Packing List for Firefall in Yosemite

Here’s a suggested packing list for Firefall in Yosemite. It’s winter time and you should expect below freezing temperatures and lots of snow on the ground. A lot of the paths in the park will be cleared, but lots will also have hard pack on them we’ll need to walk over. That said, the trails are pretty flat and typically run alongside or on a paved road)

Traveling and Commuting

  • Plane Tickets
  • Driver’s License or Passport
  • Credit Card / Cash
  • Medications / Prescriptions
  • Toiletries
  • *Mask and Digital copy of COVID Vaccination Record (I don’t believe these are required anywhere we’ll be visiting, but bring them if you prefer)

Clothes for 4-5 days (Think layers, there could be a range of temps and we’ll be actively walking)

  • Sturdy, water resistant hiking boots
  • Thermal underlayer (top and bottom)
  • Hiking pants (bring extra in case they get wet)
  • Hiking shirts, long and short sleeve (bring extra in case they get wet)
  • Fleece or Sweater
  • Warm socks (ideally quick dry, bring extra in case they get wet)
  • Winter Jacket (ideally wind / water resistant in case it rains)
  • Rain pants
  • Winter Hat
  • Winter Gloves (consider bringing both lightweight and heavy)
  • Scarf / Neck Gaiter
  • Underwear
  • Comfortable clothes for the hotel / restaurants
  • Gaiters (optional)

Photography Gear

  • Phone
  • Camera body
  • Camera lens
    • You’ll want a lens or lenses that fall in or near the range of 20mm-100mm
    • Bring your fastest lens (low f-stop) for astrophotography
    • If you’ve got 200mm+ you can bring it to punch into the falls if you want to.)
  • Extra camera batteries
  • 16GB SD Card (ideally, bring multiple cards)
  • Camera and Phone battery chargers
  • Tripod
  • Plastic grocery or small trash bag
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Lens cleaner
  • Remote shutter (optional, but a good idea)
  • Photo storage (optional, but a good idea)
  • ND or polarizing filter (optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)

Other Gear

  • Camera bag or backpack
  • Water Bottles
  • Headlamp (ideally one with a red light)
  • Sunglasses
  • Chapstick
  • Sunscreen
  • Tissues / Wet wipes
  • Trekking poles (optional)

Getting Started With Your First DSLR Camera

There’s loads of options for your first DSLR. It’s also tough to gauge what you’ll really use to get the results you want. Here’s some help.

A lot of people obsess over camera gear, and it’s easy to spend lots of money very quickly. But, it’s very important to remember:

You can take a powerful picture with anything.

Just go look at photos from World War 1. The phone you carry in your pocket is light years ahead of the gear they used at the time. 

That said, if you want to get a DSLR camera, it does give you a few advantages:

  • More control over the types of shots you can get
  • More options for editing your photo after you take it
  • The ability to do things your phone can’t, like zoom, shoot in darkness, long exposures, etc.)

How much should you plan on spending?

If you stick with a kit lens, you’re probably looking at about $700-800. Or you can buy used gear and get it down a few hundred dollars. If you want to upgrade the lens that comes with the camera, you’re looking at the 2-3K neighborhood.

Here’s the basic, must have gear to get, in my opinion:

Camera Body:

This is the base you’ll build everything else on. You attach lenses and accessories to it, mount it on a tripod, and change most of your settings here. However, it’s not as important as the lens you attach to it.

Reco: Canon t8i or Nikon d3500 

Both are great all around cameras, have very good battery life, and aren’t too much of a pain to deal with and carry around. 

Camera Lens:

Usually when you buy a camera body, it comes with a kit lens. If you’re on a budget, that’s totally fine for learning and getting started. Especially if you’ve never shot with a DSLR, you’ll notice a big bump in quality. 

However, if you’re thinking about buying another lens or want to start with something a little bit nicer, upgrading from the kit lens should be your first move. 

If the price makes you balk, consider renting from a site like You can get professional quality gear at a fraction of the cost. This is a good way to go if you have a vacation or a specific time you want to shoot. Get the lens for when you need it, send it back when you don’t.


Stick with your kit lens

Upgrade: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens

Upgrade: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR


  • Your camera will come with a battery. Get an extra one. At least. If you forget to charge it or it runs out, you’ll be glad you had it.
  • Photo storage: Get at least two SD cards. Same logic as the battery, if one is full or fails, you’ll want a backup. You should also be transferring photos from your cards to a computer or hard drive as soon as you can once you’re done shooting. SanDisk 64GB Extreme SDXC
  • Camera Bag – As you start to accumulate things, get a bag you can carry around your gear in, ideally one that’s designed for your camera and is only as big as you need. Unless you want to carry more than one, consider making it your main backpack and leave room for your water and snacks.
  • Lens cleaner – Every camera accessory and body and lens you buy, ever, will come with a microfiber cloth for cleaning. You’ll have tons of them. But, you should get lens cleaner to keep things smudge free.
  • Extra lens caps – make sure you get the right size. But have extras, because you will lose them.

Not necessary, but good to have:

  • Tripod – This will help you keep all your photos sharp, get photos of people and yourself, and open up long exposure possibilities like astrophotography and waterfalls.
  • Remote shutter – This also helps make your photos sharper, but will also enable you to shoot more pictures with yourself in them

Editing Software

  • Adobe Lightroom – This is the industry standard, I believe it costs about 10 bucks per month for the full desktop version. It’s well worth it to have while you are actively editing photos. You can rescue a bad photo and take your good photos to great.
  • Photoshop Express – It’s free but you’ll be more limited in the editing you can do
  • Adobe Lightroom Mobile (Android, Apple) – Also free, but you’ll only be able to edit on your phone. It offers quite a few robust tools

Cloralen: Bringing bleach innovation to the US on social media

Alen’s signature bleach brand, Cloralen, was a hit in Mexico, but had no presence in the US. The social strategy generated awareness for their new, innovative product in a category that was stale and disengaged.

Project Objective
Launch an engaged community of fans and drive awareness of CLORALEN in the general market.

Help consumers take back control of how they clean by making them feel like they are the boss of their home when they clean with Cloralen Splashless Bleach.

The Work
We leveraged MRI data and learnings from our existing social media presence to develop a social persona for our target. Then we evaluated our competitors in the social space to learn what was effective, and what kind of tone the competitive set was using.

Cloralen’s Splashless Bleach product was an innovation in a category that had been stagnant for years. Our product hook was that our bleach didn’t splash, creating lots of opportunities to show differentiation. We leaned into that and identified white space for our brand position. We developed a distinct tone of voice and attributes that would guide how we talked and behaved on social media.

Using that position and our personality, we developed content pillars that laddered back to the value proposition – splashless bleach helps you take back control of cleaning your home. We focused heavily on demonstrating the product benefit in fun and innovative ways, and also meme inspired content related to cleaning and bleach.

We created a unique approach for each channel we launched in based on how our target audience behaved in each channel. The result was a response that was overwhelmingly positive and rapidly saw fans sharing memes with other fans and advocating for the brand.


  • Audience Research
  • Competitive Audit
  • Social Strategy
  • Editorial Calendar
  • Content Playbook

Bel Brands: Social strategy with personality

Shifting the focus of Mini-Babybel, Boursin, and The Laughing Cow cheese brands from acquiring fans to driving engagement led to an increase in brand affinity and connections with higher quality fans.

Project Objective
Develop a new social strategy for all the brands that gives them a unique voice and helps them reach more fans.

Shift to a content approach that inspires participation by developing a distinct personality and value proposition for each brand.

The Work
Our overall process was similar for each brand. We leveraged MRI data and learnings from our existing social media presence to develop social personas for our targets. Then we evaluated our competitors in the social space to learn what was effective and what kind of tone the competitive set was using.

We worked with the media team to recommend the client shift their brief from fan acquisition to engagement based on how social media platforms were evolving in 2015-2016.

With alignment on this new strategy, we developed content pillars for each brand that laddered up to each brand’s unique purpose and value proposition. For The Laughing Cow, it was helping fans savor more sensorial moments. For Boursin, it was taking entertaining to the next level. For Mini-Babybel, it was injecting a little more fun into snack time.

Each content framework included content that was product focused and demonstrated our value to consumers, as well as content that encouraged consumers to talk and play with the brand. Based on our personas, we created different content executions that were targeted to each of our segment’s interests and behaviors on social media.


  • Audience Research
  • Competitive Audit
  • Social Strategy
  • Editorial Calendar
  • Content Development

AT&T: Connected content experience for all customers

A unified content strategy across all of AT&T helped them consistently create content that solves people problems, streamlined daily operations, reduced cost, and optimized the use of technology.

Project Objective
Create a flexible design system that allows content to be developed by different teams that is on strategy, on brand, and appears as a seamless, delightful experience to AT&T customers.

Create a repeatable process for content creation, make standardized templates for atomized content across all digital channels, and support it with accountable individuals to manage a content playbook the whole organization can follow.

The Work
A discovery exercise that involved content audits and interviewing stakeholders helped reveal the unique challenges AT&T was facing, along with its strengths. The consumer experience was mapped out to identify different places AT&T customers engaged with content.

We developed a detailed playbook for AT&T to utilize in order to standardize the creation of content. It included guidance, best practices and standards around:

  • Auditing existing content
  • Managing digital assets
  • Documented process
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Editorial guidelines
  • Target audience and segmentation
  • Strategic approach
  • Personalization guidelines
  • Internal deliverable templates for the content creation process
  • Publishing and distributing content
  • Measurement and optimization
  • Governance

To roll this new approach out to the organization, a collaborative workshop was planned and designed in order to share thinking with key stakeholders while helping them feel ownership and accountability with the new process.


  • Stakeholder Interviews
  • Content Audit
  • Unified Content Strategy
  • Content Playbook
  • Client Workshop

Allstate: Transforming how knowledge is managed

A major operational shift in how Allstate manages knowledge for its internal stakeholders and agents affected tens of thousands of documents, over a dozen departments, and set the stage for a new center of excellence in the organization.

Project Objective
Develop a new operating model to bring together the decentralized knowledge in the organization.

Implement a hybrid operating model that lets decentralized experts create their own content to a common set of standards, monitored by a center of excellence, and housed in a centralized content management system.

The Work
A thorough exploratory was performed, interviewing stakeholders and reviewing examples of knowledge documents over the course of several weeks. Given Allstate’s unique culture, constraints, and objectives, we aligned to a hybrid model that leveraged key aspects of decentralization and centralization.

We developed a detailed plan for migrating knowledge from several legacy systems into a standardized, single source of truth. A new taxonomy was created for this system which would house tens of thousands of documents at any given moment.  A repeatable migration method would guide decisions about how to migrate, update, and archive in compliance with stringent insurance requirements.

Once the content was migrated, a governance system to manage the knowledge was needed. In-depth workflows were created for each type of content, showing each step of the process for multiple types of content. Decision trees and approvals were mapped out from the initial request for content updates to the moment it was published in the system.

To manage the massive migration and management effort, Allstate’s current org chart and staffing was evaluated. We identified the necessary roles and responsibilities, the effort required, and mapped that to actual personnel within Allstate. A proposal to reorganize staff, shift responsibilities, and tap into temporary resources for the surge needed during migration was outlined.

A two year roadmap and change management plan was created in collaboration with Allstate in order to set this massive project and cultural shift up for success. An initial communication plan and key checkpoints were established in order to ensure new learnings and challenges were quickly incorporated or addressed as the plan progressed.


  • Stakeholder Interviews
  • Content Audit
  • Governance Strategy
  • Content Architecture
  • Process Design
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Change Management Plan

Chicago Booth School of Business: Empowering students to use resources

After reorganizing the wealth of student resources on Chicago Booth Career Services, student satisfaction and engagement with tools and content increased.

Project Objective
Develop a new taxonomy for the Chicago Booth Career Services intranet.

Identify categories and nomenclature that allow students to accomplish key tasks.

The Work
The first project phase involved discovery – auditing the content to reveal over fifty potential topics and stakeholder interviews to understand content constraints, challenges, goals, and the most common tasks students seek to accomplish.

Next, we performed a card sorting exercise to brainstorm different approaches to reorganizing the content in a meaningful way for students. Navigation labels were created to help gain initial alignment on nomenclature.

These cards were reviewed with a focus group in a clickable document that prompted actual students to attempt to accomplish a task using only the category and topic names as a guide.

After learning what resonated and what didn’t, we updated our nomenclature and organization. This final taxonomy was implemented on the intranet within the existing design templates and website. Some content rewrites were kicked off as there were several opportunities for content consolidation identified.


  • Stakeholder Interviews
  • Card Sort
  • Taxonomy & Nomenclature Matrix
  • Focus Group Testing

US Cellular: Helping rural customers get the most out of mobile

People who visit US Cellular’s eCommerce site after visiting their content marketing hub visit 4x as many pages and spend over 5x as many minutes shopping.

Project Objective
Consistently create content that drives readership and engagement among US Cellular’s priority audience segments.

Provide the edge our segment needs to be in-the-know and maximize their mobile usage, while overcoming category pain points.

The Work
Using segmentation research and stakeholder interviews, we honed in on the content marketing sweet spot – where what customers seek and US Cellular’s unique offering intersect. With a new brand position focused on fairness, and a mission to bring technology to typically overlooked areas, we helped US Cellular carve out space in the minds of their consumers.

Our new strategy focused on four content types:

  • Getting the most out of mobile
  • How US Cellular fights for fairness
  • Examples of how the company’s technology impacts people
  • Future forward looks at new innovations right around the corner.

Every quarter, we generated topic ideas. We also looked for opportunities to plan for unplanned content based on what we knew about industry launches, category trends, search data, and company initiatives. Each article included a brief that helped creatives focus on the unique hook, what the main consumer takeaway should be, and how we could organically tie it back to a US Cellular product or offering.

Some examples of actual content pieces included long-form articles about how people with disabilities can use tech to overcome challenges, video about how VR has more applications than just gaming, and infographics about how mobile tech has evolved over the years.



  • Editorial Calendar
  • Content Strategy

The Money Source: Marrying company culture and mortgage industry disruption

A re-imagined set of tools and resources for the modern mortgage shopper from a company with an industry disrupting model and best-in-class customer service.

Project Objective
Design an end-to-end experience for home buyers that brings The Money Source’s people focused approach together with innovative technology.

Create a holistic personalized experience that leverages technology to make things simple and people to make it delightful.

The Work
The Money Source is a unique lender in that it has services and products the help people find, finance, and protect their home. The current site had only the most basic information, and almost no tools to help consumers.

We started by digging deep into the mindset of the TMS customer – frustrated with a confusing, complicated, and daunting prospect of buying a home. We developed detailed personas and user journeys that covered the entire process, from the initial trigger all the way to the experience of living in it.

Using these artifacts, we brainstormed tools, content, technology solutions, and customer service touch points. Each would address frustrating pain points and needs with the customer’s mindset in mind. These were prioritized and evaluated using a matrix that aligned the potential impact, the effort required, and what the effect on TMS business objectives would be.

From there we developed a content strategy, mapped out a feature set that established the roadmap for the next two years, and developed a site map that would become the aspirational future state of the new experiential website. 


  • Communications Audit
  • Personas
  • Consumer Journey
  • Content Strategy
  • Site Map
  • Future Roadmap

Blue Cross Blue Shield Tennessee: Streamlining the online health insurance shopping process

A unified site experience focused on the health insurance shopper journey led to less shopper frustration and increased enrollment.

Project Objective
Audit and evaluate content across over five different websites and design a simplified shopping experience for members, healthcare professionals, and employers.

Utilize user research and stakeholder interviews to identify must-have content and reduce the number of pages by over 80%.

The Work
Our initial content audit uncovered an inconsistent shopping experience across the main BCBST website, Medicare / Medicaid websites, and a sprawling providers website. We methodically captured meta data like content topic and taxonomy, and evaluated each page for audience relevance, page organization, how well it delivered on user and business objectives, if the page was redundant, outdated, etc.

With this information, we identified patterns and developed a strategy that defined what content would be critical for a shopper on BCBST’s website. Our content pillars were health care 101, the BCBST difference, plan information, and high volume help topics. With that in mind, we identified key pages on the current site that met those needs most effectively.

Using our shopper journey and consumer insights, we also identified what gaps existed in the proposed content. Pages not marked for migration to the unified site were mined as source material to help us tell a complete story more efficiently. Any page without useful information was earmarked for removal.

We developed a proposed site inventory and site map that brought over 500 pages on five different sites together into a single site experience with under a 100 pages. Each page was mapped to a proposed design template. Content hierarchies were built for each template to inform wireframes, prototypes, and eventually final designs.



  • Content Audit
  • Content Strategy
  • Site Map
  • Content Inventory
  • Content Hierarchy