Sunday, 25 April 2010


I always plan carefully the photo equipment I’ll carry for a trip. I add or remove items depending on the story I have to photograph. In this case it was a trip to South Africa for nearly two weeks.
Two bodies Nikon, a D700 and D80. Is basic to carry two cameras; one can’t afford to have a problem and stay with nothing. As for the optics, I'm used to working with fixed optics and I take profit of the excellent and fast Nikkor lenses I used with film cameras: a 20 mm f: 2.8, 28 mm f: 2.8, 50 mm f: 1.8, 300 mm f: 4 and a zoom 17-80 f :3,5-4, 5 for the D80. I carried the 300 mm because I knew I would have the opportunity to photograph many wild animals, otherwise I would have opted for the 180mm f: 2.8. The D700 is a full frame camera, but with the D80 the 300mm becomes a fast, excellent and light 450 mm tele lens.

I sensed that I wasn’t going to need the tripod very much, and also, with the D700, I could work at very high ISOS without problem, but I took with me a very light Gitzo. I also added a monopod for the 300mm and a tripod table in case. A flash Nikon SB 800 with a cable to use the flash removed from the camera and an Apollo softbox. Polarizing filters, plugs and chargers and many memory cards from 2 to 4 gigabytes. I prefer to spread the risk and save them once filled. At the same time I was discharging them in an external hard drive Jobo of 40 Gigas, so I had the photos duplicated. And also batteries and a small cleaning kit.Does this weigh too much? Don’t you have back problems? Many people asked me. Before, with film cameras, I had to carry even more equipment: You needed a lot of film, a camera for black and white, other for shooting slides and another one for high Iso colour film or pushed slide film. (See what I took on my trip to China in 1979).
To transport all the equipment I use a bag instead of a backpack because I like to access fast to equipment and optics. I use another bags for the tripods that I don’t always carry. Whenever I can, I leave the bag of cameras on the floor although secured between my legs.
Besides, I try to be in good physical shape. Unlike a journalist that can write from the hotel or from the redaction, the photographer needs to get to the place where the images are, no matter how remote or difficult is. The mythical image of the foreign correspondent at the bar, along with a glass of whiskey and throwing clouds of smoke, (I know many like that) is much rarer in the case of the photographers. In addition, having good abs help you of not using so much the spine to carry the weight.
For this trip (I knew we were going to stay in good hotels) I took some sneakers and shorts. And yes, I could go to the gym in three different hotels. The most amazing and unexpected gym was in a lodge, in the middle of African forest, where I saw monkeys and impalas while running on the tape. Incredible!


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