Monday, July 21, 2008

A great little backpack

I just took a trip to Bali, and decided that I needed a new backpack before I left. This was the result of two things. First, I wanted to keep my equipment to a minimum so I could be mobile and flexible. The second was that I had had experiences on past trips to India and Nepal where I felt slowed down by having to remove a pack from my back, put it on the ground, and then get a different lens to work with. Often, this meant I would miss a shot of a situation that was fleeting.

So I went to my local camera store, and started looking for a hybrid packpack, one that I could access without removing it from my body, but still had enough capacity to do the job. It needed to be light, since I would be out walking all day for two weeks, have good weather protection because of the heavy rains in Bali, and it had to have a small profile so I could navigate in tight environments.

I ended up buying the Lowe Orion AW, which is a convertible beltpack/backpack. The way it works is that there are two separate components, which attach to each other. One is a traditional beltpack, deep enough to handle a 70-200 lens, among others. The second part is a small backpack, which clips into the top side edges of the beltpack. Once that is done, you basically have a two compartment backpack.

The concept works quite well. I was able to put a speedlight, my rainjacket, a couple of energy bars and a headlamp in the backpack component, and put two of my17-40, 24-70 and 70-200 lenses in the beltpack. That way, I could walk around with one of the lenses attached to the camera in my hand at all times, and have the weight of everything carried by both my shoulders and hips. But in just a few seconds, I could unclip the backpack from the beltpack, rotate the beltpack around to the front of my body, and change lenses on the fly. It was a great solution for shooting on the move through temples, markets, and street scenes.

A side benefit was that if I did not want to carry equipment to dinner, I could leave the beltpack in my hotel room, and just take the backpack with my personal items.

We all look for different things when choosing how to carry our gear, and even that can change based on specific situations. In fact, I own five different backpacks to handle the range of work I do. But for this kind of working environment, I can highly recommend the Lowe Orion AW.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

MacGurus Image Storage Solutions

One of the most important aspects of shooting digitally is making sure you have a good storage solution for your images. In the old days, of course, we just had to have a file cabinet, in a cool dry spot, with archival sleeves to put our negative and transparencies into.

Now, with digital files, it's imperative to have a good method for storage, or you could lose the images forever should a hard drive crash. There are lots of options, like having two hard drives, one being a clone of the other, and just making sure you back up often from the primary to the clone. But if you have a large number of images, the issues and options increase.

My solution was to work with a company called MacGurus. I do not have any affiliation with them other than being a satisfied customer. If you go their website,, you can see a great article called "Building a Photo Database." It's a valuable, well written piece. And the nice part is that these guys really believe in customer service. I'm not talking about lip service. I had a problem a couple of days ago, and they were tenacious in helping me resolve it. Even after we figured out that the problem wasn't even with their equipment. That's why I am recommending them so highly.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Portable Flash drives

It's a good idea to have a flash drive to move files easily from one computer to another, and they're a great way to have an additional back up in a tiny package. Corsair makes the Flash Voyager series in varying capacities up to 32GB in a standard, and GT version that is built for speed. They also make the Survivor series that are known for their durability.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Lensbaby Camera Lenses

If you are looking for a different feel to your images, you might consider the Lensbaby camera lenses, Lensbaby 2 and Lensbaby 3. They mount on your DSLR, and create a rich and moody look to your images.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Magnifiying Loupes

Although LCD screens on the back of DSLR's are getting bigger, and it is possible to zoom in on portions of the image, it's nice to see the whole image enlarged rather than just a section. That's where a magnifying loupe is invaluable. There are quite a few out there, but one that I like is the Hoodman Professional Screen Loupe. It has a nice rubber bumper on the front that keeps the loupe from scratching the LCD.

Thursday, October 4, 2007