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Tips for Adventure Photography

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Tips for Adventure and Travel Photography

Hello, my name is David
Boswell.  While I am not a
professional photographer, I am a serious amateur who has travelled throughout
the world with Bio Bio and, hopefully can use that experience to help others
navigate the complexities of travelling with camera gear.  This article will deal with gear selection
and airport issues I have encountered. 
Here are some things to remember when planning what camera gear to
bring.  First, you may encounter
regulations different than the US. 
For example, internal flights in Argentina have a carry on weight limit
of 8k, or about 18 lbs.  Second,
you need to be aware of the specifics and limitations of your particular
trip.  On a recent trip to Africa I
spent 4 days in the Okavango Delta of Botswana that involved flying on small
planes that had strict luggage requirements with regards to weight and
size.  Third, you need to know what
you will be photographing and what your goals are.  For example, on an African safari you will be photographing
wildlife, frequently at a distance so a long lens is very important while on my
trek to Everest Base Camp a wide angle lens and low weight are more important.

First, let me talk about gear
selection then I will touch on packing and airport issues.  I start with my base setup that I
always take and work from there:

1.      24-105mm
f/4 lens                              

2.     70-200mm f/2.8 lens                                 
3.5 lbs

3.     Camera body either 5D or 7D                  
1.8 lbs

4.     Flash                    

5.     Extra batteries/charger/filters                 
0.5 lbs

As you can see, I already have
8 lbs and I will typically take my tripod and ballhead which then adds another
5 lbs, bringing me to 13 lbs.  Now,
from this list I then add-on based on what I need with the options including 2nd
camera body, 100-400mm lens at 3 lbs, 2nd flash, remote trigger for
flash, off camera bracket for flash, extra filters, 1.4x & 2x
teleconverters 0.5/0.7 lbs., Epson P-7000 160Gb Photoviewer 1.5 lbs, etc.  As you can see, taking everything gets
quite heavy, 30+ lbs not including the pack/case, as well as being fairly

For Nepal, there was no
reason to bring my 100-400mm lens since I would be mostly shooting vast
landscapes in the Himalayas and street scenes in Kathmandu.  On a recent trip to Africa, I
definitely brought my 100-400mm, my 7D (better for wildlife and action than the
5D), and the 1.4x teleconverter since I would be shooting wildlife at varying
distances.  While I can’t tell you
exactly what to take, I can advise you to look at what you are shooting and the
likelihood you will need a particular piece of equipment to get a meaningful
shot while balancing that with the trip constraints.  Those of you not using pro lenses will have a much easier
time as your lenses aren’t nearly as bulky or heavy.

There are 2 main factors when
looking at what you will be carrying your camera outfit in: How will you be
moving around on your trip (trekking, vehicles, boats, etc.) and getting
through airports.  I have found
that a camera backpack seems to work best.  I pack my tripod and ballhead in my checked bag but the rest
of the camera gear I carry on. 
While I can’t tell you what brand or pack to use, I can say the Clik
Elite has some nice packs but they are heavy and if you have a small waist the
hip belt is too big with their one-size-fits-all sizing.  I also like LowePro as they have many
options.  The main piece of advice
I can give you here is to keep it as small and compact as possible while still
being able to safely pack and protect your expensive equipment.  My pack was weighed and had to check it
in Argentina because it was a bigger pack and caught their attention.  I have never had a smaller unobtrusive
pack weighed.  While it is rare, I
have had to open the pack at times and show the gear at security so the pack
contents should be accessible.  In
countries other than the US I have almost universally had to take my tablet out
and put it through security separately so have that easily accessible

Please visit me at http://dboswellphotography.com to read my travel and photography blog, view my
galleries and shop at my online store. 
You may also join me on Facebook and Youtube by searching DBoswell

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