Traveling LightThursday, July 22, 2010
Travel for a photographer can be a problem. Unlike plumbers who leave the repaired kitchen sink in the home it was repaired, photographers (or at least this one) tend to want to bring everything including the kitchen sink, just in case.
Tripods are a problem. There are two kinds of tripods. One kind is heavy and sturdy. It is in essence what a tripod is supposed to be. Travel tripods are light and rickety. They are not, in essence, a tripod. If I were to open a line of credit at the bank I could perhaps purchase a Gitzo tripod made of carbon fibre. At my age no bank is going to give me a line of credit. So I have compromised on my travel tripod by using the from the neck (tripod head) down a small and light unit. And from the neck up I am using my heavy duty (and heavy) Arca Swiss Mono Head. While some 30 years ago I could have gotten a line of credit I paid, in cash, $600 for that Arca Swiss.
Since I am a film photographer, by necessity I have and additional problem. Even though I have backs (one for b+w negative and the other for Ektachrome) for my medium format Mamiya, it, the camera, is heavy and the individual lenses are heavy, too. In the past I have traveled with two Nikon FM-2s. One is for Ektachrome and the other for Plus-X. I sometimes bring a Pentax MX with a wonderful 20mm wide angle. For the Nikons I travel with an 85, 50 and 35mm lenses.
At the border or at the airport the Americans sometime unpack every individual roll of film. I must first (ever so politely) tell them, “I respectfully request visual inspection of my film.” In good airports they pass my film with handheld device that has a swab that tests for the presence of explosives.
Last year I went to Austin, Texas and then to Mike East’s ranch in South Texas. I took two Nikon FM-2s. After looking at some of the b+ws I took last year I have made a decisive change of plans.
I am traveling with a Mamiya RB with two backs, a 90mm and 50 mm lens. I am taking a Dynalite studio pack and one Dynalite head. For that head I am bringing a small 2x3 ft soft box. Just in case I am packing a Nikon FM-2 and I am only bringing b+w film for it.
In my hard suitcase have packed the Dynalite pack and head, the soft box, a compact light stand and the modified tripod. There seems to be room enough for my clothes, toiletries and the pasalubongs (Tagalog for gifts you take to the people you are staying with).
What is amazing is that my carry on bag which is a tough black and very sturdy zippered affair that Hilary gave me many years ago has all my cameras, lenses, films, flash cords and flashmeters. Plus there are two books for reading in the plane and Rosemary got me a headset so I will not have to buy one on board.
In the pictures here you see Mike East in one of the kitchens that makes homemade food for the cowboys. In the other picture it is a tree lined mound in front of Mike’s ranch house where his father, Tom is buried. In the third you see Mike next to the de facto horse of the 21st century Texas rancher. It is the twin cab truck.