‘What’s in My Bag?’ with Shaun Barnett

Shaun Barnett – Professional landscape photographer and NZPW tutor.

Bag of Choice:

I actually have three bags, all Lowepro, which I use according to what sort of photography trip I’m doing.

Lowepro BP Whistler 450 AW

For tutoring or photography where I won’t be walking more than a couple of hours, the Lowepro BP Whistler 450 AW is ideal. Sturdy, lots of space for lenses, all easily accessible, and well protected by the generous padding. The only thing I have to watch is putting it down when working coastal scenes, as the tide can sweep in unexpectedly.

Lowepro Adventura SH 160 II 

For overnight trips, I use a smaller Lowepro Adventura SH 160 II. While it has less padding and protection than the Whistler, it can hold a surprising amount of gear, including my main body and up to three other lenses, plus it also has a pocket for filters. One advantage of this style of bag, which has a shoulder strap, is that everything can be kept at my waist when I’m working at a coastal or river scene, where I don’t want to put the bag down. I simply unzip the flap, pull out whatever lens I want to change to, and zip it back up.

Lowepro Adventura SH 140 II

For trips where I am tramping for multiple days, I use a Lowepro Nova 2 AW. This holds my body, plus two lenses, and has a pocket large enough for a few filters. It’s light, easy to sling over your shoulder, and works well when I want to minimise the amount of weight I’m carrying. Like the Adventura SH 160 II, it makes everything accessible at waist height and even has a pull-out rain cover.

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

Camera Body: Nikon D850

Robust, beautiful to work with, and can handle a fair bit of dampness and light rain. It produces large raw files with excellent tonal range, providing plenty of latitude to process details out of the highlights and shadows.

Lens Choices:

Nikkor AF 50mm f1.4

A beautiful, light fixed focal length classic lens, which is excellent for people portraits.

Nikkor AF-S 105mm Micro f2.8

Excellent for close-up work, details, and a handy standby mid-range telephoto when you don’t have a longer lens.

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR AF-S

For wildlife photography, longer than 300mm is often ideal, but it’s surprising how often you can get close enough with this lovely, compact telephoto. It weighs far less than longer telephotos, or those with a fixed f-stop. Best of all, it’s beautifully sharp in the f5.6-8 range, which is ideal for wildlife. Great to hand-hold, and the vibration reduction gives you a bit more play with slower shutter speeds.

Nikon18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED AF-S

A relatively new lens for me, but it has quickly become my go-to workhorse. Light, sharp, and with surprisingly little distortion at the 18mm end.

Nikon 20mm f/1.8 G AF-S

A very sharp, light fixed focal length lens, with great light-gathering capacity.

Filter Choice:

Benro Pro Kit

I use one of these when I am tutoring or shooting from accessible locations. The ability to combine a polarizer with up to three other filters is masterful, and while it takes a bit of practice to get used to the system, this is a stunningly good filter set-up.

Lee Filters

When I am on longer tramping trips, I take a Lee filter system, which is considerably lighter than Benro, and uses plastic rather than glass.

Tripod Choice: Manfrotto 055 Carbon Fibre 3-S Tripod

With Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head. Very sturdy, with an excellent working height, and quick-to-use release clips. I use this when tutoring, or at accessible locations where I am walking for less than two hours.

Other items in my bag:

    • Nikon MC-DC2 cable release
    • Spare Battery & Memory cards
    • Plenty of cotton cloths for wiping lenses
    • Allen key for tightening tripod attachment
    • PLB for emergency use
    • Headlamp
    • Spare warm clothes and Macpac jacket
    • Macpac cap
    • Waterbottle & Snacks

Location: Tunnel Point, Dunedin, Otago

Richard Young and I spent a great afternoon here before one of our Otago Wildlife Master Classes in 2019. I’d seen pictures of Tunnel Beach before but never been there, so it was a real treat to have a few hours with the place mostly to ourselves. Access is down a steepish track to a spectacular headland that juts into the sea. From here, a series of steps leads into a tunnel, and down to the beach below – however, this is only accessible at low tide and can be very dangerous when the tide is high or incoming.

Waves crash over offshore rock stacks, lap around boulders at the base of the cliffs, and there is a huge scope for doing all sorts of different landscape photography: either details, a stitch-together panorama, or telephoto shots of crashing waves. There are some exquisite colours on the cliffs, with the orange-yellow rocks combined with water streaks and green algae. Combined with the ever-changing tide, this offers great possibilities for the landscape photographer. Just watch those surging waves, and don’t leave your bag on the sand!

The three images here show the range of photography possible at Tunnel Beach: a detail of rocks and the incoming tide, a telephoto of waves, and a panorama stitched together from five vertical shots.

Boulders and incoming tide, Tunnel Beach, Dunedin, Otago

Waves washing around rock, Tunnel Beach, Dunedin, Otago

Join Shaun in Dunedin on our Wildlife Masterclass and Wild South Photo Tour.

Otago Wildlife Photography Masterclass – 11th – 14th May 2020

Wild South Photography Tour – 28th April – 4th May 2020

Gear Used

Nikon D850
Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED AF-S
Nikon 20mm f/1.8 G AF-S
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR AF-S
Lowepro Whistler BW450AW
Benro FH100 mkII Professional Landscape Kit
Manfrotto 055 Carbon Fibre 3-S
Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head
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