Busy Summer Shoots and the Right Gear

We’re now into early August and I’m managing a short period of ‘me time’ after a somewhat frenetic but enjoyable last few weeks.

Heath Week (celebrating the Pebblebed heaths of East Devon) sees me moving to different locations each day to capture the full range of events sponsored by a variety of different organisations including RSPB, Clinton Devon Estates, East Devon Wildlife Trust etc etc.

My remit is to photograph the folk attending these events and also the event itself e.g. Kids pond dipping and also the variety of pond life they discover. Another day sees me shooting an outdoor theatre performance and the families attending. An archaeology event added to the mix of multiple events that not only involved taking photographs but trying to stay in the background at the same time: sometimes it’s best to be as invisible as possible! And on top of all this often walking some fair distances in , at times, very hot weather. And in these circumstances the choice of camera gear is so important. It would be great if we all had the physical capacity to carry all the gear we might possibly need to cover all eventualities. But the kind of events I’m describing here mean covering, often, quite some distance in hot weather with little time for a break and never really knowing what you’re going to shoot and usually making decisions on the hoof. You don’t have time to get people to pose for the right shot…you just have to take advantage of whatever opportunity presents itself. And because of time constraints you need to ensure that nearly every shot is a keeper. Clients often need your images the same day so you need to reduce post production processing to a minimum. Which brings me to the most important question: what kit do I take?

Camera-wise it’s a no brainer: my trusty and very tough Canon’s flagship1DX Mark III. It’ll produce the sort of results I want under virtually any conditions and is literally as tough as old boots…you can’t afford to put gear-worry at the top of your list of priorities: you need a camera body that you know will never let you down no matter what you or conditions throw at it. And I can confidently shoot in auto ISO knowing that this beastie will handle any noise like a boss.

However, the lens combo is a different matter and needs a bit more thought. Certainly it has to be an L series but what focal length, zoom or prime? I don’t want to carry a bag of lenses with me just in case because I know from experience that swapping lenses on these sort of shoots wastes so much valuable time, And often costs that missed shot that would otherwise win the day. Again, experience tells me that I need a ‘pocket rocket’ that will produce incredible images straight out of camera and gives me enough scope for situations from wide angle to close-up portrait. In my experience there’s only one lens that does this sort of job: The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 IS USM. At f5.6 it is unbelievably tack sharp and with the right camera settings it’ll produce images that need no processing apart from perhaps a little crop. This is what I need on occasions like this: fast glass, good focal range, tough gear and the ability to produce incredible straight out of camera RAW images. Time is definitely not on the photographer’s side. It’s often fast moving, on the hoof stuff and it goes without saying that you need not only self-confidence but confidence in you gear.

If you’ve not tried this gear combo then I would strongly suggest you give it a go. Sure, it’s not mirrorless and it’s not for the faint hearted but once you’ve got to grips with it I guarantee you’ll not be disappointed.

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