Posted By: Rachid
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Categories: Gear • General • Photography
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 backpacks 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!
Looking down the Chicago River at the Trump Tower
This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the Windy City for a family wedding. My wife and I spent the weekend enjoying the festivities and hanging out with family and friends. On Monday my wife had a business meeting scheduled in the city, giving me a free day to explore and photograph. There were numerous shooting possibilities available, but with limited time I really had to narrow down a good “hit list.”
As with all of my photography, I believe scouting locations (if you can) is one of the most important aspects of creating compelling imagery. Personally, I like to scout in the middle of the day when the light is less than pleasing so I can really take my time coming up with good possible angles and compositions. This was the approach I took on this trip to Chicago and it paid off.
Over the weekend in between wedding festivities, armed with only my phone for a camera, my wife and I visited several of the locations I was interested in photographing. They included: The Cloud Gate Sculpture (known informally as “The Bean”) in Millennium Park, several skyline views from the Adler Planetarium, and different views of downtown along the Chicago River. Since it was my first time photographing Chicago I wanted to start with what I felt were the defining shots of the city. After taking a look at the locations, I decided that everything should be shot from several hours before sunset into the night to achieve the imagery I was looking for.
I took a leisurely day early Monday and in the late afternoon hopped a cab down to The Bean in Millennium Park to kick things off. After shooting The Bean I walked all over downtown for about five hours until I was satisfied with the results.
The shot I was the most excited about was of the Cloud Gate Sculpture in Millennium Park. I don’t normally shoot landscapes or cityscapes with a fisheye lens but I had an idea with The Bean that I wanted to explore. I thought it would be interesting to bend the city around The Bean using a fisheye complimenting the effect that The Bean is so well known for. I figured since The Bean has been bending the Chicago skyline for so long, perhaps it was time to return the favor.
Below is my favorite frame from the shoot.
The Chicago skyline bends around The Bean at night in Millennium Park
Here are a few more of my favorite frames from my night shoot in the city. Thanks Chicago, I’ll be back!
A sculpture in front of the Adler Planetarium frames the Chicago skyline
A person takes a picture of their reflection at night underneath The Bean in Millennium Park
The Chicago skyline is reflected in The Bean in Millennium Park
Over the summer I had the pleasure of working with my good friend and colleague Trevor Clark on a spectacular project in the Yukon Territory in Northern Canada. Our assignment was to create a short film highlighting the unbelievable mountain biking in and around the city of Whitehorse, YK. Our client, H and I Adventures (based in Scotland), offers mountain bike tours all over the world to destinations such as Nepal, Ecuador, Mexico and Spain. They are adding the Yukon to their unbelievable list of destinations and needed a short film to tell their story. We had 10 days to scout and shoot the project.
This video is an especially important step for Trevor and I as we plan to work together a lot more in the future. We also had the pleasure of working with our friend and up-and-comer Tommy Penick on the back end for the edit. Tommy has a big future ahead of him and did an amazing job constructing the piece from a monumental amount of footage.
We would like to thank:
Sylvain Turcotte and Marsha Cameron of Boreale Mountain Biking – for showing us all of their secret stashes and unbelievable backyard that they call home
Lowepro - for their support and giving us the just-now-released Rover Pro bags that made carrying 50 pounds of video gear on a mountain bike as comfortable as it can be
Canyon Florey - for the use of a prototype of his ultra-lite camera crane that added a whole new level of production to the project