Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category
Lots of stuff in the pipe coming from PocketWizard. If you check out David Hobby’s blog, he’s got a hotlink setup to the PocketWizard blog. They’re showing the AC3 controller, which is a nifty radio controller about the size of a bug that gives you full wireless control of 3 zones of flash. Just pop this onto the hot shoe mini, instead of the flash, and you have the same controls you would if you had the flash on there. Very cool. They did an article on the blog called Last Staffer Standing which was fun to participate in. Ron Egatz, over at MAC group did a great job pulling it all together.
They’ve been featuring the above shot, which is a Pocketwizard driven (forgive me) solution, that is pre-FlexMini technology. I’m sitting behind Richie Kane as he drives Ladder 4 through Times Square. Three TTL flashes, with the camera firing off a PW trigger. The dependability of radio triggers, and now, the coming control of TTL radio is going to bust the door open on small flash wireless control. At a recent meeting, I told them many, many Nikon flash users are out there waiting, kinda like Iphone users waiting for Verizon. Working this week with newly updated units, and will have another blog up with results shortly. More tk…..
Always a challenge, right? Photogs–we’ve all got our bits and pieces, our favorite gadget, our go to, get out of jail free light or lens that saves our butt in the field. We accumulate all this stuff, and travel with it, and just keeping up with it sometimes seems to be half the battle.
If you know anything about the way we travel, it’s that we generally have a good chunk of gear. And with that gear comes an utter mess of cords, batteries, flashes, lenses, stands, etc.- if we don’t have a good organizational system intact. So it seems as though every few months, we’re coming up with new ideas, altering our packouts, and just trying to make traveling with a bunch of stuff as painless as possible.
Which leads to this…
We typically travel with two wallets of gels: color correcting and theatrical, and until recently, we had been using old leather business card wallets- which were great, but not exactly organized.
The issue was that the gels were all kinda mixed together, and to find say- a 1/4 cut CTO on the fly, wasn’t always as quick as we’d like. We had a couple of really nice Think Tank card wallets sitting around, and while Will Foster was working on a packout, he came up with the idea of ripping the middle seams out to fit gels. Will’s a local shooter who’s not only a good guy, he’s one of those folks who stare at a problem for a couple minutes and come up with a simple solution.
So out came the Exacto blades, and a little while later, we had a much more well-organized gel system.
May seem like a small thing- and it is- but with as much gear, and as little time as we often have to pull off a shoot, this is definitely a time saver in the field.
Dunno what Thinktank is going to think about us, uh, customizing one of their smaller pieces of gear, but they do make great stuff. We have traveled internationally a lot this past year, and have shifted to their wheelie bags for carry on gear. Much easier at the big international airports, where the gates always seem to be about four or five miles from the baggage belt. More on those tk……
Photographers. If somebody offered us a cool bag in lieu of a day rate, we’d probably take it. I can’t tell you how many times over the course of my career I’ve just about keeled over with the rapture at the sight and feel of some shoulder borne, web slung, wheelie driven mix of cordura and zippers. Gotta have it. Just gotta. Hence my garage is a bag graveyard, strewn with relics of cases gone by and zippers gone off the rails. Once mighty containers, with the double stitched linings and the thirteen secret zippered, waterproof compartments in the front flap alone, hang lifelessly, toting only dust and the occasional mouse turd. (Photo above by Will Foster.)
So, we’ve had a good tour of bag land, and have finally arrived at some conclusive (for us, anyway) evidence that bag science is finally delivering on the promise of a cure for the bagaholic shooter. We’ll be posting intermittently (did I have to say that, faithful readers who put up with my erratic blogging?) on bags we have experimented with and are fond of. While I stop short of saying we are in bag heaven, the mix of Kata, Thinktank, and Moose bags have really elevated the game.
Let’s start with the big guns, what we do our heaviest shipping with, the Kata line. We use their OC line, a mix of mostly 88′s and 97′s, with a couple 86′s mixed in. (Check out the website, the numbers correspond to different sizes.) I have to say that our experience across the board with these guys is pretty flawless. They are made from some type of ballistic material that can probably fend off an RPG, hence since traveling with these, I have had zero, zero damage to my stuff, despite the fact that there are certainly some airline bag handlers, disgruntled with lifting them, who have played bombadier with these puppies, dropping them out of the airplane to the tarmac without the benefit of mechanized conveyance.
The interiors, blessedly, are the color of a school bus. Makes sense. Every drop some tiny little biddy bastard screw thing, or plastic whozimawhatsis down into the hold of a standard black bag? You might as well have dropped it into a black hole. (In fact, you did.) The yellow brick road interiors of these bags simply makes sense for mostly black photo gear. They also smartly divide up the top flap into zippered compartments for the interior, and hollow spaces (2 of them) on the top of the exterior. These two pics are how we travel with speedlights. The whole nine yards fits into one bag….SB900s, SD9 battery packs, SC-29 cables, SU 800, Maha chargers, Flashpoint stuff, Lumiquest light shapers, Honl grids, Ray flash, gels, batteries, Hoodman loupes, instruction manuals, Wave tool, Swiss Army knives, gaffer tape, and spare batteries. Everything is numbered, and color coded with tape.
We throw this puppy into FedEx, or the hold of a plane. It survives admirably. The question mark is the wheels. They have hung in there, mostly, but I have busted a couple of sets over the last year or so. (They are independent of the case, thus replaceable.) But, as I hark back, I have busted the wheels on virtually every case I’ve ever owned. Ever smash a set of the built in wheels on a Pelican case? Not a happy day. The wheels turn into non-spinning lumps and the bag turns into the equivalent of an anvil. (Ever swung a heavy, hard, plastic type case, loaded with gear, out of the back of a Suburban, and before it hits the ground, the first thing it makes contact with is your shins? Oh, my. You feel like you just attached a set of jumper cables to your lower legs, the way you start hopping around.) The Kata’s are padded all around. And the zippers, the Achilles heel of most bags, have remained resolutely intact.
All in all, great bags, well thought out, and good protection for the gear. Next up, quite soon, bags for the smaller stuff. Thinktank, and how we’ve adapted them to our traveling ways, more Kata, and the Moose bag.
Heading north. Following the, uh, light:-) Actually, it’s great weather up there now in Iceland, and heading for my first visit to a country that has been on the bucket list for a long time. You can check out the specifics here.
It’ll be fun. I’m always jazzed by a new place, and will be pushing hard to find some crazy stuff to shoot. Another cool wrinkle–I’m on the beta team for the new Pocket Wizard Mini’s and Flexes for the Nikon CLS system. This is an interesting door to open, for sure. Line of sight issues can bedevil TTL shooters, and if we can push the envelope with TTL radio, well, that envelope just got a helluva lot larger.
So we make the great Northern trek. Drew and I have our sturdy skiff loaded, have said our prayers to Odin, donned horned helmets, buckled on broadswords, and, with following winds and fair seas, we should be pulling into Reykjavik in time for Friday night’s lecture.
If things don’t go well, and we are engulfed by the seas, I figure it’s okay, cause we got TTL radio. Instead of Mayday! Mayday! we’ll be signalling, “Minus Three! Minus Three!” I’m sure the Coast Guard will be intrigued enough to figure it out.
I’ve got a bunch of them, so figure the class will help me sort it out as well. I’ll be doing demos and see where this new signal takes us. As always, experimenting.
We’ve certainly come a long ways since Nikon introduced on board slave eyes back in the SB-26.
Man, does Donald have a face made for a D3X….
Shot at 1/4 at f8, D3X and the new Nikkor 50mm 1.4. Long time since I used a 50, and this thing is sharp, sharp. SB900 off to camera right, Tri-grip diffuser, 5 minute portrait session. Aperture priority at minus 2 EV, no comp dialed into the flash. The 900 has the dome diffuser off, and is zoomed to 200mm, which gives it a little punch and gets it under the brim of cowboy hat. Donald remains one of my favorite people. We were talking about women yesterday (What else is there to talk about, except photo gear, and then only for a couple of minutes. Then we go back to discussing women.) He and his honey spin on the dance floor every Friday night in downtown Santa Fe. I have a standing invite for dinner over at their place, and I’m gonna take him up on it this summer.
We were talking about how much our women mean to us, and how having one special woman in your life makes it all worth it. Though he did say, his eyes twinkling, “Joe, if the Lord ever invents anything better than women, I’ll take a dozen.”
Speaking of women, let’s talk women with cameras for a moment. (Now here’s a great discussion, right? Women and gear in the same sentence. Yikes! My wife works for Nikon and is a terrific shooter, and knows the gear and tech side of things as well as anybody. I always tell Annie I knew she was the right woman for me the first time I ever went into her refrigerator and the butter compartment had no butter but was filled with AA batteries. That’s the girl for me!)
Stacy Pearsall is a truly talented shooter who was military photographer of the year twice (first woman ever to do it) and is being featured now on Oprah. She is retired from active duty, and has taken over the directorship of the Charleston Center for Photography.
She is married to another great shooter, combat cameraman Andy Dunaway. Check out their work and their site. Between the two of them, they have, I think, about 5 or 6 Iraq tours, in addition to previous conflicts. As is common with military shooters, they are versatile, adaptable, and come back with coherent, story telling, beautiful imagery out of situations most of us wouldn’t even lift our heads up to look at. (If we did, we’d be looking for an exit.) Speaking of versatility, a few years ago Andy, went from combat camera to Washington DC for a stint as Rumsfeld’s photog, where he applied his skills tailing the former Defense Sec.
Annie and I are working on teaching together down at the Center this spring. It’ll be good to see them both. More tk….