What makes a great photographer? Besides a good pair of eyes, great intuition, some technical know-how, and sometimes sheer luck, no great photog can do what they do without their gear. And the contents of a gear bag can say a little, or a lot about a person.
The What's in Your Bag series features remarkable photographers from the 500px community and gives us a peek into what they consider their essential tools on the go. This week's feature is David Thompson.
Who are you, David?
My name is David Thompson. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. I consider myself a landscape photography enthusiast. Photography has become an outlet of creativity for myself. My goal as a photographer is to capture those intimate moments when gazing into a sunrise or sunset. I want to bring the viewer into the scene as if they were standing there within the image. I would like to tell a story and let the mind and eye journey to another place. I want people to appreciate the natural beauty of this world we live in, then take them visually into the unknown.
What do you shoot?
I like to shoot landscapes, seascapes, abstracts in nature and intimate scenes. Occasionally I will shoot a cityscape, but my primary focus is on landscapes and coastal scenes.
What's in your bag?
About my bag: I was using a Kata Bumble Bee backpack. I found it too cumbersome, and wanted something lighter and not as bulky. I did tons of research and looked at many camera backpacks. I found all of them the same as my other backpack—big and bulky. Instead I went to my local REI store, and picked up the REI Lookout 40 day backpack. This backpack is so much lighter than my other bags and much more comfortable. There is plenty of space for all of my gear and then some. I should have looked into this much sooner.
These are items that I keep in my bag on most occasions. Once in a while I remove some items to reduce some of the weight, but I generally keep these items at all times.
Headlamp. I always like to have one of these on me. Since I shoot landscapes and the best light being before/after sunrise and sunset, 95% of the time I'm either leaving a location when it's dark or arriving to a location when it's dark. The lead lamp is a must.
Hoya HD Circular Polarizer. I always have my CPL with me. You never know when you are going to need this. The reduction of glare and to boost contrast and colors, the CPL is a must for landscape photography.
Hot Shoe Level. If you're ever shooting a scene and are concerned about having a level horizon, this small inexpensive piece of equipment is invaluable.
Lee Soft Edge Graduated Neutral density filters. I really like and prefer the Lee filter than my other filters. The Lee filters seem to have less color cast than the other filters I use. The soft edge filter set is great. You CANNOT go wrong with a set of these filters. If you shoot landscapes I highly recommend a set. Here is an example where the 3 stop soft edge filter was used.
Singh Ray 3 stop Hard Edge Graduated Neutral density filter. This is my go to filter if I'm shooting coastal scenes, or if there is a scene that has a straight horizon with no obstructions. This filter will normally hold back enough light to get a nice even exposure. For the image below, I was able to hand hold the filter along with the use of the live view function in my camera. I was able to line up the filter's dark to light transition right on the horizon to obtain the proper exposure for that scene.
Singh Ray 3 stop Reverse GND. The Almighty Reverse Grad! This filter is so powerful! It will make ANY colors in the sky POP! It will turn pinks to hot pink at the snap of a finger. I use this filter if I'm shooting a scene where there is very bright light on the horizon, like in this photo.
I will also use it if I'm trying to bring out a little more detail and color in the sky. One must be very careful with this filter; it gives off a magenta cast. The filter is really nice, and can give great results if used properly.
Canon 5D Mark II. It's a great camera. I really enjoy the live view feature, and low/high ISO capabilities. Superb picture quality as well.
Canon 17-40mm f/4 L lens. This lens stays on my camera.
Canon 24-105mm f/4 L lens. Nice image quality with this lens.
Canon 70-200mm f/4 non-IS L lens. This lens is a powerhouse; it's sharp at all apertures and focal lengths.
There are other little small items that I have in my bag that I didn't mention. I always have at least one spare battery and compact flash card. I carry several hand cloths just in case I have to wipe my filters off or camera. A tripod is a must. And I always carry two cable releases; one wired and one wireless.
For more of David's photography, check out his 500px page.