Probably the coolest aspect of my job, aside from traveling the world, is the opportunity to document my trips with photos and video. Luckily for me, I’m really into photography. When I was in college, I got started taking photos of skiing and snowboarding. Then I began packing my DSLR on all of my trips and I’m absolutely sure that submitting photos from my adventures helped me land my current job. Now photography and videography are a large part of what I do and magazines like AFAR have featured my work. This year I've been on two work trips and I've decided to share a bit about my gear for the budding photographers out there. My first trip was 3 weeks of adventures in Southeast Asia and the most recent trip was a 3 week trip to Chile to attend the Adventure Travel World Summit. The following photo won the adventure photo contest at the Summit:
Enough about me, time to get to the nuts and bolts of what helps me take great photos while traveling. I’ve made a super detailed list of everything in my camera pack with some comments and tips below.
Mountainsmith Borealis: This pack is at the top of my list for several reasons. It is by far the best camera pack I have ever owned and I find myself loving it more every trip. Besides being extremely well-built, it holds a ton of gear including a laptop and remains comfortable even with a full load. Having a good camera pack is essential to enduring days or weeks of lugging your gear.
Canon 7D: An all-around awesome camera. I’ve owned this particular camera for almost 5 years and it continues to perform no matter what conditions I find myself in. If you’re looking for a new camera, the 7D has been out for a while so there might be better options these days. Quick facts: 18 megapixels, 8 fps, 19 AF points, ISO 100-12800,1920 x 1080 (Full HD).
Lenses: I currently pack three different lenses when I travel:
1. Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens: Although it doesn’t reach its full potential on the cropped sensor of the 7D, this is a great lens to have in your bag. Essential for portraits and landscapes, this lens is sure to capture all of the amazing views you find during your travels; however, with its small 17-40mm range, it definitely shouldn't be the only lens you own.
2. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II: This lens is very sharp and the image stabilization makes for crisp photos even at 400mm. It's such a nice piece of glass to have in your bag. Truth be told, I don’t own this lens, but I do rent it for big trips and I've been happy I did every time.
3. Canon EF ‑ 50mm ‑ F/1.8: They call this the nifty fifty for two reasons: first, for around $100 you can add this to your lens collection and second, it delivers very sharp images.
Lens hoods: They help block stray light from entering the lens and causing flare by striking the outer lens elements. They also do a good job of protecting the lens from weather conditions and damage if it gets dropped.
Lens hoods: They help block out light that is coming into the lens and causing flare by striking the outer lens elements. They also do a good job of protecting the lens from weather conditions and if you were to ever drop the lens.
UV filters and circular polarizers for lenses: Rocketfish and ProMaster filters.
2 extra camera batteries.
Vello BG-C4 Battery Grip and extra batteries for the battery pack: This one I don’t recommend; it’s great to have if you can't charge your batteries for a day or two, but I don’t get a ton of battery life out of it. Having to buy a bunch of batteries on a trip is such a pain and a lot of times they are harder to find than electricity to charge your batteries.
SanDisk Compact Flash Cards: 1 64Gb Extreme Pro 160 MB/s, 2 16Gb Extreme and 3 4GB Extreme III. It's very important to have at least one extra camera card as an emergency backup.
GoPro Hero3+ Silver Editions - SanDisk 64GB Extreme SD - a bunch GoPro accessories: I honestly don’t use my GoPro very often, but it is really nice to have on-hand. I’m not super impressed with the Hero3, but I’ve played around with the Hero4 and I really like it. The Hero4 is in another league with all of its features and the quality is incredible considering its compact size.
IKEA egg timer: Just in case you get hungry and need to cook an egg… just kidding! This is actually a very inexpensive, yet amazing device to make panning time-lapses with your GoPro. Simply mount your GoPro to the timer and start your time lapse. For under $5 this will take your time lapse photography to a whole new level! The following is a little clip of this setup in action in Patagonia with the Hero4 in 4K:.
Dual-Slot card reader: A good backup for uploading photos from the camera.
Seagate 1 TB Alternative hard drive: If you want to ensure your images make it home safely, you should back your files up on an alternative hard drive. Almost every night while I'm traveling, I upload my photos to my computer and back them up on another drive. I keep my alternative hard drive in a TPU Guide Waterproof Case by Sea to Summit and store it in a separate bag from my laptop.
Intervalometer: A camera attachment that operates the shutter regularly at set intervals over a period. This comes in handy if you want to do astrophotography or shoot a time-lapse video.
SLIK Pro 340DX Tripod: One of the best birthday gifts my Dad has given me! Compacts well, can handle rugged conditions and doesn’t add a ton of weight.
Glidecam HD 2000: A glidecam definitely isn’t going to be in your pack unless you're shooting video and need very steady footage. This is a great tool but is extremely time-consuming and frustrating to get balanced. It also adds a lot of weight to your pack. The upside is that if you nail a shot with the glidecam, it looks fantastic! I'm not yet a pro user of the glidecam, but I suggest watching one of the DevinSuperTramp videos on YouTube to see a glidecam in action.
A ton of lens wipes, cloth, paper and wet: You can never have enough and nothing is worse than having everything align for the perfect photo just to find that your lens is dirty or fogged. I use Tiffen lens cleaner paper and Hoodman Lens Cleanse Natural Enzyme Activated Lens Cleaning Kit.
A lens cleaning kit
OP/TECH USA 18" Rainsleeve: Just in case it rains and you don’t want to go inside.
Multitool: Always good to have one in your pack.
Petzl TIKKA® XP 180 lumens headlamp: If you find yourself out past dark, you'll be so thankful you have one! This is something I ALWAYS have in my pack, no matter what time of day I head out.
eVent Compression Dry Sack by Sea to Summit: When it rains, it pours! Having a good dry sack is a must for keeping your important gear dry. It also acts a separator if you have wet gear you need to store in your camera pack.
2 camera cords: To make sure you can import your photos.
15.4" MacBook Pro Retina: I wish I didn’t need to bring a laptop when traveling, but having a mechanism for backing up and sharing photos is just too important.
A small notebook to write notes: A really great habit to have is taking good notes about your location and activities.
Your friendly adventure photographer,
PS: Here's a little video I made from my time at the Elephant Conservation Center in Laos: Meet Noy Ann - The Baby Elephant
PSS: If you really love photos, check out Wildland on Instagram: @wildtravel