Saturday, June 30, 2007

Travelling light in the Digital Age (I wish...)

Let me get slightly personal for once, by showing you the inside of my photo bag as I set out for Italy on my summer holiday. Having decided to go digital, in order to shoot more of a series of infrared landscapes, I had to rethink my travelling gear. Typically I would take a SWC Hasselblad with two 120 film holders and a Leica M4 or a Leica III, either one with three lenses (35-50-90) on holiday. This would also entail carrying enough films for both formats, color and black and white.

This time I am leaving with a Fujifilm S3 and one wide angle zoom lens, 10-20mm.
I should have thought this to be fairly equivalent to the SWC in terms of weight and volume and that I would have enough spare room for the usual Leica kit to fit in. But digital cameras need batteries, ideally rechargeable, and these need a charger. Now why are most chargers and power supplies much larger and heavier than the items they feed?

Then you have the memory cards issue. Either you carry enough flash cards to last you the entire trip, or you bring some device to empty them and store the images. Not wanting to bring a lap top computer, I settled for a primitive Photo Bank box, that should cover the problem albeit with no preview capability. This of course also needs power, ie its own dedicated power cable.

Slowly but surely I began to realize that going digital didn’t mean travelling light. Once caught by the gadgetry bug I felt it a good idea to complement the expedition with a car navigation system (do I need to mention that this also needs a cumbersome power cable?) and of course the feeder for the mobile phone.

To make matters even worse, I need a reasonably good tripod this time (infrared requires long exposures) and I am partial to a Manfrotto geared head that adds considerably to the weight.
The rucksack has ended up feeling as if it had been filled with stones.

So the Leica won’t come along this time, and I will have to make do with a Minox 35 as film back up for black and white and an Olympus XA for colour negs. They both take about the same amont of space as a packet of cigarettes, and luckily I haven’t been needing them for many years now. As for the back up films, I guess I will have to sprinkle them among my underwear in the family suitcase and fish what I need for the day out of it, each morning.

If this doesn’t sound like holidays to you, I must admit that you are absolutely right. In fact, more than having taken some leave from work, it would appear that I have taken leave from my senses, driven mad by modern technology and the compulsion always to take photographs.

Let this be a warning, my friends.

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