Thursday, 23 December 2010

A Shoot I Forgot About...

While doing a backup of my photos, I discovered a shoot I had done with a friend of mine and her gorgeous little boy that I had (embarrassingly) forgot about.
So before I finish editing all of them, I thought I'd share this single sample with you because I just thought it was so beautiful.
Hope you like it as much as I do & Merry Christmas to all of you!
I hope you all have a lovely Christmas & are looking forward to a great new year.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

In Search of the Perfect Camera Bag: Part Deux

Hello Folks,

After much deliberation, searching, reading of reviews and general though, I (think) I've settled the contenders for perfect camera bag. 

Frankly, none of them are perfect in my view, they all have their own pros and cons. However, if one of these fits what you're after, then it's a safe bet that it'll be the best one you can find.

Let's start the countdown with:

8. All Backpacks

I don't like backpacks. 

Therefore, they all come at the bottom of my list. They're cumbersome and inconvenient. They're terrible for travelling around cities because they leave all your equipment wide open to theft and you're forever knocking people in crowded places.

If you want to 'catch the photo', they're the worst possible bag to take with you. Simply because it takes so long to take the bag off, unzip it, take your camera out of the carefully wedged compartment, zip it backup, put it back on, get your camera ready and start shooting; you'll inevitably end up carrying your camera in your hand anyway, so what's the point in having the bag. This will also leave your camera extremely vulnerable to knocks, theft or just a careless drop by you. 

Backpacks are however, great if you're going on an epic hike up a mountain to get that perfect landscape shot. 

7. Anything made by Billingham

Do I really have to say it? Billingham are the Saab of the bag world.
Billingham bags are for people who have too much money (they cost a fortune!) and think they're buying a cool, classic and functional camera bag.

They are for photographers of a 'certain age', let's say; the kind of photographer who wears a 'photographers jacket' with a million pockets, or a bum bag. 

Anyway, I don't like them and this is my blog so they're at the bottom of the list.

6. The Domke F-6 

Many consider this to be the classic, the must have, the dependable, the best camera bag. 
I think it looks exactly the same as when it was first designed - 1973. 

It's a very functional bag, it will hold a DSLR and 4 Lenses no problem (though it won't hold a Canon L lens) and a flash gun etc.

It's made of durable ballistic nylon (but so are most bags nowadays) and it's quite rugged so it's favoured by photojournalists. 

It's also, for a camera bag, quite good value for money.

On the down side, it's looks are quite dated now and it's a bit small for newer, larger lenses. 

I also don't like the huge rectangular flap that covers the top like a roof, it's too big and makes things inside to hard to get too.

You can pick one up here, if you like that sort of thing:

The next five bag are my favourite ones and broadly on par with each other as far as I'm concerned. There is little bag I can say about them, but some are better than others.

5. Crumpler Brazillion Dollar Home - $295 (£190)

I love the design of Crumpler bags. They're simple, elegant and fun. 
This bag swallows an enormous amount of stuff. It'll take 2 full-frame DSLRs, 2 standard lenses (plus hoods), 1 long lens (plus hoods), 2 flashguns, a laptop and a bunch of other stuff you need. So that's pretty much all most photographers will need for a days shooting really.
I love it's bold orange inside and the very novel idea of 'silencers'. These are where you can fold away the velcro on the big flap so if you're somewhere (a church, perhaps) and you need to be a bit quiet, you can silence the ripping of the velcro. Great idea!

So, what's wrong with it? Well… £190? Are you joking? Sorry, Crumpler, that's too much.

4. ThinkTank Urban Disguise 50 V2.0 - $179 (£114)

This is a very sensible bag. very well designed, very simple but very effective.
It will comfortably carry a full frame DSLR plus 2-4 additional lenses, other stuff, plus a laptop.

I love the simple blackness to it. It certainly doesn't "look" like a typical camera bag, that's for sure.

I love the two large open pockets on the front - they're actually big enough to get a DSLR body in each, that's pretty impressive. 
In summary, this bag does the business, it does the business very nicely indeed. 

The trouble is, in trying to make it look less like a camera bag, they've made it look like a bag in disguise, which is exactly what it is.

I don't know about you but if I was a thief and saw someone with a large rectangular black bag, my first thought would be "there's something expensive in there". 

So for that, and the hefty price tag, it only makes it to number 4.

3. Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home - $145 (£92)

The 7 Million Dollar Home is much like the Brazillion Dollar Home but just a bit smaller. 
It will swallow 1 DSLR, 2 standard lenses, 1 prime lens, 1 long lens, 2 flash guns and a bunch of other stuff. Unfortunately, it won't take a laptop.
However, it has one up on the Brazillion for it's smaller size, which makes it easier to carry, easier to get around with, and easier to find stuff in. 

It also beats it on price, come in at nearly £100 less (that's loads!).

I love this bag. It's funky, it's fun, and it does what you need a bag to do. It's also not *too* expensive. 

2. Naneu Sahara 115F - either $110 (£70) or $162 (£103)

What a great bag! 

I love this design. It's unique, it's rugged, it's practical and it's well made. 
It's also an almost ideal size. The (well padded and well designed) removable inner section is very useful if you don't need to take all your photo stuff with you at once, but still want to take a cool bag with you. 

It will also easily swallow a substantial amount of equipment. Including: 2 DSLRs, mixture of 3 lenses, a flashgun, a laptop and a bunch of other stuff. 

I love the design, it's quite funky and has a couple of unique features which makes it number 2 on this list. 
The first feature is that it's expandable, it goes from 'thin' to 'huge', which is very useful. The second feature is the slot on the back for going over a handle on a trolley so you can pull it through airports or wherever. 
All these combine to make it the number two on my list of top camera bags.

Note: the only UK supplier I could find for these is B&H (click here for their site) and they have the black one on for £70 or the green one for £103. Other than the colour, they seem to be the same, so I'm not really sure why the price difference.

1. Tenba Messenger - $115 (£73)

Finally we make it to the number one slot. My favourite camera bag is this: the Tenba Messenger. 
If I drew my perfect camera bag, it would look pretty close to this.

Unfortunately, the above is the only photo available, but there is this handy video:

What can it hold?

2-3 Lenses
Other stuff

It's not so much the capacity that makes this bag stand out to me, but it's the overall package.

The capacity is about all I need from a bag, but the ability to carry a laptop as well is very useful. It's also the grippy, waterproof bottom; the rip-stop material it's made from; the metal buckles and clips; the handy little pockets on the outside; the top loading zip that means you don't have to open the whole flap to get to your stuff; and the breathable back so you don't get all sweaty, and the removable inside section.

It's also the range of colours it comes in. Not everyone wants a black bag, but if you do, they have it. My favourite is the chocolate one:

Also, at $115 (£73) it's one of the most reasonably priced bags around.

All these combine to make it my top bag.

I hope you have found this post useful in choosing a camera bag. Whatever you go for, just make sure it's what you want and that you're happy with it, don't just go with something because someone else tells you to.

Happy shooting!


Monday, 15 November 2010

In Search of the Perfect Camera Bag

Every photographer has a different set of kit.

This is the key problem when looking for a camera bag, no two photographers have the same requirements.  So how do you find a bag that suits the needs of every photographer? Well the short answer is that you don't. The long answer is that you get a bag to suit your own individual needs.

For a lot of photographers though, this means they end up having a whole series of bags and use a different one on each outing depending on the needs of that particular event.

I don't really buy into that though, I don't think you need to have a gizillion lenses, 4 bodies, 3 flash guns, 25 filters, etc etc etc. My current kit consists of 1 body, 2 lenses, a flashgun, a tripod and some other gubbins (some batteries, a remote trigger, remote flash cord etc), and some cleaning products. I can see the sense in having two bodies, in case one fails and you really need to finish a shoot, and there are two more lenses that I really want to get (the Canon 24-70mm L and the 70-200mm L), but other than that, I don't think you really need endless amounts of kit to get 99% of your photos.

Assuming I get these two new lenses and maybe one more body, that means I need a bag to fit:

2 bodies
4 lenses
1 flash gun
1 tripod
Other gubbins
So, bags. From what I can see, there are three basic types of bags. There is the individual bag, which will hold a camera on its own, or a lens on its own and then these go into a larger bag with other stuff. These tend to be used if you're just taking a camera on its own somewhere, or you have a compact camera, or you're travelling somewhere and need to store things in the hold of a plane for example. Then there is the satchel bag. These do vary in size from simple Messenger type bags, which are designed to fit something around the size of an A4 ring binder, to a larger bag that is bigger than the size of a laptop and much deeper than a messenger bag. Then we move up to backpacks, these range from a small single strap bag to a large hiking backpack. The largest type of bag is the holdall style, these are generally all about the same size and can carry virtually anything you can think of.

I think my style is quite photo-journalistic; not necessary my photos, by the style in which I shoot. I like to get our and about, walk around, shoot what I see, take shots on location and be quite spontaneous. This means I need to take all my equipment with me, have it very easily accessible all the time, and be able to walk around without 'looking like a photographer'. I don't particularly want to walk around with a big bag either on my back or by my side with "Canon" written on it in big letters advertising the fact I've got a few grands worth of camera equipment in it.

As a side note, I'd quite like to be able to carry my 15" Mac with me as well.

To that end, I've shortlisted a few bags. 

I will go into detail about them next time. Stay tuned for Part II

Take care All,

Will x

Monday, 8 November 2010

Photographers Shoot Swap in London

Very rare is it that I get to meet a brand new group of incredibly unique individuals all at once. However, a couple of weeks ago, that is exactly what I did.

By my nature, I wouldn't say I'm overly spontaneous. It seems, though, that when it comes to photography I will, for example, drive all the way to London on a Sunday with less than a weeks notice to meet 11 complete strangers for lunch; all from a tip off via Twitter.

When I saw that someone had retweeted a Tweet from Alex Beadon asking if any photographers wanted to meet in London for lunch and go and take photos, I messaged her straight away to express my interest.

Less than a week later I found myself in Strada in Tower Bridge sat at a table with 11 complete strangers chatting about cameras, photography, computers, people, techniques, and all sorts of other engaging and delightful subjects. 

Everyone I met that day was absolutely fantastic, it's just a shame it couldn't have lasted longer. Firstly I'll introduce you to the awesome lady who organised the whole thing, Alex Beadon. Alex is a superbly creative portrait photographer doing some fantastic things. I love her style and attitude, just check out this look:

Something I found incredibly interesting about everyone I met was their life stories. They were all born and grew up somewhere different and so had a different story to tell and a different view on the world. 

Someone who stood out for me was Fanni Williams who was born in Hungary, grew up in New Zealand and has lived in the UK for a number of years now, she's a freelance graphic designer doing very well for herself and just starting to get into photography.

Take a gander at her blog, it's very good.

Here is the delightful Marie Man, she's a fashion and documentary photographer based out of Bristol doing some really cool things. Definitely worth a look, she has a wonderful style and a great personality to boot.

I also had the pleasure of meeting these lovely people, I just wish I had spent longer talking to each of them and really hope I'll get the opportunity to do so again soon. 

There was the enigmatic Juliet McKee of Sugar and Spice Photography

The gracious Dominique Bader

The delight that is Eddette Steynberg of Purple Apple Studios

The beautiful Anneli Marinovich

Here is very lovely Shirley Gilks working her stuff (on the left and then right)...

And finally the really cool Mark Osborne

So after a really very nice lunch at Strada, we all ventured out to shoot each other (in a non 'murderous' sort of way obviously). Here is what I saw.

Three of my favourites of Fanni…

Here is Marie and Mark doing their thing…

A couple more of Fanni…

There was a pretty cool fountain where we were on the South Bank which, with the light behind it, looked pretty awesome. A little bit like this actually…

Marie saw this very cool looking metal tube, which was some kind of oversized railing, so we both shot Fanni next to it. I really like these. I think the texture of the metal and simplicity of the colours looks really cool. 

Oh look, a tree!

Here is a delightful shot of Alex...

… and a couple of beautiful shots of  Juliet… 

Here are three of my absolute favourites of Anneli and Marie. I really like these…

 A final couple of Fanni…

 Juliet met a dog…

 and personally I think this photo is the dogs' bollocks…

Apparently this is the building where Boris Johnson works. I didn't see him though. I did see Shirley, Anneli, Fanni, Juliet and Lovis (Alex's non-photographer friend) though…

Finally we say goodbye and a massive thank you to Alex for organising the meet and getting such a fantastic bunch together, I really hope we can do it again sometime soon.

Take care everyone,

Will xx