Here is a list of the camera equipment I typically carry on my shooting trips. I will admit to all of you that I am an equipment geek. But as I have gotten older certain parts of my physical being have complained. Plus I now believe that having too much stuff can actually hinder the process. Its not the camera that shoots the picture. Its you. Its your vision. The camera is just a tool. I had many instances where something was happening and I was fumbling in the bag for some lens or filter. No more. I have pared down what I take and what I take fits into my shooting vision. So here is whats in the bag.
Cameras I shoot with two bodies; a Nikon D3x and a Nikon D800E.
Lenses I carry a variety of lenses primarily aimed at the type of shooting I do. This includes a Tokina 16-28mm f2.8, a Nikkor 17-35mm f2.8, a Nikkor 28-70mm f2.8, and last but not least a Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8. I love the Tokina. It is super-wide and very sharp. But it has a pronounced front element and I cannot use it with filters. So if I need front element filters I will use the Nikkor 17-35.
Flash I have two SB-900 flash units with a variety of small soft box and snoot type attachments to modify the light.
Filters When I shot 4 x 5 I carried a host of filters to do things to the Velvia. With digital capture I have been able to simplify my filter kit. Here I have to editorialize again. I tend to shoot digital the same way I did with large format. That means I am fairly deliberate in my compostion, I really study my corners, I tend to feature important foreground elements, and I shoot to capture the image as it happens. I really don’t like to come back and spend a lot of time in the computer merging files. Yes I do do this on occasion but I prefer to try and capture in a single shot (with brackets of course). To that end I have a simple filter kit. I carry Singh-Ray 1, 2, 3, and 4-stop split neutral density filters. In addition I have a 4-stop reverse split neutral density for conditions where the horizon is bright but the sky and land are in balance. I also carry a 4-stop solid neutral density for slowing down my shutter for water, clouds etc. And I have a Heliopan Circular Warming Polarizer, and a B+W Kaseman Neutral Circular Polarizer. Thats it for filters folks.
When shooting I will either hold the filter in front of the lens when things are happening fast or I also have Hi-Tec filter holder that allow me to use the 4 x 6 neutral density filters or combine these with the polarizer.
Last But Not Least I use a Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod with an Induro 3-Way pan head. I don’t like ballheads. I have tried them and hate them (yes I know, editorial). I like the control the pan head gives me. I also have a bracket that allows me to quickly orient the camera from landscape to portrait. Both cameras utilize Really Right Stuff brackets to connect to the tripod. And lets not forget the electronic cable release. For CF Cards I carry Lexar and SanDisk in 8 and 16 gig capacity. All this goes into my old LowePro bag which just fits the overhead bin on the plane.
As far as software programs I use Adobe Lightroom for processing my RAW files and Photoshop for final finishing. I have a particular system for coding my images and everything is backed-up on terrabyte drives using an action back-up script. Back-up drives are kept off-site.
Final Comment All photographers will debate about the equipment they have, how they shoot, how they process, what their vision is, and the list goes on. I’m no different. If you ask I’ll give my 2-cents worth. There is so much out on the market today that your head can spin in trying to make a decision. Experience helps in some of this. Learning from your mistakes helps as well. The bottom line is you have to find equipment that works for what you want to shoot in the way you want to shoot it. Do you see who is in control here? Thats right. Magazines are full of ads trying to sell you something that will do wonders for your photographs. Don’t fall prey to this. In many ways, and this is only my opinion, photography is still fairly simple. See the light and capture it. To do so I need a camera, a good lens and an understanding of exposure. So, keep it simple. Have a good camera and a few choice lenses. And know your cameras controls forwards and backwards. Countless great photographers have shot incredible images with a single 50mm lens. Don’t complicate your life. And finally just do it. Get out and shoot.