Travel

Dec 28th

2013

Comments Comments 70
CategoryPosted in: GEAR, Travel

Mirrorless to Africa

mirrorless-africa

In a couple days I fly to Africa for almost 6 weeks. A week in Lalibela, Ethiopia, then to Kenya to spend 10 ten days in my beloved Maasai Mara to take my mother on her first safari, and then to Zanzibar for over two weeks to get my scuba certification and spend time with my camera in the water. And I’m doing it all with smaller mirrorless cameras. Not an SLR in my kit. I’m quite comfortable with my Fuji XE-1, and because I’m not one to chase fast-moving predators, I think the 55-200 lens will give me all the reach I need,  but I’ve also got a rangefinder that’s new to me and I’m already nervous about the learning curve. It’s a bit of a rag-tag kit, but I’m excited about how much lighter this is allowing me to travel, without having to sacrifice image quality.

What excites me is not just the smaller kit, but the change in process. There are advantages – strong advantages – to knowing your camera so well you hardly know it’s there, but the advantage that comes with switching things up for me is a fresh awareness of my decisions. I’m more careful about metering, pay more attention to focus, and in this slowing down usually comes more careful attention to my composition and choice of moments. For me the ability to do all this with smaller and smaller bags of gear means I can walk longer, and when I get tired it’s creative exhaustion, not the exhaustion that comes from not wanting to walk one more foot with all the gear. I’ll be walking through Lalibela and the ancient, rock-hewn, churches crowded with pilgrims, with  2 rangefinders and 2 lenses. A couple small batteries in my pocket. Maybe a spare lens in my bag, but they’re so small compared to my DSLR gear that I could bring 3 of them and still not take the weight of a 24-70/2.8. I can’t wait. Why else am I excited? My smaller cameras are almost silent, I feel much less conspicuous with them, and in the case of the waist-level finder on my Leica, there’s an ability to compose with a much less aggressive posture and that’s really important to me when photographing something so personal as a pilgrimage.

On safari I’ll still have two cameras, one wide and one the 55-200 (the equivalent of 300mm of reach on a 35mm frame). What excites me most is documenting my time with my mother, but for longer scenics, this telephoto ought to be fine. And then when I get to Zanzibar I’ll be mostly using my Sony Rx100 (Mark II) with a Nauticam underwater housing which is smaller and seems infinitely easier to use than the Aquatech rig I have for my Canon 5D, which will stay at home, enjoying its retirement. I got my housing at Backscatter – check out the amazing selection of housing for some of today’s most current compact cameras – including Olympus, Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic)

As a technological development, mirrorless cameras mean almost nothing to me. I still have my DLSR gear and love it. I still have 3 film cameras and love them too. But as the quality improves so does the ability to travel with, and work with, gear that allows us to expend our creative energies the way we want to. I can’t wait to do an around the world trip, or head back into the Indian Himalaya with this lighter gear.

What does this newer kit look like? For the geeks among us, I’ll put my packing list below. It’s astonishing how much lighter and smaller things are becoming compared to just 5 years ago. Questions? Put them in the comments. I’ll reply as I can.

As always, I’ll check in when I can, though I don’t imagine that’ll be for at least a week or two. Postcards as I can send them. Check in this Tuesday for a look back in words and images at 2013.

My packing list:

Fuji XE-1
14mm, 18-55mm, 55-200mm

Leica M (240)
21mm, 50mm, 75mm

Sony RX100 (II)
Water housing, mask, snorkel

Spare batteries, chargers
SD card reader, SD cards
11″ MacBook Air
Hard drive
Lee Filter kit, Singh Ray filters (10-stop, 3-stop, 3-stop grad, polarizer)
Gitzo Traveler tripod
Shutter release
Cleaning kit, repair kit
Plug adaptors & power strip

5 shirts
2 pants
2 shorts
1 sweater
1 raincoat
1 hat
4 each – underwear, socks.
Boots, sandals

Medical and first aid
Toiletries
Spare glasses
12 x Clif bars

Sep 16th

2013

Comments Comments 55
CategoryPosted in: Emily and I, Life Is Short, News & Stuff, Travel

Yukon Cut Short

My first instinct is not to publish this post, which I wrote a week ago, and to leave these events just between me and those privy to my moments of stupidity. But it’s good fodder for my new reality show, which my girl, Cynthia, calls “Dumb Shit David Does.” From the beginning I’ve tried to […]