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Photography Notes

Papua New Guinea is a photographer's paradise. The terrain is varied and beautiful, the people wonderfully colorful and accessible, and the wildlife elusive and special. Because I had to shoot both underwater and topside, I had to make compromises in lens choices and packing. Furthermore, our small charter flights around the interior of PNG had a 10kg luggage limit, so you're gambling if you travel with more (my camera bag is between 7-12kg fully loaded, so I was totally over the limit). Luckily, we flew on chartered aircraft with Trans Niugini Tours; flying through AirLink (the only other option in some places) would surely have involved the hassle of overweight baggage charges.

After our time on the Febrina, Dave Patchen was nice enough to fly my underwater photography gear back to the States for me (for which I owe him a nice sushi dinner). Son and I stored our dive bags in Port Moresby, only taking small bags of clothing and toiletries with us for the 14-day land tour (or in Son's case, a suitcase filled with lots of extra CRAP! ;).

For camera and computer equipment for topside use, I brought:

  • Canon EOS 1Ds Mk II
  • Canon EOS 1D Mk II
  • Canon SD10
  • Canon 15mm full-frame fisheye lens
  • Canon 16-35/2.8L USM lens
  • Canon 24-70/2.8L USM lens
  • Canon 70-200/4L USM lens
  • Canon 550EX Speedlight
  • Compactdrive PD70X 100GB portable hard disk/card reader
  • IBM Thinkpad T42, 100GB ultrabay hard disk (total of 160GB internal) and CDR/DVD-R drive

All of the camera gear went into a WRP MP3 photo pack (by far, my favorite camera bag). In my checked luggage, I always pack a collapsed Domke F-4AF, which I use as a walk-around camera bag. It (surprisingly) will hold a 1D body, 15, 24-70, 70-200, 550EX, batteries, cleaning supplies, polarizer, and wallet.

Because I wasn't trying to shoot wildlife, I found the 70-200/4L to be the perfect long lens for the trip because it's light enough to be used handheld for an entire day. Given the dark skin of the local people, a nice, external flash is an absolute necessity in Papua New Guinea. The Canon 550EX fill is very pleasing to the eye, and virtually all of my people shots were taken with it.

Also, if you don't bring insect repellent, you will suffer. I recommend Sawyer Controlled Release 20% DEET Lotion and Sawyer Broad Spectrum Non-Aerosol 17.5% DEET spray. Always wash your hands or wipe them off as well as you can after applying DEET. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging the grip on your camera!

Underwater, I brought (in addition to the above equipment):

  • Tokina 17mm lens
  • Canon 24/1.4L USM lens
  • Canon 35/1.4L USM lens
  • Canon 100/2.8 USM macro lens
  • Canon 180/3.5L USM macro lens
  • 3 x Ikelite DS-125 strobes
  • 2 x Fisheye FIX light
  • Seacam 1D housing, superdome, flat port, port extenders

After the dive trip, I sent all of these lenses back in my underwater photography case. Thanks again, Dave. :)

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