Over the years I have tried new camera bags, but usually there was something I didn’t like about them. So I stayed with my usual un-cushioned bag because it melded to my body and worked for me. Recently I took a Manfrotto Shoulder Bag 10 and spent several hours at Great Falls National Park in Great Falls, VA, outside of Washington, DC. Great Falls is a wonderful place to wander around, not only for the falls, which can be spectacular, but for the nature trails that visitors can enjoy as well.
I like to travel lightly these days, so the Manfrotto Shoulder Bag 10 was a perfect choice for the afternoon. I was able to pack my NIkon D300 along with a Nikkor 14-24mm F/4 lens, a Nikkor 35-70mm F/2.8 lens and a Nikkor 105mm F/2.8 lens. I also brought along my Leica D-Lux4 and a Sony Camcorder. In addition, I had my iPad and a notebook plus pens, pencil and an extra battery for the D300. I also carried a tabletop tripod and although it was a perfect afternoon weather-wise, I had the detachable rain cover – just in case. It is amazing how much this little bag can carry. The quality of the materials and workmanship on the bag is exceptional.
I know some readers are probably wondering why not use a backpack type of camera bag for walking around a national park. Well, truthfully, I tried a backpack type of bag several years ago but found that I was uncomfortable with the cameras and lenses on my back which were less accessible than with a shoulder bag. I found that the Manfrotto shoulder bag worked perfectly since I could carry it like I carry my messenger bag with strap across my chest rather than on one shoulder as with my previous bags. As DSLR cameras and equipment get heavier, even a small amount of equipment in a bag will get weighty if carried on one shoulder or another, so having a longer strap to distribute the weight is a godsend, for me anyway, plus the cameras and lenses are easy to access from this position. I also liked the way it felt against my body, since it was better than previous padded bags I had tried. I liked the extra shoulder padding as well, although in the past I have taken the extra padding off various bags that I have used.
The water flow over the falls on my afternoon at the park was perfect for photography with a nice combination of rocks and water. Sometimes the falls can be overwhelmed with water obscuring the rocks or having very little water flow during less rainy times. Since Great Falls is used at times by Olympic kayakers, I was able to capture a kayaker practicing white water maneuvers. Of course, I also found along the trails an assortment of wild flowers, insects and rock formations to photograph.
I love the challenge of a camera, a couple lenses and the freedom to walk around shooting photographs. On assignment the challenges of photography are different, because you are dealing with a client’s wishes, but when I do my own personal photography, I find having no agenda can be very freeing and very rewarding which can lead to pleasant surprises.
I came away from my afternoon at Great Falls with a few photos that I liked, but more importantly, I found a new bag that I finally enjoy using after many years of experimenting – the Manfrotto Shoulder Bag 10.