Wanted an Elinchrom Skyport Controller for a while, in the end I couldn’t resist, time for a play!
There are a lot of things in my kit bags that aren’t really related to photography as well as things that are. Some of the things are in different bags, my studio bags include things like bulldog clips & various other clips, self adhesive Velcro patches & double sided sided pads & gaffer tape. Most of my daily use bags contain things like, 12v Power converters to charge USB-C & Lightning devices, there are a variety of tools including a Leatherman & Gerber penknives and headphones (some are bluetooth others are wired). In every bag though are business cards, notepads & pens. In bags that will hold a lap-top then a portable SSD in a caddy and various leads, USB-C to Ethernet, USB-C to HDMI etc & particularly useful at this time of year a torch (I have a variety a couple of LED Mag-Lite and “No Dads”.
There are things that don’t live in my bags, but get added on an “ad-hoc” basis, including an I-Fix-it tool set, spare Manfrotto Tripod plates, Pocket Wizard Radio Remotes, colour checker cards etc.
Hands up, who knew that Elinchrom did cable tidys? Ordered a Manfrotto Friction Arm from one of my preferred suppliers and spotted these on their website. Probably a bit of overkill for synch leads, but perfect for power cables, will be great for my 5 metre cables as well as the standard ones.
If it has a digital readout it definitely isn’t a toy. Old battery charger power supply went out, I will have a search for a replacement (I have loads knocking about, just a case of finding the right one) in the meantime I ordered replacement, unfortunately I couldn’t find a 16 Bay charger, so an 8 bay will have to do.
One of my PocketWizards has been a little flakey recently, it will work fine on a camera as a receiver and on the Studio heads, but will only randomly trigger if mounted as the transmitter on the hot-shoe. A quick dismantling session (there are only two screws on the body) and a peak inside didn’t show any obvious problems. However after reassembly it was clear that there was some movement in the hot-shoe mount, which as it moved was enough to break the contact with the PCB.
Anyway a small blob of glue is sufficient to stop it moving & now seems 100% reliable, I will order a replacement foot (if they are available) and replace the original, not sure that it will make much difference as I don’t know if the issue is with the foot or the body of the transmitter that is worn. We’ll see.
Seeing as I have needed a chroma background on the last two shoots that I have taken the studio lights to, I thought it about time that I purchased one, I already have a Pixapro collapsible black/white background & quite like it, I thought I’d add a Blue/Green one to the kit. Only point I would make is don’t try and open it in the spare bedroom, as at 2 by 2.3m you need a bit of room to collapse it back down.
Loaded the studio lights & other kit in to the boot of the car at the weekend for a little photoshoot for a regular client, mostly head & shoulder photographs for their website & social media. Simple set up for green screen, two lights & large Elinchrom brollies to give an nice even lighting with sufficient power to ensure that there was enough depth of field to cover the subject from front to back (out of focus hair can be a pain to mask out of a green screen).
The green screen isn’t mine, I usually use white or black backgrounds for corporate head shots. I really should invest in a pop up green screen for the future.
A matter of days after getting the car MOT’d and serviced sods law dictated that a fault would occur. Moments after getting the car valeted it threw an Airbag warning light, fortunately a few weeks ago I purchased an OBDII code reader. This was its first test, plugged in and within seconds had tracked down the fault code (a dodgy igniter drivers side airbag), cleared it and the warning light disappeared and hasn’t returned. It cost about £80, so wasn’t the cheapest one, they start at about £20, but go up to £400+.
Many of the cheap ones have poor reviews, but this one said it worked as expected in pretty much every review, so I thought why not. This is specifically a VAG one, rather than a generic reader and works rather well. No need for batteries as it is powered by the OBDII socket and it boots up in seconds, like 1 or 2 seconds. Recommended? Yes if you have a Volkswagen, Audi, Seat,Skoda or Lamborghini.
Having been a advised on a few occassions that I should have a VPN installed on my Macs by a number of people over the years, I finally got around to it, the reason that it took me so long is that I fully expected it to be a “networking nightmare” to set up & get running (I remember installing Novell Networking systems & software back in the late 1980s & early 1990s.) however I was entirely wrong & it really couldn’t have been simpler or easier.
I have gone with NordVPN and will report my experiences in due course.
I like Apple gear, I have used Apple Macs for well over 20 years, iPods since the 1st Gen & iPhones since the 5, but other than the original headphone design, I cannot stand the Apple headphones, they simply will not stay in may ears, even if I am sitting perfectly still they will fall out within minutes, forget moving about. I very seldom use headphones of any sort, as I usually only listen to music or the radio when driving or at home (I have never felt the need to have music whilst walking around or exercising) but for listening to the football commentary whilst shooting a different football match these should make life easier, without cables to tangle up with camera straps/Jackets etc.
Since the airpods are so expensive and likely to last only a few days before I lose at least one of them, I purchased some cheaper alternatives. I am sure that they are inferior in some ways to the Apple version but a £15 for the white ones & £35 for the black ones, I can afford to lose a few & still be better off.
The white pair I used at the weekend & I am quite impressed with the sound quality, although the signal keeps breaking up, so they will be returned this week, the black ones do seem to be much better, a full test will be using them later this week.
A wee trip out to Harrow for an FA Cup Extra Preliminary round, Guildford ran out 2-1 winners.
After returning from a photoshoot recently, the tailgate on my trusty old wagon wouldn’t open. So climbed in the boot and managed to open it, then set about finding the cause, I knew that it wasn’t the latch or the motor that was causing the issue as the rear wiper, rear fogs & reversing light all error messaged. On cutting away the rubber cover it revealed two snapped wires, as well as several that looked like they may go at any time. I thought about soldering the breaks, but solder is brittle & likely to fail, in the end I ordered a crimping tool & some connectors. 10 minutes later, with the addition of plenty of wiring loom tape & a little insulating tape, Job Jobbed.
A little trip out to shoot some player profile pics, so lights, cameras & other paraphernalia all got loaded in to the poor old wagon. Must be nearly time to retire the old girl, 135k and 17 years old, yet still looks almost as good as the day it left the dealership
Guildford City played another pre-season friendly last night, this time away to Godalming Town. Although an evening kick-off it was still warm. It also caused me to miss the Lionesses soundly beating Sweden to make through to the final.
I recently purchased a new in-car USB-C charger, and I have to report it is a complete success. I recharged the 13 MacBook Pro from about 45% to full, whilst using it to edit photos, in about 45 minutes. The charger got a little warm, but not enough to worry about. It will also charge a mobile phone as well, but as I have a dedicated power supply for my iPhone I haven’t needed to try it.
I purchased it here, it may be available cheaper elsewhere.
Preseason friendly football match on one of the hottest days of the year, like one of the hottest days for a few years. Played on what looked like grass, only browner. I don’t know about the players but it certainly tested my deodorant as well as my cardiac fitness. Lugging 30 kilos of kit from the car to a football pitch on the other side of a football pitch & a club house.
I actually felt sorry for the Ref, I know unusual for me, but being a ginger I imagine that he probably found it a little tough going.
So in an update of the previous posting last month about a new in-car charger for the laptop, it would charge the laptop whilst it was off or sleeping, but not when in use, so upgraded to a 112 Watt USB-C & USB-A charger. It will provide 90w of charge through the USB-C port which should be ample for the 13″ MacBook Pro (The original Apple charger is rated at 61w) as well as a 18w of charge through the USB-A port.
Will give it a run out in the week as I have a football match to shoot and let you know how I get on with it.
A Manfrotto Suction Cup, plus a couple of other bits and pieces so enable a camera to be mounted on any smooth surface, such as a windscreen or on the body work of a car. I purchased it as I have a couple of jobs coming up that it will prove useful for. Will give a try out over the coming week or so in readiness.
A few days ago I ordered a bargain priced ThinkTank My 2nd Brain laptop bag for my 13″ Macbook, which is ideal for partnering with my ageing Airport Accelerator bag, £29 instead of the more usual price of £94. Well I enjoyed it so much I paid another visit to www.snapperstuff.com.
This time I came away with a laptop briefcase for my 13″ Macbook again for a bargain £40 instead of £125, these laptop bags are brilliantly designed & very well made, and even at full price are good value for money. They are specifically designed for Apple products, so fit perfectly, iPhones, iPads, Power Supplies etc. The Briefcase will be used as the work-a-day bag, with the vertical bag used with the back pack.
Just waiting for a bargain priced Airport Security 3 or Airport International to replace my old backpack.
I love a bargain, I wanted a digital watch for work, preferably something with a plastic case/strap etc as anything steel gets scratched to buggery, and I wanted something cheap & easy to read in low light. £30 and I have what must be the largest ever LCD watch. Waterproof to a far deeper depth than I will ever dive to and lighter than any watch that I have owned since the original Swatch.
I needed a new laptop bag, as the old Think Tank one was showing its age & didn’t really have enough storage space for everything I needed on the road, so a quick look at Snapperstuff, the UK importers website revealed the bargain of the month! A Think Tank My 2nd Brain 13 for only £29.00 plus P&P. instead of the usual £99.00.
Main advantage over the Artificial Intelligence case that I had previously is more padding & more storage space. I assume that the reason for the great price is that they are going to be replaced by something else in the near future. So grab one whilst the are available. Link Below.
Love this stuff, it is always worth having some knocking about. I managed to break the microphone mount for my in-car handsfree kit (an old Parrot 3100) and the only replacement was about £30, which for a tiny piece of plastic was ridiculous price, so a little packet of Sugru, moulded into the appropriate shape & stuck to the inside of the windscreen, now holds the microphone perfectly. Whilst it is not adjustable like the original it also will not break, randomly fall off or in any other way try to annoy me.
Took a little trip out with the laptop recently, it hasn’t been out a great deal since the pandemic f**ked up pretty much everything, so it wasn’t a great surprise that the battery has died, it gets to about 40% and then the machine shuts down, it only does it when I is under load, ie editing images, if you just leave it playing videos or browsing the web it will run to about 20%, so time for a new battery.
I had a look around and found a couple of guides for replacing batteries on 2017 touch-bar MacBooks & instantly decided that I would pay for someone else to do the job. SO £180 later, a brand new battery and a bit of a clean inside as well, and everything is good.
Need to charge the laptop on the road so I have purchased an in-car USB-C adaptor. It only provide 30w, so it will not power the laptop & charge at the same time (at least I don’t think it will) but it should be able to charge the laptop when not in use. I will give it a try out tomorrow as a test run & see how it goes, because the other option is a Mains Inverter, which is considerably bulkier & also requires the laptop power adaptor as well.
I also have the in-car charger lead for the Canon battery charger, but annoyingly Canon don’t support it on the later 1Dx mk2 & mk3 chargers, so I will have to use some older 1Dx batteries. I really wish that Canon would remember that a lot of users need to work off-grid from time to time.
It was a privilege to photograph the Afghan Women’s National Development Team on Sunday against the International Surrey Football -Women’s Team. Whilst the national team were in Australia the development team were in the UK. These young women have escaped the Taliban & made it to the UK, where they played their (as far as I am aware) first football match. I went to shoot the match as a number of former Guildford City Women FC players were involved. It was better weather for footballers than photographers, and although the Surrey team won, it was a spirited performance by the young Afghanistan team.
I look forward to hopefully shooting more of the International Surrey Woman’s team, other jobs permitting.
Need a hi-viz vest for a shoot tomorrow, not needed one for a very long time, so fished my old one out of the boot of the car, it seemed to have seen better days, with various stains & marks (mostly caused by things in the boot, oil, screen wash, coolant etc,). So a new one was purchased. Must remember not to just chuck it in the boot again.
I decided that my Canon EF400mm needed recalibrating, seeing as I don’t think that I recalibrated it after replacing the lens mount last year, at least it was dry outside, can’t say that it was particularly warm though, but I can’t believe the amount of pollen that settled on the camera and the laptop in the hour or so that I was doing it.
The recalibration would appear to not really have been necessary, as the Micro AF adjustment just changed from +6 to +5, which in the real world is not particularly significant. I also ran few a few other test options and can report that all seems to be well.
Ordered a new mini-tripod for shooting behind the goal, I have a Manfrotto Pixi Evo 2 section pod but whilst it is great, it just doesn’t have the height that I want. So a cheap & cheerful Neewer Mini Tripod has been added to the kit bag. For what I have intended for it, it doesn’t need to be incredibly rigid as it is only to hold the camera and a 24mm or a 16-35mm in one place, it will be shooting at at least 1/1000 of a second so camera shake is not going to be an issue. The only thing wrong that I can find is that the head has a QR plate and thread for the ball & socket head is 3/8th rather than the usual 1/4 so I can’t swap it for the ball & socket head that I already have.
You can never have to many back-up plans. I have a number of hard disks that are copies of the current archive, as well as disks that are “snapshots” of the archive from various points of time. Usually every 3 years is archived off to a disk for storage. Because of the increase in file sizes over the years, what used to fit on a 1TB hard disk now fills a 4TB hard disk & the next archive batch is likely to need a 6TB hard disk. This is not including video footage which will be added soon as I will add a drone to my arsenal in the coming months.
I have used a cheap caddy to access the disks until now, however a cheap 4 bay caddy came up & so at least some of the off-line archive will be more easily available. I have at the same time ordered a 1TB SSD to replace the OS disk in my MacPro. So more fun coming up in the next few days.
I haven’t speed tested the enclosure as the likely bottle neck will be the speed of the old drives that are installed in it. But hopefully it will be fast enough for the occasional delve into the archive.
The reason for the decision to increase the amount of “online” archive was because a former client got in touch to re-licence some images that are from way back in 2001/2 & required me to pull a rather dusty HDD to retrieve the High Res originals.
The manufacturer straps on my 1Dx bodies are starting to show their age, they don’t seem to like getting wet and in recent months they have got very wet & they are starting to separate. So ordered a couple of Think Tank straps, they seem OK, only time will tell, but everything else that I have from Think Tank have been superb. The only negative thing I can say is, they could have been more adventurous with the colours, only blue or grey available.
I have a number of PocketWizards, three Plus III and a Plus X, so I thought I should upgrade the Plus X to a Plus III, so after a bit of hunting around for the best price I ordered a Plus III from https://www.photospecialist.co.uk, who I have used on a few occasions. Within 48 hours I have my grubby hands on a Yellow Plus III. Until I went looking, I never realised that they did them in different colours. I am thinking that I may have to invest in another Yellow one for use as a remote release for behind the goal work.
The only downside is that I have to downgrade the firmware on the new remote to enable it to work with my older remotes. It is either that or pay $10 per remote to upgrade the old ones. Whilst there are quite a few changes to the “E” Release firmware, there is nothing that would appear to change the way that I use them. If in the future I decide differently I will upgrade the firmware.
Needed to update some labels on my camera bags & Lighting equipment bags, I have tried out a couple & they seem pretty good, and should be quite hardwearing. Over the course of the next few days I will replace the existing ones with these, there will also be some left over for a few Polo Shirts & Day-Glo vests.
Actually my first camera was a Christmas present from my dad and was a Zenit EM in 1979, and whilst it taught me the basics & I learned to develop & print with it, it was, basically crap. So in 1980 I upgraded (a little) to the Cosina CT-1, I also added 70-150mm zoom lens and continued to learn more & more, After upgrading the darkroom equipment from an old Johnson Wray Enlarger to an LPL C7700 & an EL Nikkor 50mm F2.8 I started to see the weakest link was the cheap glass, the standard lens was OK but the zoom was atrocious so in 1981, with money from Christmas & Birthdays and a loan from my mum & all of the Saturday Job money I had I replaced the CT-1 with a Canon A1, adding in due course a FDn 24mm F2, and an FDn 100mm F2.8, two of the sharpest lenses that Canon made at the time.
Anyway I had been looking for a Cosina CT-1 to add to the collection for quite a long time and most of the ones that I had seen were either totally borked or in such poor condition that I couldn’t be bothered to bid on them. Anyway last week a really tidy one came up and had the original standard lens, it was a little more expensive than I wanted to pay, but I’ve done it now. Just need to give a thorough clean, whack a new battery in it and some XP2 and away we go. One thing that I had forgotten is just how small these cameras are in comparison to my current gear.
It’s been a little while since I updated the blog & in fact been a while since anything really work related, mainly because everything went “tits up” during the initial Covid 19 lockdown & it has never really recovered. Hopefully some new developments over the next few months will improve matters. Anyway more importantly Guildford City have appointed a new manager (well actually brought forward his appointment from the end of this season) to get the club ready for next seasons push for promotion.
With any management change there tends to be other moves as well, City say goodbye to two regular scorers in Jordan Adeyemi, and Guildford stalwart who came up through the ranks at Guildford City Boys & Girls to play regularly for the seniors, Mikey Coppinger.
It’s early days, but the new manager comes with a wealth of experience, mainly at higher levels in the footballing pyramid, and his first game in charge resulted in a win, you frequently get boosts in performances with a manager change as players decide to fight for their places. Hopefully a start to build on.
Ordered some new hats, definitely required for the Canon EF11-24mm F4 L as the lens cap is huge, but they aren’t expensive so ordered a couple of others as well. The advantage with these is that you can screw them up & stuff them in your pocket, which you can’t with the hard plastic cap for the 11-24.
Having received a replacement rubber weather seal in the post this morning, I thought seeing as I had no football today get straight on with replacing the very worn one on my Canon 2x Extender. I have no idea how it became so worn as it is seldom used, probably less than a dozen times in the last 5 years.
Anyway a simple enough job, undo screws on the lens mount, lift the mount & slide the seal over, re-seat the mount and do up the screws, all in about 5 minutes, then a couple of test pictures to ensure that everything is in alignment and job done.
The Part Number for the seal is YA2-3463-00 and I believe the item is the same for most if not all Canon EF lenses that are weather sealed. I have a couple of other lenses that could do with the seal being replaced so I will confirm in due course.
So after a very mild Christmas & New Year, the cold weather is coming. Over the years I have had many pairs of gloves & they have either been great at keeping my hands warm & dry, but impossible to work the camera easily or they have been great for work, but useless & keeping the elements out. I have Adidas gloves for mild winter, I have NorthFace gloves for walking about when very cold & now I have added some Sealskinz gloves for when it is cold & I have to work.
I have tried mittens that fold back to reveal fingerless gloves, with thinsulate woven in, I have had “Easy-Off” gloves, that had rave reviews, but were almost completely unusable, I have tried gloves with “re-heater” pockets (similar to some ski gloves I had back in the 1980s) and everything I have tried has been poor or really poor for working in. Most people will probably cope with the cold better than I, but suffering from Raynaud’s phenomenon, means that I experience loss of blood circulation in the fingers at temperatures that most just consider to be a “bit” chilly.
Anyway my next miracle set of gloves (as yet unproven) come highly recommended from several professional colleagues. Their sizing for the gloves seem completely random, the perfect size for me is usually a size 9, but for the Sealskinz I need an 11. They claim waterproof, (a big claim as they have fold back index fingers) and windproof. First test, assuming that the crap weather that is forecast arrives, is shooting Guildford City Women in a Cup game at the Guildford Spectrum, a ground that is quite low level, in a hollow & very close to a river so it can get very cold.
Anyway, they are the most expensive pair of gloves that I have ever purchased, hopefully they will live up to their billing.
Having suffered with a knackered shoulder for the last year, and had back issues for a number of years, I decided that I would try something that a chiropractor that I saw years ago suggested. So I bought a TENS machine. It only arrived yesterday so no chance to really give it a go, but hopefully it will give some respite (not respit as our American cousins pronounce it) from the near constant pain that it causes. Expect an update soon, or not, depending upon how I feel.
Oh and before I forget, Happy New Year!
Merry Christmas to you all, well most of you, actually to some of you, a few of you, now that I think about, just me, Merry Christmas to me, jog on nothing here for you!
Purchased a few of these last week & they arrived today, I will let you know how I get on with them. Just seemed like a good idea at the time, so I have them on camera bags key rings etc. Not very bright but bright enough to see a keyhole, just will have to remember that I have them next time I stagger home from the pub.
Having liked the Zippo hand warmer, I decided that I would buy another, whilst hunting Amazon I saw a “Whitby Warmer” and thought I’d give it a go. It was quite a bit cheaper than I remember the Zippo being, and when it was delivered I also found that it was quite a bit larger as well. Hopefully it will work equally as well tomorrow evening whilst shooting football.
A splendid evening at the Mandolay Hotel in Guildford for a fundraising dinner & a talk by Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier. A horrible mixture of LED RGB lighting & conventional tungsten lights means that colour balance was a right royal pain in the backside, as I really didn’t want to chuck flash at everything. Matt was very amusing & the host was also very good. I understand that the evening was a success in fundraising terms & certainly most of the guests seemed to enjoy it.
The old AA 12 Bay charger packed up, I can’t complain it has had quite a lot of use. So seeing as I only had a couple of 4 bay chargers knocking about, decided that I should get a new one. Spotted a bit of a bargain, as I couldn’t find many 12 bay or larger chargers on Amazon. Ideally I would like a larger number of bays, as I like to recharge all of my batteries the day before I need them, which even with the 16 Bay charger it is going to mean filling it twice to charge all of the batteries.
A last minute winner puts Guildford City through to the 3rd round of the FA Vase.
It’s getting close to that time of the year that I need to fire up this little beastie, nothing worse than cold hands pitch-side and unable to feel the shutter release. I have ordered a new catalyst for it which will be here some time next week, but I have tested it today & it seems to work OK. I also have in the boot of the car some one-shot hand warmers, which will step up, if the Zippo fails to work. Just need some foot warmers now.
Brilliant service from CPS, an EOS 1Dx that needed a new Mirror Box, Focusing Screen and Lens Bayonet mount. Dropped in to Elstree on Tuesday and returned via UPS on Friday. Only downside is that it looks like I have to recalibrate the AF Micro-adjustments.
After repairing the 400mm lens recently I have finally dropped my 1Dx that was on it to CPS Elstree, to have the mount replaced & a realignment carried out, hopefully won’t be too expensive. I have also arranged to have a second body that has “issues” looked at. I was informed that (as a platinum member) it should be a two day turnaround plus shipping time. Due to only having one camera that I am able to rely on, I have cancelled my trip to Jersey as the second body that I have is a very high mileage body with 600,000 activations which whilst good for it’s age is in dire need of a new shutter & mirror box as well as a complete service.
Decent bit of football this weekend, Guildford City senior team won 6-1 at home on Saturday & Guildford City Women’s team won 6-0. On top of that England won 5-0 & the Arsenal Women won 3-0.
Shooting football in the torrential rain yesterday, meant that I was unable to shoot the women’s game that I was going to shoot today, most of the camera kit is dried out & ready to go, however getting the bags dry in time proved to be an issue. Fortunately the Canon gear I use is all weatherproof (although as I was asked yesterday, no not waterproof) so it has survived without ill-effect, however the Think-Tank Glass Limo & Retrospective 50 are still quietly dripping away in the airing cupboard. I know I should have used the rainproof covers for them, but they are a pain in the arse to use, so it’s my own fault.
Who’d have thought that upgrading an unsupported Mac from High Sierra to something more modern would be so difficult, starting yesterday, just after finishing the cutting out for the light case, I decided, STUPIDLY, to upgrade my MacPro.
Anyway long story short, with some (actually quite a lot) help from MacFinder (who supplied said MacPro some 3 plus years ago) I am now as up to date as the machine is likely to get, so MacFinder will have a another chunk of change from me in a year or so for a replacement.
AS it goes there are not too many issues with running Catalina on an old 5.1 MacPro, the only issue that I can report is that it doesn’t support the older WiFi standard, but I can live with running internet via Ethernet, and the other functions that WiFi bought with it like Airdrop I have never had before, so no probs. I can’t upgrade further to BigSur as also bluetooth & other things stop working, so at least I have another 20 months or so before beating up the piggy bank.
I have subsequently been informed that I could have gone to Mojave with slightly less effort, but as I have always/sometimes/occasionally/never said, if you are going to go for it, go big or go home.