Category Archives: Strobism

Whats in my camera bag

The inspiration for this blog post came to me one day when I went looking for a set of memory cards which had some images that I needed to upload to my computer. For the life of me, I couldn’t find them after looking through practically every pocket in my backpack.

The kit and caboodle

The kit and caboodle

I eventually found them in the bottom of my bag but only after I had taken practically everything out. That’s when I realised that I carry alot of gear. While it can seem like a bit of overkill to most people, I have found that this is the most flexible kit for the type of photography that I do. As the photo editor of a lifestyle magazine in Ho Chi Minh City, contract photographer for airbnb, and Global Assignments photographer for Getty, I have to be ready for anything. That’s not even including the random freelance gigs I pick up.  For example, my Friday involved four different property shoots, a restaurant review, an environmental portrait and a location for a photo essay commission for a magazine in Cambodia. Granted, this was a pretty busy day and there aren’t too many days where I bring the kit and caboodle out but it’s reassuring to myself and more importantly my clients that I can bring it to the table if need be.

So let’s go through the contents of my bag starting from left to right.

Here’s the left side:

The left side

The left side

This is the most flexible bit depending on how long my day can be. If it’s a long, multiple shoot day, then I carry my Macbook Pro, my Funny Power battery pack (yes, it is actually called this), a Logitech bluetooth mouse, a multitool, pens, moleskin notebook, Kindle, krama, an extra shirt, a carry case which has an assortment of cables and power adaptors and laptop charger in a carry case.

If it’s a quick shoot and I expect to be back at my house after a couple of hours, I will generally leave out the laptop and peripherals but this hardly ever happens.

Middle here:

The middle

The middle

This is the camera gear section. Stored in the Timbuk 2 Snoop Camera insert is a Canon 5D Mark III with 17-40 f/4 lens attached. Also stored is a Canon 24-70 f/2.8 Mark I and a Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens. All three are L lenses but as you can see, I like using gaffer tape and so I tend to gaff anything that can be eye-catching. So no red rings on these guys. Below the case is the fastest lens in my arsenal: a 20 year old Pentax 50mm f/2 lens with Canon EF adaptor. You can also find an extra camera battery (I should probably buy two more), 144GB’s of SD cards, 48GB’s of CF cards, a battery charger and a Benro travel tripod which I put gaffer tape on. You never know when you’ll need some gaff.

Lately, my 24-70 has taken a back seat to the 50. It’s super bright, sharp as a tack even at f/2 and is about 80% lighter. What’s not to love?

The right side is where I have my lighting kit.

DSCF2641_right

In the yellow bag you will find my Godox AD360 strobe light. It also carries the battery pack, power cord, charger, flash bulb, umbrella-style reflector, wireless receiver, Ft-16 wireless transmitter and Cells II-C high-speed sync transmitter. The two rectangular bricks below that are two Godox V850 speedlites with wireless receivers. Below that are a Rogue flash grid, 3 in 1 reflector (gold, silver, shoot through scrim), a Sto-fen diffuser and my Roscoe Sampler Gel pack which I grabbed from Samy’s about 12 years ago. Above the yellow bag is a 1.5 metre silver umbrella. The tripod doubles as a lightstand in a pinch.

And what stores all of this gear?

Built for war, used for photography

Built for war, used for photography

And it’s not even a real camera bag. Made by Tactical Backpacks, the Rush 24 Backpack is a monster piece of kit. I don’t know much about them other than they make quite a bit of military type gear. My go to bag for around a decade has been a Lowepro Vertex AW300. It’s got a huge inner compartment and has pockets for everything but sometimes it’s time for a change. So let’s get into the bag a bit.

The inside compartment

The inner compartment

As you can see from the photo above, the inner compartment is hollow and has three distinct compartments to store random things. The compartment is absolutely huge and this is where I put my camera equipment in the Timbuk2 insert along with the yellow insert that holds the Godox AD360. There is also a small pocket to hold your sunglasses that can be accessed via the top of the bag. I love this as I am constantly trying to figure out where to put my glasses inbetween shoots. One niggly thing about these compartments are the zippers on the top and bottom of each compartment. I’ve accidentally unzipped the bottom zip quite a few times while in a hurry and am thinking about gluing them shut so it doesn’t happen again.

The bottom front compartment

The bottom front compartment

While not as spacious as the inner compartment, this holds quite a bit of stuff. Pretty much everything on the left side of the bag goes into this pocket. The two pockets on the outer part of the compartment are a perfect fit for the two Godox V850’s.

The top front pockets

The top front pockets

These pockets aren’t that big but are perfect for small things that I need easy access to. The multitool, business cards, battery pack and earbuds are usually stuffed in here.

The laptop compartment

The laptop compartment

Lastly is the laptop compartment which is supposed to be a hydration pocket. Usually there is some padding for the laptop but not in this case. A thin plastic sheet is what keeps my 15″ Macbook Pro from touching my back. In all honesty, it isn’t uncomfortable but it is a very tight fit. So tight that I am contemplating moving to a 13″ for my next laptop purchase. You can also see the side pocket where I store my krama and extra shirt.

Well, that’s the super long winded description of what’s in my camera bag.

All suited up and ready to go

All suited up and ready to go

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Wowy’s World

Wowy tells me what he thinks of my photo ideas.

Wowy tells me what he thinks of my photo ideas.

Sometimes the stars align and things just come together perfectly. This usually doesn’t happen with shoots that involve multiple decision makers, security guards about and time constraints.

When we first approached the idea of a portrait shoot of Wowy for Asia Life Magazine HCMC, we were trying to find a new angle to shoot him. We decided on a rooftop shot with a fisheye lens that gave the appearance that the city was his to take. He looked a bit apprehensive at first as the sample images we showed him were of the crazy Russian kids who sneak into tall buildings to take crazy photos. But after speaking to his PR people, he thought it was a great idea.

After a week or so of emails, we nailed down the day and met at Red Bar which we made our base of sorts to store gear. We were going to have two locations but typically, things didn’t get moving on time and we had to settle for one. Walking to Bitexco, we saw a bunch of security that we hoped wouldn’t interfere. Luckily, with security in Vietnam, as long as you aren’t carrying a huge softbox or brolly, they generally leave you alone to your own devices. However, we thought it would be best to make it fast.

Once we picked our spot, I laid down flat on the sidewalk and instructed my VAL’s (Voice Instructed Lightstands) on where to stand. I used a couple of Godox V850’s for the shoot. Held by one of Wowy’s entourage, one V850 was attached with a bendy light mod that I picked up in Kuala Lumpur. Not as smooth as a softbox, it allowed me to get a nice spread of light to fill up Wowy. Since I was using the excellent Canon 8-15 f/4 Fisheye lens, I had to get him to crouch directly behind me. Wowy’s head of PR was holding the second V850 about 10 feet to my left. Zoomed to 105mm’s, she always had the flash pointed on Wowy’s head for a nice rim light. Both flashes were on HSS and a Cells II trigger was attached to my 5D Mark III.  After doing a couple of power adjustments with the FT-16 trigger, we were ready to go.

He is really good at doing his thing.

Wowy doing his thing.

As you can see, Wowy is a great subject.

We managed to fire around 20 frames before someone inside the tower told the security to shut us down. However, I think we managed to get the shots we needed. At least at this location.

Our next location would have been a rooftop at an apartment in District 5 but we were pressed for time. I wanted another location so we headed to the newly opened Nguyen Hue street. While we were walking there, I snapped off a few frames which came out pretty good considering I was constantly looking behind me to make sure I wasn’t running into anyone!

Waving to his adoring fans.

Waving to his adoring fans.

Originally a big four lane road, the municipality closed it for a few months and turned it into a pedestrian only area. I parked myself dead center in the street and again told Wowy to do his thing.

Jumping for joy.

Jumping for joy.

We spent about 10 minutes here and fired about 15 frames. After a review with Kendra, our awesome art director, we decided it was a wrap.

But not before Wowy grabbed my camera for a group shot.

It's a wrap!

It’s a wrap!

A few more photos from the session:

Wowy portrait for Asia Life

Wowy portrait for Asia Life

Wowy portrait for Asia Life

Wowy portrait for Asia Life

Wowy portrait for Asia Life

Wowy portrait for Asia Life

 

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