‘What’s in My Bag?’ with Ken Wright

Ken Wright – Professional landscape photographer and NZPW tutor.

My work takes me to some amazing places, as a professional landscape photographer, I am often in an environment that’s both rugged and wet, I expect a lot from my gear in all weather conditions.

Bag of Choice: Lowepro BP Whistler 450 AW

Over the years I have worked my way through several Lowepro backpacks, expanding as my kit and needs got bigger. Last year I moved to the Whistler range, 450 and the 350, these bags are a cut above the rest.
The “all-weather” outer is excellent in heavy rain and has to be one of the most waterproof bags on the market, and even though they provide an “all-weather” cover I still have not found the need to use it (yet). The outer shell will allow you to hose it off if you get muddy.
The best feature of the inside carcass is that you can remove it to dry out the outer if need be and something that’s a stroke of genius is that half the orange partitions they provide are pockets to hold small items, everything gets its own space, all those little bits and bats are now contained.
The second best feature for me given that the pack weighs beaten 9-12kg is that it sits high on the hips allowing the weight to be evenly distributed and eliminating the need to stoop forward to counterbalance the weight. In short, it allows you to carry more for a longer time.

So what's in the bag? My personal set up is this:

Camera Body: Nikon D750

The Nikon D750 is my camera of choice, I looked at the D850 and while it’s an amazing camera the file sizes are way bigger than I need. The best thing about this camera is the live view exposure simulation, this is not available on all Nikon models below this one. With the added MB-D16 I can run two batteries and have dual controls for vertical shooting.

Lens Choices:

Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm f/4 G ED VR

This is the lens that I use for at least 90% of my images, my style of landscape is all about foreground detail and the 16-35 is incredibly sharp. Everything past 1m is in focus making it ideal for an intense foreground leading to a distant scene.

 NikkorAF 50mm f/1.8D

Having a 50mm lens in my bag bridges the gap between 35mm to 70mm, it’s a small lightweight lens that I replaced an old 24-85mm lens with.

Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm F4 ED VR

This is a recent addition to my bag and has replaced a sigma 70-200mm which was just too heavy. The Nikon lens has to be half the weight and is a lot easier to handhold for wildlife photography.

Filter Choice: Benro Pro Kit

  • 100mm holder and Poloriser, 77mm adapter ring
  • 4 stop, 6 stop and 10 stop solid ND filters
  • 2 stop hard graduated filter
  • 3 stop soft graduated filter
  • 3 stop reverse graduated filter
  • Specialist reverse graduated filters (handmade)
  • Daryl Benson ND4 reverse graduated filter (heavy reverse for sunrise)
  • Daryl Benson ND24 reverse graduated filter (Inverted for rivers)
  • 77mm circular polarizer for interiors

Tripod Choice: Manfrotto 055 Carbon Fibre 3-S Tripod

This is a large three-section tripod that goes up to head height fully extended and on those rare occasions, the centre column takes it up to nearly 2m in height.

Other items in my bag:

  • Nikon MC-DC2 cable release
  • Blower Brush
  • 77mm filter dude lens cap for Benro adapter ring
  • Leatherman Multi-Tool
  • Peak Design strap
  • Tripod screwdrivers and Allen keys

Top of my bag:

  • Fast Find GPS PLB (personal locator beacon)
  • First Aid Kit
  • 2x Headlamps
  • “All Weather” cover

Back of my bag:

The back panel carries a few items that I wouldn’t be without.

  • A meter square black fleece cloth, I know its old school but it’s great in bright light to see what is happening on the back of the screen in live view. Also, it allows me to isolate what I’m doing and removes distractions around me to focus on the task at hand.
  • “Lens Coat” this is a purpose-made raincoat in soft material. Ideal in rain or with heavy spray from a waterfall. works unto a 600mm lens.
  • A 5ltr heavy-duty polythene dry bag. I use this as a ‘wet bag’, filling it with water to stabilize my tripod when working in rivers.
  • A Macpac Mercury Down jacket 
  • A Stowaway Rain Bird jacket

On the outside of the bag:

  • 2x Caritool Carabiners to hang things from the tripod.
  • Leki Trecking Stick. At first, I laughed at these, turns out it’s the best thing ever for going downhill through the bush, counterbalancing the weight of your pack when leaning forward.

Small hip pocket:

  • Business cards
  • DOC concession permit 
  • A pair of Macpac Marino gloves

Location: Mt Ngauruhoe ~ Fire and Ice

Tongariro National Park has to be the most majestic location in the North Island.
Mt Ngauruhoe is so iconic, if you asked a child to draw a volcano it would look like this. I couldn’t tell you how many times that I have photographed this location, surface to say I’m a “repeat offender”.

As a tutor for New Zealand Photography Workshops I get the pleasure of instructing others in capturing the majesty of this World Heritage location, how lucky am I?

Gear Used

Nikon D750
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
Nikon AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR
Lowepro Whistler BW450AW
BENRO PRO LANDSCAPE KIT
Manfrotto 055 Carbon Fibre 3-S
MANFROTTO XPRO MAGNESIUM BALL HEAD
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