Adventure Nomad

Adventure Nomad

Monday, February 29, 2016

Free Online Filmmakers Seminar

The world's largest free online event for filmmakers is happening in less than 24 hours.  I signed on a week ago, which means I've been getting a weeks worth of spam email... Seriously though, I've only gotten about an email a day, 'encouraging' me to sign up for their paid program.

The program looks legit, so it's worth the hassle.  Check it out at

If you remember Brandon Li, whom I interviewed a while back, he's one of the filmmaker's contributing to the seminar.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Accessories for the Adventure Shooter's Sony A7s MkII

Here are some accessories that I use for my Sony a7sii, but could work for any alpha a7, a7r, a7s mk1 or mk2 adventure shooting kit.  Some, like the SDXC Memory Cards and a Screen Protector, are what I'd consider to be 'must haves', the others are nice to have.

64GB SDXC Memory Card
I know I read this somewhere before buying my camera, but in the excitement, I forgot all about it and as a result, could not shoot 4K video until I went back to the store to buy new SD cards. Take note that SDXC cards of at least 64GB size are required, the the memory cards from your last camera might not work.  I thought the Sony's were best 'bang for buck' and that I wouldn't have to worry about compatibility issues, and got 2 Sony Class 10 UHS-1/U3 SDXC up to 95MB/s Memory Card in 128GB size.

Extra Battery
For adventure or expedition shooting, you probably won't go through as many batteries as say, a wedding shooter.  The Camera does come with 2 batteries in the box, and although I've yet to go through more than 2 batteries in a day of shooting, it's worth picking up a 3rd battery as a spare.  I stopped using 3rd party batteries and only recommend using original Sony NP-FW50 batteries for consistent performance.  Sometimes, there's a deal from Sony to purchase an extra battery when you buy your camera.  Be aware that there are fake batteries circulating in the market.

Mindshift GP2
Mindshift GP2
I keep my memory cards and batteries in a MindShift GP2. It's made for Gopro accessories, but will hold 2 SDXC memory cards and 2 Sony NP-FW50 batteries.  I number my batteries and cards, and the clear holder allows me to see which card/battery is next up to cycle.  It's lightweight and allows me to secure way to store and organize those essentials.

LCD Screen Protector
Before you take the camera out of the box, put an LCD Screen Protector on it.  I had mine for just a day before I went back to the store to put a screen protector on, and the screen was already scuffed.

Peak Designs Leash Camera Strap
The Leash, by Peak Designs
Consider the Peak Design Leash Camera Strap.  I frequently take the strap off so it doesn't interfere with me moving the camera around and either snagging (hence ruining the shot) or making some kind of noise that will interfere with the built in camera microphone.  I'm used to homemade solutions, but the Leash is the best, lightest and most adjustable design I've seen, and will allow you attach their 'anchors' directly to the camera lugs, thereby eliminating the need for the triangular mounts, which could be a potential source of noise as well.  I also bought their Standard Plate, so I could attach the strap to the plate and have the camera over my shoulder hanging lens down, a much more ergonomic position.  Note that the strap is thin, and may not be the most comfortable for heavier setups.

Think Tank Body Bag

Camera Body Pouch/Bag
I like the Newswear Body Pouch that I've been using for years.  It fits the a7sii with 24-70mm lens, but with the hood stored in the reversed.  I've recently acquired the Think Tank Body Bag, which is larger and can store the same body lens combination (or a larger lens) with the hood in place, ready to use.  These bags are the ultimate in flexibility and lightweight for the adventure shooter.  I can use them as a chest pouch, mounted as a holster on a belt, or chucked into any backpack.  The velcro flap gives quick access to the camera, but dust protection is not so good.

Zeiss Lens Cleaning Wipes and a Chamois
Zeiss Cleaning Wipes
A friend gave me a box of Zeiss Lens Cleaning Wipes and since then, I've ditched my Lenspen in favor of them.  Nothing wrong with the Lenspens, its just that I never throw the old ones away, and I just don't know which have been around long enough to have picked up enough grit on the cleaning pad to be dangerous.  The Wipes are one-time-use, so I know they are clean.  I bring one wipe for every 3-4 days, plus one spare, or about 3 wipes for week long trip.  I also carry a  reusable chamois (synthetic, microfiber) to clean, and wipe off fog or moisture from the lens.

Sea to Summit Dry Bags.
They have nicer colors.
Ultralightweight Dry Bag
The Think Tank Body Bag (above) does come with a waterproof cover, but for extended periods in the wet, and also for unforseen circumstances, I prefer the security of a fully-waterproof dry bag.  I use a Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Dry Sack, which is lightweight and folds small out of the way.  The 13 liter size fits my camera with body bag, and a spare lens.  Or, a plastic bag stuffed into your camera bag will do in a pinch.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The 10 Commandments of Lifelong Fitness

Aging sucks!  There really is nothing good about growing old, except maybe I'm not so hot-headed and my ego is kept in check... Everything else, not so good.  Starting with this blog post, I've added a new 'Aging' category, to share what I've learned with you.

Ned Overend, one of my guru's on the subject, a man who manages to stay on top of his game, regardless of age, talks about how he keeps in shape in this Outside video:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Burma Rising

Balloons over Bagan, Myanmar.  
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a country of contradictions.  It's a land of jaw-dropping beauty and a people who have endured decades of oppression and hardship. Until recently, it was isolated from the rest of the world, and its unique culture has survived the 21st century relatively unscathed.  Burma is rapidly catching up with the 21st century, and not all of it good.  Certain technology, like cellphones, is cheap, and even poor farmers have smartphones and can be seen texting from atop water buffaloes.  Plastic bags litter the landscape, as basic needs like trash disposal, health care, and infrastructure (power, roads, etc) are either practically non-existant.  Buddhism plays a major role in the country, providing a system of basic education, health care and a moral code for the people.
A monk grabs a photo with his cellphone at the Temple of 582,000 Buddhas, Thanboday, Myanmar.
My wife, Laura and I were there for some biking and photography/filming.  Laura is recovering from a slipped disc and was not sure how much biking she could do, and so we opted to take a supported tour from a local operator.  This turned out to be a good thing, because her back was far from recovered.  We flew into Mandalay, and visited Bagan and Inle Lake.  We also visited Yangon from an earlier trip, and clips from that trip are also included in our trip video below.
End of the day, Bagan, Myanmar
We didn't have much information on biking when we planned our trip, and we didn't know how much biking Laura could do, so we wrote to a couple of companies and asked if they could take us to the places we wanted to see, and to do some biking as well.  All the biking was planned on road, usually tarmac, but occasionally some dirt road.  The paved roads were extremely busy.
Fisherman, Inle Lake, Myanmar
Our guide was extremely accommodating, and although not a mountain biker, took it upon himself to find more dirt roads to escape the traffic.  I experienced the graciousness of the Burmese people, saw the beauty of the land, and came away with a feeling of hope for the country.

Burma Rising from Kenneth Koh on Vimeo.

Best time to visit is in the Burmese winter.  It's cool and dry in the mornings and evenings, and the quality of light for photography is amazing.  We find prices to be on the high side for South East Asia.  Hotels and transport are expensive, probably to some sort of government tax, and food and labor are relatively cheap.  Exchange your currency (new, large note US dollars are preferred!) in Burma, and buy a SIM card for your phone at the airport.