the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

Posts tagged “equipment

What’s in your Wallet, oh I mean Camera Bag?

Calm Harbor

Image of Gig Harbor taken last week while carrying my standard equipment kit (sans tripod)

“What’s in your wallet?” So goes the tagline from a Capital One credit card commercial that most of you (at least in the United States) probably know well. With that tagline, Capital One would have you believe that their credit card is better than others and should be the one in you wallet.

For photographers, the comparable question is “what type of camera do you use?” or “what gear do you carry in you camera bag?” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked these questions, I could buy a new camera.

I believe good photography has more to do with the gray matter between your ears than your camera equipment. However, that said, it is true you cannot do photography without equipment. When two photographers meet for the first time, the inevitable question always arises: “What camera do you shoot with?” My question to you is, does it really matter?

I think one reason this question gets asked is that the two photographers in question are trying to find common ground as they create a social relationship. Personally, I don’t take any comment seriously that claims one camera is better than any other, it is just that some cameras are better at creating certain types of images than other cameras. For example, my DSLR beats my Android phone without question at shooting landscapes, but the phone does a better job at spontaneous photos among friends (not that the DSLR wouldn’t do a fine job in that instance, but by the time I dig it out of the bag, put on the correct lens, and get the exposure set correctly, the moment of spontaneity¬† will be gone).

There seems to be a particularly big “conversation” about Nikon vs Canon among many photographers. There are loyalists on both sides, and while often good-natured, sometime the conversations seem more like battles. Personally I shoot with Canon equipment, but this is not because I think Canon equipment is better. The only reason I shoot with Canon equipment is that when I switched from film to digital, Canon had a newer camera model than Nikon. If I made the switch a few months later, I could well be shooting with Nikon equipment today. (My film camera is an Olympus OM4T. So, if at the time of my switching to digital, Olympus had made a digital camera with a full-frame or APS sensor instead of a 4/3s sensor, which uses a different lens mount so with their camera I couldn’t use my existing film lenses, I’d be shooting with Olympus equipment.)

So, even with my mini-rant above about such questions, inquiring minds want to know what’s in my camera bag. Therefore, I present what is in my camera bag (or should I say bags, as I have more than one and carry different items based on the type of outing).

Standard (or default) equipment:

  • Canon 6D camera with Canon battery grip and Acratech quick release plate
  • Canon EF 17-40mm 1:4 L USM zoom lens
  • Canon EF 24-70mm 1:2.8 L zoom lens
  • Canon EF 70-200mm 1:2.8 L IS USM zoom lens with Acratech quick release plate
  • Canon EF 100mm 1:2.8 USM macro lens
  • Canon EF 1.4x II extender
  • Lowepro Vertex 100AW camera bag
  • set of three Kenko extension tubes
  • Vello wireless Shutterboss
  • Canon RS-80N3 remote switch
  • Canon 550EX Speedlight with Yongnuo compact battery pack SF-18
  • Yongnuo off-camera shoe cord OC-E3
  • ThinkTank Photo Pixel Pocket Rocket (digital card holder) with 4 to 6 SDHC cards (8, 16, or 32 mb, various brands)
  • 2 spare Canon batteries
  • lint-free cleaning cloth
  • Lenspen lens cleaning pen
  • allen wrench (for removing quick release plates)
  • hot-shoe double bubble level
  • set of 15 colored filters for use on the flash
  • 2 B+W 77mm circular polarizing filters (one is dented and very hard to rotate)
  • B+W 77mm 110 ND 3.0-10BL 1000x filter (10 stop neutral-density filter)
  • B+W 77mm 092 IR 20-40x (infrared filter)
  • Tiffen(?) 2-stop, soft-gradient, split neutral-density filter
  • six AAA batteries
  • Op/Tech Rainsleeve
  • user manuals for the 6D, the 550EX and the Shutterboss
  • spare contact lens case
  • pen
  • business cards
  • Manfrotto 190 carbon fiber 4-section tripod with an Acratech Ultimate Ballhead (I often carry the tripod along, but not always)

Extra equipment (in addition to the standard) for event-shooting

  • Canon 50D with Canon battery grip
  • a second Canon 550EX speedlight with battery pack
  • Demb Flip-it (variable angle flash reflector)
  • Demb flash bracket
  • Demn flash diffuser
  • Lowepro Nova 180AW camera bag

Minimal kit (when I don’t want to carry a lot of stuff)

  • Canon 6D camera with (optional) Canon battery grip
  • Canon EF 24-70mm 1:2.8 L zoom lens
  • (optional) Canon EF 70-200mm 1:2.8 L IS USM zoom lens
  • a small Lowepro bag (either the Nova 180 or a yet smaller one that I’m not sure of the model number)
  • lint-free cleaning cloth
  • Lenspen lens cleaning pen
  • a couple spare SDHC cards

Optional equipment that I sometime carry

  • Photoflex MultiDisc 5 in 1 42-inch reflector
  • Photoflex MultiDisc 5 in 1 22-inch reflector
  • Wimberley plamp
  • Visual Echos Flash X-tender
  • Thinktank Photo belt, harness and modular bag system
  • Bogen 3021 tripod with Bogen ballhead

So, what is in your camera bag?


Photo Booth Setup

photobooth sampleFor several years now, Tanya has insisted that I get set up to do a photo booth. This year, I finally said yes – of course, that was before I knew what was involved. Now, hundreds of dollars and much time later, I have photo booth capabilities. Tanya is the chaplain/spiritual counselor at the local GLBTQ youth center, and specifically she wanted the photo booth for activities related to the youth center. So, the two previous Saturdays, at events related to Tacoma Pride week, I’ve had the booth set up and it worked great. The sample shown here is of Tanya and her friend Diane.

It is fun to watch people in one of these booths. Some people really act like crazy, and others stand rigidly at attention. Most people have fun with it, and really like seeing their photos print out about one minute after having them taken.

I have the equipment set to take four shots five seconds apart and then print them out on a half sheet of letter-sized photo paper (5.5 x 8.5 inches, 14 x 21.6 cm). One of the hardest parts of finding equipment for the booth was finding a battery-powered printer that can print on sheets that size. Most portable printers only print on 4 x 6 inch (10.2 x 15.2 cm) paper. The answer was the Canon Pixma iP100, which can print on letter-sized paper. I’ve very happy with the quality of prints from the iP100. My complete equipment list is as follows:

  • Canon 50D with battery grip and two spare batteries
  • 10-22 mm lens
  • tripod
  • Canon 550EX speedlight with 8-battery pack (and spare batteries or spare speedlight)
  • Interfit Strobies 24×24-inch Softbox
  • light stand
  • laptop computer with extra battery
  • wireless mouse
  • DSL Remote Pro software (by Breeze Systems)
  • Canon Pixam iP100 printer with optional battery (and spare)
  • white background
  • USB cords to connect camera and printer to laptop
  • table
  • printer paper and spare ink

This equipment can be set up in a relatively small space, like a 10×10-foot street booth (like I did on July 14th) or in the corner of a room (as I did on July 21st). People step in front of the background and see themselves on the laptop screen. They press the mouse button, and the laptop shows a count down until the photo is taken. It shows the resultant image, than starts another count down. After four shots have been taken, the software resizes the images, places them into a single file, and send the file to the printer. The software allows for much customization, including number of shots taken, time between shots, size of prints, customized footer, etc.

My largest concern prior to actually setting up the booth was for the laptop and printer batteries to be drained. However, I’ve found that the camera batteries are the first to go. It’s as if the camera is constantly on live-view mode (though there is no view on the camera’s screen, only on the laptop), which is very power consumptive.

If you are interested in any hints or advice on setting up a photo booth, send me an email and I’ll gladly help.