Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Location, location, location

Today starts a three week stint of out of town location work. Well, not 100%, but each week I'm going somewhere new shooting something for a few days. Gone are the extended travel assignments of times ago, at least for most of us. Regardless of the length of the trip, the challenges are still there because once you're out of the studio, you're away from most of your arsenal of equipment. So what do I take to keep things running smoothly? Here's a rundown of my travel gear:

• Nikon D700 bodies (two, one with the vertical grip for 8 fps)
• Nikon D300s body
• Nikon 17-35 f2.8 zoom
• Nikon 24-70 f2.8 zoom
• Nikon 70-200 f2.8 zoom
• Nikon 50 f1.4 G
• Nikon 85 f1.4
• Nikon 12-24 f/2 DX
• Nikon 70-300 f3.5
• Nikon TC-14 tele-converter
• Nikon SB-900 flash units (two)
• Nikon SB-26 flash unit (w/built in slave eye)
• Nikon Commander Unit
• Sandisk 16 gig CF cards (10)
• Sandisk 16 gig SDHC cards (2, as emergency back up)
• Sandisk 8 gig CF cards (8)
• Macintosh laptop w/external hard drives for backing up files

Along with this "basic" kit I also pack a Manfrotto mono-pod; Gitzo tripod; Honl flash grids, snoots, gels; Manfrotto light stands; mini softbox; shoot thru umbrellas and a few Cliff bars for on the go energy. Oh, and a couple of boxes of Starbucks instant coffee, too! Can't forget the coffee!!

This may sound like a lot to some people, but for me it's just the basic kit I feel comfortable carrying in order to be ready for anything a client may throw at me at any time. This kit also provides one more important element - back up. With multiple bodies available there is less chance for something going wrong. And by duplicating focal lengths you're covered no matter what happens. As a profession this is the ONLY way to work. The 12-24 lens covers basically the same angle of view as the 17-35. That's an important lens range for me hence the duplication. The 70-300 is my back up for the 70-200 for the same reason.

I carry a D300s as a third body rather than another D700 because the former has a DX sensor, hence all focal lengths are multiplied by a factor of 1.5. This is extremely useful when photographing sports - with the D300s and 70-200 combo I have an automatic 300mm f2.8 lens at a fraction of the weight! Add the 1.4 tele-converter and that makes it a 420 mm f4. Nikon glass will allow me to do this and create razor sharp images, my former system would not.

To transport all this stuff my lighting gear is packed into a Lightware 1440 case. Cameras travel in a ThinkTank roller. On site I'll move most of the camera gear into a shoulder bag for easier transport by my assistant. I'll carry two or three cameras with various lenses to work.

Now all we need is good weather!

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