Someone once said “Photography is a form of time travel “. I rephrase it stating that travel is a medium of freezing time and moments.
For those afflicted with the urge to freeze some of the momentous visuals of Nature while one is trekking amidst pristine nature which still has not been bogged down with the artwork of mankind, this scenario is most cases is achieved in rugged and difficult to reach locales braving hostile conditions that have been a deterrence for individuals to venture.
So in case one does venture and wishes to come back and show the fellow enthusiasts the world over what the human eye saw, DSLRs are the most apt way and when we talk of DSLRs then we are talking of the essentials that come with it which include specific lenses, filters , tripods , timers , batteries etc. There are numerous bags/cases available which can be used to carry all the above but then many of these are more suitable and appropriate when one is doing photography in town/citis or similar locations.
What does one do when one is trekking into the wild and having a backpack filled with trekking gear and essentials and on top of this has to cater to the photographic gear mentioned above? How does one capture visuals while on the move?
In my understanding the main requisites for trekking photography are :
- Ability to carry the backpack with trek essentials
- Ability to carry the photographic gear
- Ease of clicking while on the move
- Ability to change lenses and other accessories in the easiest way possible
Fortunately individuals all the over the world have thought and pondered with this problem and have devised gears that are used to fulfill the above requirements . There are many brands which offer solutions but I would be speaking on those about which I have a hands on experience and that is , The S&F series from Lowepro .
The S&F series known as Street & Field series is a modular carrying system that delivers freedom of movement , fast access and flexibility combined with the proven benchmark in quality that Lowepro is renowned for .
What I have done is customized the S&F series for the outdoor trek scenario by choosing from the wide variety of accessories that are available in the S&F line . It was critical that ease of carrying, clicking and ability to change the lenses were the most deciding factors , so accordingly I chose the following :
For the base frame for the modular carrying system I chose a combination of the following: –
S&F Light Utlity Belt which offered easy comfort, load adjustment and easy access incorporating removable segments that slide independently around the main webbing .These segments are designed to hold the patented slip lock products designed by Lowepro. The belt also comes with straps that use the shoulder frame for providing and distributing the load that the belt would be subjected to which would in turn be passed onto the hips.
S&F Pouches: There are various designs and models catering to the size of the lenses, these pouches are slid onto the Utility belt and held in place with strong rugged Velcro straps. I used the following for the lenses that I carry:
S& F Lens Exchange Case 200 AW: This purpose built case is apt for the 70-200 f/2.8 and 24-70 f/2.8 heavy duty lens.
S&F Lens Exchange Case 100 AW: This case is designed for a wide angle zoom lens like the 16-35 F/2.8 and the 100 mm Macro.
S&F Slim Lens Pouch 75 AW: This case is built for the carrying longer lenses like the 70-200.
S&F Filter Pouch 100: This is used for carrying the various filters in its multiple leaves available.
S&F Harness : This was a later addition to the kit , for I realized that the weight of some of the lenses would make the utility belt to sag downwards thereby causing my hips to feel the weight and also result in uneven balancing of the load. However, I have modified this and use it in conjunction with the Cotton Carrier twin camera carrying system which i would be touching upon in the succeeding paragraphs. The harness is rugged in construction and designed to be able to take the wear n tear.
Cotton Carrier Camera Harness System for two cameras: This is designed for those who use twin cameras and belivein reducing the frequent lens change interval . The harness and side holster supports two cameras and the design helps in distributing the weight easily. Rugged and made of top notch material this is my indispensable accessory while trekking thereby leaving my hands free to concentrate while am trekking . I use this with the Light Utility belt and the Harness system to form an integrated carrying solution for majority of my camera gear while on the move.
Constraints : After using the above set up for three endurance treks , following are the constraints
- In case tripod has to be used, the cotton carrier accessory that fits on the camera has to be dismantled. Not a difficult proposition but then this is a act that has to be done.
- On long treks and with sustained hours with the above pouches filled, the weight of the lens along with both the DSLRs strapped does get noticed on the shoulder frame as well as the waist.
- Rains are an issue as regular windcheaters cannot be worn; one has to opt for a poncho.