Colorado Road Trip 2019 | Photo Gear

Before I get into the gear I packed for the trip, I thought I would write something about my philosophy regarding travel photography.  It is simply that travel comes first and photography comes second.  

Let me give an example of what I mean.  When traveling, if we were to arrive at a gorgeous landscape location at noon and the light is harsh and the shadows deep, I would find a composition I like and bracket a few shots in raw format. Then I would return to the car and drive to our next destination.  On the other hand, if photography were the first priority, I would not take a photo at noon but merely “check out the location”.  Then I would return when the light was expected to be better, such as one of the golden hours. And if the light was not “just right” I might come back yet another day.

As a result of this approach, I expect only about 1% of my shots to be potentially “portfolio” shots, and perhaps another 4% to be useable for Facebook or Instagram.  The other 95% are just “nice-to-have” photos.  So, at least 95% of my shots do not require a great camera or fast lens. They will not be printed and will be viewed at a maximum of perhaps 1080 x 1920 (full HD).  That’s about 2 megapixels. (I think my iPad has a bit higher resolution than “full” HD, at 1536 x 2048. That’s about 3 megapixels.)

With this in mind I try to keep my gear small and light, although I do feel I need to cover focal lengths of 24-300mm ffe to get the framing right, or 24-600 ffe when there will be animals such as the elk, moose, and big horn sheep, which we were expecting in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

[Unfortunately I ignored my own advise and took zooms and primes that covered only from 18-350mm ffe.  I never used anything wider than the 24mm end of my 24-200 ffe zoom, and wish that in about a dozen of my images that I had something longer than the 90-350 ffe zoom.  I wish I’d brought my 200-600 ffe zoom. Oh well, next time.]


The cameras and lenses went into an Incase Camera Insert.  I bought it through Amazon two years ago for $40; however it is no longer available. But it shouldn't be hard to find something similar. I'd google/search for something like "camera bag insert".

The insert then slipped into by LLBean "Ridge Runner" day pack ($100 but Bean's always seems to have a 20% off sale going on).

Olympus E-M1 and 12-100mm (90-95% of images)
Panasonic GX80/85 and 40-175mm (5-10% of images)
Sony A6000 and Rokinon 12mm (didn't used)

Cinch it up

Slide into day pack

Toys to be accessible while flying:
MacBook Pro, iPad, Kindle
(note orange brick/battery in camera insert in first photo above, 
to be available if needed during the flight.)

Sound reducing headphones

Zipped up with compression straps too.
Will easily slide under plane seat
19" long x 10" wide x 7" thick


Colorado Road Trip 2019 | Initial Planning

Road trips are always fun. The planning for this one started with an invitation to our niece’s wedding in Boulder, CO.  

Neither my wife nor I particularly enjoy flying.  Actually the flying is fine… it’s all the antics and shenanigans between leaving the house and actually sitting at the gate at Logan airport. There are just so many things that need to go right (or at least not wrong). It always fills me with anxiety, and it starts with setting two morning alarms so we don’t oversleep  Perhaps if I flew more than once a year I’d get used to it.  Anyway, to “amortize” the annoyance of flying we decided to stay in Colorado an extra two weeks after the wedding!  

Map of the U.S.A. (From Rand McNally Road Atlas)

I designed a trip that had us staying one to three nights in eight locations (if you count one night at the Embassy Suites at the Denver Airport), traveling in an approximately counterclockwise circle through the central third of Colorado:  Boulder to Estes Park to Winter Park to Steamboat Springs, then south and east to Avon/Beaver Creek/Vail, further south and east to Buena Vista, then north and east to Denver.

Map of Colorado (from a map I picked up at the Fraser, CO welcome center)

My wife made our plane reservations with Southwest Airlines because she likes that one can check two bags for free, and with the wedding we were packing relatively “heavy”.  

I made our overnight reservations all through AAA, Travelocity, and Airbnb (first experience and it went well). Standard size SUV reservations were made through Enterprise.

Next up will be planning for what camera gear and electronics to bring.  The clothes part will be easy.