Guest blog: Nour el Refai preps for an Aswan workshop with his Lowepro bag

Editor’s note: Check out this amazing guest blog from Nour el Refai, an architectural and documentary photographer from Cairo. His blog is filled with beautiful images and helpful instruction on prepping for a workshop and packing a DSLR Video Fastpack 150 AW. And he shares his documentary video, “Nubians and the Nile”, to impart a real spirit of place and culture. Take a few minutes to enjoy it.

Please visit Nour’s blog and web site for more imagery and inspiration.

“We went to Aswan during the first week of 2014 to prepare for workshops that I’ll teach there.  I’ve been teaching photography since 2005 and felt it was about time to go out of Cairo and give my students the chance to explore other places and cultures in their own country.

We did a location scout for the workshop and we interviewed locals, shot photos and video, and taught photography to few Nubian children (thanks to the Konouz Nubia Foundation).

I took my Lowepro DSLR Video Fastpack 150 with me and it served me really well during the whole trip. In this post, I’ll explain how I used it, what equipment I carried, and I’ll show you some of my photos (and a documentary film) I shot while I was there.

Photos of the Nubians:
Aswan offers so much to photographers: you have the Nile, the islands, landscapes, cityscapes with amazing colours, Pharaonic monuments and temples, and the Nubians themselves.
I was mainly focusing on the locals, their portraits and their culture.

© Nour el Refai

Hajja Fardous in her home, Seheil Island.

© Nour el Refai

A Nubian girl sitting outside of her home in Seheil Island.

© Nour el Refai

Hajj Mahmoud, guarding Temple of Isis since 1981, Philae Island.

© Nour el Refai

Hajja Fawzia in her home, Seheil Island.

© Nour el Refai

A shy Nubian girl with a killer look! Heisa Island.

© Nour el Refai

Hajja Atamanny, the oldest woman of Seheil Island.

© Nour el Refai

Hajj Omar infront of his house in the Nubian Village.

* Hajj or Hajja is a title given to those who successfully completed the Hajj to Mecca, a lot of people paint or write about it on their houses like you see here on last photo.

Video: Nubians and the Nile


How I used my Lowepro bag:

I was shooting both photos and videos during the trip with my Nikon D800 and mainly two lenses: 35mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.4.
* I had two assistants so they were carrying other equipment, lenses, lighting modifiers and stands.

This is the DSLR Video Fastpack 150 I was carrying, The bag is really well made; it’s not the lightest Lowepro bag I have, but in my opinion, it has the best build quality.

© Nour el Refai

Although the bag looks small, I was able to carry everything in the photo below.

© Nour el Refai
In the upper compartment, I carried the Zoom H4N recorder, Auvio foldable headphones, Nikon SB910, Hoya ND Filters, air blower, card reader & cables in the pouch, small notebook, pen, and business cards.

© Nour el Refai© Nour el Refai© Nour el Refai
After a long search, I was lucky to find this portable Vanguard Alta+ 225CP Tripod that is really light and small. It works very well with the bag. I didn’t even need to pull the tripod piece for the legs. I found it better to put two legs on the side mesh.

© Nour el Refai© Nour el Refai
I can change cards very quickly with those two pockets; they carry both my CF and SD cards.

© Nour el Refai
For me, the most important feature is the ability to quickly access the lens from the side while I am on the move. Since I had only one body, I was changing between the 35mm & 50mm a lot, I just pull this orange piece and grab the lens. It’s much better to put the unused lens here in its place and secure it with the fasteners instead of leaving it loose in the middle pocket.

© Nour el Refai
I like this bag because its small, well made, and it carries all I want during my documentary projects or portrait shoots.

I only use fixed lenses on those and that’ss why it works well for me. I always try to keep everything small, portable, and efficient for what I do (notice I don’t even use lens hoods, I use my hand to shade when flare rarely occurs!). If you have a DSLR and two small lenses and want the option of carrying a laptop up to 13″, then this will be a perfect backpack for you. However, if you want to carry large zoom lenses, and you have a large body with battery grip, then you should check the two larger models, the 250 or the 350!

I am aware that DSLR is part of this bag’s name, but I believe this will be a good option for those who have mirror-less systems as well. I am slightly moving to Fuji X system, especially for shooting documentary and portraits, and I know I’ll go with this bag whenever I am using my (speedlights+pocketwizards) and/or the laptop.

I didn’t use the AW cover as it doesn’t rain here, but it definitely gives me more confidence that I’m well prepared for anything. I also feel it adds extra cushioning on the lower side.

That’s me with the DSLR Video Fastpack 150, and my assistant “Marwan” with the CompuDay Photo 250, overlooking Nubia.”

© Nour el Refai

Captured still from the behind the scenes video shot by my second assistant Sarah.

Katrina Neill

About Katrina Neill

Katrina was the Senior Editor & Communications Manager for Lowepro.

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