9 Carry On Friendly Photo and Video Accessories for Holiday Plane Travel

9 Carry On Friendly Photo and Video Accessories for Holiday Plane Travel

Plane travel can be a source of anxiety for photographers. Checking bags isn’t safe for most gear and being able to skip the baggage claim carousels is always a bonus anyway – especially around the holidays. There are a lot of small items to shoot with, including high-quality mirrorless cameras, tiny lenses, and small flash gear. However, it is sometimes hard to skimp on support systems, lighting, and storage in order to save space. Rolling bags, tripods, and light stands all tend to be a pain to try and take on a plane. Here are 9 items that you should be able to take on board with you without having to sacrifice your shooting needs. I say “should” because the TSA is a fickle fish – what flies at one airport may not fly at another and, as always, different carriers will be more strict than others. These are my personal favorite items that I have air traveled with for trade shows, overseas vacations, and for smaller gigs without incident (so far!) on both large airliners and regional jets. AlienBees LS1100 Backlight Stand   This little light stand fits into almost any bag – collapsed it is under a foot and a half and extends up to 3 feet. Don’t pack this for lighting portraits of basketball players but for family get-togethers (especially if everyone is sitting around the couch) it is perfect. Think Tank Airport International V2.0 Rolling Camera Bag  This bag is specifically designed to adhere to TSA standards. It combines the soft give of a fabric body (good for inevitable overstuffing) with the protection of a hard...
Behind the Scenes of a Saloon Shoot with Photographer Peter Phun

Behind the Scenes of a Saloon Shoot with Photographer Peter Phun

Peter Phun is a freelance photographer in Riverside California. An alumni of Kent State University in photojournalism, he was among the first at his local paper to make the transition from film to digital with zero training. Phun is currently an adjunct instructor of photography at Riverside Community College. Go behind the scenes with Phun and a couple of 1940s-inspired models to discover how you can make the most of  lighting a shoot in a dark and relatively cramped environment. A Few Photo Tips from a 1940s Theme Shoot at Lake Alice Saloon and Eatery reprinted with permission by Peter Phun In a bar, there are surprisingly many, many shiny and reflective surfaces. To help combat this, a softbox is a better choice than an umbrella. The light falls off very dramatically and won’t scatter the way it does in an umbrella. I especially like the Photoflex OctoDome NXT  for this.  To go inside the OctoDome, I rented a Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite from BorrowLenses to help save space. Lighting conditions inside most bars are poor so you may need to use your fastest lens, especially if you are only using flash for accent lighting. I used a 50mm f/1.2 on my  Canon 5D Mark II set to ISO 400. I usually prefer to fire my Speedlites on manual power because I like to have a consistent output. From the ST-E3-RT radio transmitter attached to my camera’s hotshot, I was able to dial in my flash setting without having to walk over to either Speedlite to make changes in power. For this shoot, I chose a 2:1 lighting ratio using just 2 Speedlites. I wanted my back light to put out 1 stop...
Capture Emotion: An Interview with Wedding Photographer Andy Lim

Capture Emotion: An Interview with Wedding Photographer Andy Lim

Andy Lim got started in photography after leaving design college in 1992 and his work has since been published worldwide. Andy conducts SimpleSLR hands-on digital photography workshops from beginners to advanced levels. He also writes useful and practical digital photography tips on GoodPhotography.info. Andy Lim is an accomplished professional wedding photographer and his brand, Emotion in Pictures, attracts clients worldwide with his unique flavor of emotional wedding and portrait photography.

Immerse Yourself: An Interview with Night & Light Painting Photographer Troy Paiva

Immerse Yourself: An Interview with Night & Light Painting Photographer Troy Paiva

Troy Paiva, AKA Lost America, has been creating light painted night photography in abandoned locations and junkyards since 1989. His documentarian work examines the evolution, and eventual abandonment, of the communities, infrastructure, and social iconography that spawned during America’s 20th century expansion into the cities and deserts of the West. His imagery has appeared in print in over a dozen countries, including three Stephen King book covers, American Photographer, Air & Space Magazine, Hot Rod Magazine, and CNN Online. Troy’s work has appeared in museums and galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Sweden, and San Francisco.

Small Flash, Big Box: Using the LumoPro Flash Bracket

Small Flash, Big Box: Using the LumoPro Flash Bracket

There’s no shortage of lighting modifiers for small flashes like the Nikon SB–910 on the market today. From the Apollo softboxes we rent, to grid kits, snoots, umbrellas, and beauty dishes, small flash has really come into its own, especially for photographers working on location. Now there’s a new accessory for Strobist-style shooters that will let you use a much wider variety of softboxes with your existing small flashes, including the high-end modifiers from companies like Profoto. I used it with two Profoto softboxes a couple of weeks ago for a portrait, with excellent results. The acecssory is called the Lumopro Speedring Bracket, and it’s basically a softbox speedring modified to let you use one or two flashes in a standard softbox. If you’re not familiar with speedrings and softboxes, take a look at the article “Understanding Softboxes” on our blog. It describes what speedrings are, and how they are used with various modifiers. The Lumopro bracket is essentially a speedring with two adjustable arms protruding from it. A standard stud allows you to to mount the speedring onto a swivel adapter so you can tilt your setup to angle it. I was doing a shoot for costume designer Katherine Nowacki, who needed a bright, airy headshot for her website. I placed her on a balcony with setting sun directly behind her to act as a rim light. My initial idea was to use a reflector to get some fill light into her face, but then decided I wanted something more powerful to balance out the ambient. I went with two Profoto softboxes, a 3’ Octabox and a 1×4’...
Blowing out the Background

Blowing out the Background

The image above was not shot on a white background. It has a minimal level of adjustment in Lightroom to it, mostly to clean up the edges, but that’s about it. It was taken in front of the greyish-blue wall in the lobby of the BorrowLenses.com offices in San Carlos. The thing about a relatively light-colored background is that it lends itself to a surprisingly large number of options for photographers. Though grey backgrounds work best for this, you can with some tweaking, turn just about any light-colored background — grey, blue, beige — completely black, as I demonstrated in this article on how to kill your background completely. In this article, I’ll show you how to blow out that background completely to make it look like you’re shooting in front of a white backdrop. The setup for this portrait was exceedingly simple. I placed one Nikon SB-910 in a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe and one bare-bulb, with the included diffuser attached. The SB-910 in the Lastolite softbox was placed on camera-left, while the bare-bulb SB-910 was placed directly behind Ben, and slightly below the level of his shoulders. It was pointed up at an angle at the wall behind Ben, as shown below. I set the flashes to manual, making sure that the flash hitting the wall was about 2 stops brighter than the flash on Ben’s face. The diffusion in the softbox cut the power of the light on Ben by another 1/3 stop or so, I estimate. That was it. It took a bit of tweaking the power on the lights and the aperture for exposure and...
Kill the Background: How to Turn a Background Black with Speedlights

Kill the Background: How to Turn a Background Black with Speedlights

I was recently inspired by a recent series of portraits by our very own Alex Huff. Titled “Chiaroscuro Portraiture,” it features these gorgeous close-up portraits of the men and women in her life, each one of which is a study in how to render the interplay between light and shadow. Alex takes these images in front of a grey background, and through a combination of getting in close to her subjects and using one light, sends what little you might see of that grey to almost pitch black. I began to think of what I could do if I didn’t have a backdrop to shoot against, if I needed to make a portrait in a relatively brightly-lit area. In theory, it could be done; a basic understanding of the Inverse-Square Law reveals that much. But what if all you had was a basic modifier and a couple of speedlights, not a big studio strobe? Could you still do it? I had to give it a try. I picked the area above to try this out in. That’s the lobby of the BorrowLenses.com West Coast headquarters in San Carlos, CA. As you can tell, it’s a pretty bright area, with large glass windows letting in a lot of ambient light, grey walls with photos mounted, a television and a glass case in the corner. Not exactly an “uncluttered” background, but it made for a great area for a test case. I roped in a couple of guys from our front-desk team, who’ve been long-suffering models for my various experiments, to be my portrait subjects. I started with taking a test exposure....
The Softbox Cheat Sheet

The Softbox Cheat Sheet

A while back, we put together an article on how to use softboxes with your light of choice. At that time, I mentioned that we’d be putting together a cheat sheet that would allow you to figure out which softbox could go with which light, and what you’d need to make it work. Well, that cheat sheet is here. In the the matrix below, you’ll see the lights we rent down the vertical axis and the softboxes we rent across the horizontal. There’s a legend at the bottom of the table that will indicate if you need something additional to make the combo work. You can click on the image below to enlarge it (warning – it’s a big image), or download the PDF version here. The PDF version has embedded links to direct you to the gear mentioned.   We hope this helps with the constant conundrum of what softbox goes with which light! As always, questions and feedback are welcome in the comments below....