Backpacking and Photography?
Hey all - A group of co-workers and myself will soon be giving MT. Whitney a try. We are all 1st timers to MT. Whitney, and I would like to document the trip, for myself and for PR for our company.
I have never done a overnight backing trip before and am finding it hard to figure out how to pack my camera gear along with my camping gear (in a safe manner anyway).
Kelty Red Cloud 5600
the camera gear:
100mm F/4 macro
35-105mm f/3.5 Zoom
I was thinking about both bodies in case I came across something I wanted in B&W, not sure yet. I will also probably take the 199a flash, since it's the smallest one I have.
I'd like to hear how others have packed their bags and incorporated their camera gear, and suggestions on which gear to take, including stuff I haven't listed.
Anytime I hiked, which has been a while, I had a fanny pack kinda thing with a body and lens affixed, another lens, a polarizer and however much film I could jam in the cracks, the idea being ease of access. You could always bring more and stash it in the pack, just keep what you anticipate using the most within arm's uncontorted reach.
I used to pack the Uintas in NE Utah, San Juans in SE Colo. and other places. My camera of choice was a Ricoh 500 or my Olympus XA. My friends and I would spend two to three weeks in the wilds at altitudes above 10,000 ft. In winter I would X-C ski for one to two weeks trekking from yurt to hut to tent, depending on where I was going. Some friends used to operate back country yurts for wilderness treks(paying clients). Pack of choice was a first generation Wilderness Experience internal frame expedition pack. Space and weight are prime concerns especially at high altitude, where every ounce feels like a pound. Priority given to food and warmth, whatever was left over was for other necessities like climbing gear. Camera gear rode in strap on accessory pouches on shoulder straps or hip belt. Film was stashed in plastic canisters in the bag along with mini pod. I never packed a SLR on any trips, too heavy. The degenerative arthritis in my back and knees (and neck, hands) precludes me from enjoying that life anymore. Now, I can pack anything I care to shoot---in my Jeep (Grand Cherokee) in comfort.
I hear ya, Rick. Not the osteo but I sure ain't as bendy as I used to be.
No, actually, a nice rangefinder would be perfect. Heck, I didn't even think about my ZI Contina's. They would have been perfect back in the day.
Two cameras are too much for that climb. When I climbed Mt. Whitney I took one lightweight rangefinder camera with one lens and lots of film. Kept it in a small waist pack attached to the hip strap of the backpack.
Keep it very simple and light. You're walking up a very tall mountain. Less is more.
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I have packed a 4x5 on 11 days hiked thru the Grand Canyon and bicycled for 5+ months through New Zealand with a 4x5 also. Of course, I was a bit younger at the time, so now I usually just take the wee little Rolleiflex.
But such little camera gear as you listed will be no problem -- as long as you do a little training before the big trip. Don't know where you are located, but try to do some high elevation hiking to get you and your lungs in shape. Altitude sickness will be your biggest stumbling block going up to 14,000 feet.
Equipment -- leave the 50mm and 100mm macro behind (you can do macros anywhere -- does not have to be on Whitney), unless it is a favorite lens, as you have it already covered with the 35-105mm. Or bring one of them along instead of a body cap for the second camera. Tripod? Bring a small bag you can fill with sand or dirt to stabilize the camera for longer shutter speeds...or one of those little table pods -- they weigh ounces.
But most of all, have a bunch of fun!
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
Remember that you are going to gain 6,100+ feet of elevation hiking from Whitney Portal to the summit of My. Whitney. Depending upon your physical ability, and tolerance to altitude sickness, carrying a lot of weight may be an issue. Another option is to cross the Sierra, starting in the west (such as Giant Forest or Cedar Grove) and exiting over Trail Crest, summiting Mt. Whitney, and exiting at Whitney Portal. This requires a minimum of 7 to 10 days, but is a lot easier on the body than the 6,100+ of elevation gain and loss.
I have seen pictures taken from the summit of Mt. Whitney taken with a 8x10 view camera - and admired the physical ability to tote the beast that far. FYI, I usually carry a Pentax 67 and a Nikon F100 when I go packing in the Sierra, and find that to be a lot of weight.
Also, there is a sporting goods store in Lone Pine that used to sell a patch that states "I ALMOST climbed Mt. Whitney".
Do you have permits set up? If not, you may be disappointed if you do not. See the Inyo National Forest web site for more information.
Please publish a trip report here when you return.
Last edited by wy2l; 06-05-2010 at 08:39 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: Can't spell!
Regarding the lenses and bodies…keep 1 lens on each body and “the other” lens (the one you plan on using less) in the bag.
Get yourself a titanium spork and forget the heavy Colman gas burners - You'll be lugging enough weight with a bear can without worrying about the extras.. If it is a one night trip, consider a no-cook regime, or at the most, taking an MSR Pocket Rocket + Ti Mug.
One last tip - If your tent weighs more than your camera, get a smaller tent or a bigger camera.
Sounds like way too much gear. Especially for 1st time to Mt. Whitney and (your) first time backpacking. I'll second Rick's comment: "where every ounce feels like a pound". Unless your are the designated photographer and the others are carrying all the "community" gear, I'd go with a small RF or at least pare down the gear to one body and the zoom.
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