"Fall In Shenandoah"
It doesn't get much better than photographing in the fall colors of Shenandoah National Park. I just recently returned from a week long trip shooting in and around the park and it was a blast! The colors were popping and the light was incredible. As with all of the national parks, it is easy to see why this land was set aside for all to enjoy.
Several weeks before my trip I was worried that I wouldn't get to shoot in this amazing countryside. The government was shut down and the powers that be in Washington were all acting like spoiled little children at a playground. Luckily, about a week before my trip they managed to reach an agreement and reopen all of the parks. Our national parks are one of the things that makes the United States such an amazing country to live in. Even though I have no doubt the problems and disagreements with our nation's leaders will continue, for now I am just happy to enjoy our national parks again in this beautiful country that I am lucky enough to call home.
Over a week into my trek across the Sierra High Route, I crested a ridge in Bear Lakes Basin and looked upon one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen to date. I stood there with one of my best friends and backpacking partner Sean Cronin in complete awe. We hung out on the ridge for about an hour while I shot frame after frame of the scene as the light and clouds continually reshaped the landscape. After a hundred or so frames we had to pack up and head on our way to camp for the night.
While shooting the series of images I knew I had something special in the camera. Once I returned back to my studio I carefully selected my favorite frame from the series and processed it out to the image you see above. I was drawn to this particular frame because of the way the light splashed sporadically off of the landscape creating a surreal effect. I also loved how Ursa Lake (on the left) had a dark moody feel to it and Big Bear Lake (on the right) had a more inviting look. The juxtaposition of the two coupled with the light and clouds really brings the whole scene together.
Over the years this image has sold countless times to a variety of clients. Yesterday it was purchased by Microsoft for the cover of the Bing homepage. Of all the purchases and exposure this image has seen, I think the placement on the Bing homepage might be the most flattering. In the course of one day this image was viewed by millions of people, making it one of the most viewed images on the web that day. That's more exposure than any magazine or traditional print media could ever give these days. Thanks Microsoft! If you need any more work, you know where to find me
Avery is less picky about which pack I use. All he knows is if a pack comes out there is a good chance that he is headed into the mountains for an adventure!
My wife walked into my office the other day as I was packing for a shoot. I was in the midst of picking out which camera bag I was going to use and I had seven bags strewn out on the floor. She looked around, laughed and said, “Holy crap Rachid, do you really need all of those bags?! Seems a little excessive don’t you think?!” At first glance it was pretty funny but I began explaining to her why I had all of the different bags and what each one was for. After expressing my reasoning she seemed a bit more receptive to the whole situation and how important having the right bag for a job can be. That scenario got me thinking and, in turn, prompted this short article on the subject.
There are lots of important elements to photography: the camera, the lens, the location, the subject and the light. One thing I find equally important is the bag I use to transport everything. Every shoot is different, requiring a diverse amount of gear. Thus, the bag I choose to carry and organize everything has to be nothing short of awesome.
In my world I am constantly traveling, hiking, climbing or biking my way to different shooting locations and I need a bag best suited for the occasion. Sometimes I am just carrying one camera body and a couple lenses. Other times I am carrying multiple camera bodies, multiple lenses, flash setups and possibly even a video rig.
The common ritual before every shoot I undertake is to layout all of the necessary gear I anticipate needing. Aside from camera gear this also includes personal gear. Will I be traveling into the backcountry or the frontcountry? How much water will I need? Am I bringing food and, if so, how much? How many clothing layers will I need? Once I’ve got that figured out it’s time to pick the bag that is best suited for the job. My main goal is to pick the bag that will be just large enough to carry and organize everything without any wasted/empty space. That means things will stay snug on my back. If things are loose and slopping around, I will surely be miserable and not be able to focus on the task at hand, which is making killer content.
Personally I trust Lowepro with all of my camera bag needs. Over the years they have continually produced one great product after another and now I have been lucky enough to start giving my personal input into the future of their camera bag lines. One of the biggest leaps forward they have made is taking traditional backpack designs and integrating them into successful camera packs. This has been accomplished by taking the design of a pack that I would take on a normal day out and integrating key carrying features for all of the necessary camera gear. These packs, like the Photo Sport line, the Flipside Sport line and the Rover Pro line are, in short, game changers.
Additionally, the traditional camera bags still have their place. Traveling in planes, trains and automobiles presents a whole new set of problems. Many of these modes of transportation involve people other than myself handling my luggage. In these scenarios I need a bag that is padded and protected enough to withstand the shock of a disgruntled airline employee hurling one bag after the next onto the conveyer belt. For these circumstances I rely on the Pro Roller x200 and the Vertex 200 AW.
Here is a quick breakdown of the bags I own and what I use them for:
Lowepro Photo Sport AW – This bag is great for one day scenarios carrying one camera body, an extra lens, a small set of filters, cable release, a tripod and personal gear
Lowepro Photo Sport Pro – This bag is great for one day scenarios carrying one pro-sized camera body (Nikon D4), an extra lens, a small set of filters, cable release, a tripod and personal gear
Lowepro Rover Pro 45L AW – This is my bag of choice for one day or multiday scenarios requiring a lot of camera and personal gear. This includes short overnight backpacking trips.
Lowerpro Flipside Sport 20L AW – This is my bag of choice for one day scenarios where I need a lot of camera gear but limited personal gear. I love this bag for shooting commercial ski resort work.
Lowepro Pro Roller x200 – This is the ultimate bag for traveling in planes, trains and automobiles. It has a ton of room for gear, extra padding to keep everything safe and meets airline carry-on bag size requirements.
Lowepro Vertex 200 AW – This is my go to bag for traveling if I need the convenience of a backpack rather than a traditional roller bag like the Pro Roller x200.
Lowepro Flipside 400 AW – I still use this bag, just not as often as I used to. The Flipside Sport 20L has put this old workhorse on the back burner. I do however still find myself filling it up as an extra bag for my assistant for certain commercial assignments.
The scenario you are shooting will always dictate which bag is right for you. In my world, having a good selection of camera bags is essential to my success on a shoot. Every bag is different and has its advantages for certain situations. Which bag or bags are right for you? Well, only you can be the judge of that. Look at your gear and imagine where in the world your photography will take you and what you will need to make that killer content of your own. Therein lies the answer. Happy shooting!
Last fall I got a call from Lowepro asking me to shoot a commercial for a new bag they were introducing, The Photo Sport Pro 30L AW. I said "sure no problem, I can shoot that for you." They said "no, you don't have to shoot anything, we want you to be the featured photographer that introduces the bag." "Oh", I said, "well I better get a shave and haircut, ha! " Well, the bag released last week and the video above is my "Testimonial Video" on the bag. A big thanks to Josh Semolik, Canyon Florey and Lite Pro Gear for all of the great shots and making me look as good as I can. Also a big thanks to Cat Keenan and Nina for coming out and modeling for the shoots! You guys rock!
Oh, and the Photo Sport Pro is sick! Get yours at www.lowepro.com/photosport
Reno Skyline - Nikon D800e, Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 lens - ISO 100 f/8 6 seconds
The Nikon D800e is my newest camera and it is a game changer. The resolution is absolutely incredible and is comparable to a much more expensive medium format body. Image quality and resolution was not available at this price point until now. For photographers looking to make extremely large prints and shoot high end commercial work this is the camera for you. That said, if you don’t plan on using the files for those purposes I would recommend saving some cash, getting a camera with less resolution and putting that money into lenses or some other purchase you have been holding back on. The files are much larger than most people have worked with in the past and you need a computer that can keep up as well.
Also, if you are considering this camera for purchase do your homework on the D800 vs the D800e. The D800e differs from the D800 in that it lacks the anti-aliasing filter found on all DSLRs. By removing the filter your images will be slightly sharper. The negative effect this has on images is the possibility of color moiré appearing. Moiré can be dealt with in a number of ways but it is worth researching the subject thoroughly before you commit to buying the D800e. For me the benefits outweigh the negatives, hence why I chose the D800e.
For my test of the D800e I took it up to photograph some stock of the Reno skyline near my home in Lake Tahoe. Arriving just before dusk I set up my shot and waited for the city lights to turn on. Once the light was right I knocked off a couple frames. When I reviewed them I was blown away. Hitting the zoom button I scrutinized the smallest areas of each image and the detail was astounding! Below is a 100% crop of the image above. Detail and sharpness of this quality has never been available in a DSLR, until now.
The detail in the files is pretty insane. Wow!
For me I will now shoot all of my landscape and commercial work (that doesn’t require a high shutter speed) with the D800e until Nikon raises the bar again on their next generation of cameras (yet to be released). I am also really excited to start playing around with the video features on the D800e. One of the video features I’m most excited about is the ability to monitor sound directly through the camera. That is going to make collecting and monitoring good sound a much easier task in the field.
As with any new gizmo, the camera is only as good and creative as its operator. Always remember to make sure you understand the technical aspects of photography but not rely on them solely. Creativity will always be king in the photo world no matter what fancy gadgets come out. However, if you can combine your creativity with a tool like the D800e the results will be astounding! Happy shooting!