New Manfrotto Tri-Backpack Article On

This year has brought me a lot of good luck and lot of things earned through good old-fashioned hard work. I suppose my Manfrotto relationship is a mix of both. One day I was on my way to Hoboken to do a maternity shoot. I posted my pile-o-stuff at the train station to my Instagram account. One way or another Manfrotto got wind of my pile-o-stuff and wanted to share their product with me. It has made my traveling a whole lot easier.

This isn't even packed to capacity. My average shoot leaves room to spare for items like trail mix.
This isn’t even packed to capacity. My average shoot leaves room to spare for items like trail mix.

Product placement always kind of bothers me, but when I say I am using a particular product, you better believe it’s because I actually like using the product. Special thanks to The New Royalty and Salt Studios for being available to shoot this bad mamma jamma.

Let’s get down to it! My latest article featuring a photo shoot with New Jersey-based The New Royalty is now up on


Manfrotto Advanced Bags Review for the Tri Backpack

(This is an article I wrote for Manfrotto Advanced Bags originally published on the Manfrotto Bags web site.)

Shooting both photo and cinema requires me to always have quite a few pieces of gear on hand and the room to cram in more on the fly. In a matter of days I had a maternity shoot, a family shoot and a project for Rutgers Newark. The variety of gear that I need to carry with me needs to be in one place so I can set up quickly and have my inventory available to me at all times.

What I like about the bag is it fits everything I need for a shoot including two Canon 6Ds, all three of my lenses, two flashes, transceivers, memory cards, gaffer tape, BeFree tripod and extra batteries. The pack feels sturdy on my back and the straps distribute the weight evenly. No painful digging into my shoulders. I remember when I first started out and thought bags were nonsense. But a great bag is crucial to staying organized and saving your back from unwanted stress.

The Simko Family joined me at Duke Island Park (Hillsborough, New Jersey) for a family session focusing on their children. It was a very cold day, so it was crucial to work quickly and nail their personalities before the cold took its toll on cheeks and noses. I usually keep my setup light and easy to carry for outdoor sessions like this. One bag and a lightstand for a bit of off camera flash when needed.

Manfrotto bag in Hillsborough, NJ
One lightstand, BeFree tripod and Tri Backpack
Kids being kids. I love the calm to one side and the action on the other.
Kids being kids. I love the calm to one side and the action on the other.

Rima’s maternity shoot (Lawrenceville, New Jersey) was done in the comfort of her home. The living room had plenty of natural light, but I wanted to warm up the inside a bit, so I setup an umbrella and flash with a light orange gel. Just enough to kiss the room with a slight warmth. I don’t normally like blowing out backgrounds, but I liked having the room hug her in glowing light. This is a very happy time, but it’s also important to convey that feeling by making the person feel totally comfortable. I practice the advice I’ve learned when it comes to more intimate portrait settings. Talk to the person and make them feel like it’s no big deal to be in front of a camera. Everything kind of writes itself once you’ve established that.

Rima's maternity session
Rima’s maternity session

Rutgers University has hired me recently to document events hosted at the school campuses. This particular event (Newark, New Jersey) dealt more with video and put my Tri Backpack to the test. There’s quite a bit more involved with video compared to photo. Lavalier microphone, external audio recorder, LED light, extra batteries, headphones, etc. All of these items are a standard and I’m ecstatic that I can fit this array of equipment into a single bag.

Mayor Baraka speaks at GradNation
Mayor Baraka (Newark, NJ) speaks at GradNation
Manfrotto in Newark, NJ
Newark always has some sort of crazy construction going on. I intentionally framed this to look like the crane is coming out of the bag.

Of course when a friend is just minutes from boarding a bus (New York, New York) to the airport it’s a perfect time to do a headshot. Because I’m a swell guy! Sara teaches at the University of South Dakota and needed a new headshot for her school page. No problem, Sara, and safe travels.

Portrait of Sara Lampert
Sara Lampert, Assistant Professor, History, College of Arts & Sciences at the University of South Dakota

Then I headed to Times Square for some long exposure shots of the tourists. I could have sat there all day watching people enjoying their time in New York City.

Times Square, NYC. 50mm @ f/16. 20 second exposure.
Times Square, NYC. 50mm @ f/16. 20 second exposure.
Manfrotto in New York City, New York
All I need for a day trip into Manhattan.


My Time With The The Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS

This is an impressive lens. The Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L is primarily used for nature and sports photography and the Image Stabilization is necessary even with a quality tripod. When a lens has its own strap, you know it’s quite heavy. I’ve also never used a more expensive lens in my life. At $14,000.00 you better believe I was extremely careful with it.

My goal was to take it out and capture local wildlife in the short time I’d have it. The photos below are from The Great Swamp in Basking Ridge, New Jersey as well as Rahway River Park in Rahway, New Jersey. Very pleased with the results. Thanks to Canon CPS for letting me use this monster.

Go ahead and treat yourself.

Canon 800mm f/5.6 lens

Canon EF 800mm f/5.6 lens

Blackmagic Production Camera 4K

Blackmagic Production Camera 4KA very exciting announcement was made at NAB 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada this week. Blackmagic Design announced two ridiculously affordable cinema cameras. One is a pocket cinema camera which will accept Micro 4/3 (MFT) lenses and uses SD cards to save the data. Very compact and you get the power of RAW. That means you will be able to adjust highlights, shadows and white balance to your liking AFTER you have recorded.

The other camera announced is the brand new Blackmagic Production Camera 4K. It will retail for $4,000.00 and that’s an unbelievable price. RED was rumored, many years ago, to be working on a 4K camera for $4,000.00. It never happened! Once again Blackmagic makes jaws drop across the world with their innovative and affordable technology.

Read more about the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K.

GoPro HERO3 Black Edition: Unboxing

A few years ago I had no idea what a GoPro was. A tiny video camera? Was it any good? Skateboarders use it? Huh? What? Now I keep it with my traditional photo gear and it has become one of my most used tools. The GoPro HERO3 Black Edition video quality has reached a level that competes with even the best DSLR cameras.

Sennheiser EW100 G3 Wireless Microphone System

There comes a time when it’s time to upgrade old equipment. Goodbye NADY and hello Sennheiser EW100 G3! Crystal clear audio and a rock solid design. I could probably use the receiver or transmitter as a hammer. METAL BODIES! I’ve found that just about every video camera I’ve used has lackluster audio. It’s usually lacking the dynamic range needed. Too tinny. Too much bass and not enough mids. Whatever the case, internal microphones on DSLRs usually suck pretty bad. I love being able to finely tune the sensitivity of this rig so it’s perfect. No weird hisses or interference.

Below is a video clip demonstrating Canon 7D with a Sennheiser EW100 G3.


Just Announced: GoPro HD HERO3 Black Edition

GoPro HD HERO3 Black Edition

Pretty exciting news from GoPro this morning. The HD HERO3! They’re packing even more punch into their already amazing little camera. I like that they’re also keeping their $200.00 base price intact and tiering the products from that point. Smart thinking! For those still using the GoPro HD HERO2, they just released an amazing firmware update to improve the bit rate for video and also overall image quality.


GoPro HD HERO2 Firmware Update

Protune firmware update for GoPro HD HERO2Huge firmware update for one of my favorite tools. The GoPro HD HERO2 is always in my gear bag. But it has never shot at 24fps and the quality is less than what my Canon 7D can produce. However, the 7D is a more powerful device. Now it looks as though the GoPro is going to be able to compete big time! Protune™ to the rescue!


  • High Quality Image Capture
  • Protunes’s 35Mbps data rate provides less compressed cinema quality image giving content creators more flexibility in post production.
  • Neutral Color
  • Protunes neutral color profile offers more flexibility during post production color correction. Protunes log curve captures more detail in shadows and highlight.
  • Film/TV Frame Rate Standard
  • Now record video in 24FPS and easily intercut GoPro content with other source media without needing to perform FPS conversion.

TASCAM DR-40 Digital Audio Recorder

TASCAM DR-40 Digital Audio RecorderThe TASCAM DR-40 is a compact and ultra-high quality portable digital audio recorder. I needed a solution to the “tinny” audio that some of my video devices were producing. Even the best video cameras seem to have this problem. I love TASCAM products. They’re focused on quality and everything I’ve purchased from them in the past has under-promised and over-delivered. This is a product that comes with a manual, but really doesn’t need one because it’s so easy to figure out. It even comes with three “AA” batteries to get started. The only things they don’t put in the box are thumbs. I suggest getting two of those. Figuring out how to use the DR-40 is pretty intuitive. I’ve rarely consulted with the manual except for some fine tuning.

You can watch one of my video blogs to hear the audio quality of this device.