What Gear Should I Bring for a Workshop?
First off, I always tell my students that you DO NOT need expensive gear to create excellent images. Great gear does make a difference in terms of technical quality, durability, ease of use and other factors and I advise using quality products, but creating a powerful, creative image is all about the photographer and the light. While I do recommend shooting with the best gear you can afford, keep in mind this is not the most important factor.
Here is a link to the gear I personally use (or in the case of the Nikon gear what I was using before switching to Sony). Everything mentioned or listed has been tested by me in the field in extremely challenging situations and I can honestly say I think it is the best out there.
1. Camera Gear
Camera: preferably a DSLR or a mirrorless with the ability to shoot raw
Lenses: I recommend having a wide angle, medium and telephoto. For example, for full frame a 16-35mm (or similar wide angle), 24-70/24-105 (or a 50mm) and a 70-200/70-300. The exact focal length is not important. As long as you have something fairly wide through a telephoto. For DX or APS-C users, any combination of lenses that gets you from at least 18mm to 200mm. Preferably from 10mm to 200mm, but if you don’t already own a wide angle don’t stress.
If you feel limited on lenses, you could consider renting online from a retailer like borrowlenses.com or lensrental.com. This is a great way to try out new gear without having to buy. The companies mail the gear to you before the trip and you send it back when you get home.
Tripod: A sturdy outdoor tripod is a must! I also highly recommend a good ball-head. One thing to note about tripods: almost every workshop someone shows up with any extremely cheap tripod that is basically un-usable. While I won't go into exact recommendations, you have to spend at least a couple hundred dollars to get something solid. I would say average tripods are in the $400 range and the best can push $600-$1000. While that is certainly not required and a $200 tripod will be just fine, the ones in the $50 range are almost universally terrible and basically un-usable. If it's in the $200+ range with awesome reviews on Amazon or B&H there is a good likelihood it will be just fine.
Misc. Also, plenty of digital memory, extra batteries & battery charger, lens cleaning cloth, camera bag that allows you to easily get to your gear. You may want to consider bringing a back up camera as well (only if you already have one).
Filters: The only filter that I consider a must have is a circular polarizer. While I don't use it often — when you need it you have to have it. There can also be situations where a 10 stop neutral density or variable ND (variable neutral density) can be very useful. This is definitely something that is not mandatory but could be useful on the workshop or shooting in general.
I prefer the screw on circular polarizers and ND filters. I also carry a 3 stop soft graduated neutral density filter, and although I rarely use it these days — it can come in handy. If you don't already know what this is or how to use it, don't stress about bringing one. I prefer hand holding 4x6 inch grad ND filters.
2. Outdoor Gear
We will shoot rain or shine. A rain jacket is a must and a small travel umbrella is highly recommended. I personally don't use a camera cover as I prefer an umbrella to keep water drops off my lens.
Layered clothing is super important for changing temperatures and wind — early morning can be cold with afternoons getting very warm. I recommend an outer shell and fleece. Consider thin gloves, a hat, sturdy footwear and sunglasses. If it is very cold bring hand and toe warmers. Also helpful to have is a flashlight, sunscreen, lip balm and bug spray. For many workshops, it is helpful (but not mandatory) to bring waterproof boots or gaiters that can handle crossing a small stream.
It’s also a good idea to have a water bottle and some of your favorite snacks/bars with our early and late shooting hours. I will also provide some snacks and water for the group while we are out shooting.
While it not mandatory, you will get the most out of the classes if you bring a laptop computer with a card reader. It would be best to have Adobe Lightroom software installed. We will also spend a small amount of time with Adobe Photoshop if you want to have this installed as well to follow along.
I use and teach Adobe Lightroom Classic / Photoshop. Make sure you download the Classic version and not the CC. If you use and prefer another editing program that is not a problem at all. You will still pick up a ton of new thoughts and ideas — much of the editing is focused on the artistic side of image processing.
Also, if you don't have a laptop — don't stress. You will still benefit from the ideas shared in the courses. You are welcome to borrow a laptop or share with another student. If you prefer to take written notes, it is a good idea to bring along pen and paper.
Feedback session: At the end of each workshop we will have a feedback session to breakdown 15-20 of your best images to give you insightful critique on how to improve. Please prepare your favorite images (from before the workshop) on a flash drive, SD card, or prints.
4. International Workshops
You must have travel insurance for an international workshop. (For example, I use WorldNomads.com) I recommend bringing quite a few snacks with you. Granola bars, jerky, nuts, etc. Be sure to see what kind of plug adaptor you will need for electronics. Also, for places with limited signal or cell service, be sure to download offline maps before arriving. We use Maps.Me and Google Offline Maps. If you are signing up from outside of the US, please be aware of VISA requirements for the country of travel.