What’s in the bag?
As I get ready for my 4th and my wife’s 3rd return trip to beautiful Big Bend National Park, I am of course planning on what camera gear I will be traveling with. Each piece of equipment has it’s purpose and thought went behind the selection of every piece. As if selecting specialized tools for a specialized purpose, this trip will require (at least in my mind…that’s all that matters, right?) different tools. Each trip brings about it’s own unique requirements and the high desert and mountain terrain of the upper Chihuahuan Desert presents it’s own unique set of requirements. As you may be aware, I don’t just shoot digital or film, but both (for a variety of reasons I won’t discuss here). So on to my selection and my methodology of madness in this selection.
Digital selection: This is simple, my canon 5dmkii (my primary digital body). This will be used for critical work, primarily sunrise and sunset when I have a specific purpose in mind. I imagine it will be used lightly. As a side thought, it will also be used for shooting HD video to document my trip. Lens selection for this setup includes a 17-40L, 24-105L, 70-200/2.8L and two primes consisting of the lowly 50/1.8 and the pancake 40/2.8 stm (a very fine lens I will have to blog about later). That’s it. A quite capable setup that could be used on it’s own the entire trip.
Film selection: I am bringing 3 camera bodies, each with a purpose. First up is the canon 7ne. This will be used as a backup for the 5dmkii (they both are EOS mount cameras) and I can share lenses between the two. I will also be shooting color with this setup, probably some Fuji Velvia (color slide film) as I am quite confident in the metering of modern canon’s and will need this confidence in shooting such a film with such limited dynamic range.
Next up is the Minolta xg-1. Now this may seem an odd selection. The xg-1 was a cheap, low end bodied compared to other Minolta bodies of the vintage. I have other Minolta backs and a far more capable srt102. Here is my reasoning though. We will be going into Mexico one day and I do not want to take a high end body. Secondly, this body is light and for 2 of our long day hikes planned, I want to keep weight to a minimum. I learned long ago carrying a full dslr setup for 10+ mile day hikes is not worth it. I end up not using the camera and wishing I left it back in the car. I also don’t like digital during harsh daylight hours. Add to this Minolta lenses are superb. Coming along for the ride is the 50/1.7 rokkor x, 35/2.8 rokkor, 28/2.8 celtic (the 28 and 50 are my hiking setup) and the vivitar 135/2.5 (a fine portrait/telephoto lens). I will be shooting color film primarily with this setup.
Included is a 1952 Leica IIIf with the Leica 50/2 summitar, canon 28/3.5 (w/ external viewfinder) and the canon serenar 50/1.8 (backup for the summitar). This setup is mighty compact and will probably go most places with me (short hikes, etc) and will be my black and white setup. These old leica and canon lenses draw particularly well with traditional B&W film. On harsh/bright days, I may use this for color as these lenses are light in the contrast department and give color a pastel look, cutting the contrasty (is that even a word?) harshness out of midday sun.
For film, I am bringing color and B&W. Why even bring film in the first place? Well, I will share. Daytime photography is not optimum. The first and last hours of the day are ideal for best light. However, I am on vacation and while I will be shooting in the magic light, most of my time will be with my wife exploring the park. I find digital camera’s to wash out colors, block shadows and blow out highlights in harsh light leading to blah photos and way too much time in front of the screen trying to salvage something. Color negative film shines in this department. Easy peasy to shoot. Meter for the shadows and don’t worry about the highlights and the natural shoulder of color negs will tame those bright areas. If any highlights blow, it will be graceful. And color will be rich and vibrant (especially with ektar). Color film choice is kodak ektar. This iso 100 daylight film works wonderfully for landscapes. Rich, vibrant colors, extremely detailed and extremely fine grained. Requires almost no post work (just develop and scan). I have an extra roll of portra 160 and a roll of Fuji xtra400 (if I need the speed and as backup). I also will be shooting two rolls of Fuji velvia100. This will be my first foray into slide film as all I buy and shoot are negs but these were a gift and what better way than to try it out with some desert drama.
Black and white film will be a mixture of Kodak TMAX100 (for supreme detail and tonal range) and Ilford delta400 (when I need more speed). An odd roll of Kodak Tri X will also be included. Why? Because it is Tri X. If you look to the left of the screen, that desert scape was shot on Tri X last year. Anymore questions? I thought not.
Also included are an array of filters and filter systems for both color, B&W and a polarizer for the digital setup. Of course a tripod will be brought, my bogen manfrotto with ball head. I may add an Olympus XA to the list because, well, it is tiny and I love it. The perfect travel companion and could be a backup to a backup. Oh, and the Nikon L35AF that lives in my glove box. That is it,…I think. I will be sure to update this blog when I get back with images from this excursion.