May 13

My Portable Photo Studio for the Airstream

Thought I’d actually show you what I use as my lightweight photo gear when we’re on the road. It’s so nice not to have to lug around my heavy DSLR and a bag full of lenses. This is my setup:


(This stuff is on the top of our regular sized picnic table right now….the Lastolite blue carrying bag is not quite the depth? of the table, for size reference.)

I’ve got my Fuji x100s (16MP, 35mm fixed lens), a Lastolite collapsable background (white, folds up and collapses into that blue zipper bag) that expands to 5ft x 6ft and can easily be leaned up against the side of the trailer if I want a solid background, and a Tamrac light stand bag. In the smaller outer pocket of the bag I keep these:


Two Pocket Wizard Plus X transceivers and one YongNuo YN560-II speedlight (affectionately known as the Kung Pao strobe…learned about this one from David Hobby/Strobist…it’s cheap, it’s manual, and fast recycling). One Pocket Wizard goes in the hot shoe of my x100s and one connects to the speedlight with that curly cord there. The speedlight and its Pocket Wizard then get attached to the platform bracket on top of this Bogen telescoping monopod (which also has an umbrella adapter on it). The umbrella slips into its spot on the adapter and the speedlight lights the subject through it (softening the light). The speedlight is triggered by the Pocket Wizard on my x100s when I press the shutter. Super portable, huh?


So far, I’m extremely happy with the results I’m getting from this little kit!

Jan 13

It’s Become a Bit of an Obsession

fujix100_blog-3I can’t stop playing with my new Fuji X100. I’ve spent hours and hours reading about it and researching all the accessories for it. It’s crazy. What is it about this camera that causes that? I’m not the only one. There are forums filled with people like me, trying to decide which case is the most perfect and which strap is the softest, most wonderful strap, and which little annodized aluminum soft release button (that I didn’t even know they existed before now) is the cutest and best color (and whether that color matches whatever other accessories I get)?? Oh and hey, I guess I’ll need a new bag that’ll hold my regular wallet keys phone etc. PLUS this camera…this bag I have now is a tiny bit too small. Shopping.

I started out by default (before I’d seen the hundreds of other handmade cases in many many colors) with the full case made by Fuji. It’s brown smooth leather and very nice (and $140), but if I put a filter or anything else on the lens, the camera didn’t fit in the full case. I decided I’d probably prefer a half case, so I returned the Fuji case and started looking for the perfect half case.


But it’s so easy to get distracted! There are sweet looking cases from China, Japan, Korea, handmade Italian leather cases from Italy, stuff on Etsy…oh hey and look at all those colors of aluminum that soft release button comes in. I definitely want one of those little soft release buttons. If I got the red one it would match inside of that cool leather strap I found with the red velvety lining (by Rainbow Imaging). (There’s a full case that goes with this strap, too! Black leather, really pretty…room for the filters on the lens, but no battery/SD card access.) But if I have a brown case, then I don’t really like that red with the brown. So then, maybe a black case with red stitching. But neither case has any access on the bottom to the battery/SD card slot, so I’d have to take the case off every time I wanted to upload photos. No. And that cool leather strap with the red velvety lining is short…I like to wear my camera cross-body, and it doesn’t adjust. Dangit.

Okay start over. There’s a half case that’s black with a metal bottom that has an opening for the battery/card compartment, a tripod screw (as well as a shotgun clip if you like to use a sling-type strap) and it has gotten great reviews from many people on the FujiX forums. But the leather looks fake…too shiny and smooth. Oh wait! Here’s a black one with a nice textured leather…okay done: Gariz half case from Korea. Check.

Now for the strap. I went ahead and ordered that black leather strap with the red velvety lining and the Abramsson red annodized aluminum mini soft release. The soft release is perfect (though a little more toward wine than red…variation in annodizing I suppose, but it’s nice) but the strap after a week or so of use is definitely too short. And it gets twisted easily. I really like that (expensive) silk braided cord strap from Artisan and Artist, but it’s too short.


I narrowed it down to that A&A silk strap, (too short, a lot of moolah), a Gordy’s leather strap (but I’m afraid it will be too stiff and won’t curl up in my bag nicely, plus, the “any length you want” option feels like too much freedom…I can’t decide), the Barton 1972 braided leather strap (also maybe too stiff to curl up in my bag, but great looking), a corded strap from Lance (they come in 36, 48, 60 inches, and custom, but I heard they were a bit stiff as well), and a Street Strap (46 inch, round soft nylon, with leather stitched ends).

After a week or more (!!!) of researching camera straps and reading probably over a hundred reviews (What the hell is wrong with me?? It’s a camera strap!!!) I ordered: A Street Strap

It arrived yesterday, and it’s perfect. I connected it to the little string connector extensions from an older strap I had so now it’s about 52″ long and is perfect worn cross-body.


It also winds/rolls up nicely to stick in my bag (see first photo, above), it’s soft, well-made, and low-key (unlike that red leather one I was previously coveting). Plus, now I know: my ideal camera strap length is 52 inches!

I also ordered a silver thumb grip from Lensmate. This doohicky has the added benefit of protecting the exposure compensation dial from accidentally getting turned every time I move the camera in and out of my (new) bag (which it does).


I don’t know what I’m going to do with my time now that my X100 is all accessorized. I guess maybe I’ll go out and take some photos with it. (I already have, I’m just teasin’.)

p.s. I told Kevin this whole thing reminded me of when I was 9 or 10 and my brother and I had these little Snoopy dolls. They were stuffed animals, but they had all sorts of crazy outfits and accessories you could buy for them. There was a Hallmark store over at Seaport Village in the Long Beach Marina that had what I remember being walls and walls of Snoopy outfits and costumes and accessories, and once in a while my mom and my stepdad would take us over there and let us pick out a new outfit for our Snoopy dolls. I can still remember the smell of the newly plasticated starched Made in China referee outfit, or cowboy outfit, or Zorro mask, or disco jumpsuit or whatever it was at the time. I don’t know why I loved this whole thing so much, but it was a blast. I know, I just compared accessorizing a $1200 camera to dressing a stuffed Snoopy doll, but it kinda feels the same, in a way. A more grown up, mature way. Okay maybe not.

Jan 13

My New Walking Around Camera