Zany Cheap Stuff I Love to Have in My Studio (or in the car, or in the rolling case, etc.) Part 6.

Pelican organizational device. Much needed in my life.

These little waterproof cases are from Pelican. I use the one above to keep my Sennheiser wireless system safe and all together. The size is just right. I use another one that is the same size but a different color to keep all my radio triggers for studio flashes, etc. in one place. If everything has a dedicated box to live in it cues you to get your stuff back in the right container after every shoot. I need to get a couple more; one for camera batteries and one for all the small audio cables I seem to be collecting for microphones, mixers, etc.

These guys are sturdy and the clear lid is great for a quick check on what's inside. They even come with a carabiner so you can hook them to some part of your camera bag or roller case. They're less than $20 and also make a great box for the huge collection of sunglasses that seem to be building almost daily in my car....

Organization. That means I need a much bigger Pelican case so I can keep these little boxes inside.....
It never stops.

Zany Cheap Stuff I Love to Have in My Studio (or in the car, or in the rolling case, etc.) Part 5.

When I first jumped back into making videos I didn't think I'd get very serious about it so I didn't want to spend a lot of money on peripherals; like microphones and fancy tripods. I made the same mistake so many people do and instead of just buying one really adequate microphone I started down a path that began with less expensive units. My first new mic was the original Rode Videomic. It took a 9 volt battery, had pretty good, rubber band isolation and it really wasn't a stinky performer; especially if you used it as most are designed: within a couple feet of your actor or speaker. It was good but

Zany Cheap Stuff I Love to Have in My Studio (or in the car, or in the rolling case, etc.) Part 4.

A lot of us have really cool DSLRs and mirror-free cameras that have the potential to make great video files. The niggling things that seem to push people back to traditional camcorders and more expensive, dedicated video cameras are things like built-in neutral density filters and inputs that accept XLR connectors from professional microphones. 

Since most people (myself included) tend to be careful with their cash they make the presumption that the lack of XLR connectors is just an issue of cabling interfaces so they go off and buy cables that are XLR on the end that connects with the microphones and an unbalanced 3.5 mm mini-plug on the other. They use the cable as an adapter to get the microphone signal straight into camera and then discover that there is noise, that the gain on the camera needs to be turned way up and that nothing sounds the way they thought it would. At that point they dive into the complexity of using external audio recorders for their sound, shy away from microphones connected to their

Zany Cheap Stuff I Love to Have in My Studio (or in the car, or in the rolling case, etc.) Part 3.

This falls into one of those "What the Hell is This?!" categories.
It's a Boom Pole Holder. So, what the hell is that?
(The part closest to the camera is an Avenger grip head). 

Well, when you decide you are going to tumble down the rabbit hole and find out all about video, at some point you decide that for some stuff you like the way shotgun (super cardioid condenser) microphones sound better than the sound you get from your $600 set of Sennheiser wireless lavaliere microphones. You buy a good shotgun mic and determine that it needs to be about 18 inches from your subject's mouth. You research boom poles. These are poles with a microphone on one end and a sound recording crew member holding onto the other end. The goal is to aim the microphone at the talent's mouth while

Zany Cheap Stuff I Love to Have in My Studio (or in the car, or in the rolling case, etc.) Part 2.

I'm not sure what to call this thing but it's not too expensive (unless there is a Leica version...). 

This one is around $19 and it's a life saver for anyone who needs to put a microphone and a small light or mixer on to of their DSLR (or RX10iii) and still be able to look into the view finder. I bought it after a bout of extreme frustration with the way microphones have to sit on camera hot shoes. They always stick out the back, about two inches above the view finder. This means you end up

Zany Cheap Stuff I Love to Have in My Studio (or in the car, or in the rolling case, etc.) Part 1.

Leitz Table Top Tripod. Vintage. 

I am aware that there are lots and lots of table top tripods floating around in the photo-universe-inventory. I've played with a fair number of them. My favorite is the one up above. The head and the legs are two separate pieces. I don't think the basic design of the legs has changed in decades. I bought mine about 25 years ago and have found it to be indestructible and strangely friendly. 

When you loosen the wing nut on the bottom of the legs they can all be pulled around together (like the legs of a C-Stand) so you can pack the tripod flat. The head on this particular unit is not the one I got with the legs in my initial purchase. This head predates my more modern ball head by ten or twenty years. There is only one major difference between the two heads.

A portrait from Primary Packaging in NYC.

Sometimes I think photographers overthink photo assignments. I know I certainly do. I've been obsessing about packing photo gear lately and you'd think I am incapable of making even a halfway decent image without a half ton package of lighting and grip gear. Which always brings me back to photographs like this one.

I took this image of the company owner near the end of a long day shooting in his printing factory. He was ready to walk out the door when I decided the project I was working on would benefit by having him visually represented in it. We were traveling lite that day, shooting everything with a single camera, one of three lenses and one light.

The light was a small, Lowell Pro Light, which is a little, focusable, tungsten fixture with a four way barn door set on it. My favorite modifier at the time was a crusty, old, shoot-thru umbrella that had, at one time or another, been bright white but had mellowed into a soft, subtle yellow. I plugged it in pulled the assemblage toward the desk, eyeballing the relative exposure differences between the available light and the light on my subject from the hot light.

I asked his secretary to hold a piece of cardboard as a "gobo" to shield the bottom part of the light in order to pull some of the brightness off his hands, papers and shirt. Her body also blocked some of the light from my fixture that would have overlit the area behind my subject.

I leaned in and took a quick meter reading and then focused my 100mm Planar lens on the front of a weathered 500 series Hasselblad and pulled the dark slide. We shot through one 12 exposure roll of film and then unplugged and moved on. We spent maybe twenty minutes on the shot although nothing was particularly hurried.

We didn't overthink the shot. We didn't make the situation any more dramatic than it should have been. No army of assistants. No make up person. No executive entourage. Just a brief, "How is it going? Are you getting what you need?" from the owner and a quick, "Things are going well. But we need you too. Can you just stay behind the desk and work while I set up a light?" And done.

I was packing today to do a portrait and a brief interview tomorrow. I've got a rolling Tenba case full of LED panels, a case of microphones, mixers and audio recorders, a rolling stand case with five or six light stands, a tripod and some modifiers, and, of course, a camera bag filled to the brim ----- just in case. It's all too much. After seeing this image I have the strongest urge to stick an old 28-85mm lens on one body, grab one panel and one pop-up reflector and be done with it. Oh, and a microphone. And a stand for the microphone. And a mixer. And some headphones. And.........