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dave_photog

David's Backpacking Photography Gear

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The following images show my current as of September 2006 backpacking photography gear. These first two images are of the same items from different directions. These are all the small items with their containers in back like the fanny pack. The cases are all empty. Heaviest are the Fidelity film holders which each weigh 6.6 ounces including two sheets of loaded film. I usually bring 6 holders backpacking though at times have brought as many as 8. Each holder holds two sheets of film so with the former I could expose as many as 12 sheets during a session. Unloading all film holders and reloading another 12 might take 15 to 20 minutes. While shooting, I wear a small fanny pack in front. The headlamp is a Princeton Tek Yukon HL which is one of the brightest LED headlamps. Since I sometimes am out at dawn, dusk, or night hiking, I need a strong light. The LED lights have high efficiency thus last far longer than incandescent. My digital exposure meter is a Shepherd Polaris Dual 5 which has a 5 degree spot sensor in addition to an ambient sensor. I use ambient most of the time.

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The third image is my camera and lenses. I use 2 ounce cardboard boxes to protect my lenses mounted on lens boards. They cost less than a dollar each and because of the way they are oriented at the top of my daypack simply do not get bumped or squeezed. The larger box, an 11 ounce container, is another cheap cardboard shipping box with some wood reinforcements that houses my camera shown here folded up. A lens must be removed from the front standard before folding the camera. To use my wide angle 90mm lens, I need to use a bag bellows that is normally on the camera and here is within. The standard accordian bellows is required for the 300mm lens while the 150mm can use either bellows. I replace the box every few trips as corners do tend to get crushed. I'm still looking for a lightweight off the shelf plastic container of the right size of 10x10x6 inches. The extra bellows goes atop the camera in the box and then the dark cloth atop that. I made a custom dark cloth from black lycra bike shorts because its snug and dark. The tubes are for breathing in cold conditions so my reading glasses or the groundglass doesn't fog. Also the little round case is a nose clip for the same. I enjoy shooting wildflowers with my 7mp Coolpix digital camera for which the Litedisc reflector is very useful.

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The fourth image shows my partly disassembled tripod, kneepad, and changebag box and film containers. The Gitzo G1318 center column and ball head have been removed. To shave off a few ounces, I sometimes I bring just a plug instead of the center column. My ball head has been a real lemon and I will be replacing it. The changebag and film all go in the white box snugly. One box holds 50 sheets. I've used Quickloads in the past though now have got a handle on how to deal with the much cheaper though more problematic sheet film.

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And the last image is my camera daypack, a Black Diamond L40 Stone daypack, which holds about 2200 cubic inches, marketed for climbers weighing 3.1 pounds. I've added features to hold my water bottle and tripod. I began serious photography while backpacking in 1980. During that decade I shot 35mm and had a rather lot of gear for that small format so used a daypack that I customized to piggyback via Quickreleases on my regular Lowe Holoflex backpack. When I went to 6x7 I did the same thing as I do here with the view camera gear. Accordingly my backpack hangs quite a ways out behind me. And it is heavy so I end up leaning forward to balance.

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My daypack has space at the top for a little additional gear such as extra clothing and food. With my water bottle added, the weight I'm carrying about while dayhiking about is almost always over 30 pounds or as much as many people carry when backpacking with their camping gear. Of course I add that weight to my backpack containing my camping gear which brings my pack weight usually in the 65 to 75 pound range. I could shave a couple pounds by getting a lighter tripod, however I really like the big Gitzo so bare with it. Note I am just 5''6" and 133 pounds. At the limit of what I can do with this huge burden, this summer on one of my trips my brother and I climbed up 3000 feet to camp at 12,100 feet. Most days I prefer to keep the pain under 5 miles and 2000 feet. ...David

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Summary of weights: empty daypack 3.1 daypack contents 16.0 tripod 6.5 change bag film container 2.1 total photography gear weight 27.8 ==================================== empty daypack 3.1 tripod 6.5 change bag film container 2.1 camera/lens only w/o cases 7.8 film holders/case 2.7 7900 Coolpix/accessories 0.6 all other items 5.1 total 27.9