Friday, June 29, 2012

Retrofitting the Think Tank Retrospective 30

Since I am both a photographer and a videographer, I use different camera bag setups depending on the occasion and the gear that I need to bring. 

The Think Tank Retrospective 30 which I've reviewed before on this blog, is one of my favorite camera bags. While I mainly use this bag for photography, I recently came across a way to make it more suitable to carry a loadout for a small video camera, particularly a Canon XA10.

By itself, the The Retrospective 30 is a very soft and malleable bag.  Even the dividers that come with it are thin and flexible. While that works for carrying camera lenses, the XA10 with its attached handle and shotgun microphone needs a little more padding and protection.

Like many photographers, I have several camera bags and cases that I've collected over the years. One of the advantages of this (or disadvantages, if you ask my wife), is that they come with lots of extra dividers that wind up sitting in your closet. 

Among my other camera cases is a Think Tank Airport Security 2.0 roller bag. When I bought this case, it came with an extra set of semi-rigid dividers.

I came across them this evening when my wife ordered me to clean up the mess while reorganizing the workroom, and it dawned on me that I might be able to use these semi rigid dividers to retrofit the Retrospective 30 into a video camera bag.

First I took out all the soft dividers from the bag. I attached a few of them to the bottom of the bag to make a more padded base.

I then took several long and short semi-rigid dividers from the roller bag and lined the interiors of the Retrospective 30 with them.  I doubled up on some of them to make the space more form-fitting to the XA10.

This added just a bit of sturdiness to the sides of the bag and made a space that perfectly fit the XA10 with the handle, shotgun microphone, and wide angle lens attached.

Wireless microphones and other accessories fit easily in the outer pockets.

I was also able to do the same with another bag I hadn't used in a while - the Think Tank Urban Disguise 50.  The Urban Disguise series is nice because the main compartment can be completely zipped up in a dusty environment.

It's a little more padded than the Retrospective 30 so I chose to just use 2 shorter dividers on both ends of the bag to reinforce the interior.

While these bags won't offer the same amount of protection as say, a Pelican 1510 case, they are much lighter and make for pretty nice and inconspicuous video camera bags.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Finding reflectors in the environment

When out shooting on location, it's always good to keep an eye out for things that can be used as reflectors. Whether it's the glare of a late afternoon sun reflected in a window of a nearby building or the wall of a public restroom, reflectors can be found all around in places you would not expect to see them.

Even in a parking lot. . . 

While prepping for a test shoot at Ironwood Beach in Kapalua, I noticed some trees next to an empty parking stall that would make a nice backdrop for a photo.  What made it even better was that there was a white Toyota Tacoma in the next stall which acted as a natural reflector for the late afternoon sun.

When the model Stephanie arrived, I had her stand in the empty stall and we did a few quick shots using nothing but natural light.  Since she was pretty close to the trees, I shot with the lens wide open to blur the background as much as possible. In addition, there was sunlight streaming through the branches of the trees so Stephanie had to position herself carefully so that we wouldn't get spots of bright sunlight on her face (you can see some of it on her right shoulder in this first image).

One thing to keep in mind when using reflectors in the environment is that light will take on the color of whatever it is bouncing off of.  For example, sunlight that reflects off of a tan or brown wall will cast a warmer light on your model than sunlight bounced off of a blue wall.