In Preparation / by craig levers

Getting ready for any big surf or photo trip is always exciting. Culling out what is not needed, finding excuses to acquire that extra bit of kit that just might, maybe come in handy. My week has been in this mode; it's time to pack the Cambulance. The mission is to complete the photography needed for the next beach book project.

I get asked a lot about what camera I use; but as I get older I understand more that photography is not about what camera you use, it is about successfully conveying to the viewer what you felt you saw at the time. I used to post all the technical details of how an image was made to demonstrate that the image was technically sound and could handle being used huge. This week a commission was a great example of this;

Just click on the image to see it bigger

I need to know if a client orders a big print from the website, the file not only can handle that enlargement, it'll actually come alive at the biggest size. This enlargement is 1.35 metres wide, the framed finished piece is nearly 1.6m wide. Every blade of sunlit grass is crispy sharp, every twine within the ropes is discernible.   

Clients need to know the finished piece will handle the jandal, I need to know it will! When this piece was delivered [I make a point of hand delivering when it is possible] the first reaction was "WOW! I didn't realise it was THAT detailed" ... that is what you wanna hear right?! 

I've come to realise that it is only the camera geeks that want to know the tech stuff. The clients are looking for a piece that will fit into their home, the colours, the place, the feeling are what draws interest. But I'm a camera geek, I know some of you guys are, so here's the foundation of the kit I'm taking. 

Left to right; The Berlebach wooden tripod, a article of East German craftsmanship, honed from an Ash tree, wood soaks up and dampens vibration. Wood is the best. Ash is the best wood. The carbon fibre legs- when I'm lazy and don't want to lug the wood. On top of the carbon fibre sticks; The Arca Swiss p0 head, better than a ball head, although technically it is a ball head, Swiss-French precision. Above the tripod, Canon Speedlite and diffuser; I don't really like using artificial light but it is good to cover bases. 

3rd row from left, at the top; Mamiya 50mm shift lens w/ ef mount; this lens is crazy sharp and ideal for digital stitches with the shift function. Below the Mamiya, one of my favourite lenses the Canon 70-200mm F2.8L, everytime I use it I remind myself to use it more. Below that; the Canon 300mm f2.8L again crazy sharp, and great for panned back surf shots. 

what the Mamiya 50mm shift lens can make- big digital panos [just click the image to see big] 

Next row from left, top Canon Ef 100mm f2.8L- I use this a lot in the water-housing- again lauded by the critics as one of Canon's sharpest lenses. 2nd from the top, my oldest lens a Canon 15mm 2.8 fisheye- a dangerous lens as everything looks so damn dynamic with it- another water-housing lens. Extension tubes for macro close ups. Slightly right and below; Carl Ziess 50mm F1.2  sick for portraits...but I don't shoot heads much. Below that, Sunway indexed pano head w/ Arca Swiss bar- essential for digital stitches- not that I do many digi panoramas anymore.

The 15mm Fisheye...dangerously good [ yep, click the pic to see it big ] 

2nd row from right, top; The Shen Hao PTB 617 Panoramic camera, made of Rose Wood...just a thing of beauty and responsible for most of the Award winners like this one...

The PTB camera paired with the Nikkor 200mm [click the image to see it better] 

The SPL Splash Housing; just looking at it makes me itchy to swim. And below it the workhorse; the Canon 5D mk iii, that fits inside the housing. Attached to it is another workhorse, the Canon EF 17-40mm F4.0L.

Far right row, top; sometimes interviewers ask insanely inane questions like 'If you only had one camera for the rest of your life what would it be?' Well it would probably be the Texas Leica aka Fujifilm GSW69. It is a film camera and it takes beautifully toned and brutally sharp photos like this...

Getting the drill on the images- if you click on them they link back to a bigger version

The next film camera below the Fuji is the newest, it is the Fotoman 617 with a German Super-Angulon 75mm lens. It takes photos like this...

click away my friends click away :) 

Below the Fotoman 617 is the Nikkor 200mm lens which fits the PTB camera and below that is my trusty Sekonic light meter. 

Missing from the kit photo are all the filters and random accessories, I've already bored you enough. The next mailer will be from the road, and I can honestly say I have little idea from where- except that it will be in the Mainland. Hopefully it will be dripping with tasty Kiwi line ups- so stayed tuned.