I’ve done a couple of EDC posts detailing the things I carry. I’m a big fan of being prepared, although I don’t take it quite as far as “preppers” or survivalists. I do, however, take some ideas from them and adapt it to the urban life, or in my case, the weekend warrior lifestyle. I’ve done EDC posts on my range bag (which I keep in the car), Carry Bag, and personal items. As the Coast Guard says, Semper Paratus. Here’s a list detailing the times my gear has come in useful:
- Someone came into my workplace asking if we had duct tape. We didn’t. I ended up taking some from the mini-roll I had attached to my keychain.
- I got a flat tire driving home from San Jose to San Francisco one night. I put on my blinkers and pulled over, but could barely see because it was so dark. Thankfully, my range bag was in the truck and I used the crap out of my flashlight.
- The titanium spork always comes in handy for when take-out places don’t give me utensils and I’m on the move.
- My Gerber solves everything. The scissors, screwdriver, and pliers are my most used.
- I use the camping spork on my keychain for all sorts of minor adjustments when I need a flathead screwdriver or for opening bottles. I’ve only used the spork for eating about 3 times and as a fair warning, if you try to take it into a nightclub, they classify it as a weapon.
Now onto my Camera Bag EDC:
LCD screen and back of the grip
My post from a while back on the Meike MK-550DL Battery Grip is one of the most popular pages on my site. I still stand behind the purchase and the grip has saved me a whole lot of time and also a lot of money. I don’t need to purchase any extras in order to take time-lapses or to do long-exposure photography with exposures longer than 30 seconds. I’ve personally recommended the battery grip to a couple of my friends, although they have yet to jump in and make the purchase. It was hard to find a Meike MK-550DL Manual that made sense.
It’s been over a year since I created and published the first post, so I’ve had a really long time to learn the ins and outs of the grip. I love it and use it exclusively. I keep the grip on my camera when I store it in my bag and I’d say that 99.98% of the time, I have the battery grip attached with two batteries in. The battery life is incredible and I always have two extras in my bag that I can easily swap out.
I was over at Artis Coffee Roasters (twitter) in Berkeley a few weeks ago and discovered a company that I’d never heard of. For those of you who have never heard of Artis, I encourage you to look them up and go visit for yourself. I thought it was a neat concept because of the live-roast coffee that they do: right in front of you. It was my third time visiting. The first time, I went to get a demo of their super-cool, futuristic machines and the second time I went just to get a nice flat white and to do some writing – I was in the area already anyway.
While I was thinking about what to order, I stood right by the Aeropress section of the store and happened to see disk coffee filter made by Able Brewing (twitter). My dear friend had gotten me an Aeropress last year and I’ve since then fallen in love with it – it brews a mean cup. The Aeropress, combined with Perfect Coffee, and the disk filter from Able Brewing is unstoppable. It’s easy to clean, works like a charm, and is reusable. I invested $15 for something I can use over and over again. From the looks of it, Able Brewing is doing some great work and coming up with excellent products.
filter in place
how to instructions
fine coffee filter
I have to say I was NOT expecting this, but here it is, staring right at me. Apparently Google is rolling out sending money to friends and family right through the gmail interface. I don’t know too many people using Google Wallet right now, but it sounds very promising. Having it conveniently located in gmail makes it all-the-more wonderful. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. This does, however, confirm my suspicions: google is taking over the world. And I’m okay with it.
I’ve previously talked about how the placement of external flashes can have drastic effects on how images turn out. The type, configuration, and strength of your lighting can affect all sorts of things including, but not limited to: contrast and white balance. If you want to, see this post about flash placement and to see pictures of how it’ll affect your images.
Today, I want to talk about the reflector. You know, the thing you see a lot during photo shoots? For many years, I used to think that a reflector would do absolutely nothing for me in terms of improving the quality and visual appeal of my images, but I was dead wrong. I made the incorrect assumption that reflectors were only needed for portrait photography and wouldn’t help me in any other way. For a while, I was interested in doing some portrait photography, so I went ahead and bought one of the cheapest all-in-one reflectors I could find. I knew I wanted something portable, because I would be doing most of my shooting in either secluded areas or places that required travel. For the most part, I didn’t need anything for illuminating too large a swath of area, so I went with the Fotodiox 5-in-1 22” Premium-Grade Professional Collapsible Disc Reflector.
This guy has rhyme and is saying what so many out there are thinking. Look up urges you to live in the moment and engage with the outside world – the real world that isn’t in your phone.
Here’s the post about my expensive toys. I’ve had them for a few days now and pretty much just did a lot of experimentation with them. I bought the Yongnuo YN560-III Speedlite and the Yongnuo RF-603c for Canon cameras (make sure you get the right one; they have different letter designations for different camera models). I already have a Minolta Auto 200x that I’ve been using, but it’s pretty hard to use as an off-camera flash. That’s what the RF-603s are for. Let’s start off with the big one – coming in at about $70, the Yongnuo YN560 has zooming and a few different modes: manual, rx, and the two slave modes. It also has an LCD panel, power options, and a swiveling head with a white card and diffuser cleverly hidden. Keep in mind that I haven’t spent too much time with it, but this is what I do know:
Yongnuo YN560-III box
Contents of the box (carry case not shown)
- The Yongnuo comes with a carry case that protects the thing; it’s a nice touch and velcros shut so that everything is nice and snug.
- The head swivels pretty far to the left and right and there are marks that tell you how many degrees you’ve turned it. It’s pretty useful and an upgrade to my Minolta, which is fixed. I can dangle the Yongnuo on a ledge and swivel the head to achieve the lighting that I want.
- The built-in bounce card and diffuser work as they should and spread out the light, preventing it from being way too harsh and resulting in a nice, even amount of light.
- The LCD screen is useful and the buttons feel great to the touch. A backlight makes it easy for seeing at night. I only needed the manual to set up the custom functions and change the channel for the receivers. Everything else from the power selection to the zoom is pretty much self-explanatory.
If you’ve ever used a manual flash before, you know how it goes. The Yongnuo is a great tool and works beautifully. The options are simple and it pairs well with my RF-603s. The RF-603s are simple wireless flash triggers that come as an identical pair with a shutter connect cable. They both have a hot shoe, on/off switch, and shutter button. After you connect the shutter cable to the camera, you can do some remote shooting if you want.
Yongnuo RF-603c box
RF-603 in use (remote shutter)
Channel selector in the battery compartment
One of the transceivers and shutter cable
I pretty much set up my own mini studio with several pieces of paper and I was surprised by the results. I went with one piece of white printer paper on the table, one for the back, and one for each side. I connected one RF-603 to my Minolta flash and one to my camera. Then I turned the Yongnuo flash to RX mode, which makes for two flashes that I can fire off-camera; one on the left and one on the right. So far it’s been a great experience. Sometimes I’ll elevate one of the flashes if I’m shooting pictures of, let’s say, the iguana. It’s all experimentation from now on and I’m looking forward to learning some new tricks. Hopefully the tests shots below make the cut.
Pelikan pen with mini studio
Cologne with mini studio