Photography Equipment I Pack: Part 4

In the last few posts, I’ve given you my take on cameras, flashes, lenses, wireless transmitter — even a bracket I use to fire two flashes at once.  All that’s left from my original list are the little things.

One of those items is barely worth mentioning:  power adapters.  I use these in static photography situations, like a green screen photo execution, so I can plug in my camera and WT 4 wireless transmitter to a standard power outlet.  When I’m not doing a photo execution, but shooting an event where I need to be mobile, those power adapters are replaced by two, big, fat, heavy Turbo 3 Quantum power packs. BUT:  while TSA is used to seeing these batteries, they do often trigger extra screening.  Further, other international aviation security organizations may go into complete meltdown upon seeing these power packs.  Their rules are different.  They happily tell you, “YOU ARE NOT IN THE UNITED STATES.”
Here’s another item that might surprise you: my camera bag was manufactured by Boater’s World, not some fancy, dancy hoity toity camera bag manufacturer.  At least the roller board (the big bag that holds my main equipment and goes in the over head bin) ; my other bag is the largest bag manufactured that fits under a Southwest airplane’s seat. I Googled it before I bought it: “largest bag possible under Southwest Airline seat”.  Result:  Think Tank’s Airport 4-Sight.  I bought it (from Midwest Camera). When it’s crammed under the plane’s seat?  There is not one half inch of space anywhere under the seat in front of me.  While not comfy for my feet, it is a great use of space.  I just stick my feet under the middle seat in front of me.  That person doesn’t seem to mind.
Why use a camera bag (exterior) manufactured by Boater’s World?  Two words:  WATER PROOF.  When doing what we do, it’s not unusual for a sudden thunderstorm to crop up.  And, while all major camera bag manufacturers sell their bag with a weather proof covering, you have to take time to put the covering on.  And drag it with you.  How much easier if the bag itself is weather proof?

Wifi equipment is a passionate subject of mine.  I carry three wireless cards:  one from Sprint and two from Verizon.  For what I do, access to the Internet is imperative, and public wifi at convention centers, hotels, and other venues SUCK.  I don’t care what you pay, if it’s public and it’s wifi, it stinks.

Some convention centers (illegally) block the cellular wifi signals.  I found out from one client (who has built a convention center) that they install materials in the roof which dampens the signal.  “Fire retardants” they call it — the fact that those same “fire retardants” obliterate wifi connectivity is a nice bonus for the convention center.  Then, companies like “Smart City” charge big bucks for public Internet.  How big are those bucks?  Well, it ranges from about $12 up to more than $1200.  What’s the difference?  The $12 Internet is too slow to do anything except check email, the $1200 is usually sold to convention booths that require connectivity — for, say, like, I dunno, a green screen photo execution with live upload to social media.

In addition, and I can’t prove this — but I strongly suspect it — there is often (by way of magic) so much wifi “noise” on a convention floor, wireless connections between a wifi card and a computer often won’t happen.  In other words, your card is showing 82 bars of great coverage — but, for some mysterious reason — your computer, phone, or tablet won’t connect to it!  Sometimes that’s overcome by switching to a 5 ghz band router — but often that’s impossible.  It’s for this reason I switched to an ethernet hard line between my Wt 4 wireless transmitter (that attaches to my D700 to transfer photos) and my computer.  Again, it works wonders in a static shooting situation, not so great when the photographer is on the move.

Last, a word about back ups.  I carry two of everything important: two computers, two cameras, two flashes, two wifi cards.  Why?  WINDOWS.  The first time I shot for Honda?  I turned on my primary laptop and…

Not even a blue screen of death.  I thought, “battery discharged”, plugged it in and…


In the end?  I had to send it back to Asus to be fixed.  Luckily, I ran the photo execution with my backup computer, the client was never the wiser, and Honda became my single biggest client.  As a result of that first shoot?  We’ll be starting our third year of providing green screen photo executions at all the Indycar races, nationwide, for Honda at the end of March.  Think:  what if I didn’t have that second computer?

No shoot that day.

No shoot at every race for the next three years.  I would have lost, well, a lot of money.  A lot of money.  And, I wouldn’t have even known I lost it.  I would have only known the shoot went south for lack of a backup.

Your equipment will make or break you.  If you buy smart, think about your work flow, think about what you need to solve a particular challenge, having great equipment will set you up for success.  It works the other way, too.  If you try the cheap alternative, and it fails, epically and publicly, you’ll be hitting the vodka at 10 am.  Don’t hit the vodka at 10 am.  Just stay tuned for another rant.

This rant is concluded.  I feel better.

Why need water proof camera bag made bu Boaters World: one word “Houston”.

Want to connect more?  Catch me on Twitter (USeventPhotos), check out the web site, US Event Photos.com , or Facebook,  USeventPhotos.