Tag Archives: camera gear

What’s In My Gear Bag

Across The Pond To Acadia

Click on the photo above to get to my latest published article on the National Parks Traveler website.  It’s a Q&A session.

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Filed under Equipment, National Parks, Photography, Travel

Getting Ready For Alaska

FB_Luggage Tags & Hat

As I write this, that song “Anticipation” is whirling around and around my head.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this in any of my previous posts, but I am 5 days away from fulfilling one of my bucket list wishes.

The clothing part of my luggage is packed.

The bills are paid.

The Hold Mail order has been scheduled.

I’ll be handing over a set of keys to my home sitter.

And then, I’ll be hopping aboard a plane for the 7-1/2 hour flight to Anchorage, Alaska  (I have an aisle seat, thank goodness), where I’ll have 2 days to tooley around on my own before meeting up with an organized photo tour for a 4-day stay at Brooks Lodge in Katmai National Park to photograph the brown bears as they fish for migrating salmon.  When that is done, I’ll have one more day to tour around Anchorage before heading back to southeast Texas.  With my great powers of concentration (grin) I’m trying to will the days of this coming workweek to pass by as quickly as possible.

I know what camera gear I will be taking and I have a couple of bags for the gear (one will go into my suitcase while the other  will be one of my carry-on bags).  I’m a little anxious, though, about that main camera bag.

You see, I have rented a Canon 500mm f4L II lens for this trip.  I’ll also be taking both of my camera bodies, my 24-70mm lens, 70-200mm lens, 100-400mm lens, and a last-minute rental of a 17-40mm lens.

Why the 17-40 and not my 16-35mm lens?  Well, because I recently purchased a Singh-Ray 77mm Gold-N-Blue polarizing filter (they don’t make 82mm filters – go figure) and the only lenses I have that are 77mm are the telephoto lenses.  I wanted to have a wide-angle lens on which I could use that filter for my landscape images, so I rented that 17-40.

Ok, anyway, because I knew I would be renting that big honkin’ 500mm lens, I purchased Lowepro’s Flipside 500 AW bag.

FB_Flipside Open

(Sorry about the image quality – I used my iPhone 4 camera to get this shot so you could see both camera bodies in the pack).

As you can see from the photo above, the backpack is not completely packed yet, but I have room for both rental lenses.  The interior of the  bag is 7” deep which is large enough to stack my telephoto and wide-angle lenses (ex. in the photo above, the telephoto lens on top is the 100-400 and beneath it, separated by a padded insert, is the 70-200).  I *know* it’s gonna be a tight squeeze, but I am optimistic everything will fit.  The proof of the pudding, though, will be when I receive the lenses, test their focus on my cameras, then pack them.  And of course, I’ll be writing a post on my thoughts about this bag.

Aside from the 500mm lens being the main reason for the purchase, I also really like this backpack because of the nice, wide, padded belt strap and the fact that when I put that thing on, the pack balances *perfectly* on me!  First time ever that a backpack loaded with gear has seated itself comfortably on my back and hips.  Granted, this is minus the 7 lbs of the rental lens, but (and this could be optimism speaking) I feel confident that this pack will continue to fit just fine.  It sure as hell better, since I’ll be using it to hike to and from the viewing platforms.

As mentioned above, this is not the only pack I am taking.  You see, while at Brooks Lodge, I plan on renting a kayak for a couple of hours or so, and I wanted something “splash-proof” in which to pack a camera and lens while paddling (although I will probably have the camera around my neck most of the time on the lake).

Most of you know I share writing duties with another photographer in providing articles for a monthly photography column on the National Parks Traveler website.  It’s called Photography In The National Parks and here is the link to my most recent article.  If you do a search on that site for Rebecca L Latson, it will pull up everything I have written as well as photos posted that are credited to my name.   The Traveler has a Facebook page too, in case you ever want to check it out, as well as a newsletter.

In the Traveler’s last newsletter was a sort of “pre gear review” by the site’s Editor-In-Chief, who wrote about two new Lowepro packs, one of which intrigued me mightily: the Dryzone DF 20L.  It’s a small duffel bag that looks much like the waterproof packs I once used for a 9-day kayak trip in British Columbia some 18 years ago.  I figured this bright yellow bag might be just the trick for a kayak trip (and a subsequent gear review from me).

Lowepro Dryzone DF 20L

Dryzone DF 20L Packed

As you can see, it fits in my small hardside suitcase (no, due to weight limits, I am not taking the Pink Monster with me for this trip).  And, if need be, I can stuff a few other small incidentals  into that yellow pack to fit into the suitcase.

Once my trip is finished, I’ll be publishing trip details, gear reviews and photos not only to my blog site but also to the National Parks Traveler  site.




Stay tuned!  Open-mouthed smile

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Filed under Alaska, camera backpack, Canon Lens, Equipment, Katmai National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel

Introducing Andrew and Juliana

H5T0025_Julie and Andrew Special Effects

If you read my previous post, then you know I spent my Christmas holiday  in eastern Washington.  This post photographically details the wedding I photographed in Tacoma, on December 28, while still in Washington.

I took the photographic equivalent of the kitchen sink with me:

Let’s see….did I forget anything here? Probably.

My brother-in-law was the officiator for the wedding, so on December 27, my sister, bro-in-law, and I piled ourselves and our stuff into their SUV and headed west over Snoqualmie Pass in fog, snow, slush, and rain to Tacoma.

H5T8971_Over The Pass

Our hotel was the Silver Cloud Inn, Tacoma Waterfront, with great views of Commencement Bay.  I was mightily impressed with the hotel and would stay there again in a heartbeat (this reminds me that I need to write a review of the hotel in Trip Advisor, to add to the other reviews I have written over the past couple of years).

U9A6532_Full Moon on Commencement Bay

U9A6543_Commencement Bay

The view of Commencement Bay and the full moon from my hotel window.

U9A6594_Commencement Bay Sunrise-Wide Angle

Sunrise on Commencement Bay the day of the wedding.

6226_Weyerhaeuser Mansion

The wedding was held at Weyerhaeuser Mansion, in the Old Town portion of Tacoma, atop a hill overlooking Commencement Bay.

6254_Venue with a View

Had the bride and groom not been so entranced looking at each other, this is the view they would have seen from where they stood during the ceremony.

U9A6819_Movie Starlet

H5T9257_Portrait of Juliana CROP

U9A6840_Juliana CROP

Prior to the wedding, Juliana dressed up in this adorable little movie-starlet outfit and with Andrew, welcomed guests to the mansion.

H5T9511_Fixing His Tie

Andrew getting ready.  I’m not sure how it happened, but his suit had been left back at their home, some 30 minutes and one ferry ride away.  Luckily, the suit arrived and the wedding started on time.

H5T9754_Pinning the Hat

Getting ready.

H5T9465_Wedding M&Ms

Wedding M&M’s with the date and their names printed on them.



H5T9803_Red Suede Shoes

Red suede shoes worn under the wedding gown.

Whenever you are photographing an event such as a wedding, you need to remember to capture images of the little things – the accessories, the decorations, the food/drink served.  These help flesh out the event and add atmosphere.

H5T9787_Portrait of the Bride

After Juliana was all dressed in her bridal ensemble, I asked her to stand next to the window so I could capture a portrait of her with the side light, which is one of my favorite  lighting techniques.

H5T9787_Portrait of the Bride - Enhanced

I took some of the photos and duplicated them, then used different special effects either  directly from Photoshop CS6, or as one of the presets in OnOne’s Perfect Effects 4 plug in.

H5T9825_Julie Head of Stairs-VIGNETTE

Juliana took my breath away as she stood at the top of the staircase, waiting for me to get my photos of her before she headed down to where her father awaited to escort her out to the groom and officiator.  Her gown and hat matched the character of the mansion and she truly looked like the Lady of The Manor.  In this photo, as well as a number of others, I made use of the vignette effect to focus the eye more on the subject.

H5T9825_Julie Head of Stairs-Anime

Another preset from OnOne’s Perfect Effects 4.

H5T9838_Juliana On Stairs Smiling

H5T9858_Father and Bride

H5T9874_Viewing His Bride

Andrew’s look as he first beheld his bride walking toward him.

H5T9884_From Father to SonInLaw

H5T9894_The Ceremony

U9A7175_The Ceremony

6275_Ceremony Overhead

U9A7188-2_Ceremony From Above

H5T9900_Putting On Her Wedding Ring - Ceremony

As I was earlier scoping out the mansion for possible photo ops for the bride & groom, I noticed this little room down the hallway from the changing room on the third floor of the building.  The room’s balcony looked directly over the wedding ceremony site.  So, after getting some ground-level images, I RAN up the three steep flights of stairs to get to the balcony so I could capture some overhead photos.  Then, I RAN back down the three flights and managed to arrive just as the bride and groom were kissing.

H5T9926-3_You May Kiss The Bride-Closeup

U9A7199_A Moment of Laughter

After the kiss, there was a moment of laughter as the groom came away with lovely red lips of his own; the bride’s lipstick color was very bright indeed.  I noticed later on a couple of male relatives with red lip marks on their cheeks.

H5T9962_Team HOCO

Introducing Team HOCO (made up of the first two letters each of Juliana’s and Andrew’s last names).

U9A7211_Mr & Mrs - VIGNETTE

And then it was on to the bride & groom photos, the reception, the toasts, and the cake cutting.

H5T9973_Juliana and Andrew

H5T9973_Juliana and Andrew-Blue Dawn effect

H5T0053_Swept Off Her Feet

At the gazebo, Andrew turned to Juliana and told her he wanted to sweep her off her feet.  I told him to go right ahead so I could get a photo of it.

H5T0060_Gazing From The Gazebo-Vignette

H5T0069_Julie Looking Back

H5T0108_Looking At Each Other

U9A7348-2_A&J Behind Tree

U9A7350_A&J at Mansion

H5T0128_A&J-WideAngle Mansion Door - Without Cape

Julian wanted a photo taken without the long black cape she was wearing.  It was a bit “nippy” outside and you can tell in this image.  Good thing she had Andrew’s warm arms around her.

H5T0133-2_A&J-Mansion Door-Closer


6300_HOCO Tablesetting & Guests

U9A7531_Gifts and Guest Register

H5T0240_Wedding Roses

H5T9666_Wedding Cake

H5T9586_Cake Topper

A cake topper made by one of Juliana’s friends.  I’m told she and Andrew first met at Petco.

U9A7398_Welcoming The Newlyweds

U9A7507_A Toast To The Newlyweds

U9A7516_Cutting The Cake

U9A7524_Feeding Each Other Cake

U9A7319_A&J At Gazebo POSTERIZED

I’m thinking about doing this same “posterized” special effect to copies of a number of other photos, and then creating a little comic book/graphic novel for Andrew and Juliana.  I think any bride that wears red suede shoes with her wedding gown would appreciate something like that – don’t you?

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Photographer’s Note:  I used every single one of those lenses at one point in time during the trip, but the three lenses I used most at the wedding were the 16-35mm for the wide-angle shots, and the 50mm prime and the 24-70mm zoom.  I can’t say enough wonderful things about these lenses.  Canon makes awesome glass in the form of their L-lenses.

While I used the flash occasionally, both with and without the Lastolite softbox,  the majority of my images were taken without the flash (I don’t really like using flash much, to be honest, although I know flash has its place and is quite necessary in some instances).  Instead, for my interior low-light images, I increased the ISO, and then used a noiseware reduction plug-in with CS6.

If you would like to see more photos from the wedding, please take a moment and go over to my Facebook Photography Page. And if you like what you see there, then please, feel free to Like me and follow me on my continuing photographic journeys.


Filed under Equipment, Life, Photography, Washington State, wedding