Costa Rica - How I'm Packing My Gear

At the end of this month, I head to Costa Rica on my 4th Mentor Series Trek. I'm really looking forward to visiting Costa Rica, this will be my first time there. I thought I'd give you an idea how I'm packing for this trip.

Like a lot of you, I've owned a lot of different camera bags over the years. I own rollers, backpacks and belt systems to carry my gear. I choose the carrying method based upon the assignment at hand. On this particular trip, I'll be taking my new Lowepro Vertex 200 AW. I'd have to say it is one of the finest constructed backpack style camera bags I've had the pleasure of using.

As usual I'll be taking two camera bodies, my primary, a Nikon D700 and my Nikon D300 as backup. I'll also be taking along a new snap and shoot from Nikon, the CoolPix P90. I'm looking forward to play with that.

The lenses I'll be taking with me will include the following: My Nikon 14-24 f/2.8, Nikon 24-70 f/2.8, Nikon 80-400 f/4.5/5.6, Just to keep the weight down, I've opted for the 80-400 instead of the 80-200 f/2.8. I'll be also bring a cleaning kit, loupe, neutral density filters and a polarizer filter and my tripod. I'll be taking plenty of CF cards, a laptop to download images to as well as an external HD for backup.

Here is what the inside of the Vertex 200 AW looks like packed.

What I like in particular are these clever outside zipper pockets that allow me to arrange my various filters and CF cards. You'll also notice a nice tripod holder on in the center of the pack. I might also add that the pack is very comfortable to wear, it's harness system allows for a variety of adjustment to fit your particular body type.

I'm just amazed how much camera stuff we take as photographers when we travel and how important it is to protect it. Not only the protection offered by well made camera bags but also when your gear is in your hotel room. I've used a clever device called PacSafe for years. My PacSafe 85 is large enough to secure my Lowepro backpack safely in my hotel room. Basically, it is a high-tensile stainless steel locking mesh device that allows me to lock my bags to a secure fixture in the room ie. toilet.

During the Mentor Series Treks I'll be giving lighting demonstrations using speedlights. With that in mind, I'll be bring 2 SB-800's, a small Bogen light stand and Justin clamp. The modifiers I'll take with me will be the double folding 43" inch Wescott umbrella as well as my 33" folding Lastolite Tri-Grip.

Philly Nikonian's Lighting Workshop Results

What a busy week! I've been in Philadelphia for a week now and I looking forward to getting home. I started the week teaching a Popular Photography/America PHOTO "Mentor Series Trek", and the last 2 days of the week teaching a Nikonian's lighting workshop.

I must say, the Nikonian's workshops are a blast, we had a great group of people who left the workshop in full command of their flashes. During a two day workshop, you too can learn to master your flash!

I want to send a special thanks our model for the day, Diamandi! Thanks so much for your time and efforts during the workshop, you were a true delight.

The photo at the top of the post was the last image of the day. I used a small boom with a 43" shoot through umbrella with one SB-800. The background light was created using another SB-800 on a Justin Clamp and aimed at the back wall. You might think that I had a blue gel on this strobe in order to get the blue light on the background. Keep reading.

This photograph was taken way down in the basement of a fantastic studio in Philadelphia. I rented the Power Plant Productions Studios for the workshop, and if you ever need a studio in this past of the country give Jim Graham a call.

Rather then carrying all my gear down to the basement, we hand carried what we thought needed for the few shots we were doing. As I mentioned above, the main light was a 43" inch umbrella boomed over Diamandi. This flash had a full cut CTO gel placed over the flash head and my white balance was set to 3030* Kalvin (a bit lower than incandescent). With this combination, the light coming from the main light has a natural balanced look.

In order to get the blue cast on the wall, the strobe behind Diamandi had no gel on the strobe and therefore, turned blue due to the White Balance setting on the camera. One of the things that we did not carry down to the basement was a grid or some other light shaping tool for the background.

Out of pure desperation, I took the lens shade off of my 80-200 mm zoom lens, and placed it over the flash in order to shape the light on the back wall. You do what you need to do in order to make a shot.

Diamandi brought candles with here and they made for a nice effect in the photo. One of the students in the workshop, Roberta, took out here iPhone and played some music to set the mood. Here is a photo of the lens shade over the flash aimed at the back wall.

I'll post more from this workshop as well as from the Mentor Series portion of my week in the next several days. I have a busy schedule over the next few weeks and I will do my best to keep up the blog.... hang in there please. DT

Mentor Series Philadelphia

I am delighted to be involved with the Mentor Series! I'll be attending my third Mentor Series Trek this Oct 30th in Philadelphia, PA. The Mentor Series Worldwide Photo Treks has added a New Master Lighting Class!

I'll be joining super shooter Michael Clark teaching this Trek. The workshop starts on Oct 30th and runs until Nov 1st. We'll be shooting at two super locations, Longwood Gardens and at Eastern State Penitentiary. These Treks are well organized and are a lot of fun. Philadelphia is a beautiful city and both locations are fantastic, I hope you'll join us. Here is the full info as it appears in the most recent issue of POP Photo.

Pack your camera gear and join the Mentor Series as we trek to the birthplace of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” this coming fall! Philadelphia will provide the perfect backdrop to learn the rewards of using light to create an intentional effect in your photos, as well as explore the history and culture this city has to offer. Follow Nikon professional photographers and
illumination gurus David Tejada and Michael Clark as they simplify various techniques and help you address lighting scenarios that will convey a desired atmosphere, while capturing unique images in both controlled and spontaneous shooting situations.

NEW This trek includes a Master Class on Lighting, providing an exclusive opportunity to determine how luminosity can shape the mood and color of the photographs you create. Allow our mentors to assist you in finding the best angles, interpreting natural light sources, utilizing reflectors, and understanding how to control light. By learning how to properly use light modifiers such as umbrellas,
soft boxes, snoots, grids, silks and even bounce techniques, you will walk away with a solid comprehension of how easily an image can be enhanced.

Visit the stunning Longwood Gardens, one of the world’s premiere horticultural display gardens, as you gain experience directing hired models and practice using off-camera flash. Or reveal the beauty of the yellow, orange and purple trees, and the golden honey locusts, scarlet sweet gums, and ruby northern red oaks in the sunlight. a lush world of exotic flowers, with more then 20,000 blooming chrysanthemums, making for spectacular macro images.

Travel on to the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary, and explore what lighting is best suited to subject and scene, as we use America’s most historic prison (open from 1829 to 1971) to shoot models and further practice learned techniques “on location”. Take advantage of the penitentiary’s vaulted, sky-lit cells to capture a particular mood in the jail that held some of America’s most notorious criminals, including Al Capone. Later, photograph along a tour of Philadelphia’s remarkable landmarks from the top of our own double-decker bus.
Try your hand at making long exposure night images while you capture the Betsy Ross Bridge, the dramatic city skyline from Camden and visit the waterfront area of Penns Landing, and Boathouse Row.

Spend some time in Center City, exceptionally conveying Logan Square, or the famous Love sculpture by Robert Indiana. You will capture history with your camera at Independence Hall as you take in the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence, stop in Washington Square, and pay a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Everywhere you go in Philadelphia, you’ll find a piece of America’s past, and continually discover the chance to utilize the lighting techniques you’ve learned to capture these historic landmarks. Explore “the city of brotherly love” with expert photographers by your side!