Is there really a perfect camera bag? Not really because it all depends on the use and the type of equipment one has, needs and uses. Camera bags come in several configurations, each with pluses and minuses. The traditional style gadget bag and messenger type bags sling over one shoulder and allow access from the top rather quickly after putting the bag on the ground. I find these type bags difficult to shoot with since they swing around and usually they end up being placed on the ground which is ok if you have an assistant watching your stuff. Backpacks allow hands free movement and can carry a lot of stuff. The drawback with backpacks is that you have to put them flat on the ground before opening other wise all of your stuff will fall out. Sling bags are kind of a hybrid. They only have one strap and are designed to swing around the hip and form a platform so you can get at the contents without putting the bag on the ground. The drawback is they can't carry as much gear.
I have a collection of camera bags stretching back to my very early years with an Olympus OM-10 35mm film camera. I have a basic bargain gadget bag that is ready for the Salvation Army bin, a huge LowePro backpack that I used to carry around a vintage Graflex Press Camera and 4x5 Poloroid Film and backs, plus a LowePro sling bag I used with my small Panasonic Lumix micro 4/3rds outfit but now I'm working with a full frame Canon 6D and everything about it is bigger from the body to the lens to the battery charger. So I need something to travel with, something that can haul my stuff not only on the plane but on the trails and also have room perhaps for a book, snack and Kindle. Here are a few bags I looked at..
This is your basic camera bag at a very good price. At $24, no wonder its back ordered on Amazon at the moment. I actually placed an order for this bag but I fear it won't be in stock in time for my trip. This is a typical camera bag design with the flip back top. Convenient and easy to find your gear. Its great for organizing equipment and storing in the closet or trunk of a car but is not exactly the kind of bag I'd go hiking down the trail with and it kind of screams out "photographer" so while its a great deal and a very useful design I don't think I'll take it on vacation with me.
The LowePro is a great back for walking around with a single DSLR body and a lens or two and not a lot of other stuff. This bag is slim design for quick access to your camera without the need to remove the backpack. Unfortunately it doesn't have a lot of room for accessories and if you are traveling there is no place to pack a book or tablet. I could bring my micro four thirds outfit of body and four lens with this bag but with my full frame DSLR there its a very tight fit. There are larger sizes of this design but then it gets kind of unwieldy. The whole point of this design was for quick work.
Manfrotto MB SB390-5BB VELOCE V Backpack -Black I've been attracted to this Manfrotto Italian design camera bag a number of times at Best Buy. Its pricy but has some interesting features as well as quirks. As far as storage its one of the few bags I've seen that was designed to carry a travel tripod on the inside of the bag. It also has a laptop or tablet spot. The bag itself seems to have been made to keep gypsy street urchins from stealing all of your gear as the inside of the bag can only be reached from the back. In other words you have to remove the bag in order to get into it. It too me and a Best Buy dude a few minutes to figure it out. There is a spot where a hand can reach into the bag from the other side but its guarded by a huge metal (heavy - I don't know why it had to be metal) clip, velcro and a zipper. No street pickpocket is going to get in their without you knowing it.
"Made of rugged nylon Canon Deluxe Backpack 200EG holds up to 2 camera bodies, 4 lenses, plus accessories. Due to its lightweight construction it features a well-arranged divider system for a secure storage and an easy access, padded shoulder straps and a comfortable back padding. Add to this tripod carrying straps and a front webbing ideal for lashing light jacket, sweater, etc."
After trying out a bunch of bags at Best Buy (and then ordering from Amazon for about $25 less), I ordered the Canon backpack bag for my trip. What I like about this bag is that it looks more like a regular backpack then most bags so it doesn't scream "steal me". I'll cut off the "Canon" tags to make it a bit more stealthy. This backpack also wasn't as overly padded and stiff as a lot of the available bags. Sure protection is good but I want to be able to slide it under the airplane seat.
Photographer and digital artist Edward M. Fielding produces imagery for fine art print sales, stock agencies and the book publishing industry. We sat down to talk at his rural New Hampshire home in the outskirts of Hanover, New Hampshire, home of Dartmouth College and a interesting populus that includes writers Jodi Picoult, Bill Bryson, folk singer Tom Rush and the late C.Everett Koop among other interesting folk.
Great spot you have here, have you always live this area?
Ha, thank you, I don't stay in one place long. I was an army brat and we lived all over the place - Hawaii, New Jersey, Kansas, Virginia, Germany, Connecticut - I went to college at Boston University, stayed in the Boston area for a number of years, then moved to Mount Desert Island Maine for seven years after 9/11 and then moved here.
You've lived in some beautiful places..
Yeah, its kind of ironic because I don't see myself as much of a landscape photographer. I certainly enjoy being out in the elements and taking photographs but I find it difficult. I much rather be inside my studio working on a still life where I can control the elements. Landscape photography is tough. You have to be in the right place at the right time and position yourself to get good composition. In the studio I can see the composition in my head and then create it.
The whole time I was living next door to Acadia National Park, literally the board of the park was in our backyard, I wasn't taking a lot of pictures and didn't even have a decent camera. I was too busy being stay at home father for my son. It wasn't until we moved here to New Hampshire that I've seriously picked up photography again and have been out activily exploring the area specifically for photography.
What the M for?
M is for Mark. I found a photographer in England who is also named Edward Fielding so I decided I better add the M to keep things separate. I was born in Hawaii and my parents originally had some interesting Hawaiian name picked out but then they heard there was a strip bar with that name so they went with the mor conventional.
What photographers influence you?
I have a lot - Diane Arbus, Jim Dine, Duane Michaels, Charles Gateway, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Willam Wegman - all the classics and I have a real love for the off beat and weird. Of course people like Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. I went to Boston University to get a practical business degree. Something that would keep food on the table but in my heart I really wanted to study photography.
My favorite class was an elective on the History of Photography and when I was suppose to be studying at the library often I'd head over to the art section and flip through photography books. The BU library had about four long rows of photography books and I'd start at one end and go through them one by one, cataloging images in my mind for future use.
How has digital cameras changed your photography?
Digital photography has allowed me to get better faster. I started with photography way back in the sixth grade in a military base middle school. We had a class in which we shot and developed black and white film. Through out high school and college I shot and experimented with film and alternative processes, even had a darkroom in the closet. But during this time I was really mostly exploring different processes and the results were not that great. I'm not much of a baker and darkroom work requires a lot of careful attention to details such as keeping the chemicals and conditions to some kind of standard. Tough when you have to empy out a closet, set up the equipment, mix the chemicals and so on. Plus everything is so expensive, film, chemicals, paper. It would have taken me 100 years to get good between the expense, time and systems. Probably why I kind of gave up on photography.
You gave up on photography?
Photography went on the back burner when my son was born and I was the stay at home Dad while my wife worked full time. Around that time I was using an antique Graphix press camera and a big wooden tripod. I was shooting with a Polaroid back and taking 4x5 shots on Type 55 film. This was a special film that produced a positive Polaroid and a negative. It was a short cut so I didn't have to develop the film in a darkroom but it was still messy. You had to pull the film through a special holder that broke a pod of chemicals and spread it across the film. And then if you wanted to keep the positive you had to spread this glossy coating on it. The negatives had to go into a water bath to clean them up. So my set up involved lugging around a huge heavy metal camera, heavy wooden tripod, the film - which cost about $50 for 10 sheets, and all of the accessories. I guess I thought I was going to be Ansel Adams back then.
You can imagine why when suddenly when I had a baby put all of that stuff into the closet. This was right at the beginning of digital cameras but I bought a Sony Handycam instead. I didn't seriously get back into photography until about 10 years later.
How was photography different when you came back to it?
Shooting pixels changed everything. Now there was no excuse just to shoot. No more second guessing a shot. With film you always had the thought of how much every shot was going to cost and get printed. Once I had a DSLR in my hands I had the freedom to shoot often and see the results quickly. With film there would always be that one or two shots left on the roll that you'd wait to shoot, then send the roll out to get developed. By the time the images came back you'd forgotten all about what you did. With digital the feedback loop is instant so the learning curve is so much faster.
How does shooting stock photography help create your artist vision?
I got into shooting stock images as way to pay for my equipment. Plus, I've always been a bit of an entrepreneur. Even as a kid I'd go to school with eight marbles, set up a little contest where kids would try to win them by hitting them from a certain distance, every day I'd come home with a pocket full of marbles. Anyway joining stock agencies gave me an outlet for my photography, rather than having the images sitting on my hard drive, this way they were out in the world being sold and used.
Stock was another great feedback loop as microstock is one of the most demanding review process for photography. I learned how to take clean, simple images of high quality and images that told a story. This is the missing element most people who take snapshots miss - a compelling image has to tell a story. Sure I took a lot of stock images of objects isolated on white but I was always on the look out for simple, straightforward shots that told a story of everyday life.
How does your Rights Managed work differ?
So for Royalty Free stock I'm trying to take everyday objects and situations that are bright, cheerful, positive and can be used for many uses. The Rights Managed work I do for Arcangel Images is darker, moodier, more mysterious. Most of this work is intended for the book publishing industry so the demands are different. While RF stock wants straight forward, perfectly lit, perfectly focus, tell it like it is type of images, the world of Rights Managed stock is much more creative. They need images that make people want to know more about the book.
What about your fine art work?
There is a lot of cross over between my fine art images and the Rights Managed work. Fine art allows me to explore what I like to photograph and manipulate with software. I have a real affinity towards vintage objects, moody landscapes and still life work. I've been very successful finding collectors willing to purchase my work via Fine Art America.
Where do you find inspiration?
I get a lot of ideas for images when I'm in the shower or walking the dog. I usually have several ideas or concepts rattling around in my brain that I carry around until I can gather the right props together. I have one idea in my head right now that I've been thinking about for a few weeks. I just need one more element from Ebay to show up before I can pull it off. I also look at a lot of art and photography and get ideas from magazines and movies. A certain lighting scheme or prop will catch my eye and I'll file it away for someday.
One source of a lot of my images has been my pet dog Tiki the Westie. He's always a willing model as long as he gets a cookie. I've dressed him up in a number of situations over the years.
Are there certain subjects you enjoy shooting more than others?
Its funny. Twice in the last couple of weeks someone asked me what I did for a living and I said I was a photographer. And their reply was something about how I probably could find of lot of great pictures in the area. Its as if people only know of one subject for photography or painting for that matter. They assume you have to shoot landscapes. I find that viewpoint so narrow and quite frankly ignorant. Every photographer is going to point his camera at a beautiful landscape but some people almost seem to need permission to point their camera at anything else and photography can bring a fresh vantage point to so many facets of life. I enjoy shooting still lifes, portraits and dark and moody stuff. I like to find iconic subjects that provoke a certain feeling of wanderlust like vintage Airstream trailers, old junky cars and farmscapes.
I kind of avoid the flowers and bird shots. I seen to many amatuer photographers fall off that cliff of creativity. Shooting birds is a hobby within itself and it seems to evolve more around equipment then composition and creativity. Flowers can be a trap where the would be photographer can't see past the idea of shoot pretty object, get pretty picture. Robert Mapplethorpe blew away the idea of the flower shot in my opinion. He made flowers sensual, sexy, dramatic - never after is a boring flower shot going to cut it. Of course, we've all been there. What did I shoot when I got my first DSLR? Flowers of course. It takes a bit of artistic development to work beyond the obvious subjects.