Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Roger Coulam on "Travelling Light" on the Leica Camera Blog

Image Source: http://blog.leica-camera.com/photographers/guest-blog-posts/roger-coulam-travelling-light/
Traveling with less gear is a common subject on DMC-365. That can mean lighter gear, reduced complexity, or both. This is what initially took me into the world of Micro 4/3 gear - I could maintain a diverse set of lenses, a second body, and lots of other stuff that I may or may not end up using on a particular shoot, while reducing the strain on my back. I have to say that worked pretty well for me.
However, because the gear is lighter, I tend to jam more into my bag. For example, I almost never carry a second body when I'm shooting a Nikon DSLR; it is simply too much to carry. When shooting Micro 4/3, I almost always carry a second body. And yes, that allows me to shoot mostly prime lenses, which I love far more than zooms, and minimize switching lenses in the field. But, I must remember my primary goal in using Micro 4/3 - reducing overall weight. A two camera Micro 4/3 kit is still lighter than a similarly-equipped single Nikon DSLR kit, but not by all that much.
In addition to reducing weight, if I'm out shooting for pure enjoyment, I'd also like to reduce complexity in my kit. For example, I love to take a single camera, single lens kit on some shoots. For this to work, I must adopt the mindset that I may miss some great shots, but the ones I get should be really, really good. This doesn't work for everything. I would never go this way if I were shooting for someone else.
Roger Coulam has written a nice post on this subject for the Leica Camera blog.
(Click Here) to read Roger's post.
Roger has made an effort to reduce his normal equipment set to one camera - either his Leica MP or a Ricoh GR1V. But then he found himself taking both. Then adding a third camera to the mix. Then a tripod. You can see where this is going.
So, Roger's back to trying to simplify again. He finds that it allows him to be more expressive in his work. This sounds paradoxical, as most of us believe that more tools, lenses ranging from ultra wide to super telephoto, for example, will allow us to be more expressive. However, I see Roger's point. Sometimes, having to do the "manual zoom" (walking closer or backing away from your subject) forces you to look at it more closely, and from different perspectives.
I am not firmly in either camp at this point - carrying lots of gear to allow flexibility, or carrying a minimum of gear to drive me to be more creative. It truly depends on where I'm going and what I plan to shoot. For example, I'm planning a one-day trip to the desert soon. For that, I imagine some wide angle and telephoto shots. I will take a full Micro 4/3 kit with me on that trip. Soon after, I'm going to Japan for a week. My current plan is to take my Leica M9, maximum of three compact lenses, and my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 pocket camera. If I were going into the city for a morning of shooting, as I often do, I would probably take just the M9 and a single lens.
A Dock, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
iso 80, f5.6, 0.6 sec
So, I suppose this compromise has no single solution. It's the balance of range of capability and level of pain in my back at the end of the day. However, don't lose sight of the fact that reduced complexity can also free up some creative flow.