Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Manfrotto Pro Light Camera Backpack: 3N1-35PL

Front View of the 3N1-35PL
Photographers, go ahead and look in your closet.  How many camera bags do you have?  How many have you tried?  Like you, I’ve seemingly tried them all and most if not all have been lacking.  I settled on one “holster” type case for my one-lens travels, but what about longer trips where I needed a few lenses, a flash, and a tripod? 
Perhaps I’ve found my last bag and you will too. 

It’s the Manfrotto Pro Light Camera Backpack 3N1-35PL.

I’ve had a chance to use it over the last month or so. 
Back of the Bag Showing Shoulder Straps

This bag is NOT huge.  Most people think oh it’s gotta be big.  Nope.  And it’s NOT heavy!  That’s another thing.  I don’t need to lug around even more weight.  The construction is sturdy.  This thing is not going to rip apart on you.  When you are carrying around several thousand dollars worth of equipment you can’t be worrying about whether or not the bag can hold up.  This one can. 
Huge Top Pocket

Now, it’s got pockets.  And pockets.  And places to put things.  One of my complaints, if you can call it that,  is that I had to remember where I stuck things!  Is it that pocket?  No.  Try another.  But you learn over time.  So it’s not that big of a deal.  If you travel with a laptop, you will like this bag, too.  It has a nice very padded pocket that will fit a 15-inch or smaller laptop. 
Bag With Manfrotto Tripod

OK, one more complaint.  The zippers.  My suggestion?  Take some WD-40 and put it on a rag and rub it across the zippers.  It will make opening and closing the pockets so much easier.  Otherwise, you end up tugging at them, not that any of it would break or tear but it’s a minor inconvenience until you put some light lube on the zippers.  NOT TOO MUCH!  You don’t want to stain the bag. 

So how much can the bag hold?  For its size, it can carry a lot.  The bag can easily hold my Canon 5D Mark III with the 70-200mm lens attached.  There is a side pocket that makes it easy to get at, sort of like a sling.  In my bag, I can easily fit in another lens or two, my Canon 600 EX-RT flash, a flash cord, and a few flash modifiers.  On the outside of the bag you can attach a tripod and it comes with these little leg holders at the bottom for a secure fit. 
I'm Ready to Go With My Manfrotto Backpack!

Do you have gadgets and you don’t know where to stick them?  This bag had a huge pocket at the top.  I put in a Sto-Fen, cords, batteries, charger, cable release, a notebook, pens, a loupe, you name it right there. 
My Laptop Has Plenty of Room

Is the bag comfortable to walk around in?  Yes, and you have choices.  You can set it up like I did to sling over your shoulder (either right or left) or pull out both straps and carry it like a traditional backpack.

What if it rains?  You are all set because this bag comes with a rain cover. 

Follow up:  One more fix to the bag.  Get a cheap bungee cord for your tripod and attach the top to the handle on the top for more stability.  Otherwise, your tripod is going to flop around some.  I went to ACE and picked up a bungee cord for $1.49.  But really, a simple extra strap on the bag would do nicely.

The Manfrotto Pro Light 3N1-35PL, strong, lightweight, maybe your last bag ever!

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Alaska July 2014

North to Alaska!
Panorama Near Juneau, Alaska
Tracy Arm, Alaska
There is an advantage of taking a cruise ship to exotic ports.  You get there quickly and you can see a lot in a short period of time.  I could have wandered all over Alaska on my own at greater expense and a huge waste of time.  I instead went with Holland America on a cruise to Alaska and the tours got me up close for photographs.
Birds Feed Where Whales Go!

My standard travel equipment is the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 24-105mm lens.  I also brought along a 2x extender.  One thing to remember on using extenders is you lose a stop or two of light.  In this case, my f/4 went to an f/8 and that is ok in daylight, but lousy in darker environments. 
Sawyer Glacier - Note the Icebergs!

From Seattle, we sailed to Alaska along the Canadian west coast and entered Tracy Arm.  We were headed to view Sawyer Glacier.  The ship sailed really close, as these photos will show.  RIGHT INTO AN ICE FIELD!  I had visions of the Titanic, but I knew we were safe.  However, if a person falls in the ice water, they have about 20 seconds before succumbing to the cold.  So I photographed with one hand while holding the railing with the other.  As pieces of the glacier broke off, you could hear what sounded like a gun shot.  KABOOM! 
A Whale Doing a Tail Flip

From Tracy Arm, we sailed to Juneau, the state capital.  I caught a small boat from Allen Marine to find whales, eagles, and otters.  It was a photographers heaven; everywhere I looked there were things to try to photograph.  On a side note, Juneau has a population of about 30,000.  When four cruise ships come in on a day, the population goes up 10,000!  And that is about every day in the summer. 
Bald Eagle at the Sitka Raptor Center

Next stop was Sitka, Alaska.  Allen Marine also got me close to wildlife on the water with more chances at finding whales.  I also visited and photographed the Alaska Raptor Center, where they nurse injured birds like bald eagles.  It’s truly a good cause, so visit that link and look around.  Another great work I visited was the Fortress of the Bear.  These folks rescue abandoned or injured bears. 
Bear at the Fortress of the Bear in Sitka

On to Ketchikan, Alaska, a lovely town that gets 300-plus inches of rain a year.  A real rain forest but not hot, cold.   One fun event I photographed was the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show.  Now, yes it is hokie… but lots of fun and the events they showed were interesting and took skill.  From there we went off to the Totem Bight State Historical Park.  It’s right on the ocean and is filled with various examples of totem poles. 
The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan

Then it was ocean cruising all night to Victoria, British Columbia, a lovely city I’ve visited before.  It was only a few hours stop… then back on the ship to Seattle and eventually back to the heat of Phoenix. 
Totem Bight in Ketchikan

What equipment did I wish I had taken?  Well, when I travel I like to pack light.  That means a camera body and ONE LENS.  At times, while hunting whales and eagles, I wish I had more reach.  Maybe the Canon 70-300mm lens next time? 

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!

See all of my photos from this adventure on Flickr or by clicking the Zenfolio slideshow below!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Creating Dramatic Images with Small Flash

I always enjoy my nearly yearly pilgrimage to the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.  During the year, I am the expert and preach and cajole my students.  At Santa Fe, I find out how much more I have to come before I’m a good photographer.  The instruction and instructors I’d compare to any fine graduate school.  The food is gourmet, so there’s that to look forward to.  It all ends up to a lot of learning, a TON of hard work, and a few very good images to share with you all.

My week in July of 2014 I worked with flash and Canon expert Syl Arena, who is originally from Phoenix and is a fellow University of Arizona graduate.  He still worked me hard!  And that’s what I want.  I don’t want to do a retreat like this to be told everything I’m doing is perfect. 

I took oh probably 400+ photos.  I posted 41.  That’s about right.  Some were experiments; others were mistakes. 

Katrina at Eaves Ranch
This was a course on crafting dramatic light with small flash.  I used the Canon 600EXRT, which is radio controlled.  That means I can fire the flash without any cords.  I used a variety of flash modifiers.  One of the real benefits of the course was to try new things and really get to know the equipment I have.  I also used my Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 24-105mm lens. 

We went to a variety of locations around Santa Fe and used local models. 
Freddy at Eaves Ranch

Here’s the shoot from Eaves Ranch, featuring Katrina and Freddy. 

Jio, who is studying at the University of New Mexico, is at the old abandoned power plant near Albuquerque, about 50 miles away from Santa Fe.
Jio at the Albuquerque Power Plant

Isaac is British.  He’s also an athlete, as you might gather.  The photo here has a back story.  He just was not giving me much personality so I started to scream at him.  He screamed back and you should have heard the echoes in the power plant!  Anyway, this is one of my favorite photos.
Isaac at the Power Plant

Whitney at Los Luceros
Then off we went to Los Luceros Hacienda, which dates back to the late 1700s.  I did interior shots with Whitney and outside near the river with Juan Carlos.
Juan Carlos at Los Luceros
Finally, we trekked about twenty miles outside of Santa Fe to the huge (dusty and dirty) Hansen Lumber Yard.  Julia was my model. 

Julia at Hansen Lumber Yard

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!

See all of my photos from this adventure on Flickr or by clicking the Zenfolio slideshow below!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Butterfly Wonderland

Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale was a delightful 4th of July treat.  And, it was a “target rich” environment for photography.

It’s located on the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Community, where to Native Americans, the butterfly is a symbol of change, joy, and color – a symbol of rebirth and regeneration. 

I photographed in natural shaded light with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 100mm macro lens.  Hand held, as tripods would be hard to use unless you had the place to yourself. 

A few tips:  First off, they keep the butterfly habitat very very humid.  Walking into the area with a camera, you notice the lens and view finder fog up immediately.  Give it about five minutes, then clean with a micro fiber cloth.  Secondly, FOCUS!  Focus is a challenge using a macro lens.  Some of the butterflies do not just sit there.  You may have a moving target.  I tried hard to focus directly on the eyes of the insects. 

By the way, they also have a small aquarium in the facility.  Beware though, because it is hard to focus and shoot in low light.

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!

See all of my photos from this adventure on Flickr 

Created with flickr slideshow.