Sunday, September 6, 2015

My Travel kit guide for photographers

After the recent campaign work I did on the Royal Navy Weapons Engineers kit I received a few emails asking me about what I bring with me on assignments and expeditions. So I thought it would be fun to compile my own Travel kit guide for photographers. My kit would be tailored to what I'm doing but I thought some of these items are pretty handy even if your travelling for a different purpose other than photography. I haven't gone into any serious detail around storage and software or indeed camera hardware (It's pretty obvious a photographer will take a camera and a range of lenses with them). However I hope you find this useful and I'll do a more outdoorsy and expedition style one soon.

  1. Cable bag. A tough heavy duty polyester pouch. I keep all my cables in here, along with spare device batteries.

  2. Notepad. Small with somewhere to keep a pen or pencil. To be honest this one is annoying, the spiral spine just isn't strong enough.

  3. Gitzo GT1542T Traveler. Its carbon, durable and compact, can't ask for anything more.

  4. Solargorilla portable solar charger -rugged water resistant 5V & 20V Solar Panel. I'm a big fan of Powertraveller equipment. I take a mix of it depending in what kind of project I'm working on. This can trickle power directly into a device or charge the Powergorilla battery pack (below). With these bad boys you can keep your DSLR, laptop and phone on even if your out in the boonies for days.

  5. Packsafe. Anti-theft Adjustable Cable Lock, Slashproof heavy duty steel cable. Snatchproof locking systems locks and anchors your gear to a secure fixture. Being security conscious is as important as keeping back ups of your memory cards and images. Getting your gear stolen is no joke, you can replace expensive equipment but if you loose your images too... they are gone. While this won't stop a determined thief it will put off opportunist ones.

  6. Snood. Just a cheap and cheerful Snood. It can keep a chill off your neck or protect you from the sun. Wear it in the summer to keep the sun off your neck and the insects away or as a headband to prevent sweat running down in to your eyes when you're active, or around the wrist as a sweatband*.

    *For the record I have never used this as a sweatband or headband...

  7. Nikon MB-D14 battery grip. Speaks for itself, keep your DSLR fully juiced up particularly if you're shooting video. This grip also has a AA battery slot which gives you a plan B. I use this for any long events photography gig.

  8. Nikon MB-D14 battery AA slot. Comes with the above and is a pretty handy option for long remote travel.

  9. Suunto Core All black outdoors watch. I love this watch, honestly I do. Its tough, and has a shed load of useful features. It will give you sunrise times, has an barometer, altimeter, storm-warming, compass and of course tells the time.

  10. My Special camera kit. This is a simple fishing tackle box with some of the dividers cut out. In this is a infra red trigger, bespoke sensor cleaning kit, camera spirit level, hot shoe cover, View finder cover and various useful bits.

  11. Sony Card reader. Loads of different versions on this, just get a decent one so it doesn't take an age to get files off your cards. I've had this for a few years now and its never let me down.

  12. Swiss travel world adaptor. These are awesome, some come with a USB connector too which is great for charging devices. I used these on all my trips. I literally don't leave home without it.

  13. Maglite and a spare pen. Maglite is a great bit of old school gear. Available in many colours I went for blue as I've too much 'tactical black' gear which can make you look a bit of a twat plus its impossible to find in the dark. Saying that avoid looking like your on the way home from a Rave and ditch the dayglo colours as you'll stand out a mile. As an aside I also use a Cree torch which are pretty cheap and powerful.

  14. Powermonkey Explorer. This was the first power pack I ever got and I'm not sure if I'll need now I have its older brother but its pretty handy to have in a day bag. It comes with a little solar panel and a bunch of sockets for different phones. I just use it to keep my iPhone alive and its great to have the reassurance that you've got another charge in your bag when travelling. Check out the spec in the link.

  15. Important docs bag. Simple tough plastic, waterproof(ish) bag for all important docs. Long term trips I'll keep flight details and insurance papers in here, passport scan. I tend to carry my more important docs on my person in the Unpocket (below). I also carry my Vax sheet and Press pass. You can keep copies of most important docs in your email but it doesn't hurt to have a paper copies, in case you can't get online or your gear is dead.

  16. Powergorilla. More Powertraveller shizzle. The powergorilla laptop charger will give you an extra 2-5 hours of power, depending on your laptop's specification, and over 20 hours on various other electronic devices. powergorilla will work with devices up to 24Volts - so from your laptop, right the way down to your mobile phone or iPod. You can even daisy-chain, so whilst the powergorilla is charging your laptop, you can charge the powergorilla from the mains power supply. Or charge your laptop and your mobile phone simultaneously which is great.

  17. Tripod ball head Markins Q3-TRQ.

  18. Wash bag. Don't take too much, you can get everything you'll need in the city you land in. If you're going on an expedition / adventure it's probably worth bringing a first aid kit too.

  19. Eagle Creek Packet Cubes. I love these things. I use these constantly. It turns packing into a game of Tetris you'll win every time. If you are travelling for any length of time, get a few of these, they will change your life.

  20. Head torch. Get one with a number of settings; Red - for night photography so you can see without getting blinded by white light and then a number of settings / strengths. This isn't just for outdoors work, hotels and hostels can often have weird or bad lighting set up so torches are a must.

  21. Unpocket. This is made from waxed canvas on the outside which is naturally soft, durable and water resistant. And on the inside, the police-grade stealth fabrics physically block all RFID, GPS, WiFi and Cell signals to ~100 dB. Why do I use it? Stop your cards and ID getting skimmed. 

  22. iPhone 5. I prefer iPhones as I find them more reliable than Android devices. I'm pretty agnostic when it comes to devices, I just want one that works and won't let me down. Whats more important is the apps I use. I use, Google Translate, Easy Release, Evernote, Whatsapp, Skype and Music and my beloved Podcasts.

  23. Macbook Pro. I don't think I need to explain this one. However I would say get a smaller one than me. I dragged this beast across Northern India for 5 months and my back is still crocked....
Safe travels!

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