Friday, 18 June 2010

These are a few of my favourite things...

No this entry isn't going to be  about that song from "the Sound of Music"

Rather, I'm going to list some of the items that always have a place in my camera bag.

Let's start with the bag itself. Mine is a Billingham Classic 550. I bought it in the mid eighties when I was doing freelance press photography in London. I noticed that just about every other photographer I came across was using one. I stumped up (I think) £107 and bought one from Jessops in Tottenham Court Road in London. It's a heavy beast, even when it's empty!

Billingham Classic 550. Pic courtesy of Billingham bags

Weighing in at 2.6 Kilograms. It's the bag that I put in my car and just take stuff out of it as I need it. At the moment it holds an EOS 5d, an EOS 7d plus grip, a 70 - 200 zoom, a 28 - 135 zoom, a 17 - 40 zoom, a 50mm f1.8, a 24mm f2.8, a 16mm fisheye, a Canon Speedlite 420 EX plus two external drives, cables, card readers, cleaning cloth, batteries, memory cards and miscellaneous other items. The total weight of all these items together with the bag is 11 kilograms.Wash it occasionally with warm soapy water and treat it afterwards with a weatherproofing spray and it'll last for years.

Sto Fen bounce flash adaptor

Next is my Sto Fen flash bounce adaptor. Again I bought this in the eighties after seeing other snappers using them on jobs whilst working in London. It fits in the pocket and softens the flash light output. It's also useful for when there are dark or coloured ceilings which may influence the colour balance (remember I got this in the days before I could dial in my white balance).

Hotshoe spirit level

This is a little spirit level that I use to ensure that my shots are correctly aligned when shooting architecture. The little bubbles show if the camera is tilted up or down and whether it's correctly positioned with regards to a left or right tilt. My new EOS 7d has an electronic level built in which was actually one of the plus points that I considered when purchasing it.

 Panamatic panorama adaptor

The Panamatic camera adaptor has a built in spirit level and enables me to shoot a seies of photos one after another which can be later "stitched" together to make a panorama.

I bought both the panorama head and the spirit level from 7dayshop but they don't appear to list them anymore. They do however have an electronic level.

My Benbo tripod has been with me since June 1988. I've taken it everywhere with me. It can adapt to any uneven terrain and the legs are waterproof up to the first section. It looks unusual (even after all these years but I wouldn't be without mine.)

Vapor 1640 by Ken Onion

I always carry a knife with me and use it almost daily. There's always packing to cut open, an apple to peel or wires to cut and my 1640 VAPOR from Ken Onion does all of these and more. Looks nice too!

The ubiquitous iPhone

Last but not least is my iPhone. There are lots of photography Apps available for this. I use the Swiss tourist board programme to find out if anything photogenic is happening near me. I use another programme to calculate depth of field when shooting close-ups. A sunset / sunrise programme helps me know the best times to photograph according to where the sun is at any particular time of the day. The sunset part of the programme also lets me know when it's best to take pictures "at night" (Dusk is the best time as there is roughly a half an hour of magical light when details are visible in the sky which isn't too dark)

One cool thing about the iPhone is that when I open a picture in Irfanview, it shows me the GPS co-ordinates. This is useful when I'm out and about for the day and take pictures in different locations. I simply take one snap with the iPhone at each location. When I get back home, I simply open the image in Irfanview and can see where it was taken. I use this a lot when doing stuff for Google Earth.

Well that's it for now. It's the weekend and I'm off to take some pics.

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