229/365: My Own Personal Brick.

Well, I'm back from a month in California, three weeks of which were spent in the High Sierras hiking the John Muir Trail. Hope the plastic camera photographs haven't been too boring, I have some coming that have a bit more grandeur, at least in content. But first, let me introduce you to my brick, the 13 pounds of hiking gear that I may have cursed once or twice on a few 13,000 ft passes out there. Hit the jump for the full spread.

Standard travel kit: Canon 5D Mark2, 16-35mm lens, 28-135mm lens. Didn't plan on needing a longer lens, as the landscape is big and that's what I wanted to capture. In hindsight, I would have loved a 100mm Macro for all the wild flowers we hiked in everyday, but oh well.

I really wanted to capture both stills and long image sequences to be converted into timelapses. The timelapses presented some special challenges that I wouldn't have had to consider if I was just trying to shoot stills, a result of the considerable battery power and CF card space that timelapse requires. That, and the fact that I didn't expect any battery charging spots for 23 days, and I knew I wouldn't be able to dump the cards of their data until I was done and home. Using some rough estimates of overall raw footage vs. available card space, and expected shot count per battery, I figured I could do the whole thing with 10 batteries and all the cards I had available, plus two new 32GB CF cards, the cheapest, slowest ones (Kingston 133x) I could find, that I trusted. This brought me to 170GB in card space. The 5D Mark2 files really eat up some data, and I like to shoot RAW, but I knew the timelapses would have to be shot in JPEG mode to conserve space. Indeed, I began to exceed my 8GB daily ration, so I also shot a good deal of stills in JPEG mode until I was sure I would have enough to finish the trip with as we drew closer to Mt. Whitney, the southern terminus of the JMT.

Another factor that the timelapses added was the need for a stable tripod, and one that had some versatility in terms of height and positioning. Which means heavier. Found a decent light-weight set of sticks in the Benro Travel Angel: carbon fiber legs, included a decent ballhead, and it folds up in reverse into a short little unit. Though it wasn't a good heavy Manfrotto, it really worked well, especially if I hung a full water bottle from it's weight loop under the center column.

Add an intervalometer, some polarizers and multi-stop ND filters to slow water and cloud movement into silky blurs, plus a case for the camera and loose lens. I wore both cases up front on my pack for easy and constant access, though the camera tended to center itself on my waist belt right over my, uh, most American parts, so I called it my codpiece (or is that a merkin?).


Either way, the whole package made up about a quarter of my total pack weight without food or water, which sat around 43 lbs. The day I hiked out of a resupply location with 9 days of food in the pack was a slow day indeed.

In the end, I shot 13109 frames, a lot of that timelapse. I also was able to charge a couple batteries along the way, and had plenty of card space left for a week of California exploration afterward. For the next few weeks, I'll be sharing shots from the hike, along with my journal entries. I hope you enjoy. Good to be back.