• Conor MacNeill, also known as the Fella, is a travel & landscape photographer.  His biggest passions always was traveling and exploring which actually brought him to photography. Now he does both with a focus on landscapes, cityscapes, and sometimes astrophotography or even Deep Space.  

    Conor's philosophy extends beyond photography; he's also on a mission to greet every street dog he encounters, adding a heartwarming touch to his travels. Filmed at the Pro Hangout in North Macedonia, Conor reveals his minimalist approach to travel photography, showcasing how he navigates the globe with a compact, yet powerful photography kit.

    Traveling Minimalistic: Conor’s approach  

    After a trip in Kosovo Conor visited us at the Pro Hangout in North Macedonia and walked us through his travel kit


    "I am not just here because of the photography and meeting everyone, I am also here to say hi to all the street dogs! "

    His Tilopa houses only his Small Pro Insert with one Nikon Z9Body with a Battery grip and 2 Lenses, a Lens Hood, a Filter case, a Tripod, a few receipts, a memory card case, and clothes. Throughout his traveling and multiple packing occasions, he learned packing light tailored for him without compromising. Conscious decisions about what to bring is his blueprint. Think about what you really need.  

    Which one is more important to you specifically – weight or variety of gear?  

    In the past, Conor had multiple Batteries with him for his Camera. For these, he had also different compartments in his pack arranged so he could know which Batteries were full or which were used. By now he is only using his Camera with the Built-in Battery Grip which gives him enough Power supply throughout the day. At night he just plugs the Camera in with USB C and charges it like this. 

    This Workflow also allows him to save weight and space on Batteries, chargers, etc. He reduced it to the most needed items.  

    Tilopa 50 L on the ground with the Small Pro Camera Insert, 2 Large Accessory pouches, and the Dust Cover

    Efficient Packing 

    A look in his pack shows 4 parts of Cubes/pouches. Conor also repurposes some accessories like the dust cover as laundry bags in which the f-stop packs come shipped in, minimizing waste, and maximizing utility. He also gives the Accessory Pouches Large a different function to transport his clothing and keep it organized. Everyday items like socks, shirts, and undergarments are neatly packed away. The rest of his pack is very straightforward as well. Mesh pouches hold receipts and SIM cards or other items he needs when traveling for business while larger compartments hold his Gym Kit or a Jacket.  

    Heavier items, such as camera gear, at the bottom for optimal weight distribution. His laptop stays in the Laptop sleeve with an additional protective Case as well so he can take it out at airports and carry it around.  

    Camera Gear Setup 

    A well-padded laptop sleeve keeps my device secure, while a custom camera insert houses my essential photography equipment. Conor is selecting a compact kit tailored to my travel needs, including a large camera with a built-in grip and a versatile lens selection. USB-C charging capability further benefits my setup, reducing the need for multiple batteries. Having his items in different Compartments allows him to change, swap, and rearrange or similar quickly.

    If Conor needs to take out the Camera Insert due to having to check in the Camera pack or he just needs to change it over in a different pack he folds up the flap of the insert, zips it up, and can carry it easily through the airport. Photos below show Conor with the Small Pro Camera Insert closed up - as he jokes with a camera Suitcase

    Tripod Attachment Management 

    Handling tripods can be cumbersome, especially during travel. With Gatekeeper straps, he fastens the tripod to the outside of the bag. The Bottom Gatekeeper strap over all three keeps the legs secure and the Top strap through two legs to secure it from slipping down. 

    In case Conor is planning to travel with small planes he makes his packs look more compact by removing the ball head and placing both the Head and the Tripod in his Camera bag next to the Insert. The Tripod without the Ball head perfectly fits in his Tilopa from the Height still, so a conscious decision on a tripod height or being able to remove a ball head is part of his strategy. For him, this is ideal for navigating through airports or tight spaces.  

    “As a conscious traveler, I strive to minimize waste and maximize utility. Making conscious choices that can enhance my travel experience!” 

    Connect with Conor : https://thefella.com

    Nick's gear bag opens to reveal the main compartment, carefully organized to accommodate his primary camera system. His packing reflect Nick's commitment to professionalism and preparedness, vital qualities for any serious photographer or filmmaker. 

    Organization, not just for convenience ..

    ...but as a vital component of a professional workflow. 

    With a nod to the unpredictability of industry Nick’s bag is not just a collection of gear; it is his safety net, ensuring that no matter the circumstances, he can always deliver. 

    Gear Selection and Flexibility

    Nick relies on a range of gear depending on the project at hand. For smaller jobs, he opts for Nikon gear, keeping the load light and efficient. However, for larger shoots, he needs to utilize a mix of equipment, including drones, gimbals, and multiple camera bodies, such as RED cameras.
    He takes advantage of the modular setup, utilizing interchangeable camera inserts (ICUs) often also pre-packed for specific applications. This allows for quick transitions between different types of shoots in between different packs. On the other side, he also stores the gear in the Camera insert at home in the Camera Units and just shoves in the pack what he needs.

    "For me, it is the best way of keeping my gear organized when I'm not traveling. I just have things stored in Inserts at home like this, also ready to be put in a pack."

    One of the most draining tasks next to shooting is to carry all you need with you from place to place. Arriving tired on set or just getting worn out throughout the day are two things Nick tries to prevent as best he can.
    All the f-stop packs have a "comfort weight" as we call it and recommendations for carrying gear safely and comfortably, but what if you just need more? 

    Weight from not only the camera gear but also batteries, cables, hard drives, computer, and accessories quickly adds up. Nick has a high tolerance for the weight he can carry – so his comfort weight may not be the same as for someone else of the same build. A lot of factors come in here like condition, muscles, resilience, etc. Some say Nick is a packhorse when it comes to carrying gear - We call that dedication!

    The first thing he does is to make sure he selects the right pack for the right needs. Every pack is purpose-built, and the f-stop pack up from 50 L has thicker padding to provide more carry comfort for heavier packs, longer trips, etc. His go-to pack is the Tilopa 50 L due to the compact weight distribution which allows him to carry everything as close to his weight center as possible. If he would need more room, he takes the Shinn 80 L.

    Organizational Strategy

    Central to Nick’s workflow is the organization of his gear.

    When packing, he rather takes the time he needs than pack in a rush. It needs to fit and fulfill his needs so smart arrangements will save him time, having to repack, and avoid any frustrations. When packing the Inserts for specific jobs, he just takes all dividers out and rearranges gear how it fits best.

    Another big focus when arranging his gear is distributing the weight as evenly as possible and ensuring easy and fast access to essential items.

    "I've always taken the approach that I can work harder and carry more as long as it's going to give me the best results. But I need to balance that with not being tired and wearing myself out or being slow. I need to be able to be agile. I need to have the gear that I need and not take too much whilst also having enough that I'm not left lacking."

    My biggest tip for packing

    Be creative Arrange the gear in how it works best for you specifically. 

    “I've been packing these bags for some time, and I find that the more creative I am and the more I allow myself to experiment and take my time instead of rushing, the better the outcome. Having redundancy in gear, even if it makes the pack slightly heavier, is far more important to me than the weight of my pack alone. Obviously, carrying weight safely is crucial, which is why I ensure everything is secured at the bottom. But as long as I'm packing safely and taking care of myself, avoiding arriving on set tired, I find it to be incredibly valuable.”

    Nick Leavesley

    Main Compartment: Configuration

    At the center lies his workhorse camera, a state-of-the-art RED model paired with two more Camera Bodies and lenses alongside a drone in this setup.  He makes sure he is equipped to tackle any photographic challenge and be flexible and versatile for whatever he gets his teeth hooked in. To complement his RED setup, Nick also includes a compact DSLR as a backup camera, ensuring redundancy in case of equipment failure or unexpected contingencies. 

    Heavy equipment like the RED Brain camera, together with the V-Log and also the monitor adaptor for the RED 7-inch touch screen, is placed at the bottom to prevent any long-term warping of the camera insert and maintain balance during transport. He finds it's nice to be able to just put it pre-assembled straight in the bag. It saves me from having to assemble everything.

    Nick is all about adaptability and preparedness. Through investment in versatile gear and a flexible organizational system, he avoids stress and saves time, so he can handle a broad spectrum of projects. Every aspect of his setup is designed to maximize efficiency and creativity in the field. Not needing to worry about where things are or having to repack his pack to stay organized is highly valuable for him and keeps him focused on what in front of him. 

    Items such as a drone (DJI Mavic 3 Pro or DJI Air 2), lenses, sound equipment, and accessories are strategically positioned for convenience and efficiency. He carries the Drone in a Protective wrap and due to the depth of the Insert can place another Lens stacked on top (in this case a 200 mm)

    Adjacent to the main camera setup, Nick's gear bag houses an array of essential accessories He brings small accessories and cables in dedicated pouches and compartments to prevent loss and ensure easy access.

    A robust V-lock battery pack ensures uninterrupted power supply throughout long shooting sessions, while a specially designed adaptor allows seamless integration of a seven-inch touchscreen monitor, enhancing monitoring and playback capabilities on set. Nick's dedication to detail extends to the placement of smaller accessories such as backup cables, chargers, and adapter plates for quick retrieval when needed. This organization not only maximizes efficiency during shoots but also minimizes the risk of misplacing or losing valuable equipment in the field.

    He also always carries a variety of Gatekeeper Straps, allowing him to attach miscellaneous items outside the pack. Sometimes, he attaches a lens (in a case), a tripod, ropes, etc. One or two small carabiners are always found hooked in the gatekeeper attachment points.

    "You never know when you're going to want to clip something to your bag, whether that's a water bottle or just a random kind of bag or something that needs to be carried. Sometimes I also use these gatekeepers to carry longer lenses, so if I'm doing any telephoto stuff, these will be perfect. I always go overkill on how many gatekeepers I need because on shoots, I often change this setup live. It's nice to be able to have the flexibility and plenty of gatekeepers to do that.

    Must haves: Additional Accessories

    • Carabiners - you never know what you need to attach and need the extra room! ( even if you have already gatekeeper straps) Just being able to clip a water bottle or anything else is great
    • Backups of Quick releases or adapters are indispensable for monitors, allowing for easy mounting to a camera—essential during video shoots. Similarly, magic arms prove useful for various mounting needs. You never know when you're going to need to mount something to a camera, especially when you're doing video.
    • Power bank to power the phone or also the computer 
    • The Ignite DJI power plate is a key piece of gear; all his REDs are powered by V-mount batteries ( TV fifties ) due to their reliability, quick charging, and longevity. This setup is especially efficient when using two batteries on an Ignite DJI hammerhead, providing power outputs for charging a laptop or powering the RED and other accessories. This setup is invaluable for running a follow focus, a Teradek, or a wireless transmission system, with the ability to power these devices from the same source.
    • Drones are a staple in Nick's bag, as clients frequently request aerial shots. Having a drone readily available enables Nick to meet these demands effectively. It's nice to be able to offer that
    • A backup camera: is essential to ensure continuity in shooting even if the primary camera fails. Whether a compact mirrorless or a simple point-and-shoot, having a backup can save the day.
    • An SD card tool: is a must-have for Nick, typically tethered to his belt loop or kept in his pocket for quick access. This tool is invaluable for swiftly removing stuck cards or when time is of the essence.
    • A variety of adapters! Micro B USB adaptors and a plentiful supply of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 and 4 cables ensure compatibility with various devices, which is crucial for maintaining workflow flexibility. extension cable for the monitor on the RED, ensuring he's prepared to build out his camera setup in any configuration needed. 
    • Having a thumb drive on keys or a USB-C to A cable is always handy for quick data transfers to clients or devices. You never know what you're going to need to give a client or how quickly 
    • Never leave a charger in checked luggage: Understand the unpredictability of travel. Keeping a charger for the main batteries in carry-on luggage averts potential issues if checked bags are lost or delayed.
      "Suddenly you realize that your pack is lost and then don't have a charger. So having just a single charger for the main batteries you're using just gets you a whole load of problems."

    Mobile Editing Suite: Workstation Essentials

    At the top of Nick's gear bag lies his mobile editing workstation. Nick always tries to bring a powerful laptop at all times. Currently, he is using the 16-inch M1 MacBook Pro. 

    In a dedicated compartment within his gear bag, Nick stores a variety of hard drives and memory cards essential for data management and backup. Portable SSDs provide redundant storage solutions, safeguarding project files against loss or corruption. Spare cables are readily available for connectivity and data transfer. Data management remains a top priority, with redundant storage solutions and backup drives ensuring critical files are consistently safeguarded. 

    “I try and tailor my workflow around USB-C. I think it's a great format and allows a lot of flexibility and all of the computers I use can take USB-C. But I do need to make sure that I have cables in place so that if a client doesn't, I can give them a USB cable. 

    Data Management: Safeguarding Projects

    To store data securely and have all necessary resources at your disposal. At the end of the day, clients are paying a lot of money. He therefore maintains a few in-progress hard drives and hot spares ready, just in case of failures or the need for backups. When working in a team or with multiple bags Nick makes it a practice to distribute a project across two bags, mitigating the risk of total loss due to damage or if someone loses a bag. In challenging shooting environments stress levels can be high and distractions frequent. So you need to calculate this in.

    “Given my frequent juggling of multiple projects, the ability to store five or six projects simultaneously is essential. This is particularly vital when working with RED cameras. TB quickly add up!”

    In addition to video, Nick also captures stills, organizing hard drives by year or project. These drives contain not only the images but also the Lightroom catalogs. He maintains a separate directory for RAW files from Capture One at the top of each drive. Additionally, Nick always packs a few backup micro SD cards, which are easy to overlook but essential. For instances where a client needs a quick photo directly from the camera or a device, I ensure an SD card to lightning cable is on hand for immediate file transfer, facilitating instant sharing of quality images.

    The importance of having all data backed up and securely stored can not be overstated. Losing data is not an option; thus, whether through cloud backups or multiple hard drives, safeguarding data is imperative. 

    Nick's favorite packing hack

    The front pocket! This is one of my favorite parts of the Tilopa because it allows me to store my batteries in a very efficient way, especially the V-mounts. It's deep enough that I can store two of them stacked sideways, effectively fitting almost double the number of batteries in this space. At home, I might even have up to eight V-mounts neatly packed in this top section.

    The Full Gear list:
    Nick's Hybrid Filmmaking Set-up 

    Connect with Nick . https://www.instagram.com/beyondnick/

    Nikon acquiring RED - RED V-RAPTOR camera pictured in an urban environment by f-stop Ambassador Nick Leavesley
    RED V-RAPTOR camera pictured in an urban environment by f-stop Ambassador Nick Leavesley

    News of Nikon acquiring RED certainly sent a few shock waves through the photography and cinematography circles last week. Nikon posted a press release on their website. Red President Jarred Land shared the following in a press release on his Facebook page:

    Who knows what the future holds for both of these giants of the visual storyteller world. But rest assured that whether you use Nikon or RED camera systems to capture your visual stories, our camera bags carry both!

    Which f-stop bag is best for your Nikon or Red camera systems?

    Our Mountain Series camera bags and backpacks are used by countless visual storytellers around the world. They have been used by various production crews to carry their valuable storytelling tools from location to location while working for major outlets such as Netflix, Disney+, National Geographic and much more!

    Whether you are a Nikon shooter or a RED user, we have you covered. Our Tilopa 50L DuraDiamond® and our Shinn 80L DuraDiamond® outdoor adventure camera backpacks are the perfect tool to keep your Nikon and Red systems safe and protected.

    Visual Storyteller Nick Leavesley trusts the Tilopa and Shinn to keep his Nikon and RED systems safe

    We caught up with f-stop Ambassador and friend Nick Leavesley to get his take on the news of Nikon acquiring Red. We also get into his insights into his hybrid Nikon and Red camera setups and why he trusts the Tilopa and Shinn camera bags to keep his gear safe.

    Nick had this to say:

    Flat lay image of the f-stop Shinn 80 liter DuraDiamond® outdoor adventure camera backpack with RED camera systems and Canon lenses taken by f-stop Ambassador Nick Leavesley
    f-stop Shinn 80 liter DuraDiamond® outdoor adventure camera backpack with RED camera systems and Canon lenses taken by f-stop Ambassador Nick Leavesley
    Flat lay image of the f-stop Tilopa 50 liter DuraDiamond® outdoor adventure camera backpack with Nikon Z6ii camera and lenses taken by f-stop Ambassador Nick Leavesley
    f-stop Tilopa 50 liter DuraDiamond® outdoor adventure camera backpack with Nikon Z6ii camera and lenses taken by f-stop Ambassador Nick Leavesley

    f-stop Ambassador Nick Leavesley with his Tilopa 50 liter Duradiamond® camera backpack in the Magma Red color option and carrying his RED V-Raptor camera system
    f-stop Ambassador Nick Leavesley with his Tilopa 50 liter Duradiamond® camera backpack in the Magma Red color option and carrying his RED V-Raptor camera system

    Nick Leavesley is a visual storyteller and an f-stop Ambassador. He is the Director of Photography for Beyond Content.

    You can check out more of his work and connect with him at the following places:

    IG - https://www.instagram.com/beyondnick
    IG - https://www.instagram.com/beyondcontent
    Website - https://www.beyondcontent.com

    This is what you need to know about our camera packs! We give you an overview of what really matters in the Design or Functionality of the f-stop System. Furthermore, we give an outline of what thoughts go into building this f-stop System, designing our packs, the build, the carrying system, and most importantly, the modular design of f-stop Packs. This article focuses on providing an Overview to better understand

    What you need to know about the f-stop System

    A camera backpack needs to be tailored to the needs of photographers. Everyone has different gear, scenarios and where they bring the gear.

    Photographers are no strangers to the ever-evolving world of camera gear. The need to carry various lenses, camera bodies, accessories, and sometimes even drones has led to a demand for camera bags that offer both protection and organization. Since its founding, f-stop has specialized in providing technical camera bags for serious visual storytellers with flexible camera insert arrangements. f-stop is known for its rugged build, comfortable carrying system, and, most importantly, the modular system. As a result, the f-stop System allows users to customize their packs to their exact specifications.

    We have more articles diving into the Camera Inserts or also the Differences between the packs so make sure to check out our blog for more.

    How to pick the right pack for your needs

    It really comes down to understanding your needs first and the purpose your pack needs to fulfill. As an outline, the f-stop System consists of the pack itself and then furthermore the Camera Insert which is actually the heart of the Setup. The main purpose the pack needs to fulfill is to carry and protect your camera of course! After all, we have a range of sizes and styles of packs and Inserts to cater to different preferences and gear requirements. Whether you need a compact daypack for a short hike, a big backpack for an extended photo expedition, or Cine gear.

    A few points to keep in mind:

    Additional important questions you would need to answer yourself are:

    When you answer these questions you are on the best track to finding your perfect setup.

    Graphic showing the process of selecting a camera pack,

    The Design of Our Camera packs

    Overview of the Construction and Build

    Since f-stop Camera Packs and Bags are technical Camera Carry solutions they are designed with high durability and rugged construction to last for years. Following this mindset, we design and develop all of the packs packed with practical features that make it a highly advanced tool for your equipment to withstand the demands of outdoor photography. All the following points make the packs ideal for photographers who venture into challenging environments

    • Technical design and weather resistance
      From Water-resistant materials, welded seams (to avoid perforation through stitching), and reinforced weather-resistant Zippers. Additionally, we include numerous useful features like for example the drainage hole on the bottom of the front pocket to let moisture out. All things considered, the technical design aspects ensure that your gear stays protected even in adverse weather conditions.
    • Comfortable Carrying System
      First and foremost, the backpack-style design of f-stop Camera Packs prioritizes comfort during long hikes or photo expeditions. In order to ensure the best weight distribution, all Mountain series packs come with an Aluminium frame. Padded shoulder straps, a ventilated back panel, and adjustable chest and waist straps distribute the weight of the bag evenly. This is crucial to reduce fatigue.
    • Rear Access Points:
      Evidently, f-stop Camera Packs feature a rear access point to the main compartment. This facilitates quick and convenient access to your camera gear and keeping it safe.
      To point out the top two advantages of having a bag panel access to your camera gear are first and foremost protection against the elements and secondly safety.
      • The bag will lie on the front ( when on the ground ) so you have access to the main compartment therefore it will stay clean.
      • While you have the bag on your back, you will easily notice any attempt by someone to access your camera without your permission.
    • A Modular Camera Insert System
      One of the standout features of f-stop Camera Packs is the modular camera insert system. The heart of this system is the Internal Camera Unit (ICU). The Camera Unit is a padded customizable insert that can be easily swapped between different f-stop bags. The Camera Insert comes in various sizes to accommodate different camera setups ranging from mirrorless cameras to professional DSLRs and even cinema cameras. The adjustable dividers within the Camera Insert allow photographers to create custom compartments for their camera bodies, lenses, and accessories. The modularity of the Camera Inserts allows users to adapt their bags to various shooting scenarios.

    Other Design Features

    • Customizable Exterior
      f-stop packs come with various attachment points for our Gatekeeper Straps. Therefore this customization allows visual storytellers to tailor their packs to their specific needs. You can extend the carry load if needed and carry additional items like tripods, water bottles, or trekking poles. On top of that, you can add accessories to the outside of the pack with the featured Mollee System on the Mountain Series Hip-belt.
    • Accessories
      Our variety of accessories are designed to complement your camera pack which also helps to enhance organization and protection for lenses, drones, and small accessories. We offer Gadgets like a Dronecase, Packing Cell Kit, Accessory Pouches, and more.
    • Hydration Compatibility
      Moreover, f-stop packs are designed to accommodate hydration reservoirs, making them suitable for both photography and outdoor activities. In all our Mountain series or Ultralight series, you'll find a Multipurpose sleeve to hold a Water bladder. Look for the Hyperloon lash with H2O written on it. This is intended for a Water bladder Tube to go through. Aside from this, some of our packs feature Mesh Side pockets to carry a water bottle on the outside of your pack. Packs with the Mesh Side pocket are the Kashmir, Loka, Ajna, or Shinn. Each pack has a Side or front pocket to fit a Nalgene bottle.

    Conclusion

    Whether you're a landscape photographer, a wildlife enthusiast, or a documentary filmmaker, f-stop's modular system allows you to protect and organize your gear efficiently. As the world of photography continues to evolve, we offer you a trusted companion for visual storytellers and photographers who demand flexibility and functionality from their camera bags.

    If you need advice or have questions please do not hesitate to reach out! We are here to help


    Recent Posts:

    Need further help or assistance?

    The heart of each Camera Pack is the Internal Camera Unit which carries your kit. The Camera Inserts are interchangeable and each pack is compatible with various Camera Inserts.

    f-stop Camera Inserts collection

    We will visually guide you through the diverse Configurations that you can achieve with each individual pack.

    Overview

    Not every pack is compatible or recommended to go with each Camera Insert. For instance, the Shinn 80 L is designed to accommodate large camera/video equipment. To fulfill this purpose, both the pack as well as the Cine Master insert have greater depth compared to other packs. The Cine Master Camera Insert is significantly deeper than the Pro XL Camera Insert. Therefore, when you are using an XL Camera insert it will not fill out the pack fully. As a result, you can avoid any movement of the Camera Insert in the pack you can attach it to the side attachment loops inside the pack ( next to the Aluminium frame)

    Chart showing which f-stop Camera Inserts are compatible with each f-stop camera backpack

    Camera Insert Compatibility Mountain Series

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    Camera Insert Compatibility Ultralight Series

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    Fitting Guide - Camera Inserts

    Furthermore, when choosing your Camera pack, you also want to consider how much extra room you need for additional equipment such as clothing, food accessories, etc. Gain a sense of the available extra space in the Packs with a variety of compatible Inserts.

    Learn more about how to select the best Camera Insert for your needs.
    https://shuttermuse.com/f-stop-icu-size-guide/


    Recent Posts:

    Nic Alegre grew up in East Hampton, New York and is an award-winning photographer for Teton Gravity Research. After graduating from Villanova University in 2008, Nic lived and worked in Manhattan for a few years before he followed his instincts west and spent a number of years in both Whistler, British Columbia, and North Lake Tahoe, California before landing in Jackson Hole Wyoming as the first lead photographer in TGR's 25-year history. In December 2018, he won Powder Magazine's Photo of the Year at the 19th annual Powder Awards in Breckenridge, Colorado and has been nominated four times since 2015. Last year, he was a finalist twice for the 2019 Red Bull Illume Photo Competition - RAW Category.

    Nic Alegre 

    I shoot Nikon D5, D4, and D850 bodies and Nikon lenses. I generally carry a single body in my Tilopa pack with a combination of between 4-6 lenses. When on assignment in Alaska and shooting dynamic and quickly changing action scenes hanging from a helicopter, I will carry two bodies at the same time that are usually mounted with 70-200mm f2.8 and a 24-70mm 2.8 Nikon lens. In some instances, I will switch out the 24-70mm for a 14-24mm 2.8 wide and keep a 2x teleconverter on me to attach to the long lens if the situation calls for it.The other lenses usually in my quiver are 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.4 and a 300mm 2.8. I never use a tripod to shoot because of how much I move.

    Nic Alegre 

    I learned from pro's using Nikon and began shooting with their second-hand gear and never looked back. Nikon glass is the best in my opinion and the camera bodies have been battle axes for me. The environments I typically work in are harsh, wet, cold and dramatic and the Nikon gear, much like my f-stop bag, have proven that they can weather the storm in my expedition oriented shooting assignments.

    f-stop Ambassador Ishaan Bhataiya recently came back from the 2020 Dakar Rally which was the 42nd edition of the event and the first edition held in Saudi Arabia. The event started in Jeddah on 5 January and finished in Al-Qiddiya on 17 January after 12 stages of the competition. He was the first Indian photographer to shoot the grueling Dakar Rally in 2019 and also various rounds of the FIM Cross Country Rally Championship. He has worked with every automobile publication in the country, creating various editorial features and has finally made a foray into the world of advertising. We had the chance to catch up with him after the 2020 Dakar Rally, and talk more about how he prepared for this amazing event. 

    f-stop: This is not your first time shooting the Dakar Rally, can you tell us more about what do you usually take with you for this kind of assignment?

    Ishaan Bhataiya 

    I’d carry 3 camera bodies, with 3 lenses ranging from super-telephoto to telephoto to an extreme wide-angle one. Three memory card cases with identical Sandisk 32GB Extreme Pro CF cards for each body. Batteries would generally all be charged the night before, so you don’t really need to carry one with you, unless you’ve had a hard night of partying and you know you have 4 spare batteries fully charged, so you’ll swap them out in the morning when you leave the car. That sorts out all your shooting needs. Apart from this, I'd have a Camelbak with about 2-3litres of water, energy bars, some candies, sunglasses, a few layers and a jacket depending on the weather conditions and a few buff’s and such stuff to wrap around your neck and then later to cover your nose when one of the mammoth trucks pass by blowing tons of dust in the air (thankfully though, not in the dunes). 

    f-stop: What are the challenges that you faced during this event?                                                                                                                                        

    Ishaan Bhataiya 

    Action Sports, specifically shooting a rally out in the desert does not give you the comfort of having a marked place for all your gear in close proximity. Yes, there is the car that you come in, but it also has 2 other photographers. The main aim is for all three of us to move in different directions, to get different images and not end up with the same shots/composition as the other. Once the stage is live and the first rider crosses you, it’s going to be a continuous chain of bikes, quads, ssv’s, cars and trucks one after the other, and the only significant break you’d get would be between the bikes and the cars, or between the fast and the really slow competitors. In such a case, it's definitely not feasible to leave your place of shooting, to go back to the car to pick up those extra memory cards, or water or even an extra battery/lens.  So, it all has to be on you at all times.                                         

    f-stop: You mentioned that you carry 3 bodies and 3 lenses with you at all times, can you tell us why?                                                                          

    Ishaan Bhataiya 

    Typically a rider/driver stays within shooting range for some seconds on an average, with 3 bodies with 3 different lenses, you maximize your possibility of making different shots of that rider and you normally choose places to shoot accordingly. 

    f-stop: Can you walk us through your gear and tell us what did you carry inside of your Tilopa, and also tell us why did you pick this specific set of gear? What else do you carry in the pockets?  

    Ishaan Bhataiya 

     I had 2xCanon 1Dx Mark2, Canon 7D Mark2, Canon 10-18mm, LP-E19 Battery Charger, External Flash and Trigger, Tamron 150-600mm Sport G2, Canon 17-40mm, Sigma 18-35mm, Sandisk Extreme Pro CF Cards, ADATA SSD, ADATA External HDD, Large Accessory Pouch, Canon 70-200mm, Sandisk Extreme Pro CF Cards x2, Sandisk Memory Card Reader, Passport, Notepad, Red Bull, Blackrapid Sport Breathe, Dakar 2020 Accreditation, Pen Drive, iPad, MacBook Pro, Wacom Intuos, Polaroid Filters, Polaroid Sunglasses, SIM cards, iPhone X Pelican Case. Almost all of the camera equipment goes into the XL ICU inside my Tilopa, accessories like filters, camera straps, hoods, lights would go into the Large ICU inside a hard-case. The side pockets normally are pretty empty, I’d stock an extra Ortholite sole for my shoes and some extra buffs, scarves in the other pocket. But usually, I keep them quite empty, cause the car has only limited space for all the bags, and you’d like a tall bag, not a fat one.                                                                                                                           

    I selected this gear cause typical to shooting action sports are really challenging environments and locations which could take a toll on the cameras. With top-of-the-line camera bodies, you negate that risk cause they’re sturdily built with super-strong magnesium alloy bodies and weather-sealed lenses. Multiple bodies so that changing lenses would not be a thing I’d be concerned with, cause in such sandy and dusty conditions changing lenses is just a nightmare and you’d end up with more damage than Good sometimes. The top (outside) pocket would have an extra phone, a notepad, pen, earphones, microfibre cloth, keys, zip ties, and maybe some batteries or things I need to store for the time being and also an iPad. The inside pocket would normally have more important things like my passport, documents, Identifications cards, SIM cards, pen drives, another note pad, dog tags, lens cleaning solution and cloth, stickers.

    f-stop: Now when the Dakar Rally is finished, what's next for you?                                                                                                                                      

    Ishaan Bhataiya 

    India is going through an interesting phase with all the politics and laws being passed in the country. Jammu and Kashmir have always been at the top of the list of states being affected by these actions, so much so, that there was a 145 days+ internet shutdown in J&K. Amidst all of this the Kashmiri youth are finding their solace, 'mental peace' and spending their time productively by going out and skiing on the pristine slopes of the Himalayas in Gulmarg, and I've been told that they're rather good at it, so I'm heading down to Kashmir to shoot this Skiing story in about a week. Post that would be some more supercross, track racing and digital campaigns leading up to the Auto Expo in March.                                                                                                                                                                        

                                             Follow Ishaan's adventures on Instagram and Facebook.                           

    Every year Red Bull Rampage produces some of the most jaw-dropping images of mountain biking. f-stop Icon Scott Markewitz breaks down his gear and talks us through what is going in his bag for the Red Bull Rampage, along with some shots taken with that setup over the years.

    Mountain biker flying over cliff photographed from below

    Words and photos: Scott Markewitz

    About the Red Bull Rampage

    In 2018 f-stop Icon Scott Markewitz documented the Red Bull Rampage as the Event also moved to a new zone with riders building entirely new features and lines. Just like the riders, the photographers have to navigate the vertigo-inducing terrain to find their angles on these new features. In order to navigate the Rampage course and still carry a two-body setup, Scott grabs the slimmest of the Mountain Series packs for this.

    Kurt Sorge sends a backflip over the media pack at last year's Rampage, shot with the trusty 70-200.

    Kurt Sorge sends a backflip over the media pack at last year's Rampage, shot with the trusty 70-200.

    The Rampage is one of the most incredible events in action sports. It brings together the world’s best freeride mountain bikers for a contest and a show of massive jumps and insane riding skills on the rugged terrain around Virgin, Utah. I’ve been to every Rampage since the beginning and it’s definitely one of the shoots I look forward to every year

    On the road to Rampage 2018: Packing 2 full frame pro body DSLRs, 4 lenses, and daily essentials in the 32L Lotus pack to stay agile working shooting among the Utah cliffs of the Red Bull Rampage course

    On the road to Rampage 2018: Packing two full frame pro body DSLRs, 4 lenses, and daily essentials in the 32L Lotus camera bag to stay agile working shooting among the Utah cliffs of the Red Bull Rampage course.

    Challenges at the Red Bull Rampage

    One of the challenges of photographing the Red Bull Rampage is moving around and getting set up to shoot the riders during the event. The venue is spread out and every athlete takes a different line down the mountain. There’s not much time between runs, so you have to have to know where you’re going to shoot and move fast between each run to get in place. I like to have a pack that is large enough to carry everything I need for the event but light and agile when I’m running up and down the mountain between shots. For this year’s Rampage, I’m taking a Lotus.

    What to bring - A gear breakdown

    The Lotus is a great mid-size camera pack that still fits a Large Pro Camera Insert but is lightweight and most importantly easy to move around with. This is especially important on an Event like the Red Bull Rampage.

    I always have two full-size DSLR bodies in my camera backpack, a Nikon D5 for the majority of my work with a Nikon D4S as a backup just in case the D5 fails. For lenses, I bring a 70-200mm 1:2.8 GII, 24-70mm 1:2.8G, 17-35mm 1:2.8D, 12mm 2.8 Fisheye, a 1.4x converter to extend the range of my 70-200, as well as extra camera batteries, lens cloths and more than enough CF cards for any day of shooting.  

    Cam Zink doing what most of would want a parachute for, on his way to 2nd place at Rampage 2017, shot with the 12mm fisheye giving a sense of the wide open space the athlete is launching into.

    Cam Zink doing what most of us would want a parachute for, on his way to 2nd place at Rampage 2017, shot with the 12mm fisheye giving a sense of the wide open space the athlete is launching into.

    The Southern Utah desert is hot, dry, and dusty and the sun beats down on you when you’re out there all day. A water bottle is obviously important to stay hydrated, but I also bring a hat, a buff for extra cover, and sunblock (not shown), as well as a few GU energy gels and chews for a quick energy boost when I need it. 

    It doesn’t seem possible that the riders can go any bigger or do anything wilder, but at every Rampage the athletes continue to push the realm of what’s possible to new levels. I’m really excited to see what they are going to pull off in the future.  

    It’s going to be another incredible event!


    Portrait of Scott Markewitz

    Scott Markewitz

    https://scottmarkewitz.com

    Scott Markewitz is recognized as one of the most influential outdoor photographers in the industry. His passion for photography and the outdoors comes through in everything that he shoots, whether it’s action sports, active lifestyle, or environmental portraits. His images have appeared in advertising and promotional campaigns for many well-known outdoor and consumer brands



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    Words and photos by Alex Grymanis

    Three Snowboarders with bag packs and Snowboard attached to the pack at sunset

    Snowboard photographers traverse the globe following the best riders and searching for the most epic snow conditions in far-flung locations. However, sometimes the most meaningful experiences can be found closer to home, as f-stop Ambassador Alex Grymanis found. He explored the beautiful landscapes of Northern Greece through snowboarding.

    Greece might not be the first place that springs to mind for snowboarding, but for Alex, the trip gave him the chance to hit the road with close friends and re-experience what made them fall in love with snowboarding and adventure. 

    This trip taught us that we can achieve anything as long as we have the will and the aspiration to do our thing and we do hope that it will inspire you to do the same. 

    Alex Grymanis
    ALEX GRYMANIS

    Introduction

    Last February, almost a year ago, I traveled through northern Greece. This trip started with a few friends, in an RV, for 10 days in search of snow and new places in our country, Greece, where we could snowboard.  The fact is that it came to be a trip about creativity, relaxing, and being once again carefree. During these 10 days not only did we become children again and remember the feeling of being away from the concrete and loud city, but we also learned how to coexist in a small, confined space and we reconnected with nature.

    Now that a year has passed by, a book, a video, and these photographs keep that trip alive in our memory and make it possible to share this experience with you.

    Chapter I

    Hospitality

    Everything seems fun and normal until you wake up the first morning surrounded by snow and by your friends all in a tiny four-wheeled house. The sweet lullaby from the wind and the sound of the trees at night become your guide and sooner or later you realize that you need to adapt to this new environment along with all of your gear, cameras, and wardrobe along with its frustrations. You learn to respect other people’s privacy, needs, and weirdness and start working together as a team. In places without electricity and no internet, the real connection between you, your friends, and the people you meet happens.

    Chapter II

    Search

    Growing up and having to work more to make your living, tends to shift your mind away from the things that you really love and make you feel happy and free. The deeper search in locations already known wakes up that feeling of rebirth and connection with the mountain. We got blessed with a heavy snowfall in Vasilitsa in the middle of the trip and decided to explore the “already known” slopes but from a different angle.

    Chapter III

    Perspective

    Snoozing the alarm was our biggest fear for that night’s mission. It was the coldest night of the trip but at the same time the most beautiful of them all. The sky was clear and full of stars so bright that it seemed we were walking on the moon. Our motivation for the hike soon became stronger and we made it to the peak slightly earlier than expected. After a short rest, we strapped in our boards on the backpacks with Gatekeeper Straps and when the first sun ray hit the slope we dropped into the line that would shift our perspectives of snowboarding forever.

    Chapter IV

    Down days

    Making every day count was the main idea since day one. Downdays came with heavy rain on the mountains and it was time for us to hit the road. On the way to Metsovo, we made a 180-degree turn and drove even further north to the Prespese Lakes. We got to experience the life of local fishermen and saw farmers burning their fields to prepare them for the following season in a place that stood out from the rest of the trip. Needless to say, we had the best feast on the whole trip.


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    Ever since his first skydive, f-stop Staff Pro Jesper Grønnemark had the idea of doing a photo shoot while in the air. This is how it went. Even though as he says, his first skydive was more than enough for him, this idea remained stuck in his mind. 

    The idea became a reality when Jesper teamed up with the guys from Flux Freefly, gave them a Profoto B1X, and jumped out of an airplane at 13,200 feet to take his photography to new heights.

    THE RUSH

    His heart is racing, adrenaline is gushing into his veins as the door of the airplane opens. 13.200 ft. (4 km) under him the ground stares back. This is it, one chance, one shot. His grip on the Sony A7R II tightens as they move out the side of the plane, 45 seconds of free fall awaits, 3, 2, 1…

    FLUX: Benjamiin Laudrup, Jacob Lundsgaard Madsen and Emil Landeværn Kristensen; Head of the project: Michael Boe Laigaard; Lights: Profoto; Camera equipment: Sony Nordic; Video: Kasper Sveistrup - Frame2film; Graphics: Niels Borup - Saftig; Article: Kira Andersen; Pilot: Fillip Højlund Aarhus skydive club Red Bull Denmark

    THE BOUNDARIES OF PHOTOGRAPHY WHEN SKYDIVING

    The eternal strive to push the boundaries of what people believe is possible in sports photography has put Jesper Grønnemark in a position he did not imagine himself in again. After his first skydiving experience, some years ago, it wasn´t an immediate love story. Now, here he is again on account of his own creative thinking. Why would he do it again you might ask. Well, the answer is, he needs to. In order to push those boundaries, he is more than willing to put himself in extreme situations.

    When trying to capture the emotions of a skydiving experience, safe is not part of the vocabulary.

    Jesper Gronnemark

    THE PLAN, AND THEN A CHANGE OF PLANS

    How do you make it happen then? In short, you need a man with a plan, and that man was Michael Boe Laigaard, head of the project in terms of finding the right people, and those people came in the form of the Danish national team in free fly - FLUX.

    They are the best when it comes to jumping out of planes and falling controlled through the air. The original plan was that they would all have their parachutes out, Jesper with the camera and Benjamiin with the Profoto B1X flash. It would have been easier to track the skydiver, or Mr. Bill as the “model” is called in skydiving, through the air. However, shortly before the jump, it was deemed too dangerous due to wind and the plan changed to free fall. This new challenge was going to put an even greater demand on Jesper's skills as a sports photographer since they only had one jump and now had to nail the shot in a fall going 200 km/h.

    Skydiver Benjamin from Flux at Sunset with a Profoto B1X Flash photographed by Jasper Gronnemark

    Benjamiin with the Profoto B1X flash

    THE FALL

    GO! As Jesper is falling through the air, he sees the skydiver approaching from above, he gets his camera in place and suddenly he is cool, calm, and collected. The workflow is such an integrated part of him, that even in a time like this, it overthrows the adrenaline rush. Furthermore, he only has one shot, so he better make it count! The skydiver is head down, shots are fired, and not long after it parachutes out and a touchdown. Fingers are crossed on all parts. How did it turn out?

    Skydiver Emil from FLUX in the air heads down at Sunset photographed by Jesper Gronnemark

    Emil approaches and gets into position for the desired skydiving photo

    I only have one Shot, One Jump..and that's it. Once I got my camera to my face while flying through the air at 200 km/h, I was focused. There was no sound, no sense of falling and I didn't feel @michaelboelaigaard on my back.
    My only mission was to get the shot!

    Jesper Grønnemark

    THE FINAL RESULT

    Once again Jesper proves that hard work and quite a bit of sacrifice pays off. A lot of planning went into this shoot and even so, they changed. However, it was for the best. Jesper got the image he originally envisioned! A man hanging in the air above the clouds, head down. It feels as if it would be safer if his head was up, but when trying to capture the emotions of a skydiving experience, safe is not part of the vocabulary.

    Skydiver Emil from FLUX heads down above the clouds at Sunset

    Skydiver Emil from FLUX heads down above the clouds at Sunset
    Shot with Sony a7r II | Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM | Profoto B1X | SHUTTER SPEED: 1/1600, APERTURE: 10.0, ISO: 640

    The Skydiving Team

    Three Skydivers from FLUX with an Airplane in the background, f-stop Ambassador Jesper Gronnemark

    The Skydiving Team from FLUX; From Left to right: Jacob, Benjamiin, Emil

    Benjamiin was the one holding the Profoto B1X at the free fall at Jesper's skydiving shoot. It isn’t normal to skydive with anything in your hands, but Benjamiin is an experienced guy, who already tried skydiving with fishing nets, fruits, and other crazy stuff

    Portrait of skydiver Jacob from FLUX infant of skydiving plain

    Jacob's role is to film Emil and Benjamiin from a close distance using a helmet-mounted camera while they perform. He usually does that by being flat in the air with his back facing the ground. He was also the one filming me from the air for the behind-the-scenes video for my skydiving shoot.

    Portrait of Skydiver Emil from FLUX in the Door of the Airplane

    Emil was the athlete in front of the lens at Jesper's skydiving shoot. Emil recommended shooting him while he is doing a trick easily described as a front layout from the belly - a reversed Jesus rising to heaven. Jesper loved the idea because it starts a lot of thoughts at the one looking at the image when a guy is flying head first towards the ground.

    EXPLORE THE f-stop GEAR JESPER GRONNEMARK IS USING:

    Portrait of Jesper Gronnemark with the Tilopa 50L DuraDiamond® Cypress opening bag panel of camera pack

    Jesper Grønnemark

    http://www.gronne.dk

    Jesper Grønnemark is renowned for his innovative approach to adventure and action sports photography, redefining the genre's conventional boundaries. See more of Jesper's work!



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