Monday, August 17, 2009

In the bag while backpacking through China

Most of the work I do these days seems to be digital. Mostly because it's used in magazines, newspapers or filed with Getty Images. I do shoot black and white film but for the most part it's for personal fine art work or sports portraits.

In June, I had a chance to combine a black and white assignment in China while traveling with my 20-year old daughter, and a personal adventure of hiking the "Great Wall" on my 50th birthday.
I took a few cameras on the trip but most of the work was done with a pair of Zeiss Ikon rangefinders and three lenses... the Zeiss Biogon 2/35mm, Biogon 2,8/25mm and Tele-Tessar 4/85mm.

I wanted to travel light on this trip since we were backpacking for the most part. The assignment was on manual labour and we shot photos in large cities and out in the country.

I thought I would tell what was in my camera bag.

The bag itself was nice and small, the Billingham L2 which is sometimes called the Alice, a respelling of Leica. It's a nice size for two bodies and three lenses although I also shoved a video camera and digi point and shoot in it. The bag isn't waterproof but for the most part the canvas kept everything dry.

I have two Zeiss Ikon camera bodies, one black and the other silver. I want to be able to tell them apart easily. The black one was on a regular Domke strap while the silver was on a wrist band. I liked the strap better.

The main lens was the 2/35mm which is ideal on a rangefinder and one of the nicest lenses on the market. Small, light and sharp. I usually kept the 25mm on the other body and used the viewfinder sometimes, but other times I just used the main camera viewfinder even though the widest lines are 28mm. Didn't seem to be an issue since you have to focus through the camera anyway. The 4/85mm is a new lens on the market. It's very sharp but I didn't shoot with it that much. Rangefinders are made for wide angles and if you plan to use a short tele, get an SLR.

I had B+W O40 orange filters for both of the wide lenses to darken the sky in the photos and a 022 yellow on the 85mm for a similar effect. I also brought 092 Infrared filters for the lenses since I planned to shoot some SFX200 film which has an Infrared effect.

For the most part I shot with Delta 100 and a bit of Delta 400. I thought I would shoot more of the SFX200 than I did. Next time I would leave it and the filters at home.

I carried about 8-10 rolls with me each day and left the rest back at the room. Spare camera batteries were in the bottom of the bag along with a fork.

For digital gear I brought along the full-frame A900 with 24-70 F2.8, the Sony HX1 for high quality grab shots and the XR100 for video.

A couple things I didn't bring were a flash, light meter or a full frame digital rangefinder camera... because there isn't one on the market yet.
Rob Skeoch

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