You will find here some gear tips and tricks... They are completely biased towards lightweight and gear efficiency for full days of photographic hiking!
Using a light tripod
Obviously, a big / heavy / sturdy tripod is ideal to shoot sharper images (optimal aperture, low ISO). However, hauling such a contraption is unacceptable for me, as I would miss many pictures where stealthiness is essential. Here are a few hints on how to get the best out of a lighter tripod:
- Hide from the wind as much as possible.
- Extend the tripod halfway and always leave the center column down (it should only be used at higher speeds with the self-timer).
- Use mirror lockup (if your camera has it).
- Use an Infra-Red or cable remote shutter release, or use the self-timer.
- With a third generation Image Stabilized lens like the EF 70-300 DO IS USM, you need to depress the shutter release halfway, standing still for a full second before fully triggering (time needed by the lens to detect the tripod) => no self-timer.
- Without an Image Stabilizer, avoid speeds from 1/30 s to 1/4 s (because of curtain vibrations).
- And finally, take several shots to keep the sharpest!
This image was taken with the EF 70-300 DO IS USM: 140 mm, f/7.1, 4 s. Rolling your mouse over it will show a 100% crop; IS really helps!
To help leveling when the camera is tied up to a tripod, insert a two bubble spirit level in your camera's hot shoe. Very useful with a small tripod, as it is not always easy to aim flawlessly while sitting on the floor…
It's of course useless with recent cameras (like the 5D Mark IV) which includes electronic levelling.
Stealthy gear extraction
My Lowepro Rover AW II backpack has a bottom compartment for gear and a top compartment for personal items.
I take stuff out and in while walking, simply by temporarily wearing the backpack reversed (on the front left shoulder instead of the back two shoulders). I use my left arm to secure the bag, and my right hand opens the bottom compartment. Both hands remain available to extract gear from their known compartments and to change lenses.
I have been doing this for more than 10 years with my regretted "Chapak" bag. I can't imagine transporting my gear any other way.
Roll your mouse over the image to visualize the handling.
Saving your neck 1
A large, stretchable neoprene strap will act as a shock absorber. Your neck will be thankful at each footstep. Very commendable and much less conspicuous than the original "CANON EOS DIGITAL" strap…
Saving your neck 2
For long walks, I am now using "Reporter Backpack
" straps. The bag's hip strap holds the bag's weight, and the bag's shoulder straps hold the camera and lens' weight: I'm all set to shoot and there is no more weight on the neck strap!
Roll your mouse on the image to isolate the two "Reporter Backpack" straps.
For heavy colds, I use sailing mittens with polar lining, silicon grips and finger openings.
Roll your mouse over the image for a demonstration.
Hoya vs B+W Polarizing filters
Going full frame, I changed my standard Hoya 77 mm circular polarizer to a slim B+W MRC Kaeserman to avoid vignetting at 17 mm. The B+W appears 1/3 EV brighter and seems to have a slightly more natural color balance.
Rolling your mouse over the Hoya image will switch to the B+W corrected for brightness to allow a better color balance comparison. Both polarizers were oriented for maximum sky contrast.