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Thread: Will I regret not taking my view camera to Big Bend NP?

  1. #1

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    Will I regret not taking my view camera to Big Bend NP?

    We’re flying to Texas in April to see Big Bend National Park. Conflicted over whether to take my Wista kit with me. It fits in a Lowepro backpack quite nicely, but my Benro tripod is too big to pack, so that means yet another B&H purchase of a smaller travel tripod, probably one with a ball head (which I’m not used to using with large format). Also, I’m not keen on passing through TSA with loaded film holders (TXP) subject to newer more powerful X-rays. I guess I could ship my film to my destination and then ship it back home at end of trip. OR, I could simply take my lightweight Fuji digital kit, which, truth be told, takes excellent photos. Im in my 70s, so my back might vote for the Fuji kit, especially in Texas heat at Big Bend. Another thing: if the park is crowded, do I want to set up my large format show with tourists having to step around me as I labor under the dark cloth, listening to comments such as “Mommy, what’s that man doing?

  2. #2

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    Re: Will I regret not taking my view camera to Big Bend NP?

    Go with your gut… it knows your back better than we do.

  3. #3

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    Re: Will I regret not taking my view camera to Big Bend NP?

    BB in April is very nice, and BB is very big so it's easy to avoid crowds -- just avoid all the places where the guide books tell you to go, because Spring is BB's busiest season.

    I have no idea about your Benro tripod, but a Wista does not need a behemoth. My Gitzo Reporter is more than adequate & straps to the outside of my backpack.

  4. #4
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: Will I regret not taking my view camera to Big Bend NP?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Calwell View Post
    We’re flying to Texas in April to see Big Bend National Park. Conflicted over whether to take my Wista kit with me. It fits in a Lowepro backpack quite nicely, but my Benro tripod is too big to pack, so that means yet another B&H purchase of a smaller travel tripod, probably one with a ball head (which I’m not used to using with large format). Also, I’m not keen on passing through TSA with loaded film holders (TXP) subject to newer more powerful X-rays. I guess I could ship my film to my destination and then ship it back home at end of trip. OR, I could simply take my lightweight Fuji digital kit, which, truth be told, takes excellent photos. Im in my 70s, so my back might vote for the Fuji kit, especially in Texas heat at Big Bend. Another thing: if the park is crowded, do I want to set up my large format show with tourists having to step around me as I labor under the dark cloth, listening to comments such as “Mommy, what’s that man doing?
    Ben, I'm 78 so I commiserate. I stopped taking my medium format film stuff with me years ago. Last trip with it was to Yosemite. Now I take a little Sony digital RX100iv pocketable and my back, wallet, and wife thank me. A lot less stress too. I went on a Southwest road trip a couple of years ago with it and it took great shots and video. Also went to Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas with it. Good luck on whatever you decide and don't get too close to the edge.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/alankl...57694819890421
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/alankl...57717671668191

  5. #5

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    Re: Will I regret not taking my view camera to Big Bend NP?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Calwell View Post
    We’re flying to Texas in April to see Big Bend National Park. Conflicted over whether to take my Wista kit with me. It fits in a Lowepro backpack quite nicely, but my Benro tripod is too big to pack, so that means yet another B&H purchase of a smaller travel tripod, probably one with a ball head (which I’m not used to using with large format). Also, I’m not keen on passing through TSA with loaded film holders (TXP) subject to newer more powerful X-rays. I guess I could ship my film to my destination and then ship it back home at end of trip. OR, I could simply take my lightweight Fuji digital kit, which, truth be told, takes excellent photos. Im in my 70s, so my back might vote for the Fuji kit, especially in Texas heat at Big Bend. Another thing: if the park is crowded, do I want to set up my large format show with tourists having to step around me as I labor under the dark cloth, listening to comments such as “Mommy, what’s that man doing?
    Ben, I recently went back home to Crooklyn in December and was in same predicament. I was thinking of shipping my 8x10 film, or going to B&H and buying and shipping it back to CA. Then pack all my crap in a Pelican case and haul that to the airport. Then I don't have a tripod that is light enough to carry to airport, so that would need to be checked in. I really wanted to bring it though and take photos of the parents.

    I did a road trip 2 years ago up the CA coast and met a guy shooting with a 4x5 and we chatted for a bit, showed him my 8x10 KMV. And yes, everyone at all the local tourist views want to talk to you while you are precariously dangling off the side of a cliff trying to get a shot with 20MPH winds.

    I think it really depends on how much you want to put up with it. In the end, I only brought my Hassy to NYC, which was great. And airports hand check my film. In NYC, they wiped my film with something guessing they check to see if it has explosives residue on it or something. It was interesting.
    --

  6. #6

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    Re: Will I regret not taking my view camera to Big Bend NP?

    Ben, I would certainly regret leaving my LF gear behind. It sounds like a hassle for you to fly with it though. On the guaranteed plus side, Big Bend is magnificent.

    My last trip to BBNP was in mid-April 2 years ago - I had my Wista 45SP with me, but used it only toward the end of the week that I spent there, on my way out of the park. The Wista plus lenses, film holders, tripod etc - too much for an old bugger on long or steep trails. For most hikes I was happy that I had my Nikon D750 or F3, and for some hikes - long or steep - it was a 35mm-size camera, or nothing.

    I used my car as a mobile base - it's easy enough to pull over at a nifty spot, and hike out as far as is tolerable with the heavier LF gear. No trail required. There are countless opportunities for brilliant random walks, plus a few relatively flat, established trails, away from the Chisos.

    Late in the high season (like April), the cooler hikes at altitude are more crowded. The Chisos Basin trails (generally, the steepest in the park) are the most heavily used. Plenty of room elsewhere to avoid people. I will say though that Texans on vacation at BB have been universally friendly to me, and not obnoxious.

    Heads up: April can be quite hot (and windy).

    Good Luck!

  7. #7
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Will I regret not taking my view camera to Big Bend NP?

    This is why it is nice to have light gear too!
    Tin Can

  8. #8

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    Re: Will I regret not taking my view camera to Big Bend NP?

    Ben,

    On my last trip this January, I was debating the same thing as you.
    I did not bring my LF camera. I got frostbite a few years ago, and it was really cold.
    My hands blister now when exposed to cold. I ended up bringing my medium format & got some very nice images - so I can't complain.
    But I regret I did not have my LF, as I saw a few situations where I would have preferred using it.
    It was too cold & windy, ultimately I think I made a wise choice for my circumstance.
    Yours situation is different & you have to way the pros & cons
    Have a good trip!

  9. #9

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    Re: Will I regret not taking my view camera to Big Bend NP?

    For probably fifteen years now, when flying with LF gear, I have shipped loaded filmholders to my destination via FedEx. I haven't had to do that often, but it relieves anxiety about TSA screening. And it makes the traveling weight lighter. Whether it's worth the cost is up to you, of course.
    I've also traveled with a tripod by using one of my tripod cases/bags to carry clothing/boots, etc., as a second suitcase. Again this is liable to mean more expense (no thanks to you, airline industry) but again, you get to decide.

  10. #10

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    Re: Will I regret not taking my view camera to Big Bend NP?

    I'm in Texas. Take the camera. Go to Alpine, Marfa and Ft. Davis. You'll find gems everywhere.

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