I have logged a lot of air miles over the last few years, and am getting ready to pile on a few more en route to Dubai this week.
On of the biggest advantages of being speedlight-based is being able to avoid the excess-baggage mafia. Given that I usually travel with computer, camera gear, lighting gear (including stands, etc.) in addition to the typical clothing stuff, I thought I would do a quick post on what and how I pack.
Two In the Belly
First off, I always strive to get all of my clothing/personal items into a medium-sized L.L. Bean White Mountain backpack. I can get a ton of stuff in there, and it doesn't take any hands to schlep it. That bag always gets checked.
The second checked bag is an L.L. Bean roller duffel. It is modestly sized but can really swell up to handle extra clothing and/or souvies for the kids. That bag takes my light stands, umbrellas, grip, mods, etc. Nothing in the soft roller is very fragile. And more important, if it gets lost there is nothing in there that I cannot replace quickly in any medium-sized city.
Being able to throw four light stands and umbrellas into a normal-sized bag and still have room for plenty of other stuff is one of the reasons I love 5-section compact stands and Westcott double-fold umbrellas. Pint-sized powerhouses.
Two in the Cabin
Never lost a bag yet, knock wood. But if I do, the goal is to still be able to do a shoot with the carry-on stuff. To that end, the most important stuff stays with me.
My one carry-on bag, pictured above, is a Think Tank Airport International Security. I cannot tell you how much I love this roller. It is built like a tank, has locks (and locking cable), holds all of my critical stuff and is designed to be a legal carry on just about anywhere in the world. They make a bigger one that meets U.S. domestic limits, but that one is too big for many international carriers.
Pictured above, it has my core and/or breakable gear. In addition to the pockets full of cards, papers, gels, fold-flat Lumiquest mods, speedstraps, etc., here is what I typically take in the main compartment:
1. Nikon D3 -- main body.
2. Nikon D300 -- backup body. Bought two weeks before the D700 was announced, of course. Grr.
3. Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 -- my most frequently used lens by a mile.
4. Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 -- great lens, but I use it way less now that I do not shoot for papers anymore.
5. Nikon 55 f/2.8 AI (MF) Macro lens
6. Holga (80mm portrait) and Diana (wide) plastic lenses in Nikon mounts -- light, cheap, quirky and occasionally invaluable.
7. Six Nikon SB-800s -- I know, I am a little bit addicted.
8. Orbis Ring Flash Adapter -- gets heavy use. Will sometimes take a Ray Flash, depending on circumstances.
9. Charger for D3 -- (D300 charger rides in checked bag.)
10. Two Nikon SC-17 cords -- one neutered, one not.
11. Honl grids (underneath other stuff) -- prefer the 1/8 to the 1/4.
12. Four Nikon diffuser domes for SB-800s.
13. Three PW Plus II's (and 4 more in the second case.) These will get me by just in case, as I can SU-4 the other SB-800's.
14. Extra AA's -- Kodak slow-drain Ni-MH's are my favorites.
and, special for this trip…
15. A couple RadioPopperJrX's, because I am doing the GPP Shootout against JoeyL and Zack Arias. And I just know Zack is planning on trying to pwn me with his Pocket Wizards after what we did to him last year.
Oh, and I got me a nice, long SYNC CORD, too, Mr. Zack. 'Cause I wasn't born yesterday.
Last, I have a small "personal" bag which gets the laptop, iPhone, spare hard drive, coupla magazines and a book. And, just in case: An extra T-shirt, skvvies and a toothbrush for the inevitable airport delays/cancellations. And for overnight flights, I have a big, poofy jacket that I wear onto the plane. It transforms into a pretty nice pillow once I am curled into that window seat.
I shop for tickets inclusive of baggage fees, so I compare apples to apples. (That's one reason I love Southwest airlines.) Delta, which charges out the wazoo for checked bags, for some reason has no fees if you are going to the Middle East. So this week, it's Delta for me.
(For lots more very good gear/packing/flying info, I recommend the blog Flying With Fish, by Steve Frischling.)
Seventeen-hour trip up next = guaranteed Hobbit feet by the time we get to DXB. But at least my gear will be none the worse for wear.
NOTE: If you are posting Q's on the Flickr photo page about the Think Tank bag, please be aware tham I am in Dubai right now and cannot access Flickr as it is a banned site. The Firefox plugin that worked last year is not working this year, either. Solutions welcomed!