What Photo Gear to Prepare for Bright Outdoor Shoot

Still preparing for the QingMing Festival shoot in my head. We will be traveling tomorrow so we can be there for an early morning start the next day, QingMing. Quite obviously (I think), we are not starting early for the photographer, but just because that is what you do for QingMing. It is usually an all day, heat stress, endurance test for everybody involved.

My first pieces of gear will be sunscreen and a hat if I can scrounge one up. I will take my backpack full of all kinds of gear, but will most likely need to leave that behind and carry a small choice of essentials. most likely, if it is like all the other days recently, the day will turn very bright and sunny. So, instead of uselessly cursing the brightness, I will embrace it as my friend and let it add to the feel of the day’s shooting.

So, what gear will I actually take?

It is not like I have a plan in my head for such and such a situation; I am just thinking this through here, in case it is of use to someone else out there. Regardless of lens choice, I will certainly take my lens hoods!

I will probably take my 35mm lens (so shooting close to the standard 50mm on a film camera). Wider would be nice, but that is as wide as my bag gets at the moment. Sad but true. One, I have my cropped sensor working against me. And two, I would have bought I wider lens, but going below 35mm, the f/stops were increasingly …um…un-bright. 35mm was the happy medium. It would be a happier medium if I had a full-frame camera, but this is all another topic. I will move on.

I might take my flash and one of my groovy handmade straw grid snoots. The flash would come in handy simply because it will be a bright day with nasty shadows, and I could fill those in if need be. I will use the snoot if I want to darken everything down a stop or two, then focus the flash on a specific subject, thus using light to draw the attention where I want it.

Oh…how will I trigger the light? I have some radio triggers, but they are el cheapo and too unreliable. If I go with my optical trigger (built into the flash unit), I will have to use my camera’s pop up flash to trigger it. Actually, now that I think of it, usually the pop-up flash affects the photo too much, but on a bright day, I most likely will not have a problem with that. So, I think that is my choice. That is also a great choice because it means minimal gear.

Honestly, what I would really like to take along, but do not yet own, is a Lumiquest SoftBox III. That is a portrait miracle maker. Basically, I could have a handy softbox for individual portraits and softly fill all those nasty shadows. I would not use it for every shot, mind you, but for a nice portrait (which I am sure folks will ask me to take for them), it would be grand to have along.

I have not mentioned much gear, I know, but this is going to be the kind of shoot where I want to blend in and be forgotten (well, ignored will work too). To be honest, that is my primary mode of functioning. And if you think the flash is not so subtle, if it is as bright as I think it will be, I bet even the flash will not be noticed unless they happen to be looking at it when it fires.

I will mainly be shooting that one lens. I will probably keep my Lensbaby handy to add something unique to some of the shots. Most likely, though, I will stick to the 35.

Oh…and the battery in the camera is almost dead. I guess I should go switch the batteries and charge that while I still remember.

Cooper Strange Written by:


  1. Ryan

    Rain cover, just in case?

  2. 2009-04-02

    Well, it is not raining all that much, and when it has, it has not rained for very long. It just is not rainy season yet, here, so there is not much of a need.

    I have had very few problems with rain anyway. I get rained on, but the Dxxx series is pretty well weather sealed, which is nice. Who knows how many times that has saved me. Plus, if I get sent inside with the rain, it is just a new opportunity to shoot something different: all the people getting out of the rain. “Roll with the punches” is what they say.

  3. 2009-04-02

    Ah yes, one more piece of gear which really comes in handy on a sunny day: circular polarizer filter (circ-polar). Not only will that help me get a handle on the glare, but will help me boost contrast (especially to the sky).

    Well, there is one additional benefit: a circ-polar filter cuts a stop or so of light. There will be so much light going around that cutting a little out there could help me open up the aperture and thus narrow the depth of field, or if I happen to need it, it would also let me slow the shutter speed a bit.

Comments are closed.