What's in your bag? (LF)

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Shawn Dougherty, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    It's all about the prints... but I still enjoy the gear to a point. I especially enjoy reading about what others pack along with them, both camera gear and other bits. After getting some advice from Michael A Smith I added a compact mirror to use when it's difficult to access the aperture and shutter speeds on the front of my camera. This has really helped me on a number of occasions. I wonder if there is anything else I'm missing?

    (I did a reasonable search and couldn't find a thread about this for LF gear forgive me if I missed it.)
     
  2. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    F64 Large Backpack (black)
    Toyo 45AII
    Pentax Digital Spot Meter
    Nikkor 90mm SW f4.5
    Fujinon 150mm NW f5.6
    Nikkor 210mm W f5.6
    Fujinon 300mm C f8.5 (lenses inside a Gnass Gear 4 lens case)
    Lens hoods, rubber
    Hoya HMC yellow, orange, red
    Tiffen Polarizer - step up rings
    6-12 Fidelity Elite Film Holders loaded with TMY2, HP5+ when I run out (holders in F64 film holder bags)
    Cable release
    Soft brush / lens cleaning fluid / lens cloth
    Compass / small tape measure
    Folding mirror (think women's make up) for when I can't easily access the front of the camera to change the aperture & shutter speed
    Moleskin / pen / marker / reciprocity table (Howard Bond Data)
    Most of the small bits are in an old Lowepro S&F Utility Case
    Gloves in the winter / extra socks and $1 poncho all year
    Harrison darkcloth and fold up soft white reflector
    Reis J100 tripod with double tilt head.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2013
  3. TareqPhoto

    TareqPhoto Member

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    Tell me about good bags to use for LF then later i will tell you what i filled those bags with.
     
  4. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Bag?? I use a Kelty frame pack. It holds a Deardorff V8, four to six filmholders, a smaller bag with lenses, filters, meter, notebook, etc.; lunch, water, darkcloth, odd neccessities. The tripod can be tied to the top or bottom, usually the latter, the all-up weight is ca.45-50 lbs.
     
  5. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    One of my most useful items are a set DIY viewfinders made from black ABS sewer pipe fittings. When combined with a black matte board cutout glued to the front openings and calibrated for each matching lens's field-of-view, they exactly match the projected image on the 8x10 ground glass, when pressed to my eye socket.

    I find that some of the most enjoyable LF photography time I spend is done before hauling out the camera, when I am just walking around looking at things. Much easier to use these guys (one for each lens I use) to do a quick ballpark assessment, then just keep walking.

    If the composition is worthy of future consideration with the actual camera, I will often mark the spot on the ground with stones, or whatever else I can find, and make a note of the location. Then I can return later when the light, time, or weather are better suited. I have even used small spray-painted crosses if I think I might need to wait months.

    Another useful item is my classic Brunton pocket transit (magnetic compass) from my long ago days working as a field geologist. I use this to record bearings of various subject matter if I feel the direction of light might be better during a different time or season of the year.

    I have used such readings in the past together with various software applications (planetarium programs, Photographer's Ephemeris, etc.) to carefully narrow down dates and specific times when it might be better to return. Don't want to take a day off work and drive 200 miles in March when August would have been a better choice.

    That was the case with this photograph, when, to get the glancing sunlight as I wanted it, I measured the orientation of the wall with the Brunton, then waited almost nine months to return on a specific day and at a specific hour of the morning.

    And a third really useful item that I, and a lot of others, carry is a small battery-operated voice recorder for notes. The saved information density is much greater than with written notes. And I can use it in the dark when necessary. This is especially useful to me when, as described above, I am just walking around looking.

    Ken
     
  6. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    Whoa. Good stuff, Ken. That compass is bitchin'. I love that it has a tripod mount. =) Also enjoyed the picture you linked to, it's definitely all about the light!
     
  7. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Yeah, the rule of thumb was that when hand holding a Brunton, you should be able to read it accurately to within 1/2 of a degree. It's magnetically damped, so if your technique is good that's not too hard.

    But if it was tripod-mounted or used on a plane-table for precision work (which also automatically held it perfectly level), one should be able to read it down to 1/5 of a degree. That's about the limit of accuracy for setting the regional magnetic declination offset as well.

    Not sure what the inflation calculators say, but I'm looking right now at the original Brunton box it came in on the book shelf above me, and the original price sticker on it says $150.30. That would have been around 1982-83.

    It's quite a beautiful precision instrument.

    :smile:

    Ken
     
  8. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    The bag depends on the camera of course, but for small stuff (5x7/5x12) I have a Zone VI "cooler" white bag that can hold the Canham 5x7, several lenses, my Minolta Spotmeter F, cable release, and a half-dozen or more holders. If I'm packing the 5x12, the bag holds the camera plus five holders, and a second canvas Whole Foods grocery tote has the meter, lenses, cable release and Sawtooth Designs darkcloth. If i'm feeling particularly gutsy/insane, there's a Tenba shipping bag that hauls around the 14x17 plus the Saitta bag for the 5 14x17 holders. The canvas tote makes another appearance with that outfit hauling the two lenses, cable release, and meter.
     
  9. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Headlamp, matches, compass, toilet paper, Polish bivouac bag (XXL garbage bag), 6 year old PowerBar (gotta replace that) – along with the less important camera stuff.
     
  10. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    Flapjacks and Green n Blacks choc bars are most excellent ROL:D
     
  11. Karl A

    Karl A Member

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    A level from the hardware store :smile:
     
  12. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    A cordura tool bag with wheels and telescoping handle is what I use for 4x5 and 8x10.

    It works for me but I have a bad back and can't go hiking. Otherwise, I'd use a quality backpack.
     
  13. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    You forgot to tell him about the bottle of Jack! :D
     
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i have both a pole level AND a square torpedo type one ..
    cheap as dirt
     
  16. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    I lost mine awhile ago, time to stop and pick one up. Thanks fellows.
     
  17. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    It seems like this thread is more about the useful gadgets that we carry in the field than the actual cameras, lenses and filters, so I'll contribute in that vein. I have lots of little things that seem to make my life easier in the field and don't weigh too much. Here's a list.

    1. A Voss "filter holder" with barn doors. Very small and compact. I use it for a folding lens shade and only rarely for holding a gel filter in a mount.
    2. A compact flashlight. That plus the LED lights I usually carry in my pocket have got me out of many places after dark as well as help with focusing.
    3. A homemade collapsible cover for the slide-end of filmholders. I made this from old film boxes. It just fits the protruding end of a filmholder with one darkslide pulled, and keeps stray light out. Really helpful for those long waits between shots when the wind is blowing and the darkslide whipping around...
    4. A mechanic's flexible mirror. Like a dentist's mirror only larger and with a flexible head; for checking levels and shutter settings when the camera is too high or in other tight places.
    5. A nylon "water bucket" with drawstrings. Originally intended for backpackers carrying water, it is large enough to cover my camera on the tripod to protect it from rain and it doubles as a nifty weight bag to hang from the tripod center column with a few stones in it. And it's reversible!
    6. A small roll of nylon line and a few spare bootlaces. Indispensable for tying back pesky branches, anchoring the tripod, safety-tying the camera etc. Plus, I can replace the laces in my hiking boots if needed.
    7. A lipstick brush and micro-fiber lens cleaning cloth. I use the brush a lot more than the cloth.
    8. A roll of gaffer's tape. Actually 1" gaffer's tape wound around a small thread spool for everything from attaching filters to splinting sprained ankles.
    9. A small level to augment the ones on my cameras.
    10. A single lens magnifier that folds into a case to supplement my Peak loupe. A spare in case I lose the loupe or drop it off a cliff.
    11. 4 diopter reading glasses for focusing. I use these regularly for rough focusing then use the loupe for fine focusing.
    12. A Swiss army knife with one of the screwdrivers modified to be really small for all kinds of things.
    13. A Zone VI viewing filter. Simply indispensable for me.
    14. Lanyards for my light meter and viewing filter that attach to my jacket or vest. These have saved my spot meter more than once!
    15. A couple of white bandanas for everything from lens cleaning to wearing under my cap to keep my neck from getting sunburned.
    16. A flat lens wrench for tightening retaining rings. This just rides along with my 67mm filters and has come in handy once or twice.
    17. A small measuring tape (I use a seamstresses retractable cloth tape when weight is an issue) for measuring bellows extension
    18. Stickers for each lens that needs it with actual shutter speeds according to my shutter speed tester.
    19. Stickers on each camera with optimal f-stops for focus spread. I use these always to get optimum DoF.
    20. A couple of 30-gallon heavy duty garbage bags for rain protection, etc., etc.
    21. My most important accessory: a small notebook with exposure records, tables for reciprocity failure adjustments and bellows extension factors for all the films and lenses I use plus lots of other useful information like exposure indices, Intermediate shutter speeds at longer times, etc., etc. With pencil, of course.

    Plus I have a few stones, seashells and small pieces of interesting driftwood scattered around my photo vest pockets to remind me of places I've been.

    In the winter, cold weather gear, liner gloves, etc. comes along too, but that's another thread, as is survival gear for real back-country hikes/backpacking.

    Best,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  18. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I always take the disposable plastic shower caps from hotels. Great for covering a 4x5 folder in the rain. And, free...
     
  19. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    I used to use those to cover the large end of motion picture lenses between setups in dusty locations. One time the cinematographer thought the scene looked good with it on so we shot the rest of the day that way.
     
  20. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    This is quite eye opening. My (very different/strange) workflow is such that I never have to carry much at one time so it never really occurred to me how much "stuff" most of us actually have. I don't know how I would manage to keep it all organized in a portable way.
     
  21. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    - Jack or Jack - ?

    Yukon Jack I find repulsively sweet; Jack Daniels I find just palin repulsive. But I have been known to bring a pocket flasc of brandy or scnapps (real scnapps, not that sugary flavored stuff):smile:. You never know what you'll run into in these boondocks:laugh:.
     
  22. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    Doremus,
    Great ideas in there! Thanks for sharing that. I took a look at your website as well, some very fine work. =)

    Good idea and cool story, Bill.

    So let's hear about this very different/strange workflow. :munch:

    I suppose my kit sounds like quite a bit but it all packs into the F64 backpack with a little extra room and I have a specific spot for everything so I can access anything I need in a moment.

    I forgot to add, I also carry a Toyo 3.6x loupe in a little fitted neoprene case my girl found for it somewhere and small blue tarp to set the pack down on mud if necessary. Still gotta add that level I lost... needed it the last time I was shooting 4x5. I'm going to stop at the hardware store tonight, I need a mouse trap too, unfortunately.

    Also, what I love about my Harrison Classic darkcloth is the the shiny silver side acts as a great reflector PLUS it's waterproof so if it starts raining once I've set up (but before I expose my film) I will sometimes wrap the camera in it and wait it out. The F64 pack has one of those fold out rain covers which is nice if it starts pouring during a hike.
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    scnapps is the real deal, but you need a still, or someone who has one.
    eau de vivre is good-stuff as long as you don't drink the whole flask ...
     
  24. ROL

    ROL Member

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  25. ROL

    ROL Member

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    My field camera cannot be collapsed with an installed lens. That leaves the bellows open to all manner of dust and flying debris, at put up and take down. I cut down an old plastic Kodak Grey Card to the size of the lens boards. I insert this whenever the lens has to be removed. It doubles as, wait for it, a grey card, useful occasionally in difficult lighting when I suspect my spot meter readings my be lying to me, or in color work.
     
  26. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    My small Lowe Pro 15L carries 4-5 lenses, Chamonix 45N2, polarizer, R72, 10 stop ND and a deep yellow filter with all the needed step up rings plus a couple of grads. It also holds water, snacks and spare clothing lashed to the outside. With my carbon fiber tripod, light ACRA-tech GP head and various other goodies, 6 film holders and a roll film or Kinematic 10 exposure back, the whole setup weighs in at 22 pounds. Over the years I have noticed how a light pack plays a big role in how long I can stay out, where I can go and how dynamic the resulting photos are.