Two New ebooks by Damien Lovegrove



Digital photography is free so make the most of it. I shoot three times a week on average to maintain my edge; any less than that and I slip backwards. It doesn’t matter if you play tennis, play a musical instrument or take photographs, improvements come through continued practice and the application of good skills. It is important to have a camera that begs to be picked up and used. The Fujifilm X system saved my career 5 years ago because of this characteristic alone. -Damien Lovegrove, Portraits.


Book One: The Fujifilm X System Guide for Portrait Photographers


Damien Lovegrove is one of the most respected photographers I know when it comes to glamor and portraits. He is also one of the friendliest and prolific. To learn about Damien’s pedigree you should listen to the interview, I did with him on my podcast Depth of Field. In short, he worked for years with the BBC becoming an expert at lighting. Later when he started shooting weddings, he discovered he was a natural and people loved his style and images. He is now a Fujifilm U.K. X-Photographer and a Fujifilm U.K. brand ambassador.




Damien shoots thousands of frames a week. And when you do that, you learn the ins and outs of your gear. You find its flaws, and its weaknesses. Of course, you also learn it’s strengths. Damien has taken the knowledge he has accrued over these years and filled two ebooks with it. It is these two ebooks, The Fujifilm X System Guide for Portrait Photographers and Portraits that I want to review for you here today.

The first book The Fujifilm X System Guide for Portrait Photographers is the simplest to describe. At its core, it is a primer on the X-Series cameras. A sort of, “What is the ________ and how does it work?” You fill in the blank with any x series camera and any x series lens that Fuji makes. If you shoot Fujifilm gear, then you would be doing well to read this ebook. This book tells you not only what camera is best for your style of shooting but is also filled with the details about why Damien uses a certain camera and lens over another.


“I prefer to work with the X-T cameras (X-T2 and X-T10) because I like having a large centrally placed viewfinder. Having said that, I tend to use the tilting LCD most of the time. I like avoiding having a camera stuck to my face when I’m making portraits as it alienates my subjects. Using the tilting LCD reminds me of shooting with waist level viewfinders on my medium cameras all those years ago.” -Damien Lovegrove, The Fujifilm X System Guide for Portrait Photographers


But I would be misleading you and doing Damien a disservice if I left you thinking this book was only a catalog of Fujifilm gear. It is so much more than that. The Fujifilm X System Guide for Portrait Photographers is also a very personal look into how Damien Lovegrove uses his cameras. For instance little things like when he is speaking about the X-E2 he writes:


“It’s very easy to produce dull images when the camera is given the task of setting exposure so I find it best to work in manual mode with ‘exposure preview in manual mode’ switched on.”-Damien Lovegrove, The Fujifilm X System Guide for Portrait Photographers


To discussing things like focusing and recompose with a Fuji x system camera. Did you know that you don’t do this with a Fuji? Damien goes into detail as to why. And the reason why was one of the most forehead-slapping moments for me in this book. It’s what he calls, the flat field lens factor.


Damien goes through his complete camera settings. In particular, his Q (Quick) menu setup in great detail. This alone is almost worth the purchase of his book.

I am going to be straight here and tell you, when I first saw this book I thought, it was nothing more a catalog of Fujifilm gear that Damien loves. I was wrong; it is much more than that. It is a technical look at how this amazing photographer sets up and uses his cameras and lenses. Between this book and the next book in the docket, you get a virtual internship with Lovegrove. Don’t walk away from either of these two ebooks.

Book Two: Portraits



Damien Lovegrove’s next ebook is simply titled, PORTRAITS. It is nothing short of amazing. 384 high-resolution photographs with all the exposure and lighting details used to create them. Over 50,000 words of creative exploration that took Damien over two years to write!

This book is filled with an entirely different style of portrait photography than I do. I mention this because though I am not a glamor photographer or a studio guy, I still appreciate and have learned from this book.


Speaking of massive, this ebook is unlike most out today. Frankly, it is less of an ebook and more of a PDF of a university textbook. By that, I mean at 356 pages this no mere ebook that some photographer popped out to sell for $5. It took Damien two years to write this book and a lifetime of experience and as a result more like a university textbook than an ebook. Frankly, it belongs in every photographer’s library. If Portraits were an ink and paper book, you’d be paying well over $100. (Have you priced textbooks lately?)

Damien goes into great detail about each photo in the book. Each photo has the EXIF data in the caption with a rather long explanation of how he made it. I like his candor. There are times when he is surprisingly honest and explains how he forgot to change the ISO from a previous shot (I hate it when that happens!) and how the camera handled it.


A look at the book’s index gives you an overview of the massive amount of information that is covered in this book. There are eleven sections in the book beginning with Portrait Foundations. In that section, Damien spends 47 pages on the details of how to set up a shoot – from explaining a narrative to how to create a relaxed pose. In the section Light Matters, he spends 53 pages covering the use of strobes, quality of light, one light set ups, multi-light setups, how to simulate sunlight and much more. After that the bulk of the sections in this book are detailed explanations of each type of portrait you might shoot; Urban, Hollywood (the kind of shots you’d see from of Lana Turner or Betty Davis), Boudoir, Nude and lastly the Figure in Landscape. The last four sections of the book are more technical. In these remaining sections, he discusses in great detail his lighting equipment, what makes a good studio, his workflow and more.


I think the quote below attests to Damien’s sensitivity and professionalism as a photographer and gives the reader an insight into his workflow.


It helps me to take things calmly and respectfully, but at the same time shyness can put over a sense of flustered unprofessionalism so I rely on my experience and photographic ability to disguise things like a gracefully gliding swan frantically paddling away under the water. 

I place my prime lenses on a side table in the room I’m shooting in, I have no caps on them and any Pro Mist filters that are needed are already in place with lens hoods attached. It’s a bit like how a surgeon would lay out their tools on a trolly. I can then quickly swap the lens needed for each shot. Having to go in and out of bags for gear just takes too long and ruins the creative flow. -Damien Lovegrove, Portraits.


As I said at the beginning, these are more than 35-page ebooks of pretty pictures. These are books; that would be an investment into your photography. At £20 and £40 the old truism is applicable here, “You get what you pay for.” You would be remiss not to have these two books in your photographic library.

Buy one or both books here:lovegrove-ebook-buynow



Fujifilm Podcast With Piet Van den Eynde 2015

Piet & other X-photographers on our past India workshop take a break to talk about what Fujifilm is serving up.

Piet & other X-photographers on our past India workshop take a chai break to talk about what Fujifilm is serving up.


Welcome Fujirumors Readers.

It’s always fun when I get together with Piet Van den Eynde and we compare notes on the latest Fujifilm gear. This podcast was not different. This episode is about our thoughts on the latest lenses and a few interesting accessories.

Continue reading

MindShift Gear Giveaway!


No Purchase Necessary and Void Where Prohibited.


I am excited to announce that camera bag maker MindShift Gear and I will be giving away a Mindshift Gear’s Rotation 180º camera backpack to one lucky soul. This is a fantastic backpack! I own one of these myself and I can tell you it is build like a tank but is light as a feather. Last year I did a video review on this bag and it did real well. Read that review HERE. Why are we giving this bag away you might ask? Well, we are just like that, kind, generous and giving people… Continue reading

MindShift Gear rotation 180º Giveaway

[contesthopper contest=”17718″]


Share your unique link and increase your chances!





    Kashmir, often called the playground of the kings. It was here in this isolated valley that the Mughal kings of India would spend their summers to escape the heat of the Indian plains. It was during these days that images now synonymous with story book romance arose. A Mughal princess lounging among the flowers of Shalimar garden. British Raj holidaying on a beautifully carved houseboat on Dal Lake. Nomadic shepherds wander their flock through mountain meadows to green pasture. The princess and the Raj may have gone, but the lakes are still clear and the mountains still scrape the clouds and the nomadic shepherd still wanders the mountain passes.

    We are proud to announce the Kashmir Valley Photo Trek and Workshop for 2015. This has been a long time in the making and we are excited to bring this rare opportunity. Of the very few photographers that are leading workshops in this isolated region of the Himalaya, none know it like me. I lived in Kashmir for 13 year with my family. I led treks and tours in the Valley of Kashmir every summer over those years. My family has camped in the very spots we will be camping and I personally know the nomads you will be photographing.

    Kashmir is a photographer’s paradise with scenic images every place you turn. If you are interested in culture, it doesn’t get any better than this valley with it’s rare mix of Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist, and a heavy helping of Sufism.

    Although Kashmir has suffered from many years of political unrest, those days are fading and better times are upon this place.

    Join us for 12 days of photographic bliss. We will be staying on houseboats on the historic Dal Lake and will be treated like royalty. The houseboat will be our base of operations. From here we will spend our days exploring the city of Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir. We will visit and photograph the many shrines and mosques of the city. One such temple is the historic Shankaracharya Temple dating back to 200 BC! We will visit and photograph Shah Hamadan Shrine know by tourist as the “paper maché mosque” because it is painted in the same fashion as the famous paper maché crafts found in Kashmir. Speaking of crafts and artisans, we will also be photographing many of the craftsmen and artisans. From the famous cashmere wool shawls to the delicate wood carvers.

    We have also scheduled 3 nights where we will be camping among the nomadic Gujjar shepherds. The nomads travel from the plains of India in the spring to the highland of Kashmir for the summer months to graze their flocks on the green grass of the high altitude meadows around the Kashmir valley.

    We wanted to keep the price low and the group small, limiting the number of participants to nine. We know this will sell fast so be sure and register quickly before these spots are gone. No place on this trip is guaranteed until a deposit is made.

    Dates: June 8 – 19th, 2015

    Leader: Matt Brandon

    Price: $3,750.00*

    Payment Policy: 2 Installments
    • 50% due upon registration
    • Balance due by May 1, 2015

    *After March 15 the price increases to $3,850.00

    Early Bird discount ends in:

    [ujicountdown id=”The Latest” expire=”2015/03/15 00:00″ hide=”true” url=””]

    Accommodation: Given that we are staying on houseboats and in tents while camping, this trip will be shared accommodations. Single room supplement may be available upon request.

    What’s included: Just about everything. We cover all your meals, your water, your first night in New Delhi (The Radisson) and all your in-country transportation, including your flight to Kashmir from New Delhi.

    Moderate Trekking: This trip will entail moderate trekking. Participants need to be fit and active, walks are normally on well defined paths and at moderate altitude (8,000 ft. / 2,500 m.) There will be two days that will include some fairly demanding ascents and descents.

  • The Jammia Masjid, Srinagar

    The Jammia Masjid, Srinagar

    The places we will visit.

    [table caption=”2015 Kashmir Photo Trek Itinerary ” width=”685″ colwidth=”200|200|300″ colalign=”left|left|left”]
    June 8,New Delhi,Arrival to India. Meet at the Radisson Blu
    June 9,New Delhi/Srinagar, Fly to Srinagar. Settle into the Houseboat
    June 10,Srinagar, Photograph the Old City
    June 11,Srinagar, Hike up to Shankaracharya Temple
    June 12,Srinagar, Travel by Shikara (boat) to Hazratbal
    June 13,Lidderwat,Drive to Village of Aru. Trek to the Gujjars Nomads. Camping
    June 14,Lidderwat, Photograph and visit with the Gujjars Nomads. Camping
    June 15,Lidderwat,Return to Srinagar and the Houseboat
    June 16,Srinagar, Photograph the Floating Market
    June 17,Sonamarg, Day trip to Sonamarg to visit Gujjars.
    June 18,Srinagar, Explore the old city and more artisans.
    June 19,Srinagar/New Delhi,Fly back to Delhi and catch your flight home.
    Our trip starts off in New Delhi where we will meet up only to stay the night and then fly the next morning to the wonderfully cool Vale of Kashmir. We will settle into our houseboats and then take a leisurely boat ride using the local Sikara around our new neighborhood. The next morning we visit the old city of Srinagar. Here we will photograph the many wooden mosques and shrines so prevalent in this region. One of the things that sets this trip apart from other workshops is we will be doing less travel and focusing on the many photo opportunities and stories available in Srinagar. On Friday, June 11th we will travel by boat through the back water ways of Srinagar and end up at the historic Hazrat Bal Shrine. Not just a shrine, Hazrat Bal is also a mosque and you will be offered a unique opportunity to photograph the many hundreds of devotees offering their prayers. The next day we drive to the small mountain hamlet of Aru, but along the way we will stop off at a local Hindu shrine where devotees worships fish. After that we visit a Muslim Sufi shrine in a cave. If that’s not enough we are scheduled to visit a small local cheese factory that is run as a social enterprise.

  • Of course you can’t visit Dal Lake and not stay on a classic Kashmiri houseboat. We will be staying on Houseboat Miss America (yes, that is it’s real name). Harkening back to an era long past, you will feel as if you stepped off the pages of E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India. The houseboats on Dal lake are know for their whimsical or sometimes romantic names. We will be staying on the Miss America and Hazardastan which translated means A Thousand Stories. The superstructure and interiors of these houseboats are carved from devdar, a local pine that stands up well in water. The furnishings are all hand made from walnut wood and carved by local craftsmen. There is nothing quite like sipping a cup of hot Kashmiri tea, or kahwah, while watching the evening sky turn behind the 2,000 year old Shankarachrya Temple.

    We will spend some three nights camping. We will provide you with your tents and food and even a pony to ride if you can’t make the short trek on foot. Once you register you will be given a packing list for the whole trip, which will include a section for the camping segment.

  • Here is what people are saying about our Photo Treks & Workshops:


    “My second photography trek/workshop with Matt, Piet & Alou, and it won’t be my last. Ladakh is a more challenging trip than Rajasthan, both physically and photographically, but the experience is unique and very rewarding. I never thought I would be camping in the Himalayas, but now I have! Matt & Piet are very giving of their time and their experience, and help participants come away with photographs beyond what they thought they could achieve. Alou’s contributions as a translator and handling the logistics keeps things running smooth. Even when faced with unavoidable problems such as the terrible flooding in Kashmir, Matt, Piet & Alou were able to modify the plans and still deliver an extremely rewarding experience. I’m already looking forward to my next trek.”
    -Mike Alexander


    I came hungry for images and stories, and eager to improve my photo technique and storytelling skills. I feasted for two weeks on an incredible buffet of professional excellence, visual excitement, stimulating assignments and personal coaching. This workshop takes you beyond photography: above all Matt teaches by example how to discover, respect, explore, embrace and document the culture, the people and the daily life of the host country. Piet’s expertise in post-processing and off-camera lighting tips provide further value for refining our images to perfectly reflect what we saw at the moment of capture. People are at the heart of the program. This not only shows in the approach of the subject matter, but equally in the welcoming and caring support from the workshop leaders. It did not take long for us to travel as a close and joyful troop.
    -René Delbar


    “As a first timer on anything like this, I can only say that the bar for any future tours has been set extremely high! Matt’s patience, individual attention, knowledge and teaching skills left nothing to be desired. The daily group critiques added to the experience, reinforcing learnings from the assignments, assisting with improvement and helping understand image shortfalls, all these leading to a noticeable improvement in my personal images. Finally the addition of Piet as guest Photographer / Lightroom Guru, and Alou’s logistical planning, assistance with all things non photo and keen eye made this a truly unforgettable experience. I look forward to another in the future. Thank you!”
    -Eric Bunn


    Matt & Piet have created a culturally sensitive, learning-oriented workshop that opens up Rajasthan for photographers keen to create memorable images & hone their photographic craft.
    -Fernando Gros


    “I had such a wonderful time on Matt’s 2013 Rajasthan Photo Trek and Workshop that I would love to go back and do it all over again. Yes, all of it! Two weeks of fun, photography, laughter, discovery, and pure enjoyment, along with excellent company and delicious food — I can’t imagine a better introduction to India. Best of all, the photographic learning experience was priceless: Matt is an inspiring teacher and mentor who really cares about helping his students push their boundaries and learn how to create better images, while Piet’s expert assistance with workflow and post-processing issues was a real bonus. Highly recommended!”
    -Andrée Lawrey


    This workshop was everything I expected and more than I hoped for! Matt and Piet did a great job of reinforcing the basics and helping me explore new areas in my photography. Rajasthan was the perfect backdrop for shooting a wide variety of pictures and wonderfully diverse cultural experience. I’m already thinking about taking another trip with them!
    George Neill


    “Stunning scenery, unique photo-opportunities, authentic environment and remarkable people; meeting locals up-close-and-personal. All of this in the absence of mass-tourism. Add focus on photography in a small group and you have the recipe for this trip. Is that what you’re looking for?”
    -Geert Delmulle


    “As a first time photo tour participant and reasonably new to photography, the tour surpassed any expectations I had. I was made to feel an important part of the tour, despite not being at the same level of photography as some of the others. That lack of experience worried me before I met you, but your method of guiding allayed any fears I had. I have come away the knowledge and ability of new techniques, not afraid to lie down in dirt to get ‘that’ special shot and above all learnt patience to wait for that someone or something to walk into my point of view, enabling me to tell the story I want others to see. Once again, thank you and I will be definitely joining you again on another photographic journey in the future.”
    -Brendan White


    Don’t hesitate to subscribe to this workshop! Matt and Piet are great instructors who generously share their time and knowledge with all participants (novices and seasoned photographers alike). You will be given daily assignements on this tour which are optional but help you so much if you accomplish them and listen with an open mind to all the useful feedback you are getting during the critique sessions. And they are just fun to do too.
    Matt seemed at first to be a magnet who magically attracts photogenic situations but don’t be mistaken: the man knows how to create photographic opportunities and how to share them with other photographers. Piet’s skills are complimentary with Matt’s as he is an expert in postprocessing and the use of off-camera flash. (But don’t underestimate Piet as a photographer). And last but not least: these guys are warm and caring human beings just as Matt’s wife Alou who takes care of all the logistics and even buys you water and soft drinks so you can concentrate on becoming a better photographer while enjoying a fascinating country.
    Dannie Goossens

  • Terms & Conditions


    What’s a Photo Trek?

    We are calling this a “photo trek and workshop”. What that means in plain English is simply a photo tour with a teaching element. Most of the teaching will be done in the field or in the evening in an organic fashion. There will be some actual “class-time”. Often there will be times of review and informal teaching in the evenings to cover events from the day and prepare for the next. If you desire a portfolio review, Matt will take time to give you one as long as it’s scheduled early in the trip. There will be time for everyone, those who want one-on-one time with Matt will get it. Those who want to simply shoot will get it. We’ve built the tour around flexibility, community, discussion, freedom and your ability to learn what you want from Matt while also having the opportunity to shoot what you want, it is your trip! Just know that even though we may have a “fixer” at a location or two, there will be no flag-toting tour guide for us to follow in these cities.


    We aim to provide a first-class service to all clients and we do our best to plan as much as we can in advance. However, the locations that we visit are often unpredictable in nature and we ask clients to understand that circumstances can change, transport and accommodation arrangements can vary from those advertised and we may need to adapt or amend the workshop itinerary at short notice in order to take prevailing conditions into account. You will need to provide the following:

    • 50% Deposit payment when booking your place
    • A copy of your passport, valid for 6 months beyond the workshop end date.
    • A copy of a valid visa before the tour commences.
    • A copy of your comprehensive travel insurance policy
    • Details of your Emergency Contact
    • Your 50% balance payment, no later than 90 days before the Workshop start date
    • A signed copy of the Photo Workshop Liability Release (found of the next tab)



    You warrant that the information provided by you at the time of registration and in subsequent correspondence is true, accurate, current and complete in all regards.

    Deposit and Payment Schedule

    Your place on the Kashmir Photo Trek will be confirmed as soon as your deposit payment has been received and cleared. A deposit is considered to be 50% of the total advertised workshop cost. Your 50% balance payment must be paid and cleared no later than 90 days before the advertised workshop start date. Payment may be paid via PayPal (an invoice will be provided) or into our US bank account (details provided upon request). Clients should ensure that any transfer fees are paid at source. We reserve the right to pass bank transfer charges back to the client, where applicable. The tour cost includes all in-country transport as per the tour itinerary, accommodation, meals (as published), tuition and advice from the Workshop leader. The tour cost does not include your return international air fare or return transport to the Workshop start location. It does not include your personal and incidental expenses such as beverages, laundry, souvenirs, communication expenses, tips, extra-curricular entrance fees, and personal items.

    Cancellation Policy

    Cancellation of your Workshop reservation must be made in writing to Matt Brandon. Upon receipt of your cancellation, the following cancellation charges will apply:

    • 60 days or more before Workshop start date: 50% of deposit lost
    • 30-60 days before Workshop start date: 100% of deposit lost
    • 30 days or fewer before Workshop start date: 100% of tour cost lost


    Additionally, we will pay no re funds if the client leaves the tour once it has commenced. No refunds will be made for accommodation, transport or other services not utilized. We reserve the right to cancel all or a portion of the Workshop on account of terrorism, natural disasters, political instability, or any other circumstances beyond our control. In the event of such a cancellation, full or partial refunds will be given at our sole discretion.

    Should the Workshop be cancelled for any reason, we are not responsible for your incidental expenses including vaccinations, non-refundable flight tickets or other transport, passport, visa applications, gear purchases, etc.

    Itinerary changes

    Although we do our best to maintain the itinerary as published, it is sometimes necessary to be flexible and to change the Workshop itinerary, when circumstances are beyond our control. We will inform you with as much notice as possible and make our best endeavors to replace any cancelled activity with a similar, substitute activity. The client acknowledges and accepts that changes to the published itinerary may be necessary and that no refunds will be made for any unused facilities or services resulting from changes made to the tour itinerary.

    Passports and Visas

    The client should ensure that they have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the published conclusion date of the Photo Workshop. You will be asked to provide a copy of your valid passport when making your deposit payment. It is the client’s responsibility to ensure that they have a valid visa for the country or countries being visited. Please be aware that visas often commence from the date of issue. You will be asked to provide a copy of a valid visa or visas prior to the tour start date, unless you are obtaining a visa on arrival. Please check the visa conditions for the country/countries to be visited well in advance.

    Travel Insurance

    Travel insurance is required for all clients. Your travel insurance should provide protection against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency repatriation, and personal liability. We also recommend that it cover cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. We recommend that you take out travel insurance soon after reserving your spot on the tour. Clients are required to provide a copy of a valid travel insurance policy covering a period extending to 30 days beyond the scheduled conclusion of the workshop. Participants without valid travel insurance, as determined by the workshop organizers, will not be permitted to join the workshop.


    Clients should be in good physical condition. The main physical activities of this tour trekking in warm/hot weather. Participants need to be fit and active, walks are normally on well defined paths and at moderate altitude (8,000 ft. / 2,500 m.). We recommend a trip to your local travel clinic or doctor to find out about any necessary vaccinations. Please contact us if you have any questions about the physical demands of the Workshop or if you would like to discuss your particular health issues in detail. All conversations are held in the strictest confidence. If you have any allergies or health issues that the Workshop leaders should be aware of, please make sure that you provide us with full details before the Workshop start date.


    Due to the nature of the varied locations that we visit on Photo Workshops, it is not always possible for us to guarantee to meet each client’s specific dietary requirements. We will eat our meals in local food outlets and sample the local cuisine. Please bear this in mind when planning to attend the Workshop.

    Cultural Policy

    Photo Workshops often take place in locations where it is important to be aware of the prevailing cultural conditions. It is a condition of your participation in the Photo Workshop that you accept the following policies, designed to ensure that all participants respect and appreciate the culture of the locations we visit.

    • The laws of the country or countries we are visiting will be obeyed at all times.
    • Recreational drug use and excessive alcohol consumption is prohibited.
    • Appropriate clothing will be worn at all times. For example, we may be asked to remove shoes or cover our heads when visiting places of worship.
    • No photographs will be taken at locations where it is expressly forbidden or when the Workshop Leaders expressly request that you do not photograph.
    • The Workshop Leaders will determine how we approach the photographing of locations and of individuals at different locations. You agree to respect the prevailing cultural conditions and to abide by any decisions or requests made by the Workshop Leaders without question or hesitation.


    Our Cultural Policy is designed to ensure that the impact of our trip is kept to a minimum and that visitors who arrive after we have departed are welcomed and treated with the respect and hospitality that we would wish to enjoy.

    We expect all Workshop participants to adhere to our general approach, which can be best summarized as
 “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs”.


    Completion of an electronic registration form and/or payment of a deposit constitutes full acceptance of these terms and conditions.

  • We are proud to partner with MindShift Gear. The makers of the rotation 180º Camera Backpack Professional Backpack

    MindShift Gear is a group of committed professional photographers and product designers who support conservation and protection of our natural resources and planet. Founded by the creators of Think Tank Photo and conservation photographer Daniel Beltrá, we are dedicated to building carrying solutions for those who are passionate about experiencing the natural world. Our slogan, “Engage with Nature,” challenges people to not only become involved in outdoor activities, but to create a conversation about nature and our relationship to the environment.





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Mind Shift Gear Giveaway Official Rules

Sweepstakes Official Rules


Purchase does not increase chance of winning.

The prize: MindShift Gear: rotation180° Professional Backpack features an integrated waist pack that allows instant access to your camera gear. No cash or other prize substitution permitted except at Sponsor’s discretion. The prize is nontransferable. Any and all prize related expenses, including without limitation any and all federal, state, and/or local taxes shall be the sole responsibility of the winner.

How to enter: You may enter the Sweepstakes through the application on

Alternate means of entry: Email a message with the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your complete address
  • Valid email address (if you do not have an email address, print “no email address”)
  • Valid telephone number
  • The words The Kashmir Photo Trek Giveaway

eMail entry to:

Terms and Conditions

  1. By submitting an entry, you fully and unconditionally agree to and accept these Official Rules.
  2. Sweepstakes entries are void where prohibited. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. Subject to any governmental approval that may be required, Sponsor reserves the right to, without prior notice and at any time, terminate the Sweepstakes, in whole or in part, or modify Sweepstakes in any way, should any factor interfere with its proper conduct as contemplated by these Official Rules. Sweepstakes will begin on February 1, 2015 and will continue till February 28, 2015. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion, to cancel the sweepstakes in its entirety, or only the online portion, if it becomes technically corrupted or because of non-authorized human intervention.
  3. Eligibility. Must be at least 18 years or old to enter., Matthew Brandon and MindShift Gear and their employees, officers, or directors, their parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, and their children, parents, spouse, and members of their household are ineligible to participate. No purchase or online entry necessary. A purchase does not enhance your chance of winning.
  4. Effective date of entries. Entries made online will be effective on the day received.
  5. Prize descriptions. Grand Prize (1) will be a MindShift Gear “rotation180° Professional”  The rotation180° Professional Backpack features an integrated waist pack that allows instant access to your camera gear.
  6. Selection of winners. Winners will be determined by random drawing from all eligible entries received. Drawings will be held as soon as is commercially reasonable. Winners must agree to the use of their names, voices, and/or likeness for the purpose of advertising, trade, or promotion without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.
  7. Notification of winners. Sweepstakes winner will be notified by email An email will be sent to the winner within one week after the drawing. All decisions are final and binding. Should the email be returned to the as invalid, two more attempts will be made via social media. Winners must contact the Sponsor within 5 calendar days from the date the notification is sent by Sponsor to claim their prize. Failure to contact Sponsor within that 5 day period will result in immediate disqualification of the selected entrant and a new winner will be selected. No exceptions will be made to this rule. Sponsor is not responsible for and shall not be liable for late, lost, misdirected, or unsuccessful efforts to notify winners.
  8. Odds of winning. The odds of winning any drawing will be determined by the number of eligible entries received.
  9. In the event of a dispute regarding who submitted an online entry, the entry will be deemed submitted by the authorized account holder of the email account.
  10. Other conditions. Sponsor, its agents and representatives, its parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising, promotion and fulfillment agencies and legal advisors are not responsible for and will not be liable for (I) late, lost, damaged, misdirected, incomplete, unintelligible or postage due entries; (II) telephone, electronic, hardware or software program, network, Internet or computer malfunctions, failures or difficulties of any kind; (III) failed, incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions; (IV) any condition caused by events beyond the control of Sponsor that may cause Sweepstakes to be disrupted or corrupted; (V) any injuries losses or damages of any kind arising in connection with or as a result of the Sweepstakes, or from participation in the Sweepstakes; or (VI) any printing or typographical error in any material associated with the Sweepstakes.
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In My Bag

Gear is one of those things that people love to talk about, play with, and drool over. But as every reader here knows any piece of gear is only a tool to help achieve a desired goal. I thought long and hard about making a gear page. But after talking with some friends on Facebook, I decided to list the gear I use in as much detail as possible. I want this page to be a resource to help other photographers. Maybe you are just starting out, or maybe you just don’t travel much, whatever the case may be, my hope is this page can be a help for you. My intent is to give you a look at what I bring on a general assignment and why. On this page and under each tab you will find an overview of that gear. It is not a complete list, nor is it a stagnate list.  But it should give you a good starting point if that is what you are looking for. The first tab is a packing list, it is also changing, so what is in my camera bag this week you may not find it there next week.

  • Cameras:

    For many, many years all I ever shot was a Canon brand camera. It was not an emotional thing, but rather a practical thing. I started shooting with Canon as a young man and stuck with them (except for a brief stint using Olympus). But today that has all changed. Now my go-to kit is made up of Fujifilm equipment. For a further look of my transition from Canon to Fujifilm read the post Fujifilm X – Switch or not To Switch.

    You will be quick to notice that I have several cameras. On any given shoot I have my X-T1 over one shoulder and the X-E2 over the another. Why is that? You can read all about it here: Two Cameras vs One


    Fujifilm X-T1

    Fujifilm X-T1

    Fujifilm X-T1


    This is a small, light weight and very serious camera. Don’t let the size fool you, this is no toy! The Fujifilm X-T1 Mirrorless Digital Camera features a 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor and an EXR Processor II to produce high-resolution imagery with an expandable sensitivity range from ISO 100-51200 as well as a top continuous shooting rate of 8 fps. Fujifilm’s proprietary X-Trans sensor uses a unique randomized pixel array in order to avoid the use of a resolution-reducing optical low-pass filter, therefore providing images with the utmost sharpness and clarity. This imaging system is benefited by the Intelligent Hybrid AF system, which uses both contrast- and phase-detection methods to acquire focus quickly and accurately. Enhanced manual focusing capabilities are also a result of these technologies; Digital Split Image and Focus Highlight Peaking are two methods for quickly and precisely determining focus using intelligent focusing aids for improved control and optimized efficiency.


    Fujifilm X-Pro1 & Really Right Stuff L-plate & Grip (back up camera)



    Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the Really Right Stuff L-plate & Grip


    I have really grown to love this little camera. In many ways it has brought the joy of photography back to me. I love the layout of the camera, from the aperture ring on the lens to the analog shutter speed dial on the top of the body. It has its quirks, and it is these quirks that keep me from using only the X-Pro1. But over all, this is my camera of choice. I have added the Really Right Stuff BXPro1 Set: Base + LPlate + Grip.


    Fujifilm X100


    Fujifilm X100

    This is a camera that started it all. This is what started the mirrorless camera revolution. Oh sure, there were mirrorless cameras before this one, but this is the one that got me excited. It was the first camera in the Fujifilm X-series. It introduced the aperture ring back on the lens where many people say it’s supposed to be, and put the shutter speed dial back up on top of the camera. Additionally, many people say this feature is what brought fun back into photography. With the 23 mm lens on its APS-C cropped sensor it became an instant hit with street photographers. Fujifilm has since come out with a X100s– a faster and more accurately focusing update. This comes with me as a backup, and every time I go to dinner it’s on my shoulder.


    Peak Design Camera leash and Cuff

    Peak Design Camera leash and Cuff

    Peak Design Camera leash and Cuff


    I have tried so many camera straps along the way from the high end sling straps like Black Rapid, the more costly Artisan & Artist (see the X-Pro1 photo above) all the way down to the humble homemade strap and none work as well as the Peak Design Leash. They are light, soft on the neck, easy to put on and take off the camera. Plus they are versatile. Easily configure the Leash as a sling strap, neck strap and more. When you don’t need a strap it quickly disconnects and stores in your pocket, purse or camera bag. What else do you need in a strap? The Cuff is a handy wrist strap that uses their Anchor Link quick-connection system. Releases with one hand and can be connected to your camera in a variety of locations. When not in use it can be worn around your wrist like a bracelet.

  • Lenses:

    When it comes to Canon lenses I am pretty maxed out and have just about all that I would need for any normal shoot. If I need something unique then I would just rent it. To me, there is no sense in owning a lens I use once a year. This is why I don’t have any specialty lenses. Fujinon lenses are another thing altogether. The X-series lenses are so new they don’t even have all of them out yet.

    Fujinon XF 35 mm f/1.4R:

    Fujinon XF 35 mm f/1.2R:

    Fujinon XF 35 mm f/1.4R:



    f/2.2, 1/220 sec, at 35mm, 400 ISO, on a X-Pro1

    This lens is crazy sharp. on the cropped sensor of the X-Pro1 this lens if effectively 53 mm on a full frame camera. Not an ideal portrait lens, but you use what you have, right? With a f/1.2 depth of field this lens has a really nice bokeh.

    Fujinon XF 14 mm f/2.8R:


    Fujinon XF 14 mm f/2.8R


    f/3.6, 1/40 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

    f/3.6, 1/40 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

    Fujinon XF 14 mm f/2.8R is another prime that like all the Fujinon lenses is sharp. At this point in the fujifilm’s lens roadmap this is the wides lens they make. It works well for street photography.



    Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R Lens:

     Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R Lens

    Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R Lens


    f/8, 1/35 sec, at 23mm, 4000 ISO, on a X-Pro1


    Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R Lens is the full frame equivalent of a 35mm and at f/1.4 it is super fast and like so many f the Fujifilm lenses it is razor sharp! You can read my review of this lens HERE.



    Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2R:





    f/1.4, 1/1500 sec, at 56mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

    f/1.4, 1/1500 sec, at 56mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1



    Fujinon XF 56 mm f/1.2R is equivalent to a 85mm on a full frame camera. At f/1.2 it is a crazy fast lens with wonderful bokeh. You can read my review on this lens HERE.

    Fujinon XF 10-24 mm f/4 R:





    f/4, 1/180 sec, at 17.4mm, 400 ISO, on a X-E2

    f/4, 1/180 sec, at 17.4mm, 400 ISO, on a X-E2



    This is lens and the 56 mm f/1.2 are the two lenses from Fujinon that I had been waiting for since they first camera out with the X-Pro1 body. This is the full frame equivalent of a 16-35 mm. My only gripe is it is slow at f/4. But it does have an effective lens stabilization built into it. Read my review HERE.

    Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS:




    f/22, 4.5 sec, at 121.8mm, 250 ISO, on a X-Pro1

    f/22, 4.5 sec, at 121.8mm, 250 ISO, on a X-Pro1


    A sharp telephoto, the XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS is a full frame equivalent of a 84-305 mm with optical stabilization it is great way to get those hard to get distant shots.

  • Lighting:

    If there is a weak spot in my skills it has to be lighting. For whatever reason the theory and math just goes in one ear and out the other. So I need lighting gear to make it simple to make it simple. Here is what I have gathered over the years.

    Fujifilm EF42 Shoe Mount Flash:

    Fujifilm EF42 Shoe Mount Flash

    Fujifilm EF42 Shoe Mount Flash


    A pretty simple flash and that is what I need. It’s a lightweight, portable on-camera flash with a 138′ (42 m) guide number @ ISO 100. It has auto zoom that automatically matches the focal length of the lens (24-105mm in 35mm format), and can be set for APS-C or full-frame 35mm use. Light output is adjustable from full power all the way down to 1/64 power. Exposure compensation of +/-1.5 EV in 1/2-stop steps helps you further refine your lighting. The flash head rotates 90° vertically, 180° to the left, and 120° to the right for total flexibility in directing your light.

    Cactus Wireless Flash RF-60:


    Cactus Wireless Flash RF-60

    This is one of the smartest flashes I have ever used. It has built-in wireless commander and receiver. You can fire this manual flash from a Cactus V6 transceiver or from another Cactus flash via radio. Of use any other flash as an optical trigger.

    Phottix Mitros TTL Flash:


    Phottix Mitros TTL Flash for Canon

    Phottix Mitros TTL Flash for Canon


    The Mitros will do everything you expect a top-of-the-line TTL flash to do. Functions include built-in IR triggering with Master and Slave modes, AF assist light, auto/manual zooming flash head, all with fast recharge times. The Mitros has a maximum guide number of 190′ (58 m) at ISO 100 (at 105mm focal length) just like the Canon and much more affordable. The Phottix Mitros TTL Flash includes a USB port for firmware upgrades and a 3.5mm sync port

    Cactus Wireless Flash Transceiver V6:


    Cactus Wireless Flash Transceiver V6

    The Cactus V6 is a revolutionary wireless flash triggering system. It brings off camera lighting to new dimensions where it widens the choice of cameras and lights for achieving remote power control. comes with a multi-system shoe that supports TTL pass through. With TTL pass-through, the TTL flashes behave as they would when directly connected to the camera hot shoe. By using an exclusive flash profile learning program, the V6 can learn unique power level characteristics from various flash models. More than 30 popular flash models from Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Metz, Nissin, Sigma, etc. have been profiled and pre-installed on the V6 and each unit. V6 can remotely control the power output of these flashes. If a TTL flash model is not listed, the V6 may even learn its flash profile and then be able to control the power output of the flash.


    Photoflex LiteDisc Circular Reflector, Black/Silver, 42″ (107cm):



    Photoflex LiteDisc Circular Reflector, Black/Silver, 42″


    Photoflex MultiDisc Circular Reflector, 5 Surfaces, 42″ (107cm):



    Photoflex MultiDisc Circular Reflector, 5 Surfaces, 42″ (107cm)



    Tripods & Heads:

    Fotopro MGC-684n and Ball Head:



    Fotopro’s MGC684n is a 8x layer carbon fiber tripod is a lightweight and versatile tripod with a built in monopod. The reverse folded function enables it to compact enoiugh to fit in a suitcase and yet remain durable and stable tripod. The leg locks only need a ¼ turn to lock or loosen a leg sections.The molded rubber locks are easy to handle even when wearing gloves. The 2 sectioned center column can easily be reversed for low level use and contains an attachment to hang additional weight.

    Digipod a2830 Tripod:



    Digipod a2830 with the Acratech GV2 Ballhead

    I needed to larger steadier a tripod but I didn’t want to spend as I wont use it a lot. I am not a landscape photographer but every photographer needs a good size pair of sticks. The Digipod A2830 is Chinese brand aluminum tripod. It’s a little heavier than I wanted, at 5lbs. However, it is just the height I wanted and the finishing is quite nice. With my Acratech ball head and the center column lowered it stands exactly 5 feet tall. Once I put the camera body on, the eyepiece of my 5D MKII is level with my eye. All this for only… are you ready..$120.00!


    Acratech GV2 Ballhead:


    Acratech GV2 Ballhead

    Acratech GV2 Ballhead


    The Acratech GV2 Ballhead is a great head with a unique design. It’s light weight and open design makes it ideal for the type of shooting I do. Many other ballheads, and I am not excluding the big names out there, have their ball and socket design encased in some sort of housing. When dirt and grime get inside the housing the head starts to have friction and the movement no longer stays smooth. Not with the exposed design of the Acratech heads and being oilless and greaseless the ball will not attract and hold dirt and debris. Very smart! This is a lightweight head, less than 1 lb (.45kg). A concern with it being so light is, will it support the weight of a DSLR and a 70-200 2.8 lens? It does, and in fact easily holds over 25 lbs (11.4kg) at any angle. They are made with a quick release clamp that is compatible with most major manufactures QR plates.

    Canon GPS Receiver GP-E2:


    Canon GPS Receiver GP-E2

    Canon’s GPS Receiver GP-E2 records GPS information like longitude, latitude, elevation, direction and Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) as EXIF data on photo files using a compatible EOS camera. This lightweight, compact unit can also serve as an electronic compass or a stand-alone GPS recorder when shooting my Fujifilm gear. It was designed specifically for the EOS system, and offers USB and hot-shoe connections with the EOS 5D Mark III. With that said, the GP-E2 can also be used as a generic GPS logger and the data downloaded and synced in Lightroom.

  • Bags:

    For packing my camera I use Thinks Tank Photo bags for two reasons. The first and most important reason is I find them functional and incredibly well made. They fit my use and so I use them. And in full disclosure, the other reason is that I am on the design board and get a really good deal on any bag I want, but I would use them even if I wasn’t, though I might not own as many as I do now.

    Airport International V2 Roller Bag:



    Airport International V2 Roller Bag


    When I travel and find myself shooting with my Canon bodies and lenses then I almost always pack my kit in this bag. It is spacious and rolls nicely and is seemingly indestructible. This bag has been around the globe many, many times. Like a Timex, it takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Note of Caution: Even though this bag is legal carry-on size, it is big enough that many airline attendants look at it and often ask you to weigh the bag upon checking in for your flight. This is a pain, as it is almost always overweight by the time I finish packing my kit in it.

    Think Tank Photo Airport 4-Sight Rolling Camera Bag:



    Think Tank Photo Airport 4-Sight Rolling Camera Bag:


    Even though TTP says it works well with larger gear, I find it too small for carrying two pro-size DSLR and a full kit of lenses. But it is perfect for two X-Pro1 bodies and several X-series lenses. One of the best features of this bag is that it rolls on all four coasters. This might not seem like much, but it is really nice to roll this bag through an airport without having to drag it behind you.

    Airport Navigator Rolling Camera Bag:


    Thank Tank Photo Airport Navigator


    This is a even smaller bag than the Airport 4-Sight. But oddly enough it offers a lot more. This bag easily carries my complete Fujifilm X-Series kit. It also has padded pockets for a laptop and an iPad both. Perfect for my MacBook Pro 13″ as well as an iPad or my Kindle. I wish this bag rolled on all for wheels, but it doesn’t. It fits nicely into the overhead with no issues and I never get questioned about weight.

    Think Tank Photo CityWalker 20 (Blue):



    Think Tank Photo CityWalker 20


    This bag has replaced my Think Tank Photo Urban Disguise 70. It is light weight and looks like just another messenger bag. The 20 is just the right size to fit two X-Pro1 cameras with lenses attached and still have room to carry another lens or two. But frankly, I hardly ever use it to shoot out of. I use it when I am traveling from location to location with one slight modification. I replace the handle strap that came on it with another think Think Tank adjustable strap. This allows me to put the bag over the handle of my roller bag and then cinch it tight. While traveling, I carry my MacBook Pro 13″ with my Kindle Paperwhite in it along with some headphones, a small backup drive, various cables and power cord, business cards, pens, passport and more.


    Large Luggage:


    Eagle Creek ORV Super Trunk 36:


    Eagle Creek ORV Super Trunk 36

    Eagle Creek ORV Super Trunk 36


    I keep trying to buy roller duffles and I keep getting disappointed. When I need to have a large roller bag I go with my Eagle Creek ORV Super Trunk 36. This think is the perfect size and is easy to pack and roll. But at 11 lbs 7 oz / 5.20 kg it is not what I call light and these days every ounce needs to be accounted for.


    The North Face Base Camp Duffel:

    The North Face Base Camp Duffel

    The North Face Base Camp Duffel


    There is a lighter – albeit harder on the back option to the Eagle Creek roller, and the one I usually go with, The North Face Base Camp Duffel. It is very light at 4 lbs 15 oz (2240 g). Made from a durable laminate material, the Base Camp Duffel is a bomber of a bag. Amply resilient to be roughed around in-flight, or to be transported up a mountain via a yak, this is one tough duffel bag. At 155-liter volume it provides ideal storage for long, extended trips, or space for photographer to store a large tripod and lighting gear. This bag has no padding, so you need to pack it with that in mind.


    General Packing:

    For packing my clothes I find using packing cubes to be the most helpful. I used to by the costly ones, only because I couldn’t find any other. Then eBags started carrying them and now that is what I use to pack and sort my cloths.

    eBags Packing Cubes:



    eBag Packing Cubes


    These guys are a silent hero for the traveler. They are indispensable. They are simple yet effective at keeping your clothing and gear organized and mostly wearable once you arrive at your destination. If you don’t use them then you must be wearing wrinkled clothing once you arrive.

    Here is another look at the eBag packing cubes in action and how they keep me organized and save space in my luggage.

    eBag Packing Cubes in Action

    (a) eBag packing cube with my pants
    (b) eBag packing cube with my shirts
    (c) raincoat
    (d) Think Tank Lens Skin that contains my filters
    (e) eBag packing cube with more clothes
    (f) eBag packing cube with heavy winter weight socks
    (g) Think Tank storage container that with two other smaller containers of storage (see below)
    (h) nylon liner for sleeping bag
    (i) Think Tank storage bag
    (j) Eddie Bauer toiletry case

  • Clothing:

    I travel to some varied climate. Often I travel to those varied climates in one trip, so how do you pack as efficiently as possible for trip that you might be hot one day and freezing the next? In truth therer is not a good answer, but here is what I do.

    Anokhi’s lightweight 100% cotton hand blocked printed shirts:



    Anokhi’s 100% cotton hand blocked printed shirts

    The tropics rarely allow me to go through a day without sweating like crazy. So when I found Anokhi’s lightweight 100% cotton hand blocked printed shirts I found relief. For a slightly overweight middle-aged man I like to look nice when I can–I gotta do what I can–after all I am married to a gorgeous Asian woman. These shirts fit the bill, lightweight, casual, with a certain sophistication or dare I say je ne sais quoi. Each shirt is like a piece of hand made Indian folk art. Gavin Gough‘s been lusting after my collection for years. I don’t go to India without picking up one or two of these shirts. They are practical in that you can soak them with sweat but they dry within minutes if you are in a breeze. The only catch with Anokhi is finding them outside of India. Here is the best I can do for you : Anokhi’s retailer’s listing and a catalog of images of some of their other product. At the risk of “TMI” (Too Much Information”) I also wear Anokhi’s super lightweight Boxers shorts. Light weight and breathable, they are perfect!


    Kühl Jeans:


    Kühl Revolvr

    I have quit wearing nylon packable pants. I find the the opposite that I need. Meaning for the most part they are too hot in the warm climates and too cold in the cooler climates. They also rip easy. For now, I have one brand of trousers that I use exclusively, Kühl, Revolvers. I love them they are just the right weight to take of any chill and still lighter than blue jeans so they remain cool in the tropics. In fact I wear them at home in Malaysia just about everyday. They have plenty of secure pockets for Phones and other valuables. They’re not cheap but they are not crazy costly either. Most outdoor stores carry them, I get mine at REI.

    Kühl Shorts:


    Kühl Shorts

    I am sorry if you think of me as uncreative, but when you find a good thing you stick with it. This is why I also wear Kühl shorts. Why Kühl? They are the right length (I hate short shorts) durable, good looking, not too hot and crazy comfortable.


    Ever since I was a young lad I have had a thing with hats, in particular wide brimmed fedora. I like the way they look but they also have a utilitarian function as well – They keep the sun off my ears and neck. Some people might thin I splutge on these hats I hat a hand full and I wear them all. Honestly, there is nothing that says this hat should be worn for this type of day or function. It is really a matter of what I am in the mood for. So here is the list:


    Akubra Stylemaster:


    Akubra Stylemaster


    Akubra has been hand crafting hats for over 130 years. I buy their superior rabbit fur felt hat, it’s not only an exceptional looking hat but one of the most durable. The thing most people don’t understand about fur felt is it is breathable and so the Akubra hats have been worn in the heat of the Australian summer right through to their freezing cold winters. This hat was my first Akubra. The Stylemaster is a pre-creased fedora. The pinched telescope crown is 4-1/4 inches at the front, rising to 4-3/4 inches on the side and then down to 3-7/8 inches in the back. This give this hat a distinctive look. The brim is 2-1/2 inches wide and bound with ribbon. I am not a huge fan of cut brims, I like then bound like this one. The snap brim is usually worn snapped down in front and up in back. The pure fur felt is Akubra’s Imperial Quality. The hat is fully lined and has a 1-1/2 inch grosgrain band. A leather sweatband.

    The Squatter:


    The Squatter

    The Squatter is a classic Australian town and country hat. The brim is 3 inches wide, bound edge, and may be worn snapped down in front or as a drop brim down all around. Imperial Quality pure fur felt, 1-1/4 inch ribbon band, fully lined, with chin strap hooks set inside the crown for attachment of a chin strap. 5-1/4 inch open crown, shipped uncreased. Reeded roan leather sweatband.

    The Squatter takes its name from the men who took up large blocks of pastoral land in the outback under government license when Australia was first settled. These large landowners were often the rich and influential men of the district and the Squatter, made by Akubra, reflects a little of this life style


    Brent Black Rollup Monticristi Optimo Panama:


    Brent Black Rollup Monticristi Optimo Panama

    I had wanted a panama hat for years. The lightweight tight weave of fine Ecuadorian straw seemed just the thing for Malaysia. After all this hat was a standard part of the well dressed gentleman here for years. This is how hat maker Brent Black describes the Optimo Panama.

    The Optimo is the classic Panama hat style. In Ecuador, it’s called the Natural. The Optimo was the style of choice for British travelers, ex-pats, and empire builders in Malaysia, Hong Kong, India, and throughout the tropics—anywhere a gin and tonic had actual therapeutic value (against malaria, not just tropical tantrums). Even today, the style is more popular in the UK than in the US.-Brent Black

    This is a genuine Panama hat, hand woven in Ecuador – hand blocked and finished in Hawaii. What makes the Optimo different is it is made for the traveler. You can roll this hat up, put it in a packing tube and store it while traveling. Then once you arrive you unroll it and you are good to go… in theory. In fact Mr. Black wrote me a a note and said if I wanted to keep the hat looking like it is don’t even think about rolling it up, it will loose at lot of it’s shape. He even has a caveat page on “rolling up a panama“. My wife keeps reminding me, “It a hat. That’s one of the reasons you got it, to roll it up, don’t be silly.” So now I roll it and pack it and it looks nothing like this any more.


    Borsalino Enzo Open Crown Crushable:



    Borsalino Enzo Open Crown Crushable

    Borsalino is another hat company that has been around forever. Based in Alessandria, Italy, they make quality fur felt hat for every type of need. The Enzo Open Crown Crushable was the first hat I owned that had a feel of a vintage hat from the 1930s & 40s. The fur felt is light and flexible, unlike that of the Akubra felt that is stiff like a cowboy hat. The Borsalino fur felt is not only pliable but water repellent as well. Like the Optimo this hat is easily rolled up and stuck in a packing tube for travel. You might ask, why don’t you just wear your hat on the plane? Well, often I do, but I always risk forgetting them in the seat next to me when I am disembarking or they can get crushed in the overhead bin by sliding luggage. Half-inch gros grain band. Custom Borsalino cloth sweat band. The brim is 2 3/8″.


    Primavera by Orlando Palacios:


    Primavera by Orlando Palacios


    Orlando Palacios is a creative artist based in New York City. As the owner and head designer of the New York haberdashery, Worth and Worth, he has grown to be the go-to lid-crafter for musicians ranging from Keith Richards to Elvis Costello and Beyoncé. One day in the summer of 2013 I was standing in the Austin Burgstrum International Airport and I saw this guy with a very cool mustard color hat on. The color caught my eye first, but then the hat brim edging was unique, it was stitched rather than bound with a grosgrain ribbon. You just don’t see that much. I figured his was obviously a musician I mean it is Austin, right? He had a mandolin case slung over his shoulder and was dressing very hip. So I go up to him comment on his hat. He looked shocked and frankly a little perturbed I bothered him. But he lighten up and told me it was a handmade lid by Orlando Palacios out of New York, the Primavera in yellow (His had a yellow matching band). Right then, I thought, I at least got to call up this hat shop up and ask about the hat. Next thing I know I got the thing on my head. It’s soft supple construction and only weights 62 grams which gives it crushable capabilities. Worth & Worth call this hat their original 3 season, travel hat. But there is no way I am going to crush this hat. The Primavera has a 2 ½” brim and a tapered crown with a 3 ¾” profile. Its’ detailed with a chocolate colored 1” hatband.

  • Other Accessories:

    Travel is a big part of my work. Of course, when we photographers travel we don’t just carry cameras and lenses. We have to carry many other accessories that make traveling easier and our work more productive. So here is a list of items that have made my time on the road easier and more productive.

    PacSafe: Wrapsafe cable lock:


    The Wrapsafe this is a monstrously long cable with a creative design. Unlike other normal cable locks PacSafe’s Wrapsafe cable is adjustable due to the polycarbonate anchors along the cable length. It’s not exactly light, but it’s effective at securing your luggage in a train station, airport or even in a hotel room while you’re gone all day shooting photographs. It leaves you with peace of mind while you are away from your belongings. Well worth the weight!

    Belkin 4-Way Surge Protector and Extension:

    Belkin surge protector 4

    One of the most frustrating things while traveling is having enough plug adapters for all your different electrical items. Sometimes, you may have enough adapters, but there just isn’t enough sockets in the room. Enter the Belkin 4-Way Surge Protector and Extension. There are several of these available, but I use the one that has the multi-plug slots. In this way I can use almost any type of plug from the round prongs of Indian plugs to the English and Malaysian large square plugs. (Unfortunately, I have never found this particular power extension available in the United States. I’ve only found it available in South and Southeast Asia.)

    Zero Tolerance ZT-0350 tactical knife:

    Zero Tolerance ZT-0350 tactical knife

    Some might feel this is overkill and that a complicated Swiss Army knife might work better or even a multi-tool. Maybe that is true for you. I switched to this knife after years using a Swiss Army knife. But frankly, the Swiss Army knife was too heavy to carry around in my pocket and I never used anything but the scissors and the knife blade, so what was the point? I like the simplicity of this knife. Plus, this particular knife gives me a sense of security in that it is an “every day carry” and I can clip it onto my pocket and wear it. It has an assisted opening that makes one-handed opening easy using the large, ambidextrous thumb stud or blade flipper. It is made of thick S30V stainless steel. S30V steel is really tough, so much so that you can use this knife to pry apart two wood 2-by-4 planks nailed together and not damage the blade.

    LEDLenser-ZL7438 Flashlight:

    LEDLenser-ZL7438 Flashlight

    Any small LED flashlight is handy. But this one is as bright as a laser beam! My LEDLenser has proven to be indestructible. I have dropped this from quite high on many occasions and it still performs well. This little light takes 3 AAA batteries and runs forever on them. It is rated to give 100 hours of battery life. I’m not sure that’s true. Maybe it is 100 hours till the battery dies completely. Needless to say, you will want to replace the batteries earlier than later to keep the light bright. It is not cheap, but it’s been the last flashlight that I’ve had to buy. So, in the long run it might be worth the money spent. This is an Australian company, so I’m not sure how easy it is to find in the United States, I bought mine in the Philippines.

    Giro Blaze Cold-Weather Cycling Gloves:

    Giro Blaze Cold-Weather Cycling Gloves

    You might ask, why cycling gloves? The fact is, I didn’t go out looking for cycling gloves in particular. I was browsing around a few years back at an REI (a sports store in the U.S.) and found these. They are thin, grip well and yet still warm and allow me to feel the buttons on my camera while wearing them. I don’t find much use for fingerless gloves, so these were perfect. These guys went with me to the Everest base camp and will go with me whenever the weather is chilly to down right cold.

    Gatorade powder:

    Gatorade powder

    This is an incredibly handy item to have with you when you travel. Not only does it replace lost electrolytes after you have been sweating in the New Delhi sun, it also can mask the flavor of some pretty nasty water. Oftentimes water that’s been filtered or purified may have a bad taste and this makes drinking it possible. I usually keep around 3 or 4 small packs with me throughout the day.

    Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling In-Ear Headphones:


    Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling In-Ear Headphones


    Audio is very important to my work and I want to be able to hear what I’m capturing with my recorder. But I also don’t want to have to carry along several types of headphones. I used to travel with a pair of huge over-the-ear noise canceling headphones but I found I only use them when I was in the plane. Then I found these QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling In-Ear Headphones from Bose feature their active noise-cancelling technology. In a word, AMAZING! The headphones are powered by Bose’s TriPort Acoustic drivers to produce a balanced frequency response. They are powered by the built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that provides up to 16 hours of noise cancellation per charge. The in-line microphone and remote allows you to take calls and control your iPhone, iPad, or iPod device.

    Eneloop Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries with Charger:


    Eneloop Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries with Charger

    A conventional NiMH Battery can be charged only up to 500 times and looses about 10-15% of its charge on the first day itself. In contrast the Sanyo Eneloop retain up to 85% of its charge even after one year. Not only that but they can be recharged up to 1000 times. I have found these to be the best rechargeable batteries out there…by far. They’ve saved me a lot of money over time. Great for use in a flash, radio triggers and recorders.

    iPhone/iPad Pen and Stylus:

    Kensington iPhone Sylus

    Why a iPhone stylus? Good question, since the iPhone doesn’t need a stylus for you to write on it. But, try to get someone who’s never written on iPhone to use their fingers to sign a model release. Trust me, it’s difficult, I’ve tried it. That’s when I went and purchased a stylus pen and everything became easier. If you’re using Easy Release or some other type of iPhone app for obtaining a model release I highly recommend getting a stylus. The one I have (pictured above) doubles as a writing pen as well.

    Pipes & Tobacco:

    Two to Three Pipes

    At the risk of getting inflammatory e-mails by people telling me how dangerous pipe smoking is I put my pipes on this gear page. It’s a simple pleasure that relaxes me. I enjoy the camaraderie it facilitates with other pipe smoking photographer friends. You know who you are – I will not list your names here. 😉

  • Packing List:

    One of the most helpful things I have found when prepping for a trip is a packing list. An easy way to use a check list like this and to keep a the list updated is by using the iPhone app called “Packing Pro.” You can find the full review of it HERE.




    Below is a general list that I made in Packing Pro called “Assignment.” These items are unique to me– i.e. pipe tobacco, but you can easily change them up and make it yours. Even though it looks huge, most of the items are very small and light weight. Packing Pro gives the option to add a weight to each item and then it will tally the weight for you. A very cool option, but one I haven’t taken the time to use. You can download the app Packing Pro and then download my list linked HERE (be sure to unzip it) and import it to use it as a template for your own list or you can just use this page and tick off each item as you pack.

    So here is my packing list:

    To Do (pre-trip)

    (general prep) buy travel guide
    (general prep) buy E-ticket
    (general prep) create itinerary
    (general prep) reserve hotel
    (general prep) get visa
    (equipment prep) download GPS Maps
    (general prep) check on type of plug adapters
    (equipment prep) get plug adapter(s)
    (physical prep) prep medical prescriptions
    (equipment prep) recharge batteries
    (equipment prep) recharge camera batteries x 4
    (general prep) arrange accommodations
    (gen prep) research for trip
    (physical prep) cut hair
    (equipment prep) zero out camera settings
    (Gen Prep) print assignment brief
    (Gen Prep) notify bank of travel destinations
    (Gen Prep) buy travel insurance


    (documents) passport
    (documents) plane tickets
    (documents) photocopies
    (documents) contact info
    (luggage) Think Tank CityWalker
    (luggage) Think Tank Navagatior
    (money) cash –> $300
    (money) credit card x 2
    (money) ATM card x 2
    (luggage) wallet
    (documents) drivers license
    (documents) passport photos
    (documents) tickets (plane)
    (documents) business card
    (luggage) packing cubes x 4
    (documents) assignment brief
    (documents) visas
    (documents) frequent flyer card


    (shirts) Anokhi long sleeve shirt
    (shirts) Anokhi short sleeve shirt x5
    (pants) Kühl shorts x2
    (pants) Kühl long pants
    (shirts) t-shirt x3
    (underwear) light weight boxers x4
    (Shoes) Chaco sandles
    (beachwear) flip flops
    (hat) buff x3
    (hat) fedora


    (for hair) shampoo
    (for body) soap
    (for mouth) toothpaste
    (for mouth) floss
    (for mouth) toothbrush
    (for body) deodorant
    (for mouth) chap stick
    (for mouth) mouthwash
    (for body) talcum powder


    (creams) anti-bacterial
    (bandages) band-Aids
    (bandages) Q-tips
    (prevention) sunscreen
    (prevention) bug spray
    (prevention) ear plugs
    (pills) pain-relief
    (pills) metadate
    (pills) ciprofloxin
    (pills) baby aspirin
    (pills) simvastatin

    Camera Gear

    (photo equipment) Fuji X-Pro1 body x2
    (photo equipment) Fuji X-Pro1 chargers x 2
    (photo equipment) Fuji X-Pro1 batteries x 4
    (photo equipment) Lens Fuji 35mm
    (photo equipment) Fuji EF 42 flash
    (photo equipment) Lens Fuji 14mm
    (photo equipment) Fuji X100
    (photo equipment) Fuji X100 batteries
    (photo equipment) Fuji X100 charger
    (photo equipment) Reflector disk
    (photo equipment) Flash reflector
    (photo equipment) GP-E2 GPS
    (photo equipment) SD Cards x4
    (photo equipment) Umbrella
    (photo equipment) Off-camera sync cable
    (photo equipment) sensor swabs
    (photo equipment) Gorrila Pod
    (photo equipment) Fotopro Tripod
    (photo equipment) Lee filters


    (computer gear) 13″ Mac Book Pro
    (computer gear) MagSafe Power Adapter
    (utility) iPhone
    (utility) iPhone USB cable
    (utility) flashlight
    (utility) reading light
    (utility) electrical adapter x4
    (utility) plug converter
    (utility) Eneloop recharger
    (utility) Eneloop AAA batteries x4
    (utility) Eneloop AA batteries 1×6
    (utility) power strip
    (utility) 1tb backup drives x2
    (photo equipment) cable for backup drives x 2
    (utility) GP-E2 GPS
    (audio equipment) Bose noise canceling headphone
    (audio equipment) mic cable
    (audio equipment) Apogee MiC
    (audio equipment) Apogee iPhone cable
    (audio equipment) mini tripod
    (audio equipment) Sony PCM D50
    (recreation) Kindle


    (misc.) packable umbrella
    (misc.) eye mask
    (misc.) extra glasses
    (misc.) reading glasses
    (misc.) luggage scale


    (laundry) dirty clothes bag
    (books) travel guide
    (books) pen x3
    (misc.) padlock x2
    (misc.) plastic bags x5
    (misc.) Ziplock bags x10
    (misc.) sewing kit
    (misc.) cable lock
    (misc.) lighter
    (misc.) pipe x 4
    (misc.) pipe tobacco x3
    (misc.) pipe cleaners
    (misc.) pipe tamp