For my last post of November, I want to say how stoked I am for what’s next! Blake and I just finished a rough cut of the Wind River Project film, which is being previewed by a select few–and I have approximately 6 weeks remaining before embarking on another adventure, this time with my family. The Wind River Project was the last “big” adventure I was on, and one of the things that I learned (the hard way) was that not having my family along just sucks the joy out of the experience for me. I’ve said many times that for me, the climbing isn’t just about the climbing and the diabetes isn’t just about the diabetes. Maybe I am just getting soft in my old age, but I have decided to stick to what works for me.

This doesn’t just apply to climbing–it’s also a part of what drives the creative decisions here at LivingVertical. I am downsizing more than half of all of the “things” I own to make this next adventure happen–and honestly, it’s liberating. Or, rather, it will be liberating. Right now it’s stress and chaos. All I know is that on the other side of this preparatory process will be greater simplicity and that’s something I look forward to. There’s still a bit of turmoil surrounding the simplicity though–from a technical standpoint–since I am hoping to document, film and photograph this journey and these are often disparate goals, especially with limited time, support and space!

Ever try getting a straight answer about which camera is the “best”? You’d have better luck asking your Facebook feed to tell you who to vote for in the next election! I’ve been downsizing a lot of my camera gear because I need smaller, lighter, faster–but with better specs and–oh, if I could get a discount on that? That would be just superb! It’s very enticing to pin the hopes of creativity on equipment, but I keep coming to the realization that no matter what I have or lack, the most important thing is how hard I am willing to work to make the most of what I have. It’s a great thing to realize but it doesnt necessarily help with choosing a camera. Every choice has consequences and even the high-end “bells and whistles” rigs come with a cost in terms of how useful they can be.

Over the years I’ve worked my way up to a pretty high end still image setup (Nikon D600). It’s not the apex of current technology but with a full frame sensor and several lenses that are unrivaled (Nikons own: 105mm f2, 50mm f1.4, 24mm f1.4) I feel like there isn’t much on dry land that I’m not equipped to shoot other than super long wildlife shots. Here’s where it gets tricky though. This setup is big. Heavy and yet delicate. The files take time and space to process on a computer before they make it onto Instagram or here on the blog. The timelapse reel below was shot on that setup, but getting all the equipment out into the field (16 miles over rough backcountry) was no small matter.

The flip side of this is that the video characteristics of a high level stills camera are typically far less impressive and video is the next frontier that I want to explore. Portability is going to play a big role if I am going to be documenting on the fly. I am thankful to have a workhorse for capturing high quality stills. Now my goal is to build a useful video setup that doesn’t go nuts with bells and whistles that will just weigh me down–but that will be able to shoot high quality footage.

Here are the cameras that I am considering (in descending order) with some of the drawbacks to each:

  • Panasonic Gh4-smaller sensor, not great in low light, stills are “meh”
  • Sony a6000-no mic input, “only” shoots 1080p
  • Samsung NX1-bigger body, slim selection of lenses

I know that many of you may be aghast to see not a single Nikon or Canon on this list…I’d be happy to hash that out in the comments, as well as the pros and cons of 4k, but each of these cameras has distinct advantages that make them viable options. I think that it comes down to versatility when choosing a camera–being able to do more. That’s the criteria I am looking at as I keep agonizing over the final decision (which I will be putting off until 2016–because I want time to do thorough research and possibly save more cash).

I have been using instagram and the blog to develop as a photographer. I have room to grow and equipment that will take me further. I have the podcast which has been a great place to learn about audio production. I don’t run a studio as such, but I am enjoying learning how to work in that medium to create passable work. YouTube is where I will be getting my feet wet again on the video front and I would love it if you’d subscribe and be part of that journey!

During project365 I was shooting for a documentary–so there was a lot more continuity and far-reaching concerns to keep me from really exploring how to work with video. This time, there is no “binding deliverable”. Just a big, wide open road that’s filled with adventure. That’s how I learn best–and I think that creating and learning have to go hand in hand. We’ll see how that turns out!

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Love this? Hate it? Let me know in the comments or via email! (steve@livingvertical.org)

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes.