On The Road to Oz: What’s in the Bag?

During the last week of May and the first week of June, 2013 I will be one of the instructors on aPODAS workshop aboard a ship in the Kimberleyregion of north western Australia. PODAS workshops are run byPhase One, and organized byKevin Raber. Other instructors on this trip areArt WolfeandChristian Fletcher.

You may have read recently thatKevin has joined The Luminous Landscapeas our Publisher. How does this all fit together? The answer is simple. Kevin asked me to teach on this workshop more than a year ago. Though he is now with LuLa he still has several PODAS workshops scheduled during the balance of 2013 and he will be completing those responsabilites.


What Gear, and How to Carry it?

Phase One / Alpa

Alpa STC with Phase One IQ180 back and zoom optical viewfinder

Photographers are always interested in what’s in other photographer’s equipment bags, and how does one get to the other side of the world with all ones gear safely and securely? Issues to consider are the type of shooting to be done, the type of locations, and the exigencies of international as well as local travel.

There are at least three major parts to this trip and workshop, and so different equipment is needed. Though the workshop aboard theTrue Northis just one week, in addition to the long flights there and back I’ll be spending two days inSydneyand two days onBroome, with lots of opportunity for street shooting and playing tourist.

Because this is a Phase One workshop naturally I’ll be working with myIQ180 MF back mounted on anAlpa STC.  The two lenses that I own for this system are the Schneider APO-Digitar f/5.6 43mm and the APO-Digitar f/5.6 120mm N. I’ll be borrowing a 23mm as well, though I rarely shoot untra-wide. These first two are roughly equivalent to 28mm and 90mm in full-frame DSLR terms. The body, back and both lenses, along with batteries for the back, a Leica laser rangefinder and a light meter all fit within a small backpack. It’s likely the smallest, lightest, ultra-high resolution system possible and suits my needs for landscape work perfectly.

My tripod is a heavy-duty Really Right Stuff TVC-34L together  wi th  an ARCA Swiss C-Cube head. A perfect match for rigidity and precision with the Alpa and Phase Back.


Fuji X-Pro 1

But the Alpa and IQ180 aren’t the right gear for street shooting, tourism or (particularly with these two lenses) for when very wide or very long lenses are needed. For this application my current favourite is theFuji X-Pro 1, and 18-55mm, 50-200mm XR zooms, along with the Fuji XR 14mm and 35mm lenses. Two last minute additions will be review samples of the newZeiss 12mm f/2.8, and 32mm f/1.8 lensesin XR mount, kindly loaned to us for review by Zeiss USA. Kevin and I will be testing these along with the also not-yet-shippingFuji 50-200mm lens, and will have reviews of all of these here not long after we return.

This body and lens kit similarly fits in a small backpack.


The Bag Issue

But, unfortunately, there’s more. Of course I need to bring my laptop, (15″ MacBook Pro Retina), a couple of hard drives, and various cables and adaptors, along with the usual travel items like medication, sunglasses, wallet, smart phone, Kindle reader, etc. All of this goes in  a Chobe bag by Gura Gear. 

Of course I also need to bring clothes. These will go in a rolling duffel bag.

My main camera bag is a Thinktank Photo. It’s an older model rolling bag, useless for shooting from, but it’s the largest that will fit in an overhead cabin bin. It’s heavy when fully loaded, but if I get hassled at check-in it can be locked and checked. It’s strong enough to stand up to baggage handling. The Chobe bag also slips over the retractable pull handle of the Thinktank, so rolling though airports has no shoulder strain.

For shooting I have a sling bag for urban use and a no-name canvas camera back-pack. Both are soft and pack nicely in my duffel, and then on location can be loaded with what’s needed for a day’s outing.

So there we are, a rolling case case, a large soft-sided computer bag, and one checked duffel bag. Just the right combination to travel to the other side of the world and to do a wide range of shooting for a couple of weeks.


One More Thing

Because we’ll be doing a lot of shooting in, on and around the ocean and rivers, at the last minute I picked up aPanasonic TS5, a so-called rugged, waterproof camera. I’m not sure if I’ll end up reporting on it here, but a couple of days of testing above water (and in a local stream) shows it to perform admirably for a camera of its small size and low cost. Now, where are the waterfalls?

May, 2013