Before any major workshop we usually send out a suggested equipment list. The emphasis here is on the word ‘suggested’. One can always bring more or less on a workshop. Indeed, there are professional travel photographers who travel only with a Fujifilm X100t, an iPhone and backup hard drive. Being geared more towards landscape photography we tend to pack a little more into our camera bags. The kit below is the equipment that Emil would take with him to Madagascar, Iceland or Namibia for landscape photography (an important addition is a Macro lens which is not pictured here).
Of course we need to stabilize as well as carry the equipment mentioned above.
24. Camera Bag - We usually recommend using a camera backpack as they are easier to haul equipment in the some of the locations that we shoot at. Emil uses the F-Stop Gear range of backpacks usually. The Tilopa fits Extra Large Internal Camera Units nicely along with other bits and bobs (including laptop) and will fit in most regional jets (think Boeing 727 or Airbus A319).
25. Tripod - An entire article can be written on tripod choice alone. For this reason we'll update the blog soon with just such an article. For the sake of brevity though, we recommend a carbon fibre tripod that can reach at least to your own head height and take a camera load of up to 12kg minimum.
26. Raincover for the Camera Bag - Landscape photography often means shooting in inclement weather. A rain cover is a good idea.
27. Small Camera Bag - Depending on the workshop we are leading it is often useful to bring along a small bag that can fit a camera and lens and possibly a few other small items. These are great for bringing the camera along to a restaurant, or keeping next to you in the vehicle on travel days.
28. Microfibre Towel - Nick and Emil both consider this an essential item! We use these towels to clean sea spray off filters, protect cameras and lenses in the rain, dry equipment after a storm (or being hit by wayward wave) and yes, even as an actual towel.
29. Photographer's Vest - A lot of travelers and photographers think these vests are ridiculous, as do we in fact. However, they are the best way of getting your luggage on board a plane with the new weight restrictions that are in place. The capacious pockets on these vests allow you to place lenses, batteries, flashes and hard drives on your person rather than in the camera bag (items 1 through 23 go in the cabin with us, and they certainly weigh more than the allowed 7kg!).
Then we turn to the computer equipment. Traveling as a solo photographer this equipment is certainly not essential. As it is Emil, CM and Chris travel on assignment regularly and don't always bring laptops with. However, photography workshops also entail a fair amount of post-production teaching which is better learned with an actual computer. This is the gear that Emil carts along, with variations by the other instructors.
30. Laptop - All of the instructors with Nature's Light use Apple Macbook Pros during workshops (with CM being a last holdout in the studio with his desktop PC). Any laptop is fine so long as it can comfortably run the editing applications that you use. We teach Photoshop, Lightroom and Capture One on the workshops that we run.
31. Wacom Tablet - For some of us a tablet has become an essential part of the workflow. This is not an essential item...until you have used one and can't work without it anymore.
32. Backup Hard Drive - Essential! All images should be backed up to at least two locations while traveling; one to the computer and one to the hard drive. If possible it is also a good idea to have enough memory cards that you never have to overwrite any (which makes for three copies).
33. Card Reader - Although some laptops have a card reader, it is a good idea to bring a dedicated reader along.
34. Cables - Check that you have all the necessary cables and power adapters required for the equipment that you bring.
Finally there is the macro photography kit. It is easy to simply say, throw a macro lens into the bag. However, if you are serious about your macro photography, chances are the lens is only the start (Madagascar in particular can be a macro photographers delight).
35. Macro lens - a 105mm f2.8 is the most versatile macro lens in our opinion. The shorter focal lengths don't give sufficient working distance to photograph skittish insects, while the longer focal length lenses are really more for a dedicated macro workshop (big, heavy and expensive).
36. Flashguns - These are an essential part of working at 1:1 reproduction ratios. However, careful use of reflectors and ISO can negate the need for these. If you are working in forests though, flashguns are a requirement.
37. Commander Module - this can be swapped out for a flash cable, but is basically the way you are going to control the flashes.
38. Flash Bracket - In this case a Wimberley side arm that holds the key light off the lens axis for better light placement.
39. Mini Softbox - A small softbox for wrap around key lighting of the subject.
40. Flash Foot Stand - This is used for the second flash which works as a fill or background light.
41. Rubber Bands - useful for attaching the second flash to branches etc.
42. Jobo Gorillapod - Used for the second flash when there isn't anything else to attach to.
Nick demonstrating why we think that a microfibre towel is an essential piece of kit to pack.
None of the equipment mentioned above is entirely essential or required. Ultimately the best gear you have is what you bring along. It doesn't matter if it is a state of the art digital camera, or a film camera from the 1980s, what matters are the images themselves, the enjoyment you get out of the workshop and the amount of time spent learning and shooting. This is the kit we bring and recommend photographers when they ask.