Camera Gear

Taking pictures on vacation seems to prompt a philosophical discussion about the meaning of travel — are you traveling for life experience, to see new cultures and meet new people? Or are you checking something off your list and need to document that you did it? We’ve all seen the tourists who have a go-pro and a selfie-stick and are constantly filming everything they see or do or say and seem to be more interested in taking a photo of themselves pointing to the church or monument or waterfall than actually looking at it. And I know that I, at least have stared in surprise (and some level of abject horror) at people traveling without any sort of camera at all, just enjoying the scenery or the tour. I boggle.

Most people are somewhere in between, of course. We are — part of my enjoyment of traveling is trying to capture the things I see in a new and interesting way. Traveling doesn’t require documentation of everything you see, it’s the experiences we travel for, not the photos. But for us, photographs are an important part of our trips and a way for us to remember the trip and share it. I still go through the photos from trips ten years ago and it brings them right back, all the stories and all the chaos.

One of the worst worry dreams I have regarding travel is that we have arrived in some perfectly gorgeous place, National-Geographic-level fabulous, stunning beyond measure….and we have no camera at all. We forgot to pack it, or left it on the plane. We don’t even have cellphone cameras.  Nothing. It was awful.

I realized some time ago that when we pack for trips that the biggest list of “we have to take this” is the camera and electronic gear. Seriously — clothes? Nah, carry on size is fine! You can buy whatever you forget when you get there!  But the camera and ipad and the various charges and cables and supporting stuff? That bag has gotten bigger every trip!

We like taking pictures, and even take a few good ones once in awhile, but we are smack in the middle of “amateur travel photography”, I think. Although very well-kitted-out amateurs I will admit. It was especially critical for us going to Iceland because– well, have you seen the grand vistas and gorgeous scenery? We didn’t want to miss a thing. So my theory is that if you show up at the airport with nothing more than a pair of hiking boots and a hoodie, but you have a camera, you’ll be ok.

The backpack with the camera gear weighs in at 20 pounds now. It’s getting a little ridiculous.

  • Nikon d810
  • Nikon d500
  • Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 OS HSM (“Bigma”
  • Nikon 14-24mm F2.8G wide-angle lens (new for this trip)
  • Nikon 28-300 F3.5-5.6 ED VR zoom
  • Nikon 28-200 F3.5-5.6 DX zoom
  • And the supporting stuff:
  • Set of 4 neutral density filters (N2-N16) for the zoom lenses (72mm and 77mm). (The new landscape lens can’t take screw-on filters, so we don’t have any for it yet)
  • Circular polarizers (72mm, 77mm, 95mm).
  • Three spare batteries and charger
  • SD chips (64gig and 128 gig, 2 each)
  • Cables and connectors to laptop, ipad, etc.
  • 15″ Laptop and power cords

I also travel, of course, with a Kindle (can’t go anywhere without books) and iPad.  There is a wad of cords and chargers, blocks, and connectors, as well, which seems to have taken on a life of its own and multiplied like hangers in the closet.  I’m a bit worried they may take over before the next trip. Why can’t electronics manufacturers settle on a single format for charging cords and voltage? Wouldn’t that be easier?

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