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Packing List :: One-Day Ski Photoshoot in Japan

by , February 2, 2016

Adventure sports go hand in hand with breath-taking but often challenging terrains. Camilla Rutherford is no stranger to exploring these terrains - and hefting camera gear along for the ride. Based in New Zealand but working globally, Camilla is a photographer who utilizes her skills across a range of areas including adventure sports, lifestyle and travel photography. As such, she knows a thing or two (well, actually much more) about how and what to pack to make the most of photoshoots, including a ski photoshoot in Japan's stunning but demanding backcountry... 

I have been heading to the same part of Japan for ski photoshoots for six years now, as I know and love the area, its people and the ridiculous amounts of snow it receives. This year I headed to the Nagano region of Japan with some pro French skiers who had never been to Japan before or experienced its amazing powder snow. Two weeks of traveling around, hunting out the best snow and places to ski, whilst shooting a photo story of our trip was the aim. What I ski with each day on my back is very important - when you are out in the deep white stuff you need to be prepared. Meters of fresh snow can be exhilarating and a skier's dream, but also dangerous and a death trap if not prepared. So I carry a mix of essential camera gear, along with safety equipment and spare items that I may need during the day's shoot.

Packing list ski photoshoot

Camera Gear

Canon 1dX, with Canon L 24-70mm f/2.8, Canon L 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, Canon 17-40mm f/4 and Canon 14mm lenses f/1.8. This set gives me the best focal variety when you have no idea what the conditions will be like, or what you will come across to shoot.

Packing list for a ski photoshoot

Lighting

Two Canon speed lights with Phottix Odin wireless flash triggers, and a Slik Pro mini tripod. I was experimenting this year in Japan with artificial lighting. I'm a big fan of using natural light most of the time, but when in Japan, it snows ALL the time. So it can get a little dull shooting black and white shots in the trees over and over with no interesting light to work with. So I wanted to take my flashes into the back country and see what results I could come up with. It was challenging to say the least! Some shots worked well, some not so much…

"Meters of fresh snow can be exhilarating and a skier's dream, but also dangerous and a death trap if not prepared."

Camera Accessories

Peak Design Slide camera strap, the best strap around for the adventurous photographer.

Multiple lens cloths and blower for all-important cleaning of the lens which gets filled with snow more often than it's clean!

Spare SanDisk Extreme Pro 30GB CF cards so you never run out of memory.

Two Udin pocket radios so you can keep in touch with the athletes you are shooting. Very often I need them to drop in to where I’m shooting out of sight so being able to communicate with them is key. You lose your voice very quickly if you are shouting to each other all the time!

My homemade weather shield for my camera, made out of an F-Stop Gear bag. Your camera gear takes a beating in these types of environments.

Peak Design Slide Camera Strap

Safety Gear

Marmot transceiver, this is your most important piece of equipment. Wear this under your jacket and turn it on first thing. It's your lifeline to be found or finding someone in case of an avalanche.

Black Diamond shovel and probe. It's useless to carry a transceiver without these two items. Ski with people who know how to use them and have their own set of avalanche gear. A probe to find the victim and a shovel to dig them out. This is very important and I never ski without this gear or people I trust.

"Marmot transceiver, this is your most important piece of equipment. Wear this under your jacket and turn it on first thing. It's your lifeline to be found or finding someone in case of an avalanche."

My Smith helmet (Vantage Women's) and goggles (Smith I/O Women's). Even though I may not be doing the stunts that the skiers I’m shooting are, I’m still skiing the same slopes and through the same trees as my athletes. I also run the risk of having them ski into me if I'm doing close-up shots so I always wear my helmet when shooting.

Your goggles are very important, you would be screwed without them. A very good pair is essential in conditions you get in Japan as a foggy pair of goggles can ruin your day very quickly.

I ski on Faction Skis Supertonics - the best skis around! - with Marker Baron touring bindings for when I want to go ski touring.

Smith I/O Women's Goggles

Clothing and Snacks

Being warm enough is key to an enjoyable day in the mountains. I always pack an extra layer, even if it's a base layer. I choose merino wool clothing every time for its warmth and breathable properties and Mons Royale make the most awesome ski clothing out there.

Hestra gloves, as these are the best. A pair of Mons Royale merino glove liners.

Snacks and water…as you never know when you will be hungry and thirsty!

Packing list for a ski photoshoot

Camera Bag

Most importantly, how do you fit all this gear into a bag that you will be skiing with all day long!? F-Stop Gear make the best adventure camera bags out there, and I am honored to be on their pro team. For this shoot I chose to use the Loka with a large ICU (Internal Camera Unit). This pack is middle of the range in terms of capacity.

You can choose what ICU you put in depending on what type of adventure you are shooting. As I have mainly camera gear on this shoot, I had a large ICU, which still does leave room for your other essentials. It fits well on your back and doesn't move around as you ski. Its back opening flap is essential for when you’re in meter-deep fresh snow. Its weather-sealed zips and quality canvas means your gear stays dry and safe all day long.

"F-Stop Gear make the best adventure camera bags out there..."

F-Stop Gear

Tips

Be prepared! Deciding what you need to take for a day's photoshoot is sometimes tricky. As important as it is to have the essentials, it's equally important not to weigh yourself down too much or your day’s shoot won't last very long! Your bag gets very heavy quickly and it can cut your day short if you carry too much. I've blown out my knee twice skiing with an overloaded camera bag, and this doesn't just end your day, it ends your ski season! So sometimes less is more. It's a fine line between what you really need and what you might need. I sometimes get my athletes to carry a bit or two for me, share the love!

"As important as it is to have the essentials, it's equally important not to weigh yourself down too much or your day’s shoot won't last very long!"

Packing list ski photoshoot

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