Having just spent nearly three weeks traveling across the world, I became very well acquainted with the gear I chose to take. Putting equipment through its paces on a consistent, daily basis really allows the cream to rise to the top. The standouts perform, and the rest gets tossed. Below is a list of the gear that was essential in capturing unique imagery while far away from home in a different climate and environment. Some were obvious producers from past experience, some were new found favorites! (all listings are linked for easy access–just roll over with your mouse cursor)
1. Mountain Khakis Granite Creek Convertible Pant. I typically steer clear of pant/short combos cause it seems like very few actually look moderately normal. Read: I feel goofy in them. Not so with the MK’s. Light and comfortable, these convertible pants are extremely functional, and look great too. My favorite part? Zippered pockets that keep your valuables safe (passport, wallet, memory card wallet, etc.)
2. Clikelite Escape Photo Pack. I spent nearly 17 days straight with a backpack on for at least 8 hours a day. Make no mistake, I’ve now reached “BFF” status with the Escape. It’s small enough to travel well, yet packs a load of gear and wears comfortably. It’s also super handy to open the entire pack, clam shell style with one pull on the dual zippers in hurried situations. Next year’s version has some small, but worthy improvements. Should be out soon!
3. Singh Ray LB Warming Polarizer. In a word? Indispensable. We were consistently shooting in wet or hazy conditions. The LB Warming Polarizer helped to take the sheen off of foliage or reflective tile or other materials. It also helped to cut down on the haze for longer lens shots. I can’t tell you how many times I reminded the photo tour attendees to put on their polarizing filters if they hadn’t already done so. It hardly ever leaves my lens.
4. Patagonia Men’s Drifter Gore Tex Hiker. Like the rest of the gear listed on here, I used these nearly all day every day on tour. In short, they were a bear and a fluffy pillow all at once. Handled the mileage with aplomb, and kept my feet happy and comfortable. Gore Tex is essential to keeping feet dry, and the capilene liner wicked moisture from the inside. Believe it or not, even in 100 degree heat for two weeks plus, my feet never felt sweaty. Sweet!
5. Lacie Rugged 500 GB Portable Hard Drive. These puppies travel with me everywhere. Tried and trusted, they are fast (Firewire 800) and reliable. I took two to Asia, partitioning one into two 250gb drives and having another as a second and separate backup.
6. Patagonia Capilene 1 Silkweight T-shirt. Light, well-fitting and incredibly comfortable. This shirt looks snazzy, wicks moisture extremely well and dries in a hurry. It also packs super well. Take a half dozen on your next hot weather journey–you won’t regret it.
7. 13″ Macbook Pro. Small enough to work on comfortably in tight spaces (read: airplane), fast and functional. I’m a Mac snob, but I can’t imagine anyone ever passing up this sexy beast. It’s the perfect companion for any photographer looking for the primo travel laptop. It should be noted that due to general color and accuracy discrepancies on laptop screens, I typically just edit on my laptops and do very minimal processing other than for blog posts or Facebook updates.
8. Google G-Chat Video Chat. What I can say? Even when on the road, I’m a bit of a home body. G Chat is super easy and quick–there’s nothing better than saying hello to my wife and boys to start the day off on the right foot.
9. Canon 5D MkII and 24-105mm 4.0L IS. A lethal combination in terms of image quality, usability and versatility. The full frame sensor and 21 mp output on the 5D MkII produces images unrivaled in the 35mm digital SLR realm (according to this photog). The 24-105mm is as good a one lens wonder as there ever was. Wide enough to be wide, and long enough to be moderately long, it is extremely sharp edge to edge, and the image stabilization is an added bonus.
10. iPad. It’s a life saver on long flights, bus rides and even longer layovers. It also works incredibly well as a visual aide when teaching to small groups. I used it repeatedly in the van on the way to different shooting locations, and even at dinner when reviewing the day’s teaching points, or discussing the next day’s photographic goals. I should also mention it’s a fantastic piece for showing your work quickly and efficiently.