For a photographer who’s invested in an entire system whether you are a hobbyist, part time or full time pro it becomes difficult not to have your system with you whenever you shooting. Every so often, maybe even on a regular basis, it is good to simplify and go with the mentality that “less is more.”
I recently read another excellent PDF by Photoshelter titled: “Selling Nature Photography”. One of the shooters profiled, Martin Bailey, in his “Tips from the Field” sidebar, it reads in part: “keep your load light and you might increase your hours in the field.”
My backpacking trips force the issue of simplifying my equipment. Besides photography what I really like about backpacking is that is also simplifies life. At the start of a trip I’m always wondering if I can produce a compelling body of marketable images with just one lens and one strobe. After a few days of life simplified on the trail my senses sharpen up, I’m in tune with the light and I begin seeing more clearly and creatively. When this happens I begin feeling confident that I can make good images.
This latest trip to the North Cascades was put together by my good friend John Hoffer who’s been a long time resident of Washington State. We started at Harts Pass where it intersects the Pacific Crest Trail near 7000 feet and hiked 43 miles to Ross Lake at 1600 feet finishing at Ruby Creek Trailhead along Highway 20. Most of the time was spent in the Pasayten Wilderness. All but the last day was spent between 4500 and 7000 feet. I was amazed by the wildflowers still abundant in the first week of September. In addition to some sample images, here are the particulars on my camera outfit.
I take one body and lens, a Canon 24-70/2.8L. It’s a heavy sucker but I just love the image quality of the heavy L lenses. Yes there are times when I am frustrated, longing for a 100 macro, a 200, or my trusty 20mm. But I force myself to see how this one lens sees, staying within its limitations. The camera and lens, a polarizer, a 3-stop, hard edge ND grad filter, cable release, 4-16gb cards and lens cloth all fit in a Clik Elite chest pack that fits a pro body with 70-200. It comes with a harness and 4 clips that attach to a backpack. It rides nicely on the front of the pack and gives me easy access to my camera all day long. I take one strobe with off camera cord with a couple of gels that weigh next to nothing.
I have the lightest Gitzo carbon fiber tripod made with a Really Right Stuff B-30 head. On this trip, the sunset we had on Devil’s Dome with 360 degree views of the North Cascades was worth the anguish of carrying that extra 3lbs.