Feb 7, 2014

Artifacts in my bag

I always find what a photographer uses interesting. I used to be one of those who would carry around about 50 pounds more gear than was ever possibly needed. But now I'm older, hopefully smarter, and with a far more sensitive back and have paired down quite a bit. 
There are a number of sites that feature "what's in your bag?" My favorite is one on the National Geographic's photo blog, called Artifacts, where photographers decide and arrange what there most important stuff is and talk about it. So this is my take on that.

I have a number of camera bags, all essentially the same, in various states of disrepair. I've used Domke brand bags ever since 1994, and prefer the satchel style ones, do to their size. I keep different camera systems in each one — Leica, Canon, Polaroid.
Here are my items:

1. Hat — Being follicley-impaired, I always have one type of hat or another with me.

2. Leica — This is an M8 digital rangefinder mounted with a 35mm F2 lens. I would guess that 85% of the photos I make are with either a 35 or a 50mm lens. This is the camera I use to street shoot, as well as on assignments often.

3. Bicentennial 50 cent piece — I don't know when I got this, but a few years ago when I was playing golf regularly I'd use it as a ball marker. Somehow it keeps ending up in my pocket, which is good because it bears the profile of President Kennedy. One of my favorite quotes came from Kennedy. When talking about the space program he said "We do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." I feel like that kind of defines my life sometimes.

4. Flash w/cord — I have a couple of old flashes that I use sometimes, sparingly, often with an warming gel and sometimes with an off-camera cord.

5. Mints — I always have some with me. I like the tiny tins of Altoids best as they are strong and fit easily in a pocket. Good for a dry mouth or before talking to people.

6. Medicated lip balm — Chapped lips are a way of life at the beach.

7. Small leather-bound notebook — I love these, even though I don't use them as much as I used to. I keep thinking that I'm going to keep a journal of some kind, but then again, that's kind of what this blog is about too, right? I also like the fine-tip black Sharpie pens.

8. Polaroid 103 Land camera — This is a 50-year-old instant film camera. It's made almost entirely of plastic (including the lens), it takes an odd battery and it was recently announced that the film it uses has  been discontinued. But I love it, it makes great looking pictures — like the portraits on last week's sports page.

9. Kopiko — The best little coffee candies that I get with my lunch at the Thai restaurant in town.

10. Gaffer's tape — It sticks to everything and you can peel it off and reuse it over and over. Invaluable.

11. iPhone 4s — Speaking of invaluable, this thing does so much for me. It's a camera, a GPS, a light meter, a tape recorder, a notebook, a datebook, a database, what else? Oh yeah, you can make phone calls on it too...

12. Crunchy granola bar — Always good to have some kind of snack with you.

13. Canon 5D mkII — With the 135mm f2 mounted it becomes my go-to portrait camera a lot. That lens is one of the finest I've ever used and is very versatile, as I also use it as my long lens for sports assignments often. When shooting set portraits I'll often set this on a tripod and use the Canon cable release so I can look at people after pre-focusing the camera.


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