Tag Archives: strobist

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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Photos from past issues

Just wanted to put up some photos from past issues of Asia Life that didn’t manage to make the cut due to space constraints. I have also given some lighting setups to go with the images.
Fencing in Saigon

A side photo of the always fun Noelle Carr-Ellison who I met whilst at my former job at City Pass Guide. She was gracious enough to be my model for the occasion.

Fencing with Noelle

Fencing with Noelle

Lighting: Godox AC360 just behind me in a Paul Buff PLM with diffuser. Godox Ving 850 to the subject right in softbox, Godox Ving 850 to subject left in a softbox but raised higher up to her mask.

The AC360 was just pushed high enough to get Noelle barely lit. The light on her right is pushed a stop higher to give that nice rim light. The light on her left gives a bit of definition to her mask and also manages to touch the saber just a hair. Her face was brought up in post and everything was desaturated a bit to make the image pop.

Platinum Beer in Ho Chi Minh City

The second is of Michael, the man behind Platinum beer. I love shoots like this. Michael was a pleasure to work with and was very comfortable in front of the camera. That and the few beers we ::ahem:: tasted before the shoot made it even more fun!

Two shots, same lighting, different focal lengths.

Beer mustache

Beer mustache

A bit wide

A bit wide

Lighting: Godox AC360 just behind me in a Paul Buff PLM. Godox Ving 850 to the subject left bounced off a white wall, Godox Ving 850  behind subject on the keg in a grid.

I love how the PLM shapes the light and creates just a bit of a hot spot which I found I can kinda control by moving the flash in and out on the PLM. The light on his left just gives him a bit of definition which makes the subject pop.

Well, that’s about it for now. Hope you enjoyed the images and the small lighting notes as well!

Vinh

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How to trigger a camera using a Godox Cells II

Here’s a quick tutorial for remotely firing a DSLR’s shutter using the Godox Cells II transceiver and a Godox FT-16S Trigger.

First off, you will need these components:

  1. Camera with a remote shutter release port  – I am using a Canon 5D Mark II
  2. Speedlite flash – I am using a Godox V850
  3. 2 Godox Cells II transceivers
  4. 1 Godox FT-16S trigger
  5. 1 Godox FT-16S receiver

Set one of the Godox Cells II on the hotshoe of the camera for “Camera” and “RX”. Then you need to put the Godox FT-16S trigger on the hotshoe located on the Godox Cells II attached to the camera.

You will need to get the other Cells II to “Camera” and “TX”. This will be off camera and will be the trigger that will fire the camera.

As you can see from the picture below, it’s not the most attractive looking setup but it works. And in High Speed Sync!

Also, if you have another Godox FT-16S trigger, you can manually control power levels as well!

A bit inelegant but it works!

A bit inelegant but it works!

 

 

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The Inflatable Softbox

I went out today to buy some new Eneloops at a camera shop located close to the Central Market. I have bought various camera related gear at the shop over the past 2 years and am impressed with some of the KIRF items that they stock.
While checking out the owners White “Macbook Air”, she dropped the “Inflatable Softbox” in front of me.

“Only 2 dollar”

She also sells softboxes for $10 that fit directly on an attached speedlite but after trying it out in the shop, I just wasn’t impressed. But for $2 dollars?

Why not.

So I brought it home and did some tests to see if the inflatable softbox would be the next piece in the strobist light kit.

The deflated inflatable softbox

The deflated inflatable softbox

The deflated inflatable softbox

The deflated inflatable softbox

As you can see, it is pretty small and portable. I actually put it in the side pocket of my cargo shorts for the moto ride home!

Now inflated.

The inflatable softbox inflated

The inflatable softbox inflated

When inflated, it goes to about 8 inches long, 5 inches wide and about 7 inches deep. You can see the blowhole and the nylon drawstrings that keep the the softbox onto the speedlite.

So onto the pics!

I didn’t have my usual model around as she is at work so I had to use my cat Sam who loves to sleep on my product table.

First shot is just a Viv 283 bare bulbed.

Bare bulbed flash

Bare bulbed flash

Pretty harsh light.

Second shot is the Viv 283 with the inflatable softbox.

With the inflatable softbox

With the inflatable softbox

A bit softer but not too much. At least there is some serious light fall off at the corner.

Third shot was with a cheap Chinese diffuser bought from you know where.

Diffuser

Diffuser

Definitely a bit softer with more even lighting. Also, the diffuser takes the exposure down a stop.

Last shot was with the cheap Chinese diffuser and the inflatable softbox on top of it.

Diffuser with Inflatable Softbox

Diffuser with Inflatable Softbox

The fall off at the corner isn’t that bad and the light is a bit softer but still not anything like a proper softbox.

Question is whether I would ever use it?

Probably not as the light that it produces is still a bit harsh for my needs but who knows? It doesn’t take up too much space in the camera bag and used in combination with the diffuser, can be another useful tool in the kit.

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Strobist session

Had a little strobist session with Rick Valenzuela from the Phnom Penh Post in the evening. This might turn into a regular event as its nice to throw ideas back and forth on lighting.
First up is Rick. Lighting was a gridded Viv 283 (1/2 power) at Rick’s 10:00, a gobo’ed Viv 285 (1/16 power) at Rick’s 2:30 and another Viv 283 (1/2 power) on Rick’s hands for an interesting effect. Looking back a day after, I should have thrown another flash just above Rick just to give his hair a bit more oomph. Well, there is always next time.

Rick and a light globe

Rick and a light globe

Second is a portrait shot with Brian Calvert who works at VOA. Lighting is simple with a gridded Viv 283 (1/2 power) at Brian 2:00 and a Viv 285 (1/8 power) at his 7:00.

Brian profile

Brian profile

Lastly is Brooke who also works at the Phnom Penh Post as a journalist. Before that, she worked as a model in London and Milan. I had the pleasure of working with her on a previous shoot with the Post on a Hunter S Thompsonesque theme. Lighting is another three flash combo with a gobo’ed Viv 285 (1/4 power) at Brooke’s 11:00, a gridded Viv 283 (1/2 power aimed at her face) and a monster Sunpack 622 Super (1/4 power) that can light a whole city block directly at Brooke’s 6:00.
Also, to Brookes immediate left and right are a couple of helpers using a broken down Anchor box as fans to flip up her hair.

Brooke and her hair

Brooke and her hair

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