Behind the Scenes: Southern California Search & Rescue Routine Training with the Solstice™ CCW Camera Bag, the first camera bag from the Maxpedition Advanced Gear Research™ (AGR™) line, with an attached RDP Radio Pouch.
Written by Ming Wu
I have been working as a professional photographer since 1997, starting my work in the outdoor industry in 2009 doing a variety of photo shoots for First Response Teams, Military Training Groups, and Law Enforcement Operators. It was an honor to be invited to create an editorial photo shoot for a Southern California Search & Rescue Team during their routine training. As a photographer in the tactical industry, creating authentic looking images in a fast-paced environment is extremely important. Being in constant motion, sometimes in risky shooting locations with long working hours as the norm, I need a camera bag that is both tough and dependable.
To make my work much more efficient and to keep my equipment secure (without sacrificing the production quality on this particular assignment), I needed a small and well-built camera bag. The Solstice™ CCW Camera Bag is perfect since it secured my equipment inside and was rigid on the outside, resisting abrasion from the rocks and dampness from the persistent fog in the area. The Solstice has quick access, is compact, and well organized to carry essential photo equipment while rappelling and hanging off cliffs in order to photograph Search & Rescue operators.
Drone view of Ming hanging at 175' using Canon 5D Mark III with on-camera Canon EX600 RT Flash and a Pocket Wizard Radio Slave to trigger additional strobes on the cliff top.
My professional take on the Solstice™ CCW Camera Bag is that the product was thoughtfully designed and built to withstand extreme conditions.
By the first look of the Solstice™, the design stood out to me because it was not bulky or "boxy". The bag is streamlined and more solid than most designs, that is not typical of a traditional camera shoulder bag. What surprised me the most was that I was able to carry all the necessary camera gear in this seemingly low profile bag, with lots of room still inside. Another plus with the design is the what they call their “single hand-operated magnetic closure”, which allowed me to easily access the main compartment to switch lenses while I hung off the side of the cliff. Also, I could move the camera bag back and forth around my body smoothly using their “quick-release shoulder strap adjuster”.
Hanging at 150' to capture the rescue team practicing Australian style rappelling. This style offers a tactical advantage for first responders in medical and combat situations.
While hanging from a 200-foot cliff area, I was relying on a radio to communicate with the other production crew members. The design of their ATLAS™ System allows for customization of the bag, so attaching a Maxpedition RDP Radio Pouch in this situation was a great addition.
Locked in at 100' in the 90th minute of the shoot, the Canon 24-105mm zoom lens required constant cleaning, due to the excessive fog, with soft Microfiber Anti-Static Cloth kept close in the side pocket of the Solstice™.
Here's the rundown of what I carry in the Solstice™ CCW Camera Bag. Although I didn’t need the CCW compartment for a firearm that particular day, the extra compartment comes in handy and can be used for extra accessories or electronics.
- One standard DLSR camera body (Canon 5D MarkIII)
- Two lenses (Canon 24-105mm f/4.0 and Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8)
- One on camera flash (Canon 600EX-RT)
- One battery power pack (Quantum Instruments Turbo 3)
- One radio slave (PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver)
- One flash bracket (General Brand Straight Flash Bracket)
- One radio (BaoFeng UV-82 Dual Band Two-Way Radio)
- Accessories: Cables, batteries, memory cards, microfiber anti-static cloth, pens, field book, multi-tool/coin
- One 500ml water bottle
- One trail mix pack
Ming Standing with the Solstice™ after completing the 4-hour cliffside photo shoot.
The Solstice™ was a great bag to have along that day, and in the challenging environments that my work regularly takes me into. The design of the Solstice™ kept me organized, and my equipment switch-outs on the cliff were smooth and seamless. I would definitely recommend this versatile camera bag for all photographers.
Final image of Search and Rescue Operator demonstrating the initial descend from 200'. Photo by Ming Wu.
Final image of Search and Rescue Operator repelling Austrailian Style. Photo by Ming Wu.
Final image demonstrating care when repelling in low visibility on sleek surfaces. Photo by Ming Wu.
The author of this post, Ming Wu, also specializes in underwater photography. When he isn’t shooting on land, Ming can be found floating around in the water with his camera. To see more of his art photography, please go to h2wupix.com.