Packing macro gear
For those interested, here’s a list of the gear I took with me for Greece, and how I packed it. This post will also serve me as a useful record for future reference. If there are those who are experienced in travelling with this kind of gear, please let me know your thoughts/comments!
Usually I rely solely on a Lowepro Mini Trekker for my macro gear on day trips at home, but for this trip I needed to take a laptop too, so I picked up a ThinkTank Shapeshifter – an interesting and useful expanding backpack with a dedicated laptop compartment. I knew this would be over-weight for my hand-luggage allowance, but I could just about rectify this if challenged by shoving a variety of extra things in my various coat and fleece pockets. I also knew that, since I was flying with Aegean and Olympic airways, this was relatively unlikely to happen! The useful thing to know about this bag is that, despite all the neoprene pockets inside, you can still use it to carry a body with lens attached, since if you close up all the zips the bag tightens around it.
I carried the following in the Shapeshifter:
Nikon D3S & D300, 4 lenses (15mm fisheye, 18-200VR, 200f4 with Wimberley lens plate, 300f4), 1.4&1.7 teleconverters for the 300f4 (for birds), 11 compact flash cards, camera chargers, SB600 flash, spare camera batteries, spare batteries for flash and gps (4 packs of lithium AAs), spare basic flash bracket, stand and mini tripod for flash (for use with fisheye if necessary), cleaning cloth, rocket blower, cable release, empty beanbag, kenko extension tubes, Garmin 62ST GPS & cable, laptop & charger, card reader & cable, 2 continental europe plug adaptors, 2 Optech rainsleeves
In my oversize raincoat:
Binoculars, sunglasses, 2 orchid guides, portable hard drive, mobile and charger (useful to have a mobile with camera or a pocket camera for quick location shots).
Camera gear in my checked suitcase:
ThinkTank harness system and skin pouches – useful for storing and carrying individual bits of gear in the car or while out shooting
Gitzo tripod, Manfrotto 410 head & body plate, 2 Wimberley plamps, Novoflex Castel-L focusing rack with Wimberley C12 clamp attached, Wimberley macro flash bracket, small and medium-large 5-in-1 diffusers, small rolls of duct tape, masking tape and a small stapler to make a DIY softbox if necessary, tripod tools, lens wipes, green picnic rug (to use as a ground mat, ultra low-level beanbag, or background shading material), Leki Micro Stick collapsible walking poles – potentially to double as useful things to attach diffusers or background shading to on a shot, Swiss Army penknife. The latter is a perennial fixture in my trouser pocket, extremely useful and versatile for all kinds of things – screwdrivers for everything from tightening lens plates to mending glasses, pen for emergency notes, blades etc. etc.
This set of gear always has the potential to be overkill, but deliberately so: I build in some redundancy for kit without which, if lost or mislaid, my photography outings would be very difficult or impossible. Hence the beanbag options in my hand luggage as well as the tripod in the checked case, and the knowledge/equipment to make a spare ‘coke-can’ softbox in an emergency. It was a good decision to take the rainsleeves, as I did use them on my first day when there was light drizzle and some heavy rain. The Shapeshifter bag has the virtue of displaying the bag’s contents fully when opened out, which may make it easier to get through airport security without having to unpack and then repack everything (well, this worked on 1 out of the 2 trips through Athens airport!!)