Lowepro Photo Sport Pro 30L AW Review

August 15, 2013

I have always been in search of a great hiking pack that can safely store a DSLR and a couple lenses. For the times you want to hit the trail but not take all your gear. Up until recently I would just throw my camera (wrapped in a t-shirt or jacket) in the main compartment of a hiking pack. This worked but was not the quickest at accessing my camera.  Then Lowepro came to the rescue. Back in May they sent me their Photo Sport Pro 30L AW camera pack.  The Photo Sport Pro 30L AW looks like a standard hiking pack except that it has a separate compartment on the side for your camera and lenses. This makes it easy to access your camera without having to dig through the main compartment. The opposite side of the pack has a mesh pocket that works really well to store a tripod. 

To test the pack out I hiked up Saddle Mountain, in the Oregon coastal range, in the early hours of the morning so I could catch the first rays of the sun peaking over the clouds. The hike gains a decent amount of elevation. Even with my pack loaded up to the brim I never once felt fatigue on my shoulders. 

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This pack can hold a lot. I was able to fit my 5DMKIII with a 35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.2 and 14mm f/2.8 all in the side compartment. In the main compartment I was able to fit another camera body plus all the gear and clothing  you see in the photo below. 

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Lowepro Flipside Sport 20L Review

April 17, 2013

Lowepro recently sent me their new Flipside Sport 20L AW camera pack to review. I have been a fan of Lowepro packs for a while now and the new FS20L did not disappoint.

Unlike most camera packs this one opens from the back. When I first heard Lowepro had released the FS20L I was pretty excited. My first pack with back access was the Flipside 400aw. I remember the day I got it being blown away at how much easier it was to access my gear. I was hiking on the coast in torrential rains and winds. This required me to cover the pack with the all-weather cover. With most packs, to access the contents you have to remove the all-weather cover first. With the flipside I was able to leave the cover on.

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The new FS20L brings the same idea in a pack but is geared more towards the outdoor adventure photographer. Where the 400aw was bulky and became a tad uncomfortable for mid range hikes, the FS20L is light and offers good support. Fully loaded I was able to hike 4+ miles with the pack and not feel any fatigue.

The pack has one of the best suspension systems I have seen in a camera pack. The sternum strap and waist strap do a good job of transferring weight away from the shoulders. The tightening straps on the waist were a little awkward. When tightened they leave an open loop that has the potential to snag. My favorite is when the straps can be easily tightened by pulling outwards.

The bag is best suited for day hike situations. While the pack can hold quite a bit of camera gear in the main compartment it does not offer much room for a jacket, lunch or other various hiking accessories. I was able to fit an iPad and small jacket in the front. On the side of the pack is a zipped compartment to put your hydration reservoir. It can fit up to a 1.5 bladder. I opted to put a skinny Klean Kanteen bottle on the side. It fit but I was not able to close the zipper and I was not super trusting of the bottle being held securely. I would have liked to see the ability to hold up to a 32oz Nalgene Bottle.

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The camera pack shines where it is most important, the gear compartment. The pack can hold a lot of gear. I love that I can fit a 24-70mm upright in the pack (with the FS400aw I had to lay the lens flat). This saves a good amount of room for other lenses. I was able to fit my 5DMKIII with 6 lenses in the bag (35mm L f/1.4, 50mm L f/1.2, 85mm L f/1.2, 14mm L f/2.8, 24-70mm L f/2.8, and 70-200mm L II f/2.8 IS). For most shoots though I only bring 3-4 lenses. This allows room for my extra batteries, memory cards, and CamRanger (a wireless tethering device).

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Overall this pack is a winner. It retains almost all of the strengths of the Flipside 400AW while dramatically improving on that bag’s weaknesses. The new FS20L will be my new go to pack for short hikes and photo shoots around town.

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Powell Butte Mountain Biking

March 2, 2012

I just bought my first full suspension mountain bike last week from Fat Tire Farms. For my third ride I went out with fellow photographer Ryan Lane to Powell Butte. We traded off shooting and modeling for each other. This is a compilation of the video I got during the shoot.

I attached a 5DMKii with a 14mm f/2.8 L lens to the bike with the Manfrotto Magic Arm and Super Clamp and it worked surprising well.

Music by: Ki:Theory KiTheory.com


iStockphoto Hot Shots Top 8

January 17, 2012

I’ve been submitting my photos to iStock since 2007. This past year I got to the point where I can support myself fully just off the income I get from iStock. I think part of my success can be attributed to the amazing community of istock contributors we have in Portland. Becoming friends with these fellow contributors, being able to pick their brains on stock, and always getting encouragement from them has been invaluable to me.

That said, this week three Portland photographers (including myself) had photos featured on iStock’s Hot Shots Top 8. It’s quite an honor to have my photos chosen along side of Quavondo and Ryan Lane, both amazing photographers and good friends. To make things even better another fellow Portland contributor, Adrea Gingerich got Image of The Week and then I am also the current featured Videographer. I’m quite proud of the amazing talent we have here in Portland.

 


Fitness Shoot

December 29, 2011

Back in May I did a big fitness shoot. This has been one of my bigger shoots to date that had a lot of aspects to juggle from location to craft services to talent and crew. Luckily for this shoot I had a producer that took care of all those things which allowed me to focus all my energy on the creative part of the shoot.

You can purchase the photos at istockphoto.

Producer: Kc Guyer

Exercise Instructor: Michelle Carter Damis

1st Assistant: Darren Utt

2nd Assistant: Rob Harris

Craft Services: Brenda Harris


Zion Nation Park Trip

December 1, 2011

In June I planned an outdoor adventure photo shoot in Zion National Park, Utah. We did hiking, canyoneering and mountain biking. This was my biggest photo shoot to date and probably the most fun I’ve had at work. Utah feels like one giant playground. Below is a behind the scenes video of the trip.

Models: Kc Guyer & Abbie Ware
Guide/Assistant: Jeremy McLaughlin

Video shot by cast and crew, edited by Isaac Lane Koval.

A word about production costs:

This shoot had the highest production cost of any shoot I’ve done to date. I spent around $3600 for airfare, car rental, lodging, food for cast and crew, and gear rental. When shooting stock all the costs of production fall on myself. There is no client giving me a budget. This can be pretty intimidating and scary. When I first started putting money into my productions I was afraid I wouldn’t make it back. It was even a little scary on the Zion trip. I quickly learned though by putting more money into my photo shoots I got a higher production value and my photos started selling 10-fold what they had sold when I put no money into my shoots. There were occasional shoots along the way that I’ve lost money but it ends up working out so that other shoots cover the cost of a failed shoot. The saying you have to spend money to make money is very true in this case. I just got the Zion photos up on stock recently so I haven’t recouped my production costs yet but I’m confident I will and then continue to make money off the shoot.

The photos are being sold as stock and can be found at Corbis Images: Zion Photos

Day 1: Hiking Observation Point

The first day of shooting we hiked up to Observation Point which over looks Zion Canyon.

Day 2: Canyoneering Lambs Knoll

On the second day of shooting we headed to the west side of the park in the Kolob Canyon area to canyoneer. These were dry canyons with repels of about 60-100 feet.

Day 3: Mountain Biking Gooseberry Mesa

On the last day of shooting we woke up before the sun rose and headed out to Gooseberry Mesa for mountain biking. Luck was on our side that day and provided a nice overcast which kept it cooler (a cool 92 degrees so all relative) then the previous days. This was my first real experience mountain biking and it essentially got me hooked on the sport.

Day 3.5: Backpacking Kolob Canyons

After mountain biking we headed back to Kolob Canyons for some backpacking/camping shots.

Cast and Crew Photos:


July Update: Signing with Two Agencies

July 21, 2011

I sometimes neglect blogging. This time it has been 5 months. A lot has happened in that time span. I will be updating more frequently now about all the happenings.

A few weeks ago I had someone ask me when I would start looking for a photography agency to pick them up. I told them that I needed to get more client jobs before I could get a good agency to represent me. Fast forward to last week I became aware of Wonderful Machine because a few of my photography friends had just been picked up by the agency. I took a look at Wonderful Machine’s roster of photographers and found that some of my favorite photographers are represented by them (as well as a few more friends).

After doing more research on Wonderful Machine I contacted them to see if they would be interested in representing me. I’m happy to announce I am now represented by Wonderful Machine. A couple of weeks ago I wouldn’t have expected this at all. Hopefully this will bring more exposure to my work and start bringing in more clients.

When joining Wonderful Machine they asked me who my dream clients would be. I think at this point any client that pays to send me out into amazing wilderness locations to shoot is a dream client.

In other news I recently signed with Sports + Lifestyle Unlimited as a model. After people telling me for a while that I should try modeling out I finally took the plunge. I think being on the other side of the camera can be a great learning experience for any photographer. It gives them a better sense as to how the models are feeling and how to better direct them. I am hoping modeling will also help with getting connections in the industry. Brian Benthin (REI Art Director) wrote a great blog post about being on the other side of the camera recently. Brian also gave me a great critique on my recent work. It was invaluable. I have a lot to work on to get to where I want with my photography but I feel the path is a lot clearer now.


Hiking Spot: A Learning Exercise

July 21, 2011

It’s always easy to look at a piece of work and say “I could do that” or “I could do better than that” but when you actually try, you realize there is more that went into the piece than you thought.

This short spot was done as an exercise of becoming more familiar with my video gear and finding a workflow on set that was both fast and efficient. I did not want to worry as much about the story and the shot list so I borrowed/copied the storyboard from a recent REI video.

At first I was a little apprehensive about copying another piece of work but I found the exercise ended up being a great learning experience. It really made me dissect the REI spot to find out why and how it worked. From the pacing, shot selection, to camera movement it all ended up driving the narrative. Being able to compare my short to the REI short I was able to pinpoint exactly where my short was weak and fell through. On my shorts in the past it has not been as obvious to me.

While it is disappointing when I produce a piece of work that is not up to what I envisioned in my head I always end up learning more from these experiences. During the editing process I sat down with my assistant Darren Utt and we went through the process step by step to see where the mistakes had come from and how we could learn from them to produce better work in the future. Out of this meeting we came away with a solid foundation for future shoots. I like to call it my “Bible” for shooting.

Talent: Kc Guyer and Laura Duyn
Camera/Director Assistant: Darren Utt

Behind the scenes photos taken Laura Duyn and Darren Utt.


Film: Gorge Running

February 25, 2011

Before diving into photography I was a film major at Chapman University. At the time I had aspirations of making feature films in Hollywood. However, after a year I quickly learned the Hollywood lifestyle was not for me. Since my film days I have dabbled occasionally in making short movies but more as just a side hobby. I realized trying to do both movies and photography at the same time was just too expensive. Then the 5DMKII came along and it became possible for me to use essentially the same equipment for both shooting photos and short movies.

I met Kc Guyer back in July on a photo shoot (where he was able to secure us this amazing mountain cabin for free). Recently we started talking about putting together some short movies to start shopping around to clients. The following video is our first collaboration of hopefully many. It was shot in the Columbia Gorge. Adam Webber assisted and Kc Guyer and Cassie Torres (models from my snowshoeing photo shoot) were the talent. I rented a Kessler Pocket Dolly and Zacuto Z-Finder for the day which I found made a huge difference in the quality of the footage. Usually when you think of a dolly you think of a heavy cumbersome piece of equipment that takes a good amount of time to set up. Kessler’s Pocket Dolly definitely changed my opinion on that. Not only was I easily able to hike 3+ miles of steep terrain with the 3′ Pocket Dolly slung over my shoulder it took only a matter of minutes to set up for each shot. This is pretty key for me as most of my work involves a lot of trekking and my crew is usually just me and the talent.  I’ve only used a couple dollies in the past so I can’t really comment on how it compares to other products but I do know that this one is extremely smooth and quiet. The pocket dolly is definitely going to be my next equipment purchase and it will probably travel everywhere with me.

Behind the scenes photos shot by Adam Webber at www.webberfilm.com

Talent: Kc Guyer and Cassie Torres

Assistant Camera: Adam Webber

Co-Produced: Isaac Lane Koval and Kc Guyer


Lifestyle: Snowshoeing, Mt. Hood

January 18, 2011

This winter snowshoeing has fast taken the place of hiking for me, at least until it starts warming up and the sun appears again. In December I did my first snowshoeing photo shoot up on Mt. Hood. There should be many more to come.

I’ve learned over the last year that by just buying a few props or wardrobe pieces you take your photos to the next level. Before this shoot I headed over to REI and picked up two colorful wool hats. The result: photos that pop out a little more.

Models: Kc and Cassie


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