In part two of the new Gura Gear Bataflae series of videos we have a look at just what I pack in my camera bag for both international travel and local landscape photography. Depending on where I am travelling and what I am shooting I occasionally swap lenses in and out of this collection. As you will see, you can fit quite a bit of gear in a Bataflae 32L! I actually discovered another tele-converter in the bag on top of all the other equipment when I was repacking the bag after we finished filming. Just click on the image to watch the video via You Tube. I hope you enjoy. You can order the Gura Gear Bataflae cameras bags directly from Gura Gear.
Travel photography in France
Cathedrale Notre Dame : Reims, France
France is home to some of the most magnificent and spectacular cathedrals, churches and chateaus I have had the privilege to visit in Europe. During my time in France in July this year my wife and I visited a great many throughout Paris and the French countryside and I spent a lot of time looking up with my camera at the wonderful architecture. Without doubt the most famous cathedral in France is the Notre Dam in the heart of Paris. I was actually unaware that there are in fact two Notre Dame Cathedrals in France. The first (where all the tourists go) and most well known is in Paris. The second is in Reims – Cathédrale Notre Dame; and is where this photograph was taken.
Many of the photographs I made in both France and Italy I have converted to Black and White and treated with Nik Silver EFX Pro 2 as I felt the monochrome tonalities better captured the timeless feeling of the various places for me. This first photograph however I chose to keep in colour (although the pallet is selective and somewhat muted) as I very much like the dichotomy of the stone and stained glass and the rays of sunshine streaming in through the windows. I did not in anyway ‘treat’ the colour in this image and simply left it as captured by the cameras sensor.
I admit to pre visualising this photograph as I wandered around the Cathedral with my camera in the late afternoon listening to the school choir. I had noted the angle of the sun on entry and had hoped it was going to strike the stained glass and indeed it did shortly after my arrival. It lasted only a minute or so before the light was gone; but it was a magical minute of wonderful light. In order to achieve this effect in a single frame without shenanigans I used the cameras spot meter and metered off the windows as I knew this would preserve the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may. I was then able to coax out the detail in the shadows in post-production in Lightroom with the Shadows slider.
Just an aside; but I continue to be absolutely amazed at the high ISO quality of the files from Canon’s 1DX camera. Shot at ISO3200 the RAW file is incredibly clean and the tiny bit of luminance noise that is apparent at 100% in the shadows at ISO3200 is easily cleaned up in Lightroom with small nudge of the luminance noise slider. The noise control of the 1DX is truly remarkable.
Chamonix France – A Glass of Wine, Cable Release and Deck Chair
Very occasionally a situation presents itself where I can make a photograph I am really pleased with from the side of the road, or some other easily accessible location. More often than that not however I have to travel, walk and hike to get the image I am after – Nature rarely serves up the scene on a platter; you have to get out there and hunt for it.
Whilst in France a couple of months ago I was able to make a photograph that was under the most civilised of circumstances. I was fortunate to get a room with a rear balcony at my hotel in Chamonix and immediately noted the wonderful view across the mountain range and the angle of the setting sun. Tired from driving all day my wife and I unpacked, opened a bottle of Burgundy, tore a piece off a fresh baguette with some cheese and pulled up a couple of deck chairs to watch the sunset over the alps. As we sipped our wine the light continued to get better and better so I scurried inside, grabbed my camera, tripod and cable release and set it up next to my deck chair. With the sun setting and cable release in hand I clicked the shutter between drinks and nibbles. Looking back on it I cant recall a more civilised photography session and as such this photograph of the Alps from Chamonix is my photograph of the month for November.
NEW GURA GEAR BATAFLAE BACKPACK REVIEW – IMPROVING ON PERFECTION
How do you take what is widely regarded by many photographers as one of the finest camera bags on the market and make it even better?
I was pondering this when the guys at Gura Gear first told me that they were working on an update to the very popular Kiboko 30L camera bag along with a range of new accessory storage bags called the ‘Et Cetera’ range.I was an early adopter of Gura Gear bags. After I returned from my first expedition to Iceland I realized how unhappy I had become with my then current camera bag (whose name shall remain anonymous). For a variety of reasons it was no longer satisfying my needs and I was on the lookout for a new lightweight bag that met airline carry-on restrictions for size but enabled me to carry more equipment comfortably into the field. Anyone who has travelled domestically or internationally with camera equipment understands the importance of being able to carry equipment onto the airplane to avoid the risk of damage or theft in checked luggage. I therefore needed a bag that could not only hold all of my equipment, but that was light, robust, suitable for moderate hiking, and still enabled me to glide through airport check -in with a smile and a wave. My search led me to the Kiboko which, after several years of photographic travel, has become my number one camera bag of choice for all of my photography.
Fast forward to 2012 – With a four week photographic trip to Europe and a workshop in Iceland in July and August this year it was the perfect opportunity to field test the new Gura Gear Bataflae camera bags and Et Cetera range. The good folks at Gura Gear agreed and a shipment of the new product range was soon winging its way to me.
I admit to being very excited when I opened up the boxes from Gura Gear and saw the new products. You know you have purchased a quality product when you open the box and are greeted by the super slick black dust covers bearing the Gura Gear logo. Whilst the addition of a dust bag might seem superfluous it does in fact prove very useful for long-term storage and can even serve as a pretty cool laundry bag when travelling.
Widely regarded as being capable of swallowing copious amounts of camera equipment with room to spare (the Kiboko 30L will hold just about everything you can throw at it) the new Bataflae 32L adds even more space. Overall, it is larger and deeper than the original. This extra space proved a real blessing during my field tests as Canon’s new 1DX camera with a really right stuff L bracket is a very tight fit in the original Kiboko, but slides perfectly into the new bag thanks to the extra head room. Users of professional DSLR’s, medium and large format camera gear will really appreciate the extra height available.
Those of you familiar with the original Kiboko will already be sold on the benefits of the unique butterfly openings that avoid that unwieldy large flap that most camera bags provide for internal access. There are, however, times when it would be nice to be able to open the bag right up for packing and full access. Well, the new Bataflae gives you the best of both worlds with the traditional butterfly openings but adds the ability to open the entire bag up by releasing a simple clasp at the top of the bag. This really makes packing much simpler as well as providing full access to both sides simultaneously when required in the field. The centre divider contains extra strengthening to maintain rigidity even when the bag is fully loaded. In use, I found this to work very well.The rain cover has been relocated from inside one of the butterfly pockets to outside the bag in a small zippered pocket, which has freed up more room in the butterfly pocket. The rain cover now also utilizes a draw string which is an improvement over the original elastic cover because it can now also serve as a ground sheet if required.
Like the original bags, the new range is manufactured from highly durable materials, although the new material has more bling. The stitching, zippers and internal fittings of the new bags are improved in every respect. Even the finger zipper pulls are easier to use. Additional padding has been added to the backpack harness, which makes the bag noticeably more comfortable when hiking. There are yet more refinements to be found in the way of improved clasps for carrying tripods which can even accommodate items such as crampons. Like its predecessor, the new range comes with a considerable number of extra dividers so that its internal storage space can be customized to one’s own particular needs. All of this amounts to a very compelling reason to upgrade to the new models.
When the new Bataflae is fully loaded with my camera equipment it was significantly over the normal carry-on luggage allowance during my Europe and Iceland expeditions, yet I had no issues on any of the five international and domestic flights, including several long haul flights. With the increase in size, the new Bataflae still fits in the overhead lockers on the aircraft I travelled and still retains its understated appearance. I am utterly convinced that the Bataflae is the best camera bag on the market for photographers who fly and travel.
During my four weeks in Europe I used the new Bataflae everywhere, from the bustling streets and Cathedrals of Paris to the more subdued provincial countryside and wine regions of France where I travelled by hire car. I took it mountaineering at 13,000 feet at Mont Blanc in Chamonix where it was -15 degrees Celsius, and trod the myriad of canals in Venice Italy during the peak summer season. I then travelled to Iceland for my 2012 summer Workshop where I spent time on the Snaefellsness Peninsula, the highlands of Landmannalaugar and the stunning Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon to name but a few locations. I undertook some fairly arduous hiking in the Landmannalaugar region and subjected the bag to everything from waterfall spray, rain, salt spray, sand and dust. I threw just about everything I could at the new bags and found them an improvement in every way over the originals.
The design changes and refinements to the new bags are in many cases subtle but they add up to a significant overall improvement that makes for a very compelling reason for existing Kiboko owners to upgrade. If, on the other hand, you haven’t already pampered yourself and your camera gear with Gura Gear then you are about to be presented with a fantastic opportunity with the release of these new products. They are highly recommended for their robustness and overall design.
The new product range takes everything that was great about the original bags and improves on it in just about every respect. I would argue that, outside of the camera and lens, there are few pieces of equipment that can have as much impact on your photography as your camera bag. If you travel or frequently change locations (and which photographer doesn’t!) you owe it to yourself (and your expensive equipment) to check out a Gura Gear camera bag.
Part Two – The Et Cetera and Tembo Range
As photographers we are constantly adding accessories to our equipment arsenal. Additional batteries, chargers, color checkers, CF and SD cards and card readers, adapter rings – the list goes on and on and there is only so many of these that can be shoehorned into a camera bag already overflowing with bodies and lenses. I am sure many of us have thrown all manner of photographic accessories loose into our suitcases before we travel because our camera bag was already overweight with bodies and lenses and at risk of airport check-in destruction.Solving this problem could well be Gura Gear’s masterstroke. Its new Et Cetera and Tembo line of products is designed to solve that annoying problem of finding a home for some of those accessories. The range is perhaps best thought of as the ‘Tupperware’ of camera storage and provides a range of different storage options for different accessories. I found these storage containers invaluable on my recent European trip and Iceland workshop and far more convenient than throwing items loosely in my checked luggage.
There is a range of different sizes and shapes from which to select and photographers will likely choose those models that best suit their needs and requirements.
Gura Gear products can be ordered directly from the Gura Gear Website
CANON ‘GEAR IN ACTION’ INTERVIEW – THE 1DX IN FRANCE, ITALY AND ICELAND 2012
CANON: I was recently interviewed again for Canon Australia’s CPS ‘Gear in Action’ website and the content of the interview is now online at CPS Australia. Unlike my previous interview HERE which primarily focused on Fine Art Printing this time the emphasis was on cameras and my experience with Canon’s new tour-de-force 1DX camera during my recent travels through France, Italy, Venice and Iceland. There is also a small gallery of images– which I have not yet even uploaded to my website. I hope you enjoy the interview.For CPS members there are also details of the expedition I am leading to Antarctica with Daniel Bergmann on Canon Australia’s website HERE. This expedition is of course open to all photographers. You don’t have to shoot Canon or be a member of Canon’s Professional Services. 🙂
PHOTOKINA: If you are heading over to Germany for Photokina later this month be sure to stop past the Moab and Legion Paper stands where some of my prints from my Iceland series will be on display on my favourite paper: Somerset Museum Rag.
A small disclaimer: Although I both shoot and print exclusively with Canon cameras and printers I am not sponsored by Canon. I pay for all of my own equipment with my own hard earned money. I choose to use Canon cameras and printers because I have found them to offer outstanding results and reliability in my photography – not because I am incentivised by the manufacturer. I am a Canon CPS Gold Member and rely on CPS to assist me with sensor cleaning and loan equipment from time to time.