#799. What’s in my bag? Part 1

By Paul Perton | Opinion

Dec 15

I doubt I can put a figure to it, but there have been any number of times I’ve left the house, kitted-up for an early morning, or evening shoot only to be en route to my chosen location and discover my most important item of all has been left behind.


Cape Town
Cape Town


Karoo trip
Karoo trip


Cape Town
Cape Town


Cape Town
Cape Town


Karoo trip
Karoo trip


When that happens, there’s nothing else but to turn around and head home.


There’s no special pouch for it. It doesn’t require special handling, or a UV filter, but without it, I’m wasting my time.


No. It’s not a camera.


Karoo trip
Karoo trip


It’s the muse that makes it all work for me. Probably you have one too.


I’ll get around to the real kit that’s in my bag in a later post. For now, here are two sets of images I deliberately set out to shoot with my Leica M9. I won’t say which is which – one was a wander in Cape Town with a couple of the members of Facebook’s Cape of Storms Photographic Group, the other a trip into the Karoo with a photo-buddy. On one outing, I definitely had my muse along with me, the other I really should have stayed home – it should probably be sub-titled; “Setting new standards in mediocre”.


Karoo trip
Karoo trip


Cape Town
Cape Town


Cape Town
Cape Town


Cape Town
Cape Town




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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    How can anyone dare to comment on the photos, after that introduction? – it would simply be suicidal – no matter which pick you could make, it’s a slam on the other shots!
    No deal, Paul. I won’t play, I was brought up to be nice to everyone (except Adolf Hitler and his mate in the White House).:)
    I love the first shot – buried in the title, but capable of being extracted to another tab.
    The overall theme appears to be eating and travel. And of course we must travel to eat – and eat to travel. An intriguing compilation that draws the audience in. 🙂
    Not sure how you leave you muse at home – I’ll have to leave you to sort that one out.
    I am now looking forward to part 2 – to find out what IS in your bag! 🙂
    What wrecks my outings sometimes is planning the shot, getting everything ready for the shot, and finding when I arrive at “the spot” that something’s gone completely haywire. Like last week – got up early – REALLY early! – which is not a bit like me. Wanted to arrive at the beach just after sunrise. Because that’s the time of day when the air is at its cleanest – and I wanted no haze whatsoever. So what did I get instead? Worse than mere “haze” – there was a mist, stretching across the entire landscape.
    So I ate up the time till returning home for breakfast, taking tests shots of anything in sight, for future planning purposes.
    And instead of creativity, back home to the routine task of processing & printing the rest of my nephew’s wedding photos.
    Such are the woes of photography – caviar and champagne one minute – washing the dishes the next.

    • paulperton says:


      There was nothing so planned as one set of images over the other. One was in Cape Town, the other elsewhere. No linkage and I’ll explain it all a little more once everyone has had a chance to see/read and comment if they wish to.

      This also means that I don’t get #800.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        LOL – I expect Pascal to be #800, with a Monday post. 🙂
        By pure chance, you first photo appeared on my screen with a slight crop – the centre line was one third of the way across the image, and if my memory of geometry serves me well (60 years after I closed those books) that means the computer (or web browser) trimmed a quarter off the left of the image. Leaving the other half of the reflection as one third, and the actual scene as the other two thirds. I rather liked it. Try it – see what you think. NB – this is NOT a criticism – it’s simply a description of something that occurred without any interference, and I found it interesting.
        Meanwhile – I’ve a confession to make to all you guys describing what’s in your bag. Pascal is already aware of this. I’ve had an attack of GAS. I want to do things I’ve never done before – because I’ve never had the stuff to do it. So I’ve quit a lot of stuff I hardly use, replaced the outgoing camera bodies with a new one, and bought – amongst other things – two new zooms.
        A pro-level outstanding Nikkor – the 70-200mm. And because I’ll never be able to afford a similar quality lens in this focal length, a SIGMA 150-600 Sport zoom. Still coming – a 1.4x converter, and a carbon fibre gimbal. Plus miscellaneous accessories.
        Which probably means I’ll rarely take either lens with anything else. I’ll almost certainly do a lot more exploratory stuff – snaps on location, working out how I can plan the shots I want. And bag what I want, when I finally attack the subject matter.
        Nothing like my available light stuff – that’s always been somewhere between candid and street photography, with a touch of maverick (since Sriracha doesn’t go well with photographic gear), to spice things up a bit.
        It feels weird. I have two backpack camera bags, one for the HF and the other for the FF. They’ve generally had the full complement of lenses I use with either cam, and all the accesories I’d want with them.
        And now all of a sudden, I find I’m using a much smaller bag, that’s half empty, to carry what I need for what is hopefully just one, successful shot.
        A new beginning. Hopelessly unsuitable for travel photography. And so far, just starting to practice with the new gear, so nothing (or not much) to show for it yet. But the first forays have been extremely tantalizing. The first target is a VERY long distance shot, and I need the tele converter, to give me an effective focal length of around 1.2M (a far cry from my Otus 28mm w/angle!)
        When I started out, with serious photography, all those decades ago, a 135mm lens cost (I think) AUD$150 – the next up was 250mm and it cost around AUD$400 – the 500mm was AUD$1,000, and you could buy a brand new car for that, and pocket the change (even after registration and insurance costs) And the big bazooka, a 1 metre lens, was POA – so I never got to find out how much it cost. Besides, there was no internet, so no easy way of spying on these things.
        We now live in a different universe. And since my motive in dropping analogue and taking up digital was to explore the opportunities it offers, I’m charting my course to do precisely that.
        Once this is all bedded down, there’s going to be something exciting coming in from left field, and I’m already planning for the time when it happens, so I can do it, too. [Watch this space – it’s not yet public info, and it’s not my place to release it!]
        So – after all this twaddle (most of which has nothing to do with Paul’s posting), and after I finish printing my nephew’s wedding photos, and after I DO get my1.4X converter and take that first step with all this junk, I should perhaps settle down to the task of sending DS a contribution. A different sort of travel posting – things a tourist could do, here. Stuff within easy reach of my house, without going halfway round the world to do it. Inverting reality.
        Like suggesting that Paul should show us his perspective on “the Table Cloth”, or Dallas giving us a new perspective on Sydney.

  • Cliff Whittaker says:

    Pete, I know from experience that you are treading on dangerous ground with that 150-600 lens.
    Whatever else you have in mind for it, at some point you’re going to want to try your hand at photographing birds. And, even if they are just park pigeons you are going to find that it is addictive.
    The next thing you are going to discover, regardless of your years of experience in photography, is that making high quality photographs of birds with that long lens has a learning curve that can only be conquered with experience. And so does processing bird images for the best presentation.
    But, damn, it’s a lot of fun (maybe that’s why it’s so addictive).
    Now please excuse me, I have to go and find a place to photograph some park pigeons. That’s a project I’ve had in mind for quite a while.

    • jean pierre {pete} guaron says:

      Cliff – sigh! – I’m sprung! I can’t hide it any longer! – I’m a repressed “birder”! And I’ve cast off the shackles, at last! Next, I guess they’ll find me sitting beside the Freeway with a sandwich in one hand, and a remote in the other, waiting for a pelican to land on one of the lamps along the side of the road! Or looking for a swamp, to chase water fowl. 🙂

  • NMc says:

    Ok Paul I’ll play,
    My best guess is that the Cape Town outing was the muse free. Partly because the first rail abstract did not compute at first. My brain was trying to work it out and at first I saw a close up of some dirty corroded industrial casting in a copper alloy, once I recognised the rail clips the scale snapped in and now I can only see the railway and dirty ballast. Oddly I do not know if I like the image of the industrial casting that my brain created in confusion (which I can no longer re-‘see’) or you photo better.
    Regards Noel

  • philberphoto says:

    If I asked myself what is the most important item I have left behind, even though, on the surface of it, I am fully kitted out for a shoot, I’d have to answer: my brain. Which is a good measure of my talent (or lack of) as a photographer. The lesser the talent, the smaller the impact of the absence of the brain…:-(
    Nice pics, BTW. You obviously had it properly in use…

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