Travel & Photography: Camera Backpack Essentials When Traveling

Camera Backpack Essentials When Traveling

I am an over-packer.  Traveling light is very difficult for me.  However, we recently went on a trip and did NOT fly on Southwest, so there were NO free bags on our flights.  (I have become very spoiled flying on Southwest).  We flew American and Delta, and both airlines charge $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second checked bag.  However, I did not skimp on my camera equipment on this particular trip (which I will write all about later).  I am very hesitant to pack anything camera related into my checked luggage, with the exception of a tripod.

What Goes Into My Camera Backpack When Traveling

Contents of Camera Backpack

Here is the breakdown and why I put these items in my camera backpack when preparing for a trip

Nikon D810

Nikon D810

 Nikon D810 Camera Body

I recently upgraded from a D300 to the D810. Phenomenal difference in picture quality from 12.2 to 36.1 megapixel.  This is the first thing that goes into my bag.

Nikon 28-110 mm lens with Vibration Reduction.

Nikon Nikkor 24-120 mm VR lens

Nikon Nikkor 24-120 mm VR lens

I use this lens about 20 percent of the time.  I use this lens when I photograph the hummingbirds in my back yard.  I will also use this lens when I am traveling and out taking photos on my own when I can take my time to set up my shots.

Tamron 28-300 mm lens with Vibration Reduction

Tamron 28-300 mm lens for Nikon

Tamron 28-300 mm lens for Nikon

I use this lens about 80 percent of the time, especially when on travel and sightseeing.

Tamron Auto Focus 200-500mm f/5.0-6.3 Di LD SP FEC

Tamron-200-500mm Lens for Nikon

Tamron-200-500mm Lens for Nikon

This lens doesn’t fit into my camera backpack, however, it has a case that I can strap onto my camera backpack.  I don’t always take this lens when I travel.  I only take it when I’m planning on photographing wildlife.  Unfortunately, this particular lens has been discontinued.

Nikon D810 User’s Manual.

 

Nikon D810 User's Manual

Nikon D810 User’s Manual

Just because you always need your manual handy.  You may be somewhere remote with no internet/phone access and need to know how to do a 12 minute exposure or something else equally interesting and cutting edge.

Nikon D800 Camera Battery and Charger

TOP-MAX® EN-EL15 Quick Dual Battery Charger for Nikon D810

TOP-MAX® EN-EL15 Quick Dual Battery Charger for Nikon D810

I have two batteries for every camera I own, just in case one battery dies in the middle of an amazing photo adventure, I just pop another battery in and I’m good to go.  I also charge all of my camera batteries every evening when traveling.  (This brand of charger also works for other Nikon Camera models.  Click on the link above to check if your model is listed.)

Nikon D300 Camera Body.  Because you always need a back up just in case.

Nikon D300 Camera, 12.2 megapixel

Nikon D300

Tamron 18-270mm VR lens for Nikon D300

Tamron 18-270mm VR lens

Tamron 18-270mm VR lens

I LOVE this lens.  Unfortunately, it is not a full frame lens, it is a DX lens (for digital cameras before full-frame became available).  If I use this lens on the D810, there is vignetting around the edges of the frame of the photo.  I use it as the primary lens on my D300.

Nikon D300 Battery and Charger

Nikon D300 Battery & Charger

Nikon D300 Battery & Charger

I have two batteries for every camera I own, just in case one battery dies in the middle of an amazing photo adventure, I just pop another battery in and I’m good to go.  I also charge all of my camera batteries every evening when traveling.

Go Pro Camera and Case

Go Pro Camera and Case

GoPro Hero 4 Camera and Case

I love my Go Pro Hero 4.  It’s small, lightweight and compact.  I keep the waterproof housing on the camera so I can grab it and go without worrying about rain affecting it or if I want to take a swim with it.  The clear housing also means the camera is tough and durable.  The camera was a definite bonus this summer when we traveled to the Bahamas, and I took the camera zip lining in Alaska, and with the head attachment, I was able to get some great video of our zip lining experience.  The only downside is the battery life is very short, so I ordered an extra battery and keep them both with me, so if one dies, I can quickly switch out the battery.  I also have two  64GB memory cards.

GoPro 3-Way Grip, Arm & Tripod

GoPro 3-Way Grip, Arm & Tripod

GoPro 3-Way Grip, Arm & Tripod

Love how small and compact this GoPro selfie stick is and has a built-in tripod in the base that unscrews from the bottom and you can have an instant sturdy base to take photos.

GoPro Smart Remote

GoPro Smart Remote

GoPro Smart Remote

This great little gadget allows you to synchronize the GoPro Camera so you can control the shutter release with a touch of a button.  Set up your camera, get in place, push a button and you are recording.  You have to turn on the bluetooth in the GoPro Camera so the camera and remote can sync with each other, and again, that eats up lots of battery life.  I try to remember to record with the remote, and then when I am finished to immediately turn off the bluetooth option on my camera.

iPhone 6S

iphone6s-plus-rosegold-select-2015

                                                                iPhone Select Rose Gold Select 2015

Of course, how could i forget my iPhone.  I’ve had an iPhone since version 3.  The newest version has an 8 megapixel camera, which takes amazing photos, and up to 64 GB storage (which is what I have).  Currently, I have 13,592 photos and 355 videos on my phone, and that’s covering mid-2014 through today.  There are all sorts of photo editing programs on your phone to make the most of the photos you take.  All of that information is for another post.

15″ Macbook Pro & 4TB External Hard Drive

Macbook Pro and 4TB External Hard Drive

Macbook Pro and 4TB External Hard Drive

In July, my old mid-2009 Macbook Pro died.  It was seven years old, and it was a great travel laptop.  I upgraded to a MacBook Pro mid-2015 15″ with retina display.  My only complaint is that there is only 256 MB of storage.  Because of that, I also carry around a 4TB external hard drive.  The photos on my D810 are HUGE and take up a lot of space, and this way I don’t have to worry about running out of storage while I’m on the road.

Photographing in Nature:

Dress Appropriately

First and foremost, I cover up.  In the summer, I wear  a breathable lightweight long-sleeved shirt, a wide-brimmed hat (this does tend to be cumbersome when photographing), long pants and athletic shoes or my Timberland boots.  I also put on lots of sunscreen, especially on my face, and also wear insect and tick repellent.  Covering up from the sun has been a recent development for me after a visit to the dermatologist revealed a mole in the “severe” category on the top of my thigh, which means it had the potential to turn into melanoma.  I have since had the offending mole removed.

You never know what is going to happen when you are out in nature taking photos.  This is what I add to my camera backpack when going out to photograph wildlife:

First Aid Kit:

Swiss Army Knife

Swiss Army Knife.  Absolutely LOVE this tool in my camera backpack.  It can be used for cutting, has a Phillips head screwdriver, a wine opener, mini scissors, etc.  I always put my knife in my checked luggage when I travel.

Anti Bacterial Ointment

Anti Bacterial Ointment

Band Aids

Band Aids

Lip Balm

Lip Balm

Facial Tissues

Facial Tissues (can also be used as toilet paper…)

Toilet Seat Covers

Toilet Seat Covers (ALWAYS necessary).

Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

Stain Remover Pen

Stain Remover Pen

 

Neutrogena Age Face Shield 110 SPF

                                          Neutrogena Age Face Shield 110 SPF

Other items I include:  mini hand lotion, Benadryl, aspirin, and Tums (I have a small pill container to store medication).

Miscellaneous Items

Charging Cords

Charging Cords

Business Cards

Business Cards

National Park Passport Book

National Park Passport Book

My goal is to visit all 59 National Parks in the United States.  As of today, I have visited 35 out of 59 National Parks.  I document my visits in my Passport book.  Each national park has a visitor center with a unique date stamp, so that those visitors that have a passport book can stamp the date of their visit.

National Park Passport Book

National Park Passport Book

For example, this is a date stamp I recently received in Denali National Park.  You can find out more about the National Park Passport Program here.  By the way, August 25, 2016 is the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service.  Take the time to go visit one of your national parks today.  There will be free admission to all of the national parks from August 25-28, 2016.

Mini Sketchbook & Fountain Pen

Mini Sketchbook & Fountain Pen

I also carry a mini sketchbook and fountain pen in case I need to write anything down, or I just want to stop and make a quick drawing of someplace I’m visiting.

Of course, not everything goes into this backpack at all times.

I rarely carry my laptop when I’m out taking photos during the day, and I leave  my charging cords and laptop cord behind where ever I am staying.

Travel Photography in a City

  • When I am out touring in a city, I empty most of the first aid items out of my backpack, as these items are readily available in most places.
  • I usually only carry one camera body and one lens as well, because most of the time, unless I am chasing daylight, I am on someone else’s time schedule, and I know I’m not going to always have the luxury to wait 15 or 20 minutes for the “right” shot to come along.

There’s no right or wrong way to decide what to take or how to pack your photo equipment when traveling.

Find what works best for you (usually through trial and error, and then sell the things you don’t end up using on Ebay).

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