Apparently keeping up with my blog consistently is not in the cards for me this year. That said, today is a new day. So we'll see what happens in the next month. Of course lots of life, projects and travel happened over the summer and fall, but I think for now I'll just focus on the last couple weeks.
I flew out to Denver to meet up with fellow conservation photographer Ethan Welty recently. From there we road tripped it down to Santa Fe for the first annual Tandem Stills and Motion meeting. Tandem is one of the two photo agencies I work with and as always with these kinds of meetings, the camaraderie and excitement of being around a bunch of other geeked out photo people like myself was magical. The magic is more about meeting and being around like minded people that are excited and passionate about visual storytelling and possibly creating images that might make a difference in this crazy world we live in.
On the way down, Ethan and I hiked into a closed (because of the government shutdown) Great Sand Dunes National Park, spent the night, then woke in the morning and worked on a few images. We both managed to create a few shots that were pretty cool and also got stopped and lectured by a very nice ranger on the way out.
Group show, including new work by Don Frank, George Vetter and Justin Bailie will at George Vetter FotoArt Gallery in Cannon Beach. May 3-5, beginning Friday night at 5pm.
231 N Hemlock Cannon Beach, OR 97110 • 503 739-1415
There is nothing like good writing. I've been listening to the Dirt Bag Diaries for a number of years now and when Fitz Cahall (the creator and writer) gets it right, it is so damn good. For me, I feel like he is able to reach in a speak to the humanity in all of us; or at least able to put it into words that touch most of us. If you have 5 minutes. If you want to feel a little joy; maybe shed a tear or two, sit down and watch this. It's worth it. This is not the Dirt Bag Diaries, but it is written by Fitz, Brendan Leonard and Austin Siadak in the style of the Diaries. Narration is by Brendan Leonard. Thanks to all that made this. This is beautiful.
I've been using Lowepro camera bags since the fall of 2000. I had just signed up for a beginning photo class and had recently bought my first real SLR camera. With it, I purchased a small Lowepro bag that would hold my precious rebel and a couple lenses. I think of the options that were offered, that bag just looked durable and like it would work well for my lifestyle.
Within that few weeks of class, I was completely hooked and knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Done, over, not even a question. A year later I went on to intern, work for and eventually running adventure photography rock star, Corey Rich's operation for a couple years. Corey had been working with Lowepro long before I showed up, so he already had a core set of bags to fit for his 250+ days a year of work. Because of that job, I met many of the biggest names in the outdoor photography business; saw their workflows and gear setups. Most worked with Lowepro bags. It is just the best gear for outdoor adventure. It just is.
All this said, up until a couple years ago, there still weren't camera backpacks that were as good, functional and light as the best mountain style backpacks out there. They were heavy and made mainly for carrying only camera gear. Now...Lowepro has come out with a string of backpacks that are designed exactly for us in the outdoor world who need bags that fit close, are comfortable to wear for hours while moving long distances and can carry gear and everything we need for a few hours or even a few days into the back-country.
The past few months I've been testing out and reviewing the new Rover Pro AW 45. The Rover Pro was built specifically to carry camera, camping and any other outdoor gear you might need for 2-3 days into the back-country.
It is a top loading pack with padded, heavy duty, modular camera gear inserts that can be accessed quickly from a zippered opening on the back. By quickly, I mean without having to take any of your other gear out. This isn't an on the fly, super speedy bag such as so many of the other great Lowepro bags. This is more for getting your gear to camp or base-camp and then working out of the inserts once there.
(Lowepro studio shots)
Using the 45L, I am able to carry most of the camera gear I would use on a regular basis and up to one long lens if needed — either a 70-200 or 100-400 (Canon). Carrying my standard gear (Canon 5d or 7D, wide zoom, 24-105, flash, batteries and cards), plus food, clothing, a tent and all the other normal gear you would use for a night or two in the back-country, this pack was as comfortable for me as any of my other well used and loved backpacks that join me on fun adventures. The fully adjustable suspension system distributes weight well and should fit most people quite comfortably. They've also added a breathable trampoline style mesh back that keeps your back well ventilated.
Other useful features:
- A hydration bladder pocket
- An adjustable side flap and strap system that is the best I've seen for carrying your tripod.
- Top lid pocket
- Ice axe pouches
- Waist belt pockets - great for snacks while on the move
- All weather rain cover that zips into the bottom of the pack
- Very useful pocket on the back flap that could be used to stash a jacket or layer that needs to be shed.
- Sleeping pad or tent straps on the bottom
I also traveled this past December on assignment to Bhutan and brought along this pack as well as the older Flipside 300, which has been one of my go-to working bags for a number of years. I thought on this trip that I would be doing more overland trekking, which is why I wanted to bring along the Rover Pro. Instead, it was more of a cross country, cultural bus journey followed by an expedition style, second decent of the burly Drangme Chu (River), which included two rafts and three kayakers running safety. More about this trip can be found here. I did though, find a couple opportunities where the Rover Pro made sense as a good bag for the day . One morning we hiked a couple thousand feet up and I was carrying about 30 lbs of gear — probably way to much for what we were doing, but after around 30 hours of flights and a lot of sitting around, I was ready to get a little exercise. I also figured out that these padded camera inserts are going to be super useful for adding to a travel bag or maybe even to another pack altogether, depending on what my needs are. I ended up bringing the larger of the two along on the river trip, fitting it inside of a dry bag to supplement my giant Pelican case I work out of on multi-day raft trips. It worked great for storing extra batteries, tools, a lens or two that I was not using except when in camp.
I'm pretty excited about this summer. I've been trying to mold my assignments and schedule so that I can spend more time on personal projects and shooting stock this year and for me, that includes a good amount of backpacking. I think the Rover Pro, along with it's smaller cousins, the Flipside Sport and PhotoSport, we've reached a new era of camera bags that have finally caught up with and can hang with some of the best backpacks in the industry. They are light, fit well, super funtional and make sense. The Rover Pro is all that it should be and then some. It will be interesting to see how they make this pack better. Right now I can't really imagine how they will or why they should, but I know it will happen. I'm sure someday soon some other version will stand on it's burly shoulders and set a new standard. As always, great work Lowepro. Thank you.