Great to see you post again!
Weren't they the days when would schlepp gear like that around and think notthing of it? And just look at what a visual feast such effort delivers. As MIck says, it's all in the detail — through optics, materials, and knowing what to look for and how to put four lines around a slice of the world.
"Photography was not a bastard left by science on the doorstep of art, but a legitimate child of the Western pictorial tradition." —Robert Galassi