To cover the French Polo Open in Chantilly, I chose the little Pro Light Multipro-120 PL bag. So, I devoted two weekends of intensive reporting to capture all the movements of the teams on the extensive terrain covering almost 300 meters. There wasn’t a dribble or long pass to be missed, and I had to catch all the precision and power of the Argentinian horses. That was my challenge. It goes without saying that I had to be mobile and reactive to be at the heart of the excitement of this high-flying tournament. With my camera in hand, and pack on my back, I moved up and down the edges of the field throughout the competition. The Pro Light Multipro-120 PL bag turned out to be a precious ally. It’s extremely light and compact, so I didn’t even feel it! It stayed with me with every turn and never once got in the way.
In this little bag, I was able to pack two Nikon cameras and their lenses! In fact, I had slipped in my Nikon D3 S, outfitted with a Nikon 70-200 mm – F/2.8 lens in the lower part of the bag. In the upper part, the Nikon DF outfitted with a 24-70 mm – F/2,8 fit perfectly. I also had more room for a few minor personal effects. I also couldn’t resist bringing along my favorite lens, the Nikon 85 mm, F/1,8. So, in the front pocket, which has the advantage of being very accessible, I was able to put my iPad, a notebook, some business cards, my telephone…and that’s not all! In the back pocket designed for this purpose, I put my 15 inch laptop computer. So you would never know by looking at it how much this bag contained!
This bag is so well-designed that if I did need to put more equipment in it, I could have increased its capacity by adding in a pleat to give it more volume.
A well-organized bag
The designers seem to have kept in mind what’s always on the mind of the photographer: storage, the real measure of efficiency. The inside dividers let me arrange my things into clever order.
Comfort above all
The gecko foam straps can be adjusted to the millimeter, so they absorb all the weight of the bag and it’s really comfortable. So a dozen kilos of equipment feel like they weigh as much as a feather!
Right in the midst of the tournament, I needed to change camera several times, especially to take the portrait of one of the horsemen who took the lead. This is a little trick that saved the day on several occasions: the lateral opening let me grab my camera really quickly from the bottom of the bag without opening it all the way. Regardless of the conditions on the ground (rain, mud splatters), my equipment stays protected. So I could work with total peace of mind.
In any weather
Nice weather was not what we got that day for the prestigious tournament. A little drizzle appeared and ran down the waterproof material of the bag. When a steady rain began to fall, I was glad to have the protective covering that stretches over the bag.
A little extra
Since everything fits perfectly into this miniature sized bag, I used the expandable pocket on the side to slip in a little bottle of water, which came in really handy during the heat of the action. This sack is perfect for high-endurance photographers who can spend a whole day on the field.
Deep belief in Buddhism, the cement of Khmer society, led to the creation of some 4000 Wats in Cambodia.
A Wat, commonly known as a Monastery in the West, teems with an exclusively masculine population. It is a center of learning that conserves sacred traditions and texts.
To enrich my photographic work, I had to do a series on the Buddhist monks. My base was Siem Reap, so I had to find a Wat that stood out among all the monasteries that dot the site of Angkor, someplace off the beaten path.
My research led me to the oldest one which has maintained the purest traditions of a Buddhist monastery. That’s how I discovered the very ancient Wat Bo.
Twice a day, at 4 in the morning and at 5 in the afternoon, all the monks go to pray in the Pagoda located in the middle of the monastery.
Meditation precedes the chanting. An absolute silence reigns over this place and I have to make my presence as discreet as possible to avoid disturbing the harmony here. It’s easy to get close to the monks. They know me well. I’ve already spent a week talking with them and helping them improve their English.
The challenge was going to be photographing prayer and daily living scenes with a very dim light in the rooms, to compose my shots with men that are mainly kneeling right on the ground with their legs folded to the side, trying to be as economical as possible with my shots so as not to disturb the monastic silence.
I chose to load my photographic equipment into the Manfrotto Pro Light Sling 3N1-35 PL bag, so I could take out my cameras (already fitted with their lenses) by slipping the bag carried on my back from back to front with the help of a diagonal strap. With the bag on my chest, I can easily unzip the side pocket where I have my camera without having to completely open the front pocket. With total ease and discretion, I move around the one-hundred-fifty-one monks adorned in their ocher colored kezas, plunged in total meditation in their four a.m. prayers and their five p.m. prayers.
Despite the very strong performance of the D3S in low light, I never work higher than a 640 Iso, as a personal preference, favoring above all the quality of the photo.
In this specific instance, a stand is essential to adapt your shots to the context, ensuring reduced speed with a maximum of stability. However, the wide variety of scenes require quick adaptation. Juggling between slow exposure with the stand and a rapid shot with a light camera.
The choice comes down to two considerations:
– For quick movements, the NIKON DF camera with a fixed 85mm lens that I open to 1.8 for close-ups. Carrying the Manfrotto Pro Light 3N1-35 PL sling backpack with shoulder strap will give you genuine effortlessness in equipment handling. In a moment, you can slide it from back to front, which lets you support your elbows on the sack and achieve a comfortable stability. So I can lower speed to 1/30 without altering the sharpness of the photo.
Crouching on reed mats, the monks meditate in a chorus for a whole hour. With their elbows resting on their knees, they rock back and forth to the rhythmic cadence of the chants.
My eye tarries over each scene within this ambiance of antique wood. The importance of shutters that let in the light, the holy grail of the photographer. Just like the monks, I have my elbows resting on the bag and I get my camera ready during the ceremony and start taking shots.
Taking off for Cambodia in July for my photographic work was not going to be a piece of cake. I would have to contend with the monsoon and its diluvial rains… In short, I would have to work under rather unstable weather conditions, in muddy terrain, and under a gloomy gray sky. The climatic conditions were in perfect collusion for me to jump headfirst and take on the challenge of my theme, “The Labors of Hercules” to photograph the beauty and the nobility of the men and women living and working under particularly difficult circumstances. My old bag was no longer in tough enough shape to take along on a new expedition. So I chose the Manfrotto Pro Light Bumblebee-220 PL backpack: MB PL-B-220 for two reasons: – It’s big enough to hold my equipment (2 Nikon D3S and DF cameras, 5 lenses, LED Spectra 900 FT lighting: MLS900FT, 190CXPRO tripod) – The foam gecko harnesses that I wanted to try out. I found the concept and the material intriguing. I went to meet the Khmer miners in Ratanakiri province in the northeast of the country. Mining for zircon and sapphire occurs in the most rustic conditions you can imagine. No trace of dynamite and bulldozing. There are no vast industrial mining operations here. This is all they have for equipment: a bucket, a shovel, rope, wood scaffolding, and of course their hands to dig through the red earth to hunt these precious gems. Dug in the earth with their bare hands and measuring no more than 70 centimeters in diameter, each well is covered by a woven canvas tarp. In all, there are about forty holes that two hundred miners exploit there in the hilly landscape in the middle of a tropical rain forest. For complete independence, whenever I travel, I buy or rent a motorcycle. Reaching the zircon mines at this time of year means traveling down muddy and slippery tracks, and the pouring rain does nothing to alleviate the sense of constant disequilibrium. Packed down with seventeen kilos of photographic material, my expedition partner, the Pro Light Bumblebee-220 PL: MB PL-B-220 went the distance in giving me a real sense of comfort in a situation that would otherwise have been the worse kind of anxious discomfort. The tightly secured ventral straps and the gecko harness that cushioned the weight of the bag on my shoulders made the load feel about five kilos lighter, and that kind of comfort means a lot when the circumstances get that tough. Here’s a small detail that meant a lot to me: I had the idea that I could use the space in the back of the bag’s top, between the main part and the double dorsal ergonomic wall as a place to slide my K-Way, so I could reach it easily. With the rain beating down at a moment’s notice, you have to be able to react to the tough conditions urgently without putting your cameras and lenses at risk. So that’s when I pull out my K-Way without having to open my bag. I finally reach my destination. I get off the motorcycle. I go up to the men to meet them. I learn their language. I try to understand their way of life. I can already see the sparkling of photo shots before my eyes… Everything moves so quickly in my head, but quite slowly during the encounter. This very intense contrast allows me to capture the essence of a look or an action. I open my bag without even having to look because of the ingenious functionality of the four multi-directional zippers. I adjust equipment, I think about lighting. The depth of field. I study the scene. I choose the aperture. I listen. I adjust shutter speed. I’ve got the shot.