Sunday, April 20, 2008

Consideration Of Others

As I'm sure is true for many of you, much of the time my primary photographic subject is my family. As a result, I find myself often lugging my gear to and from my children's events, swimming, baseball, Boy Scouts, etc.

Last week was no exception, it was swim class day and of course I went with my usual gear. My gripped 40D with a 70-200 f/2.8 L attached, all sitting on top of a monopod. I like the 70-200 when shooting swimming as the pool is indoors and every bit of speed is welcome as well as the fact that I like to shoot from across the pool so as to get the best angle, thus every bit of reach is welcome as well.

Now on to the point of this post...

Now keep in mind, this is a pool at the University where my wife works/teaches and where my son has taken over a dozen swim classes, we are known by name to the pool staff. So last week I was sitting there with my gear, snaping away, happy as any enthusiast photographer can be when a pool security guard walks up to me and asks if my son is swimming. I answer yes and point to my son (pic above) who at that moment waves to me. At that point he tells me that shooting pictures at the pool is not allowed...something I've been doing for years. However, he tells me he will give me a pass this time and walks away.

I didn't think much of it at the time but looking across the pool I see the security guard and other staff talking and pointing at me. My wife notices this as well and walks up the security guard and staff and points out I am her husband, my son is swimming in the class and I can stop taking pictures if they wish. They tell her no and she walks away. Unfortunately, jabbering and pointing continues.

The short of this is that it seemed obvious my presence and camera were making pool staff very uncofortable so I decided to pack it in for the day. After putting everything back I went and sat over by my wife. This is when everything came together. Apparently my sitting on the other side of the pool with a big white lens, shooting away was making some of the other parents nervous so they were asking pool staff who I was. Pool staff whom I at least looked familiar to wanted to do something to put the parents at ease. Hence why the pool staff were obsessing over me so much.

Apparently, my coming to the other side and sitting by my wife put things at rest. I allowed the other parents to realize that my son in fact was in the class and my interest was merely that of a parent that loves to take pics of his family, nothing more sinister.

This was a huge learning experience for me. I was reminded that while my intentions are pure, not everyone's are. I learned that other parents care and wish to protect their families as I do. I learned that letting other parents know who I am and why I'm sitting across the pool with a big white lens will go a million miles in eliminating issues and headaches. This week I showed up with the same gear and was not bothered in the least.

Thanks for reading along with this long story, just remember that a quick introduction in some circumstances can go a long way in putting your subjects at each and making your presence not affect the situation around you. This week, not only were the parents more relaxed but so were the children, resuling in much richer and more valuable outcome.

Friday, April 11, 2008

An Affordable Clamp

So I'm working on developing my strobist kit. One of the things I need to do is get my lights off camera and be able to trigger more then one at a time. Of course I will need a trigger for the flashes but most importantly I need a way to mount them to things. I wasn't too hot on buying a $25 super clamp (Click Here) as I am saving for more strobes and remote triggers. Two clamps would cost me almost as much as a Sunpak 383 flash. So after hanging out on my favorite Photography Forum I was inspired by the do-it-yourself ingenuity of many of its members. This inspired me to make my own clamps. Following is the process I followed and the outcome. Hope you find this useful.

Here are the parts you'll need and the steps necessary to make your own clamps.

1. Get a spring clamp from Home Depot. I went with the Babco generic brand and I figured why spend more on a Pony clamp which is twice the price and has no benefits that I can discern. You can find the clamp at Home Depot for 99 cents (Click Here).


2. You will need to cut a hole in the back handle where there is a pre-drilled hole ready for you to use. As the handle cover is soft I was able to do this with a sharp knife with ease.


3. Know you'll need a few more parts which will allow your flash to attach to the clamp.
  • 5/8" bolt...about 40 cents
  • 5/8" locking washer...about 15 cents
  • 5/8" nut (Click Here)...23 cents
  • Umbrella adapter which hot shoe mount (Click Here)...$16.99. I got mine at Calumet Photo but I'm sure you can find this even cheaper at B&H. I think their Impact brand is $13.99.

4. Now assemble mount for the flash bracket by pushing the bolt through the bottom then placing the locking washer and nut on the other side, tightening everything up nice and tight.


5. Now just screw on the umbrella mount to the bolt. It will tighten up nice and tight for you. Providing the perfect place to put your flash.


6. Finally just put your flash on and hook up your other items like remote triggers and you are ready to go. Below is my 580EX II attached. The bracket holding on to my desk nice and tight.


While this might not be the answer for all situations will provide me a nice sturdy clamp for all my needs for an great price. Only $18.76 compared to $44.94 when using the Bogen super clamp.
(Note: I included the umbrella bracket in my pricing. Taking out the umbrella bracket--which I like to use as it gives me adjustability for the flash--the DIY clamp is $1.77 versus the Bogen clamp at $27.95.)

Regardless of how you choose to ultimately go I would recommend giving this a try. Not only is it affordable but most importantly it is effective. Feel free to let me know if there are any questions.