Friday, March 9, 2012

Gear Kit: Maui

I recently had a two week stay on the beautiful island of Maui, Hawaii. It was an incredible trip and it was very hard to come back to a cold and snowy Calgary. A few days before the trip I carefully put together an extensive yet compact kit of photography gear so I could record the adventure.

When travelling, I really like to be nimble. I don't want to be weighed down with excessive gear and baggage. I like to have the ability to carry it all on my person and still be able to make that last minute dash to a taxi or to the gate of a departing flight. And, more crap just means more worry about things getting lost or stolen.

Here is what I put together.Maui Kit

The Details…

Spiralling clockwise and inwards from the bottom left corner, here is the gear:

  • Two (homemade) gels each of 1/4 CTO and full CTO
  • Black Rapid camera strap
  • Canon battery charger
  • Two 580EX II strobes
  • Two Honl Speed straps for attaching the gels
  • 64GB Apple iPad for backing up pictures from the camera, post-processing, blogging and such
  • Crumpler Six Million Dollar Home - fits all the gear with the tripods on the side
  • Joby Gorillapod Focus with Ball Head X - this was my main camera support
  • Joby Gorillapod SLR - for a remote flash
  • Circular polarizer
  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon Remote Switch (RS-80N3) - This well worn remote is used for landscape shots to avoid vibration
  • USB cable with Apple Camera Connection Kit - for pulling pics from the camera to the iPad
  • Spare PowerEX rechargeable batteries
  • Canon RC-1 Remote - for the times when I want to be in the picture :)
  • Two Sto-Fen caps - I used them for times with indoor flash
  • Tiffen 8-Stop ND Filter - when I need less light during the middle of the day
  • Canon 24-105mm f/4.0L IS lens - pretty much my workhorse lens for everything
  • Spirit Level - for getting those nice, straight horizon lines.

Not shown is the six, 8GB compact flash cards I had also packed. Here is one shot where a lot of the pieces came in handy.


And here is how I set up the gear.

Waterfall setup

As you can see, the camera was on the large Joby and the flash was just off to the side on the smaller Joby. The flash on the camera was only used to trip the second flash via infrared and was set in ETTL mode. The main flash was gelled with 1/4 CTO to get a bit warmer skin tones. And, of course, the Canon RC-1 is safely nestled in my left hand to trigger the shutter.

The great thing about the Joby Gorillapods is you can stick them pretty much anywhere. The downside is a few times I wanted them higher off the ground and then you're out of luck unless there is a handy tree somewhere nearby.

For the most part the kit had everything I needed but I had a few regrets.

  • Hoodman Loupe 3.0 - Nearly everything I shot was in bright daylight, which makes it impossible to see the LCD. The loupe would have saved me pulling my shirt overtop the camera to check details not revealed in the histogram.
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS + Canon 1.4x Extender - I didn't need this lens all the time but it would have been great for the surfing and whale watching days. Also, this lens has fantastic bokeh. It is a little heavy and bulky though.
  • Twenty foot ETTL cable (or longer) - Canon's infrared system is good but not great outside, especially in bright sunlight. With the ETTL cable I could have forgone the second flash as I only every used one flash to light my subject.
Keep shooting.

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