Nature and wildlife filmmakers have a lot of gear. It seems every year we pick up filmmaking gear that helps us to get the shots we see in our mind. Can’t we do that without having to buy new gear all the time? Sure, but for example when carbon fiber tripods came out, the reduced weight over aluminum tripods meant we could carry more and go farther without adding any more weight.
I probably have six or seven tripods. From my ancient Bogen 3021 to my current Miller Solo and 3 Legged Thing Arthur carbon fiber tripods. Don’t even get me started on the bags. I have a closet full of camera and film bags. Each for a specific purpose.
I have the PortaBrace bag that will hold a video camera with a mattebox attached, Thermodyne flight cases in case I have to check any gear. LowePro Super Photo Trekker from my photography days, Think Tank International to be able to carry my cameras gear on a plane and it will fit in the overhead bin of a regional jet.
My current bag is an fStop Gear Sukha 70 liter backpack.
On top of all that, I have a lot of gear that fits onto those bags. Some of it for specific uses. So when I venture out into the field I often leave some gear behind because it either won’t fit in the bag I’m taking or I am shooting something in daylight and not venturing out for a night shoot. No sense packing up a Z96 LED light and batteries if I’m headed out to film prairie wildflowers in the daylight.
Because of that, I tend to take gear from one bag and put it in another as I need it. If I’m filming a sunset, I’ll take the Lee 100mm filter holder and all my 100mm filters and put them in the bag that I’ll be taking for that trip. That way I can use the graduated neutral density filters to balance out the land and sky.
On the next shoot if I’m headed down to Otter Creek Marsh to film the Milky Way, I don’t need those filters so I’ll take them out to make room for external battery packs to allow me to film for hours without having to change batteries.
So Here’s the Problem
The weather here in Eastern Iowa changes moment to moment. What looked like a clouded over sky can suddenly clear and gift you with some amazing golden hour light. Coupled with the driving distances and time limitations I have, I’m often flying in the door, grabbing some gear and flying back out in hopes of catching a shot before it’s too late. What inevitably happens is that I discover that something I needed for the shoot isn’t in the bag. Can’t tell you how many times that has happened.
It seems that I usually discover I’m missing a piece of gear when I’m past the point of turning around and going back for it. So I end up making adjustments to compensate for the forgotten gear. Thankfully I always have several memory cards in my packs so if I forget to put the memory card back in the camera, I have spares so worse case scenario I can still film something.
I’m working to consolidate my gear into small cases each containing like gear. So all the gear I need to power and keep condensation off my cameras lenses is in one case. All the gear I need for time-lapse is in another small case. That way I can just grab the cases I need for the shoot I’m looking to do and put them in whatever bag I’m taking and off I go. It’s not the perfect solution but at least I’m not forgetting as much gear as I used too. 🙂
And as always, shoot the ordinary and make it extraordinary!