Four days, one lens.

I've always manged to pack light in my travels since I first started moving about the country.  Even when my travels started taking me across the world, I've managed to get around with only a 22" carry on and a messenger bag to almost every continent (Antarctica yet to go!). However, when it comes to photography I'm often inclined to bring everything I own.  And I mean everything.  Tripod(s), extra camera bodies, lots of lenses, filters, chargers, diffusers, light stands, flashes, batteries, backup to the backup memory get the idea.  When shooting a project for a client, this kind of preparation is usually necessary.  The trouble is when traveling for leisure, most of this stuff becomes a burden especially when traveling by air.  My brother and I recently flew our dad out to Montana to celebrate his 60th birthday for a few days of fishing just with the boys.  Along with my fly fishing gear of course I was going to bring along some photographic goodies.  So in the spirit of packing light, this is what I brought along:

  • Nikon D300 body
  • Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 lens
  • Zipshot tripod (really light & small)
  • Extra battery & charger
  • 2 CF memory cards
  • Lenspen for cleaning
  • Neutral density filter & polarizer (62mm)
  • Dry bag (for the camera while on/in the river)

That's it!  I wanted to challenge myself to use a single lens in a variety of conditions and something like the Sigma 18-200 allows me to do just that.  Of course, with lenses of this nature there are drawbacks that you must be willing to trade off.  It isn't as tack sharp as say my 70-200mm f/2.8 and the aperture varies with the focal length.  So at 200mm you are certainly not going to get f/3.5 out of this lens.  That said, it's a still an excellent compact option without worrying about changing lenses while standing in a rushing river!

In the end, it was a wonderful four days of fishing with my dad & bro.  Good beers, good meals and great story telling all around!  I was glad I brought along just the one lens and will do so on future trips when packing light is essential.  Hope you enjoy the pics, my wife and I will be heading down a little closer the equator this week with the same basic setup and hope to bring back some great shots.  Stay tuned for another post soon concentrating on the specifics of packing light and the gear itself.

The Best Camera?

There is an old adage in photography that goes, "the best camera is the one you have with you".  I happen to fully agree.  Not that I want to shoot with a 'lesser' camera all the time, but sometimes the one you happen to have with you will have to do.  Over the last few years, like many of you out there, my cell phone has been equipped with a camera.  Mine happens to be an Apple iPhone, which has enjoyed ever increasing camera quality and usefulness via handy apps as each new model comes out.

Fishin' with the Mrs. [Apple iPhone 4]

And handy it has been!  Admittedly some of my favorite captures have come from my iPhone.  Of course I wish I would have had one of my Nikon SLRs for these moments, but alas it wasn't so.  Does that mean its a bad picture or I shouldn't take it?  Heck no!  Sure, I can't blow it up for a large print but a picture is a picture.  If you happen to catch a timeless moment with your camera phone, better captured than not I say.

Over the last few years I have indeed captured a great many fine shots and have begun to assemble them in a new project.  Many of which can be found here in my newest online gallery.  Click here to see the full gallery!

So next time you see a great photo opportunity, don't pass it up!  Stop and snap that photo with whatever camera you have in hand.  Even if the quality is lower than you'd like, you'll still be glad you captured it.  With handy apps such as Camera+ for the iPhone, you can enhance your photos to your creative content.

Angry Cloud [Apple iPhone 4]

Stay tuned for more articles with an upcoming how-to for enhancing your cell phone shots and getting the most out of your advanced point & shoot camera.  In the meantime, don't let your lack of a 'better' camera keep you from snapping that shutter!