In My Bag – by John Encinas

John EncinasJohn Encinas was born in Manila, Philippines in 1973, immigrating to Northern California with his parents at the age of 5.  Throughout High School he had full intentions in pursuing a career in Photography but, was swayed by several peers that were established professional photographers. Their reason… “Digital” will ruin the photography business! John focused his efforts in earning a degree in Engineering but, kept photography as a hobby. John is currently working as an Engineer in the telecommunications industry while freelancing primarily as a youth sports photographer. He’s worked with local Little Leagues, High Schools, and several travel Baseball and Basketball teams. Clients include Doctors, Engineers, Peace Officers, etc… usually the parents of his subjects… young athletes.

“You take great pictures!… You must have a nice camera.”

I understand when I hear the statement above that it’s meant to be a compliment… but, I feel that it takes away from a photographer’s imagination and creativity. Sure, having the latest technology in cameras, lenses, and strobes can assist in capturing a nice image… but, the most important tool in creating a great image is the photographer’s “eye”.

“A camera didn’t make a great picture anymore than a typewriter wrote a great novel” -Peter Adams

With that said… here’s the gear that I use when covering youth sports :

Nikon D3s – My primary body usually coupled with the 300mm. This combination is great for getting shots from the 1st and 3rd base side of a ballfield. If I need more reach, I’ll throw on a 1.4x teleconverter giving me 420mm to work with. If I need more, I’ll throw the lens combination on the D2X giving me 630mm.
– Nikon D2X – Now my second body, this camera has served me well for several years as my primary body. I’ve only experienced one major problem and that was a blown shutter at 320k actuations… not bad since it’s only rated at 150k. I usually have the 80-200mm attached to the body hanging from a BlackRapid camera strap.
Nikon D2H – This is the body I purchased to replaced my first DSLR (Nikon D1) after it took a tumble on the asphalt of a racetrack at 30 MPH. Back then it was “the” sports camera to have. It’s been relegated to remote camera duties and the occasional street photography work with a 35mm lens.
Nikon 300mm F2.8 – My bread and butter lens. I use it just about every time I’m out shooting. I originally had a Nikon 400mm F2.8 AF-S II but, that lens was very heavy, to the point that I would leave it home so it wasn’t used much. The 300mm F2.8 is much more versatile.
Nikon 80-200mm F2.8 – Great lens to capture pick off plays at 1st and plays in the infield.
Nikon 28-70mm F2.8 – I use this for dugout shots and team shots after the game.
Nikon 17-35mm F2.8 – The wide angle is great for my remote camera setups.
Nikon 50mm F1.8
Nikon 35mm F1.8
Nikon 1.4x teleconverter
Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6
Nikon SB-800 flash (2)
Pocketwizard (2)
– Carbon One monopod
Think Tank Photo Pixel Pocket Rocket – filled with SanDisk 4GB, 8GB, & 16GB Compact Flash cards.
Giottos Rocket Air Blaster
Nikon lens pen

Gear Carriers:
Think Tank Photo Airport TakeOff Rolling Camera Bag – I love this bag! I use it primarily as a rolling bag but, the Airport Takeoff also has straps that converts it into a backpack. As you can see from the image below, it has plenty of room for the gear I use.
– Think Tank Photo Modular Skin Set V2.0 and Pro Speed Belt
– BlackRapid RS-4 Camera Strap



When the need calls for it, I also bring along my “Strobist” lighting bag:

Strobist Bag:
Sekonic L-358 flash meter
Pocketwizard Pre-Trigger cord
Nikon SU-800 wireless speedlight commander
Nikon SB-R200 wireless macro flash head (2)
Nikon SB-800 flash (2)
Nikon SB-600 flash (2)
PocketWizard (3)
Manfrotto Magic Arm
– Assorted LumoPro Umbrella swivels and umbrellas (not pictured)
LumoPro Light Stands (not pictured)
– Assorted Light Boxes, Snoots, and Gobos (not pictured)
Orbis Ring Flash (not pictured)
Gaffers tape

First Aid Kit:

First Aid Kit
I always have this bag nearby. I have enough items in this small bag to treat most minor sports related / everyday type injuries. You never know when you or your subject will need aid:


A routine slide into 2nd base can easily turn into…


… a painful open wound.

I was able to treat this player’s injury enough to allow him to continue playing (his request). It’s a great way of making friends.

Post Processing:
Adobe Lightroom 4.2
Adobe Photoshop CS5


where all the magic is made

Here’s where all the magic is made… my workstation. This is just a short preview as the workstation deserves its own future post.

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