Tuesday, 26 June 2012

'the Aviator' travel Jib from Zeke Kamm

I met Zeke Kamm at the 'Collision' conference at the the LA film school.
Zeke is a man of considerable passion, with some big ambitions and ideas.

There are no shortage of kick starter projects out there but this one caught my eye as it looks to be a good way to travel with a lightweight jib or crane offering the user the chance to add considerable 'production value' to a project.

Check out the examples and you will see what I mean.

Though just like a steady cam and slider it takes practice to master.

I do hope Zeke gets this off the ground as it is a clever and elegant design which doesn't break the bank.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Paying new prices for secondhand goods

Buying goods online requires a degree of trust.

You pay for a new item and you expect to get just that - something that has not been previously owned.

But that is just what has happened to me twice in the past few months.

I decided to buy an AirPrint capable printer and I opted for a Canon MX515 which I bought via a reseller on Amazon - £99.00 inc postage.

That one click purchase is too tempting, right?

Printer arrives.

First alarm bells ring.

Canon printers ALWAYS have little bits of orange tape on them, just about everywhere, holding various components in place.

There was no orange tape.

Then I went looking for the ink cartridges and saw that they had already been installed.

And one power cable - a two pin for Europe.

The little voice in my head told me that this is most probably the 'new' way.

I listened too, as I was in a rush and just wanted to get it up and running.

From that moment on no what I did the output was blurred - out of register and printed with big gaps in any image or text.

Nozzle cleaning did nothing neither did the clever auto pint head alignment feature.

It then began to dawn on me.

I'm pretty certain in my own mind that this printer had been used, rejected and returned by another user.

The vendor then decided they would try their luck with another customer.

What now makes me so certain of this?

I was in a hurry and I had now bought spare ink for the Canon MX515.

So I went to Staples and bought one over the counter for £79.00 (£20.00 cheaper than the reseller on Amazon)

Go home and open the open box.

There was a spanking new printer plastered with the orange tape.

Packed with a myriad of phone cables, adaptors and two power leads - Europe and UK.

I had to install the ink cartridges myself.

And then the printer goes into a once only start up mode just like a Mac.

Quite at odds with the 'dud' printer.

The second occasion this happened was when I bought 4 Hitachi 3TB 7200rpm HDD's for one of my BRILLIANT QNAP servers, which were heaven sent following my Drobo experience.

I purchased the drives form a highly reputable reseller in the Midlands.

The drives arrive.

Well packed but not in the 'one shot' antistatic foil bags but opened bags secured by one small piece of tape.

Foolishly I thought nothing of this.

Installed the first one in the QNAP.

It failed to be recognised.

And so it was with all of them.

I turned to QNAP, whose support was swift and most illuminating.

(If you are looking for superb and simple storage I cannot recommend QNAP too highly)

They viewed the QNAP TS879 remotely.

'We can see your problem' they said.

And took me through to the super special diagnosis screen which showed that someone had used and formatted the discs for use in a PC before they had got to me, and could contain some data.

I returned the drives and will no longer use the company concerned following this incident.

Yes, I should have realised much earlier on that both of these products were not quite as new as the vendor claimed.

Lesson - If the packaging looks like someone has opened it before then be VERY cautious.

It may well have had another life which the vendor does not want to share with you.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Stansted Airport Quadra Qaundry

I'm on the plane now, flying out to Belfast for a nice environmental portrait, having negotiated airport security at Stansted Airport.

I have all the gear with me that I packed but it could all have been so very different.

Stansted Airport security has always had a bit of a curse on it where I'm concerned - it is rarely smooth and I once missed a flight while waiting in a queue for more than an hour.

Bag packed.

1 x Canon 5d mkII with 'L' series 24 -105mm F4 lens, Fuji X100 (as back up) 2 x Canon Speedlights, Pocket Wizard TT5's, 2 x Manfrotto 5001B lightstands, two Lastolite reflective brollies (perfect for the job in hand) and 2 x Elinchrom Quadra systems, which all fit inside my Manfrotto Lino bag.

As I packed my bag a little voice in my head said 'why take the Speedlites as well as the Quadra's ?'

I'm now pleased I did, because this choice could have saved the day.

At security my well packed bag was subjected to an extra through fingertip search post scan, and was swabbed for explosives as per usual.

But this guy was beyond thorough.

I was polite and helpful.

Clock ticking, time to departure getting uncomfortably close.

Then he 'found' the Quadra packs and started a minute examination.

All clear - then he started to read the labels on the pack, where he found the words 'Lead Acid Gel'

'You can't fly with this'

'Oh really?' I replied 'I fly with it all the time and I believe it is safe to fly with'

'I'm going to take these to my supervisor' he said

I eavesdropped on the prolonged debate which swung back and forth between the powers that be, between a 'yes' and a 'no'

They let me through in the end but with more than a sideways glance - leaving me to run to the gate and make the plane by the skin of my teeth.

I understand their concern, lead acid batteries per se can be an issue but I understood gel to be different.

Lithium Ion is and issue too which they are even more stringent about.

I think Elinchrom have a certificate/document for download to show the security guys at airports.

I will be checking this one out pronto to ensure this does not happen again, or at least give my argument more of a persuasive fighting chance.

Location:Stansted Airport

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The honesty of 36 Fames.

I have been a fan of David Burnett for sometime.

If you are not familiar with his work, do check him out.

He has lived many lifetimes through his work and by all accounts is a true gent too.

This week he is interviewed in the Washington Post about the moment he missed one of the key images of the Vietnam war, which some argue played no small part in ending the conflict which claimed so many lives.

We live in an age where we don't have to think of the limitations of 36 frames.

Put a 32GB card in a Canon 5d MkII and stays on 999 frames and you can shoot for an age before it falls below that number.

I have talked in the past about my own experiences 'managing' 36 frames under sniper fire in Kosovo.

Back in the day the moment of switching a roll was a nervous moment indeed.

David's account is honest and illuminating, and perhaps should give us all food for thought.

What would your photography be like if you had to shoot 36 frames at a time?

I in no way at all hark back to the days of spending hours on end in the darkroom getting dermatitis from the chemicals and ruining endless pairs of trousers.

I am prepared to wager though that if we shot in a more controlled way our photography would be more thoughtful - and all the better for it.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Olympic Golden Great Webinar today

Olympic Gold Medalist David Hemery

A last moment announcement on my blog though it has been trailed pretty heavily elsewhere.

I have been rather busy of late and blogging and tweeting have been far from my mind....more of that to come.

Tonight I will be talking about the 'Olympic Golden Greats' series which Lucinda and I shot over the past two years on webinar hosted by Manfrotto.

There are still some spaces left if you click here

Even if you care nothing for sport you may be interested in the location lighting side of it.

Please come and join me.