my family
I met a man on one of
the shuttle buses using
a very interesting bag.
We started talking and
it turned out he was
a dealer for Maxpedition
bags. They are a
of Military spec bags
that have been adopt-
ed by hunters and the
This bag, the Maxpedition
Jumbo Versipack, is
actually designed to carry
a 9mm pistol and water bottle and other items. Mine is the S-Type (left side carry) The water bottle holder, holds by 70-300 perfectly and the D90 with the Nikkor 16-85 AFS VR lens fits perfectly in the main compartment, which by-the-way is very water resistant, (Those two lenses give me continuous coverage from 24mm to 450mm.) Numerous pockets are perfect for extra batteries, cable release, and other important accessories. The construction is military tough, and the build quality second to none. The cost is very reasonable, considering what you get, the bag above with all the extra attachments was around $160. Best of all it is the most comfortable across the shoulder bag I’ve ever carried. Just for the record, my other two favorite shoulder bags are the Think Tank Speed Racer and the Lowepro Stealth Reporter 400AW.
Fifth: Getting on an airplane is another story all together. To get through airports you need wheels and a bag that can withstand being placed in the pink tag section under the plane on smaller commuter jets! My two favorites are the Lowepro Pro Runner x450 AW (right) and the
Think Tank Airport
Security 2.0 (left).
Both are very well
designed and can
carry a lot of gear
with the help of
The Think Tank can
carry more but
gets heavier, so
they are both used
what kind of trip
it will be, and how
much I need to
carry. They can
both carry my go
to system plus a
laptop, hard drives,
cables, and lots of
So there it is, just because this is my system doesn’t mean you need to adopt it, but consider the methodology I follow as you make your own decisions about how to carry your gear. By the way, if your 30 years old and just love carrying a 80 lb, back pack, I can only say, I’m envious…….
The reason for all this concern about picking the right gear and packing it right, is to stop thinking about the gear and start thinking about, “PHOTOGRAPHY”………….
My prayer for you is that you will spend a weekend with your family and loved ones wrapped in their love. Whether you know it or not, you’re already wrapped in God’s love. His love for you,
and concern for your life is constant.
My bag wall, about half of my current bags, and this does not include 6 Pelican cases and 5 Lightware shipping cases and hundreds of pouches, and small gear containers……
It’s a madness, but it goes with the territory…………..
* Note: My Versipack is the left hand carry side, it usually comes right side, the link below show the S-Type (left hand carry). Mine is Khaki, many other colors are available.
* But remember, if you don’t want your gear stolen, try not to make the bag stand out too much.
*Photo note: Example shots above, all shot with a Nikon D3s at ISO 1,600. Lenses used; Nikkor 35mm f2 AF, 55mm AF Micro Nikkor, 50mm AFS G f1.4 lenses. Very early overcast, window light. All images shot at f16.
This entry was posted on Friday, August 6th, 2010 at 8:02 am
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If I were to explain how our lives go in stages, and I could only do that based on my own life experience, I would say this;
1. First, we are consumed with ourselves, our needs, our desires, our goals, and “our” satisfaction.
2. Second, at some point, we become more interested in others, but still maintain a pretty strong dose of self gratification.
3. Finally, we begin to realize that as much fun as it is to get what we want, the joy of sharing it with others is even greater! Unfortunately, self concern never goes away completely, but at this stage of life it is at least, subdued.
While I’m sure these changes are related to age and experience, I’m also pretty sure that they differ with each of us. The one thing I know for sure is when you start to really get into sharing
with others, it becomes is the best time of your life.
In October, Scott Kelby and I, and some other great friends, are doing a workshop out west for a group of photographers that will join us. I’ve been to the areas we will photograph at least twenty five times, so none of it will be new to me, but the joy of seeing the look on other’s faces when they experience this incredible place, will bring me more pleasure than I had the first time I was in awe standing in the same spots!
God grants us many joyful experiences in life, and then we get the joy of watching others feel that same since of wonder. The National Parks are some of our greatest natural treasures, and the ones we will visit during these two events are among the most spectacular of all. The image above is from the Paria Wilderness Area, just outside Page, Arizona. It is a magical place that few people ever discover. It is so much fun to take folks there and see how it affects them.
Remember, our mission is to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves…….
Philippians 2: 1-5
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Today would be a great day to jump to the next level of awareness of others………..
*Photo note: F100 Film camera, Velvia film, 80-200 f 2.8 AF lens. Paria Wilderness Area,
This entry was posted on Thursday, August 5th, 2010 at 7:07 am
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Three years ago I had a second bout with cancer. I’m fine, surgery did the trick, but after the surgery, during recovery I found that my blood count was low, anemia. The main symptom of
anemia is a need for ice. So for the past several years I have kept a good supply of ice wherever I happen to be. Now I’ve told you all that to relay the following story. My church has a large commercial ice maker. My pastor has kindly allowed me to get bags of ice from the machine to keep my cooler filled. I actually perform a service as it cycle the ice faster and keeps the system running better. Since I often need ice when the church is closed. They gave me a back door key so I could get ice when no one is there.
The other day I dropped by the church to get ice and found that the locks had been changed. The reason, fear of people getting into the church that have less than admirable intentions. Come to think of it everything has a lock on it, many people lock all their doors when they go to bed at
night. The message is we live in a world where people are not confident that they ad their possessions are not longer safe. What a shame.
I grew up in a small down way back in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. I don’t ever remember locking our house, or cars for that matter. People simply were not a threat. I could walk around my small town on any street, even the darkest ones and never have any fear. I sure wish we could still do that. I often ask when visiting a new city, how safe it may be to walk around in the evening.
What a shame that we would have to ask.
When I was growing up, almost everyone went to church, and those that didn’t would be quick to admit that they probably should be. If someone fixed your car, they saved the old parts and explained why they replaced them. If someone gave you the wrong change they would rush out of the store after you to return your change.
I once broke the glass in a neighbors screen door (something we don’t have anymore), and I knew before my father ever told me that I had to go, and admit I was the culprit, apologize and offer to pay for it’s repair. Some may be reading this and laughing at me, but this is what is missing from
our country today. We’ve lost concern for others, we’ve lost the need to do what is right, we’ve lost the importance of self reliance. Now I’m not saying everyone has, but far too many have.
We don’t try to figure out to solve problems, we wait to see what program the government will establish to solve our every problem.
It’s time for a wake up call, if you ever want to live in that world we once enjoyed, again, it’s starts with us. If we want our world to be like that, we have to be like that first. Can we change the world, probably not, but we can make our own little corner of it better……..
Father, I’m not sure how all of this works into your plan for us. I know that in heaven we will get it right. For now, if it is your will, show us how to turn the tide here, now. Amen
P.S. They are getting me a new key, hopefully I was not who they wanted to keep out…….
This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 at 11:23 am
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Since the theme for my last few posts have been family, this one is long over due. When I count my blessings, of which there are many, Sherelene is at the top of my list. God had blessed me with a wonderful partner, my best friend, and the love of my life. When I was looking around at family that assembled over the weekend I was thinking how it all started when two people fell in love. I often speak and show my images to big groups and I always mention that after 40 years of marriage we’re still madly in love. A lady asked Sherelene one evening “How after 40 years of marriage could you both be so much in love?” Sherelene respond, “Well he’s only been home 15 of the 40 years!”
I imagine that some of what has kept our relationship strong has been the long absences. However, I think the far more important factor is a few of things we learned early in our marriage. When going through a particularly rough time we were counseled by our Pastor and his words of advice have rung true for many years.
1. A marriage is not a 50-50 proposition, it’s a 100-100 arrangement. You have to be 100% committed to your partners needs, not 50%.
2. Love is a decision not a feeling. Many times you won’t feel like you;re in love, but you must decide that your commitment goes beyond the feelings of the moment.
3. Never go to bed angry. Resolve your differences before you sleep on them, even it only means that you agree that you strongly disagree, but still love and respect one another.
4. Never stop dating. Keeping a marriage strong means continuing to treat your spouse like you did when you were dating. If you are trying to win someone’s heart, you keep their heart by doing it the same way!
5. Learn to forgive and forget. It’s the example that Christ taught us, and it still is the best way…..
Forgiveness covers a multitude of sins.
1. Lastly, and most importantly, give your lives and your marriage over to Jesus and trust Him with your relationship and your own heart.
You may not need any of this “friendly” advice, but if you do, follow it with all your heart.
Photo note: D700 and the classic 85mm f1.4 AF Nikkor lens.