Talk us through your gear - what are your go-to items?
When grabbing gear for a shoot, I have about 4 different setups depending on the shoot. One would be a full-scale production, which I always have everything I need all in a grip truck or whatever. Second would be a studio shoot, and again that can have all the gear I could ever imagine and I don’t have to worry about it at all. The third and fourth types of shoots are smaller scale shoots, and those two types of productions take a lot of careful thought on what to bring and what not to.
When heading to the backcountry to shoot, I do my best to travel light and grab only the gear I need. Sometimes hiking miles and miles to my locations, I can’t afford to bring too much camera gear and not enough supplies for myself, like water, food, and whatever else I may need. This also pertains to camping shoots, where I hike and spend the night out there in the backcountry.
My two favorite lenses to bring to the backcountry for simple shoots are the canon 70-200 f/2.8 and the Canon 24-70 f/2.8. Those two lenses are really all I need to capture the action out in the middle of nowhere.
Do you carry anything that no one else has?
I carry items I can depend on, that will always work for me each and every time. I can't afford to have gear issues, I already deal with weather, talent, scenes, and other elements that I cannot control, and the last thing I have time for is fiddling with gear or having issues.
I'd also like to mention that in winter, when it's super cold, you don’t want to be having problems with gear. Sometimes I'm in waist deep snow, and that's not the time to be switching a lens or wondering why my offshoot brand gear is not working. It has to be perfect every time, or else you might miss the moment.
A few items I have that most other don’t carry would be my Hoodman Loupe to view images on the LCD screen on back of camera. It's kinda like loupe for viewing slides, it blocks out ambient light so you can see the image perfectly. I always carry my Garmin with me. Not only do I use it so I don’t get lost, but I mark locations coordinates so that I always know exactly where they are and how to get to them.
Does your gear sometimes take a pounding to get the shots you do?
Yes, my gear takes a beating to say the least. One thing I have learned over the years is, you can't care. I'm not saying when I get back home I throw my gear on the floor, but when you’re on location, you can't worry about every little thing possibly getting scratched. A wise man once told me that every new camera should come with a dent and a scratch. That way you're not worried about your first dent or scratch. It's true, when we buy a new camera or lens you are so concerned about keeping it in mint condition, but after years of love, the camera or lens shows signs of wear and tear. It always happens, no matter what, so it's okay for it to get banged or whatever. It's literally impossible for me to say that my gear is always protected.
When going to crazy locations, or dealing with crazy weather you have to come to grips with the fact you might ruin gear, but that's what insurance is for. The main thing is you can't have the gear fail while shooting so there is a line you don’t want to cross but they do take a beating.
I don’t think we’ve seen a color chart in these stories before...Tell us about it.
The color check chart is something that is always in my bags. I have a small little fold up one, that's the size of a passport, and weighs next to nothing, so it's always with me. When shooting big productions, I am very limited with how crazy I can get with lighting.
I know the rules, I know how to be a super technical shooter, but to me; that's plain Jane. I love being different, and that involves breaking some of the rules. That Color Check Chart helps keep me in line while allowing me to push the limits. In post production, is where I feel like I change my pictures into pieces of art. They take on new life, and things change quickly, and the color checker chart gives me true base that I can see where the numbers are.
You got some serious lenses there! Do you have fun travelling with them?
It would be hard for me to say I love traveling with my lenses; my back is currently in a lot of pain from carrying them. So it's kinda a funny thing, yes I love my lenses, yes I love having options on location shoots, but I hate traveling with them. They can be super heavy, and when you’re hiking long distances you can feel that extra weight. Even traveling on planes can get to me, having TSA pulling out lenses and all that, it's hard to get gear from one place to another.
Once you’re at your location and you have the lenses you need, it’s a great feeling. Its exciting to have the gear you need, when you need it, and where you need it. The back pain goes away after a bit of time, the images last forever.
Here's Joe's Backcountry kit:
• Canon 1DS Mark III
• Canon 24-70mm f/2.8, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8
• Hoodman loupe
• Think Tank Pocket Rocket card holder
• Pelican case
• Lens tissue
• Garmin GPSMAP 64st, whistle, trash bags, plenty of snacks
And here's his Production kit:
• Canon 1DS Mark III & Canon 5D Mark II
• Hoodman loupe
• Sekonic Light Meter
• Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro, Canon 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 and the Canon 300mm f/2.8
• Zeiss Planar 85mm f/1.4 fixed, Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.4 fixed, Zeiss Planar 28mm f/2 fixed
• 1.4 Teleconverter, 2X Teleconverter
• Hoodman Video Mount
• Manfrotto Super Clamps
• 2 Small Black Flags, 2 Reflectors
• Profoto B2 Kit, Profoto 2 heads, Profoto 2 Batteries, Profoto 2 Light shaping Reflectors
• Profoto Extra long cord to move light further away (great for rim light!)
• Lowepro Photo Trekker AWII, Lowepro Flipside Sport 15L AW