The Better You Know, The More You’ll Go

Sunset over Salt Lake City, UT

How well do you know your surroundings? Your local stomping grounds, so to speak. Do you know what weather is most likely to produce good atmospheric conditions for scenic photography? Do you have locations picked out for just such a morning or evening? If the answer isn’t “yes” to all of the above, consider doing a little bit of homework as you drive to/from work, when you’re out on a hike, or even just walking the dog.

Just after helping my wife put the kids to bed last night, I looked outside to see…not much. However, there was a faint atmospheric glow, and I just had that feeling that something inspiring may come to pass. I had seen it before, and most importantly, I knew there was an approaching cold front. Pre-frontal days here in Salt Lake City seem to produce impressive sunsets more often than not.

So I grabbed my Clikelite Escape (already packed mind you!) and headed to a location on the foothills that I had scouted several weeks earlier. I was wearing flip flops. Worth pointing out, as the easier it is, the more likely we are to go get after it. This location was a mere 50 yards from a certain dead end road. Drive. Park. Hike for 30 seconds. Set up tripod. Click shutter. Enjoy nature’s light show. Pack up. Head home.

Pretty cut and dry. Lesson? The better acquainted you are with both your local shooting locations and the local weather nuances, the more likely you are to make a go of capturing some memorable imagery. Keep a mental list. Even better–write stuff down. Carry a little book and keep a list of places that would be good to shoot at sunset, sunrise, in storm light, in spring, in fall, in winter, etc. You’ll not regret it!

AdamBarkerPhotography Top 10 Gear List from Asia Workshop

The Bayon at Twilight, Angkor Thom, Cambodia

The Bayon at Twilight, Angkor Thom, Cambodia

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)

MGCC_swatch1_Ash1. 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.)

small_CLIK_Escape_gray2. 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!

warmpolinhand3. 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.

79495_4934. 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!

unnamed5. 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.

11009_0826. 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.

mbp7. 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.

chatingmail8. 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.

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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.

buystrip_ipad_2010022510. 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.