How Compact Can Your Tripod Get?

It’s true. Every time I’m packing for a shoot, I think about the wasted space in between the legs of a tripod.

Fine, I have to get a life. Not such a big deal, right? Maybe you have a case, like the one that some other manufacturers give out. Or you purchased a “tripod” case to pack it into.

The folks at Peak Design, have a different idea. Redesign the the way the tripod legs fold up. No wasted space. Still rigid.

They have been on point on so many bags, and, quite honestly, have become my walk around camera bag

This tripod is now on Kickstarter, and if you’re in the market to save some dough, you have 3 days left to pledge., until July 18th. This is not a kickstarter that will go belly up. These folks are real, and they have raised almost 10 million dollars to finalize the project and get it to market. Now, i make no claims, nor guarantee anything you pledge. My lawyer makes sure I don’t. It’s kickstarter , not a store.

Have a look, and maybe we’ll all start packing tighter!

Light Em Up!! Photographing Fireworks Guide

(This is a previously published article, but the fireworks haven’t changed, so it should all still hold true.)

Living in A Powder Keg and Giving Off Sparks!

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Print audio on a photo??

OK, no sooner do I write about the SQ20 Insta, then the new LiPlay gets announced!

This one uses the smaller mini Instax film, which makes the camera a smaller unit.

It still will store the digital file in the camera itself, while also using a Micro SD, for more storage.

That audio part?

You can record sound onto a still image, and with a QR code that prints onto it, the viewer can play back the audio recorded when taking the photo. Up to a 10 sec recording

They have added some new overlays to the filters to take special advantage of this

Lot’s of features in this one, although I wish there was an all black version. Gonna have to get the white I think!

And you can use this to print photos from your phone via Bluetooth. Options, all about the options.

Once I get this in my hands, we’ll do a real world review.

I’ll be honest: the tech is amazing, but sometimes I just like the bigger image.

Here is a comparison chart of what is avail in the Instax line-up:

Oh you’ll pick one of these up. It could be a Goldilocks and the 3 Bears deal. Which size print is right for you? What kind of control are you after? Are you good with built in battery, or is a replaceable AA better for you?

All I know is I’m very happy that Fuji has taken up the instant torch.

Connect to Your Subject In An Instant!

Take only pictures, leave only footprints. And maybe an instant photo.

Chicken Man – Peru
©Damon Webster

When Polaroids ruled the earth, and we were much younger, an instant photo was the coin of the social realm. Yep, gather with your friends and family, and share a moment people could see AND hold immediately.

The Polaroid Land company has ceased to exist as we once knew it. Sure, there is a new one, but trust me, the results are not near what they once were.

So who has come to fill that instant grat void? Fujifilm!!

And they have done so in a big way. From the peel apart film that kept some of us using converted early 60’s polaroids, to the latest version I’ve currently been working with, the Square format SQ20, you will not be disappointed in the results. This is the one that turned me.

It comes in black and beige, although beige is never my choice in camera color

One of the early units I tried had some issue with over exposure with flash. Then you spent a sheet getting it right.

That is the beauty of the SQ20. With an LCD screen, you can see and adjust your exposure, filtration, flash, BEFORE you shoot, and get great exposures the first time. And here is a bonus: with a Micro SD on-board you also have a digital copy of the file. Small, yes, but you have it. The built-in memory does store 100 images, so you don’t need a micro SD to get going.

Before I get into some of the tech, I’d like to share with you how I feel it may be used.

In one part of my career, I’ve produced advertising work all over the world. While engaging the locals, I would invariably take some Kodachrome shots, then give them a polaroid to keep. Many times, I’d shoot them with their polaroid in hand. ( see image above, shot in Peru)

If you are a street photographer, this is a good way to give back to your subject. NO, not the ones you capture on the fly, ala Winogrand, but perhaps you engage with someone, and after asking to photograph them, you can leave them with a memory. More Humans of New York with some giveback.

Of course you can use one of the Instax printers, (packs small, plays big) to connect your mirrorless, changeable lens camera to a small printer on site, and give the shot that the camera captured. There is something still magical, I think, about an IRL print, in the hands. Not the same framing, but a real gift. And the way the print emerges from the camera is truly a cool sight.

The battery is inside, and you charge it by USB cable. The filters are cool, and there are new ones included that are not your standard insta filters. Like this one that isolates specific colors:

Plus a lot more. Honestly, I’m partial to the Sepia. The flash is fine, and as strong as they ever were. The LCD screen gives me all I need to know, and the buttons on the back help me navigate the menus with ease. One thing that was different was 2 shutter releases on the front. I guess for lefty’s, or righty’s? And it has a zoom!

Need a Selfie? OK, fine, it has a nice little mirror on the front to help.

It does shoot video, but no sound. Meh.

You can buy white border or black border film for this, Under a dollar a shot, so affordable. There are some who feel that digital component changes the vibe of the instant film of old.

Get over it. This thing rules.

It’s true, I have been an instant print fan for years. Finally, Fuji has restored my faith, and has made the SQ20 a staple in my walk-around camera bag.

As suspected, it’s great for parties, weddings, dances, events, Quinceaneras, Bar Mitzvahs, etc. Not private parties maybe, but you know what I mean. Although without an image in a cloud, privacy is assured.

How much? About $160 at Amazon

There is a new, much smaller one coming, if you want to keep the bulk down.

Fujifilm owns the instant photo market. thankfully.

ProLighting from Lowel

Many years ago, my Lowel Tote-A Lights were a go-to. Quartz lighting, compact, lightweight, and great color. And warm to the touch

Well, that was then. The new upgrade to LED has a some of the same greatness: Solid build, PERFECT color (5600º), and versatility

Barn doors top and bottom, let you further shape the light directionally. Add in an umbrella, and you have a solid single source beautiful portrait or interview light. Yep, add more for true shaping.

With ability to use horizontally, or vertically, thanks to a 1/4-20 thread on the mounting bar, it throws a power bank of light, which can be spread using the included diffuser.

It all comes with what you need in a well made zipped case,

And what you need is where I want to advise all potential users. It is not simply a plug and play operation. There are 2 parts that must be plugged together to light up this unit.

One is the control pack that connects direct to the light, and controls the on and off, plus a dimmer. A little bulky, but OK.

THEN you need to connect that pack to the power block that then plugs into an outlet. It does create a bit of a large total block. They knew this and designed some connective parts to hold both parts together, and a cold shoe to attach the whole package directly to the light.

Now, you get excellent light, and true color temp. What comes with that is weight. Another advantage is the ability to operate on DC and add an outboard battery. V-Mount for those who want that option.

I’m torn on this product: Wish the weight had been cut down, but the light quality is great. Bulky power sourcing, and the step dimming is a not as seamless as I’d like to see. Under 5LBs. A little heavy in comparison with what is currently in the market place.

Part of what I loved about the original lights, was light weight. The heat from quartz was not the best, and having to wait for a cool down before packing was a drag.

The price has just dropped at BH from $450 to $300, with a Watson V-Mount adaptor thrown in. You may want to consider it as a high quality single LED, just consider the bulk.