The 24-105. I usually shoot primes only, and put a lot of thought in any single picture. Having a cheap zoom with good IQ for vacations and casual shooting would be great.
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My tripod is the Manfrotto 055XPROB which folds down to 25.79" and weighs 5.29lbs. I have a RRS BH-55 LR head, which adds another 2.9" and 1.9lbs, for a total of 28.69" / 7.19lbs, so it's definitely not on the light side.
With a heavier rig, you really want to put the tripod in the center of the pack and have it tied with at least two straps. If it's on the side, it will really shift the pack and make it uncomfortable and without enough straps, it will wobble all over the place. As you can see in my post above, a big tripod on a small pack will work with two straps and a foot pocket. That's going to be tough with your pack as I don't see any pockets on the back or sides, but there are some D-rings for the lashing at least. You might try a avalanche shovel pouch if they make one for your pack. I've used one on my Gregory mountaineering pack in the past and it works quite well.
It very easy, buy Ligthroom. Shoot raw, import into ligthroom, do your adjustments.
For 90-95 % of your photos, its all you need.
- read on internet what Ligthroom can do.
There are various workflows using Lightroom and Photoshop. It gets complex if you have several people involved in the process, each with a different task.
Martin Evening has his, Scott Kelby has his, Victoria Brampton has hers, and lots of other book writers have theirs. Each explains the reasoning why they do it their way in their books.
Some publish their preferred method, but have no technical reason for doing things in a certain order except that it works for them.
Just search on workflow for Lightroom, or for Photoshop, or whatever editing software you use. If there is no explanation as to why they do it the way they do, and you need one, look elsewhere until you find someone who does.
To me, photography is an expression of point of view. I really like when everybody is allowed to have his own point of view, especially when it comes to beauty. As such, I do appreciate the fact that photography tools allow every single one of us to express ourself in our own way.
You choose your lens, body, shutter speed, light color, vantage point, ..., you name it, according to what you want to capture.
Post processing should not differ from that. It should give you the freedom to represent whatever you want to convey.
If all post processings were the same, how would you stand out from the crowd? How would you envy someone else's work? How would you admire the effort put on it? Wouldn't you get borred at yours if you do the same thing over and over again?
I see post processing as another tool on top of my shooting parameters in order for me to better express myself. It helps alot in learning how to shoot too.
To explain myself, see below pictures (Sorry for the quality, I am not a great retoucher).
The first one is what I have after ACR (I don't use Lightroom).
The second is my "standard" post (magenta).
What I saw during Zombie Walk was really a World War II mood but my camera couldn't give it to me. I had to modify my standard workflow to get there in post.
It pleases me that you are eager and mad about it. Was there a year or two ago and still searching for my "way". Some photogs simply don't want to know anything about post and some of snapshooters just want the magic solution (click and poof).
When I began, someone made a suggestion; choose one book that you like, focus on every single detail in it and don't jump all over the place, it will give you a nice head start; the scientific part you want to discover. Later study the internet and find your own style.
He suggested this one, but choose what suits you best.