The most comfortable camera backpack on a risk-free 30 day trial

 This is a slick camera backpack! You'll be hard pressed to find a better fit or function.

This is a slick camera backpack! You'll be hard pressed to find a better fit or function.

I am currently traveling in Italy, and constantly reminded how much I like my MindShift camera backpack. They just seem to be so well thought out and are built to such incredible quality standards. Then, I get this secret message: MindShift have a new pack and they will actually let you try it FREE for 30 days! No risk, you don't even have to pay for it up front. Wow. 

Try out their FirstLight outdoor photography backpacks on a 30-day, risk-free “test drive.”  Call them toll free at 866-558-4465 x1, 8:30 AM - 5 PM PST Mon - Fri and they'll process your free test drive trial. Ask for FedEx Ground shipping and they'll include it at no charge.  And, be sure to mention my name when ordering to get the free trial deal.

The FirstLight backpacks are designed for the traveling outdoor photographer. The two packs are carry on compatible on virtually any regional and large commercial flight, making getting to your destination with your gear a worry free experience.  The FirstLights' contoured, 11-point adjustable torso harness fits most men and women. A shaped aluminum torso stay provides additional support. The packs also utilize ballistic nylon bottoms for long lasting durability.

They have dedicated water bottle pockets on both sizes, while the 30L also accommodates up to a 3L hydration reservoir. Both have long lens capacity, big stuff pockets, sternum strap whistles, with extra room for your 15" laptop and personal gear. Use the accessory straps to carry a tripod, monopod or hiking poles. They've also included a seam-sealed rain cover. When attached, rain cover allows small to medium tripods to be carried on front or side positions. 

The FirstLight 30L is sized for gripped DSLRs and larger gear and will hold up to a 500mm f/4 lens detached or 400 f/2.8 attached.   The FirstLight 20L is sized for standard size DSLRs and robust mirrorless kits and will hold up to a 200–400mm f/4 attached or 300 f/2.8.

Do you like leather bags? Um hmm...

 Nice vintage looking leather covers adorn the new Retrospective line. This would look good on me on my new motorcycle ;-)

Nice vintage looking leather covers adorn the new Retrospective line. This would look good on me on my new motorcycle ;-)

Our friends at Think Tank Photo just announced the release of two new product line extensions as well as a new “free gift” offer.
 
The first are the Retrospective® 5 Leather, Retrospective® 7 Leather, and Retrospective® 30 Leather. These upscale, rugged shoulder bags maintain the Retrospective’s casual, form-fitting design. A new Dual Cross buckle on the front flap provides an extra measure of security. The new shoulder bags are designed to hold tablets and laptops in dedicated zipper pockets.
 
The new Mirrorless® Mover 25i fits one medium to large mirrorless body, plus two to four lenses, an 8” tablet, and additional accessories. It features metal hardware, high quality fabrics, YKK® zippers and a magnetic closure.

And, through the end of September, whenever you buy an eligible backpack from Think Tank you will receive Camera Support Straps V2.0 along with a Camera Strap V2.0 free!  Think Tank offers a wide variety of innovative, high quality transportation and field photography backpacks.  Order one and you will get to experience something really unique, which is having the weight of your camera shifted from your neck to your backpack harness system.  With the Camera Support Strap V2. no more sore shoulders or neck aches! 
 
 I love my ThinkTank bags and now I have a new one to add to my wish list ☺

 Vegans can still benefit from a slick new ThinkTank bag as well. This mirrorless mover is pretty cool.

Vegans can still benefit from a slick new ThinkTank bag as well. This mirrorless mover is pretty cool.

Hit these links to go to ThinkTank and get the blog readers special gifts when you purchase:

Retrospective 7 leather

Mirrorless Mover

All ThinkTank backpacks


Zombie warrior portraits and speedlight tips

Caution: This post contains some graphic content. Viewers of the Walking Dead rejoice. 

A friend of mine is a bad-ass chic. She is a black belt in Karate and practices various other forms of self-defense. When she asked to do a portrait session, I had a feeling it wouldn't be jeans and a button-down shirt. "I want to be fighting a zombie. It could get messy." she said.

"I'm in." I replied. 

 The authentic props really help make the images awesome

The authentic props really help make the images awesome

For any story-telling, or life-style, type of portrait, half of your success comes from appropriate props, location, and the ability of your subject to be "in character". Wendie came through on all accounts, allowing me to satisfy my zombie fantasies while laughing out loud all afternoon!

The lighting was simple – a single Westcott LunaGrip powered by 2 speedlights. I rigged up my prototype 2nd flash bracket on the LunaGrip because I would be battling full afternoon sun and shooting at f2.8 or so. Currently, the LunaGrip supports one flash unit, but it already has a mounting location for a second flash bracket, which is currently under R&D. (I created the LunaGrip and it is produced in partnership with Westcott)

To photograph in full sun and use a flash at f2.8 or wider you'll require a shutter speed that is very high, such that high-speed sync may not allow for very much flash output. My solution is to use a neutral density filter instead, lowering my shutter speed to 1/250 or slower, which gives me full output from my flash, besting HSS by a stop or two. Even with this trick, I'll occasionally need a second flash to combat the bright sun. 

With both Nikon SB910 speedlights mounted in the LunaGrip, I used a sync cord splitter to allow me to use just one wireless transceiver for both of them. If you use transceivers with a locking PC type connector, you can use a cord like this:

 In addition to this splitter, you'll also need (2) M-M locking PC cables to attach to each flash.

In addition to this splitter, you'll also need (2) M-M locking PC cables to attach to each flash.

If you use PocketWizard, or similar units with the headphone type connector, you can use a standard headphone splitter to share the signal, like this:

You can't transmit TTL signals when you use a splitter, so it works with manual mode only. If you want TTL control of your flash units, then you need to use a transceiver directly on each flash.

The goal of my lighting was to create soft fill-light and to offset the harsh sun on Wendie's face. For some of the poses she wasn't facing the sun, so we needed to create our own flattering and directional light. The idea was to keep it natural looking, as if it was just the sun, but more controlled and flattering. Not that zombies and zombie warriors need to look all that glamourous. It’s important to add that key light to her face to identify her as the heroine of the scene. Even when the sun is properly positioned to illuminate the face, the fill from the LunaGrip helps to soften the shadows and allowed me to reduce my overall exposure by 1-2 stops for more drama.

For most of the images, I set my lens to f2.8 and my shutter speed to 1/200th. I then used my variable ND filter to reduce the ambient light from 5-6 f-stops more – which is the equivalent of setting my shutter speed to 1/6400 - 1/12,800. Uh, that's not even possible with my D750! Thank you, ND. Even if I could set me shutter speed that high, the HSS function of the flash would reduce the light so much that it would hardly be effective. The ND allows for full power flash output.

To finish the images and give them an end-of-the-world feel, I used some vintage presets from my Vintage Delish and PrimaPorta Lightroom preset packages.

Creating a story with your portraits does require more work. Not everyone wants to put forth that effort – be it photographer or client. When I get a chance to work with a client that really wants to go all out like this, I get really excited! Have you created a fully themed portrait session lately? If not, I highly suggested planning one as it will re-invigorate you like a good run through the park being chased by the undead. If you have done one, share it with me!

 Safety first! All weapons were verified safe by a professional. 

Safety first! All weapons were verified safe by a professional. 

 Thank you Crystal for lending a hand.

Thank you Crystal for lending a hand.

 The sun was an edge light and fill, and the LunaGrip gives me a clean and directional main light.

The sun was an edge light and fill, and the LunaGrip gives me a clean and directional main light.

 Stop! I'm un-armed!

Stop! I'm un-armed!

 She's really a super nice gal! That's just acting.

She's really a super nice gal! That's just acting.

 No zombies were harmed in the making of these portraits. She how happy and healthy she looks!

No zombies were harmed in the making of these portraits. She how happy and healthy she looks!

 My helper, Angie, found another good use for the LunaGrip! It was hot out!

My helper, Angie, found another good use for the LunaGrip! It was hot out!