Having recently spent a month away from my home and office, I thought I’d write down a few notes about photography “on the road”. That kind of time away from usual surroundings is a surefire way to reveal weaknesses in workflow and gear, and a few things stood out to me so I thought I’d share them.
I need a new laptop
I’ve been using a mid-2011 11” MacBook Air for a long time but it’s time for an upgrade. I primarily used the 11” machine for downloading images, and typically saved editing until I got home to a larger, colour calibrated monitor. Well, things change, and I’ve been making a real effort to become more mobile and that means editing images on the road. I’ll be upgrading to a Retina MacBook Pro very shortly, although I haven’t yet decided whether to go for a 13” or a 15”. I’ll write about that more once the switch has been made.
The 7D Mark II is one awesome piece of kit.
I’ve written quite a lot about this camera recently, but for good reason. I feel comfortable using this camera for professional work, and even at ISOs up to around 3200. I’ve mainly used it with the exceptional new Canon 100-400 IS II. This pairing is incredibly powerful for wildlife photography and made the perfect camera setup for sitting on the front seat of my car just in case any unexpected wildlife showed up.
The battery grip for the 7D Mark II is poorly designed.
Honestly, I don’t know what Canon were thinking when they placed the buttons on the battery grip. The buttons are supposed to mimic those that are on the camera body so that you can easily use the camera in portrait mode. Instead, Canon placed the all important joystick in the worst possible position so that after two months of use, I still couldn’t get my fingers to find it. Utterly infuriating. Read more about the 7D Mark II BGE16 battery grip here.
Less gear is often a better idea.
I really loaded up the car with gear when I set off on this trip and after a couple of weeks everything was disorganized and I wasn’t even sure what I’d brought with me anymore. Whilst I made use of nearly everything at some point or other, I wished for a simpler setup with less gear on many occasions.
Sony RX100 IV is a powerhouse
I picked this up halfway through and even though this is a point and shoot camera that costs over $1000, I’ve no regrets at all. It’s exactly what I was looking for in a pocket-sized camera. Something I can put in my pocket for all the times I don’t have a DSLR, and something that can help me capture great blog content.
If you don’t make a packing list, you WILL forget something.
I forgot my all important bean bags for using long lenses whilst sitting in my car. I use the Gura Gear ones and they were sorely missed on the trip. A subject specific “wildlife photography” packing list would have prevented this error.
Cell service is sporadic
In my home province of British Columbia, cell phone service coverage is excellent, but this isn’t the case in all provinces, and I had daily struggles in various parts of Alberta. To combat this in the future, I’ll be traveling with pay-as-you-go SIM cards for all other major cell phone networks so that I can get 3G data in areas where my regular carrier doesn’t have a strong signal. The emails never stop…
I need a portable Time Machine drive for my laptop.
In my office, everything gets backed up with a Time Machine drive on my Macs. If I’m going to be away for such a long period of time, I need another portable drive to act as a mobile Time Machine.
Rugged style hard drives are worth the extra $$$
I use the LaCie Rugged drives and the G-Tech eV RAW drives for my data, and I’m sure glad I do! On two separate occasions during this trip, my hard drives were got soaked in water. Once due to a leaking water bottle in my car that was packed above my laptop bag, and once due to a clogged drainage channel in my car that cause water to back up into the footwell of my car during an extended torrential downpour. On both occasions, my drives got extremely wet and I was thankful of the protection they provide for amounts to only about $40-50 more than other comparably sized drives. Once you leave the safe confines of your home/office, you never know what will happen!
I really need to set up a NAS in the office
I carried around a drive with the majority of my A-grade images on it, but it’s a 16TB drive in a pelican case and it was just one more thing to lug around. I need to change one of my Drobo 5Ds for some sort of NAS, like a Synology 1515+, so that I can remotely connect to it from anywhere in the world and therefore not have to carry that additional drive around with me. I’m actively investigating these options now and I’ll report back here if I make any decisions….