Matt: WNFR #1: What to Take

As I write this post, my apartment looks like a tornado hit it. I leave on Thursday for 10 days in Las Vegas covering the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The WNFR is by far the richest event in rodeo with a total prize pool of $6 million US, and the contestants can easily make more money in its 10 performances than they have made the other 355 days of the year. I shot the event last year, but only for five days on a general assignment where I shot almost exclusively action. This year I’ll be there for all 10 days, and I have a specific assignment covering steer wrestler Billy Bugenig for the Ferndale Enterprise. Winning steer wrestling times are generally around 4 seconds which means that Billy will be in the arena for less than a minute total. I will need pictures outside of the arena as well, and this means bringing a wider range of gear than for a typical sports assignment. Combined with being away for 10 days, I’m faced with the logistical challenge of getting myself, my gear, and my clothes on a plane to and from Vegas, and Ryu’s suggestion of a pair of jeans and 10 t-shirts didn’t sound like a good idea at all.

But since this is a work trip, my Think Tank Airport Security (carryon, never checked) rolling bag will get filled first. Here’s what’s in it right now:

Nikon D3S
Nikon D3
400mm 2.8VR (NPS loaner while they fix mine)
70-200mm 2.8 (VR1)
24-70mm 2.8
14-24mm 2.8
85mm 1.4D
50mm 1.4
TC-14E 1.4x teleconverter
2xSB-800 Speedlites
SU-800 commander
Rayflash Ringflash
AA charger for SB-800 batteries
Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket with spare memory cards
Neutral density filters (for panning and daylight pictures with the 1.4 primes)
Giottos rocket blower and Copperhill Sensor Sweep brush (it’s a rodeo after all)
Kingston cable lock for my laptop

This fills the Airport Security completely, so my laptop (2011 15″ MacBook Pro), laptop charger, phone charger, backup drive and FW800 cable need to go in my carryon backpack, and the camera battery charger, and monopod need to go in my suitcase. I’m also going to try to pack my Think Tank Urban Disguise 40 in my suitcase so that when I am shooting without the 400mm, I can carry everything in there as I follow cowboys to casinos, bars, hotel rooms, horse stalls, etc.

I’ll fill my backpack with as many articles of clothing as I can and then get my suitcase as close to 49.9 lbs as I can, and hope that I’m not too funky by the end of the trip.


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2 thoughts on “Matt: WNFR #1: What to Take

  1. Hi Matt!

    That’s a lot of gear! I’m curious – what might you actually *do* with the teleconverter in the presence of your other fab glass?

    Thanks and good luck!


  2. Jonathan:

    2 uses for the TC:

    shooting down from the top row of the stands with the 400
    on the 70-200 from the photo position at the side of the ring where 200 is a bit too short and 400 is a bit too long.

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