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Travel Photography Equipment – What To Pack?

travel-photography-gear.pngWhat photography gear should I pack when I’m traveling? Today Christina Dickson answers this question. Image by Dean Forbes.

It’s your first trip out of the country as a real “photographer”. Your clothing is packed. Your suitcase is at the door. Now there’s only one question:

What photography gear do you bring?

In 3 days I head off to Ecuador as a photographer for a philanthropic missions group. While there, I get to spend an exciting 23 days documenting the culture, the mission’s work, and the people of Ecuador.

My office looks like a war zone as equipment and essentials are spread out so you can hardly see the floor. One thing is for certain: I don’t want to forget anything. There’s nothing more disconcerting than traveling thousands of miles to a foreign country, only to discover that you left a vital piece of your photographic equipment.

My list of photography equipment should cover me through rain, through dark convention centers, and through the sandy beaches of the coast.

1. Photographers Bag

No tourist bags here. When you are traveling overseas for a photographic mission, you need to protect your gear with something durable, water resistant, and maintain accessibility through mountain regions and the city. My bags of choice vary between the Kata 9, and the Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home.

The Kata Rucksack is an amazing backpack. The main compartment has enough space for my Mark II N, 70-200 2.8 IS lens, 24-70, 2.8 lens, 50 1.8 lens, and two 580 EX speedlights, and a 250gig external hard drive. In the zipper top inside, I can keep my lens cloths and cleaner, my card reader, my extra cards, a USB hub, and any other small items I may need. Two zipper pockets on the outside hold my phone and ipod. Finally, the back holds a secret zipper compartment where I can keep my MacBookPro, charger and a book for the road.

When you don’t need to lug around a laptop and several speedlights, something like the Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home is the perfect “sling” solution. It holds my camera, all my lenses, and its zipper top holds all the little accessories such as lens cloths, card reader and extra cards. In the front pouch I can hold my wallet, passport, phone, and maps. This is all protected by a very durable Velcro patch and thick clasp over the front.

2. Shooter Bag

Let’s be realistic. How often will you want to pack around 40 pounds of equipment on the go? If you have a secure hotel room and decide to leave your laptop, flashes, and other gear, you’ll want to be sure to have a “Shooter Bag”. A shooter bag is simplistic in nature. When my camera is on my shoulder, I need a bag just large enough to hold essentials. I have a sling bag that is padded enough for an extra lens, and large enough to hold memory cards, my wallet, passport and map. This is the perfect solution for traveling around large crowds when a normal camera bag will either hurt or hit people.

3. Card Case

On the road it’s easy to loose little things like cards. Keep your 1, 2, and 4 gig Extreme Cards all together in a little protective case that can be thrown into a larger bag.

4. Cleaning Equipment

Lens cloths are critical for dust, sand, and dirt that appear on your lenses. A “puffer” will keep your mirrors and sensor spotless.

5. Card Reader

Need I say more?

6. 120 Gig External Hard drive

I recommend purchasing a new hard drive for your photographic trips. Depending on the duration of time you will be out of the country, you may want to purchase a 120-300 gig hard drive for secure photo storage. Seagate and WD Passport are very reliable hard drives. I own one 120 gig WD Passport, two 500 gig WD Passport, and a Terabyte WD Passport. I have had no problems with these hard drives even with my traveling in the past 3 years.

7. Zip Lock bags

Heading off to a wet or rainy location? Keep a couple spare gallon sized zip lock bats to hold lenses and your camera when you need to keep shooting in spite of the weather.

8. An LED light

Don’t want to pack multiple flashes? Try using an LED (light emitting device) for dark places. Secure the LED to the top of your camera. Depending on its power and range, you may be able to light up the majority of your scene when available light is less than conducive to shooting. (You will find these in the camping section of Wal-Mart or Target.)

9. A journalist pad

Let’s face it. When you travel around, you aren’t always remembering confirmation numbers, hotel addresses etc. Keep track of people, places, and random notes when you are on the go with a small, portable note pad that won’t take up a lot of space, and won’t get damaged in various weather conditions like an iphone or other media device.

10. A Travel Tripod

For those days when you want to catch a sunset over Venice, you won’t want to be without your tripod. And I have good news. Traveling with a heavy, bulky tripod is no longer painful. Try the Gorillapod Compact Mini Camera Flexible Travel Tripod.

Happy photographic travels!

What travel photography gear tips would you add to Christina’s list of travel photography gear?

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Christina N Dickson

Christina N Dickson is a visionary artist and philanthropist in Portland Oregon. Her work includes wedding photography www.BrideInspired.com and leadership with www.RevMediaBlog.com.

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