Wednesday, November 27, 2013

ThinkTank Photo CityWalker 20 Review

The ThinkTank Photo CityWalker 20 is one sexy bag!

The first thing I want to touch on is what is present in all ThinkTank Photo bags: there are plenty of pockets. The front flap cover has a pocket that can house things that you want quick access to, like your wallet, phone, lens cover, etc. At the back, there is a pocket where you can put larger flat documents, like a FlashBender, or, in my example here, a magazine. There are also pockets on the either side of the bag where you can put a water bottle or, if the occasion calls for it, a speedlite or an extra small lens.

Going inside, you will see a big front pocket big enough to house an iPad. Careful though since this front pocket is not padded so you might want to reconsider putting the iPad there... Well, it is deep enough for a second, smaller DSLR body or micro4/3 camera. I think these bodies can take more of a beating than a tablet. Inside the front inner pocket are smaller pockets for business cards, pens, and other smaller, thinner things.

But fret not! There is a dedicated iPad pocket in the main compartment of the bag. The pocket has a very nice blue accent so you will easily find it - this is a very nice added design by TTP. It's big enough for an iPad (mine is the 4th generation) or similar-sized tablets. A bonus feature? You can actually put an 11-inch MacBook Air inside, albeit it will be situated between the bag and the camera compartment... Let me explain.

You see, the camera compartment is actually removable: there is a bag within the bag! So you can actually use this as a normal messenger bag on days when you don't need to bring your camera with you. And the bag itself is wide enough for an 11-inch MBA or similar-sized notebooks. I do recommend though that you put your small notebook on a sleeve.

You can put an ungripped DSLR inside with a standard zoom lens attached. You can also put a 70-200 lens on its own. Additional accessories like a speedlite plus another small prime can complete your system, something that I think is enough for day-to-day shooting.

A removable rain cover is included though I think the fabric of this bag is already enough for light showers. And also, this line of bag, like in the Retrospective line, has one of the best shoulder strap padding. I always say, the thicker the padding is the more comfortable it is to wear the bag. And TTP did not disappoint here.

And finally, to round it up, the front flap is secured via hook-and-loop tapes and a buckle. The buckle serves as a secondary lock when you put the hook-and-loop closures in "silent mode". That buckle is a nice touch and makes the bag more secure.

Check out the video prepared by the wife and I below to see the bag in action:

The ThinkTank Photo CityWalker 20 is Highly Recommended!

Get yours here:


Special thanks to Brian Erwin of ThinkTank Photo for providing the bag.

Gear used to make this post:

-- Canon Powershot G15 (Reviews Part 1 and Part 2)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

22nd Annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

It was a damn cold night - temperatures were in the teens!!! But I could not pass up such a wonderful event, especially the fireworks. These are some of my photos. Oh, and hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and the shopping afterwards! :)

Gear used to make this post:

-- Canon Powershot G15 (Reviews Part 1 and Part 2)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Joby Convertible Neck Strap

I hate neck straps. I disdain it with a fashion. I don't like that it strains the neck, is bulky and takes some time to put on and take off.

But, when Joby released the Convertible Neck Strap, I just had to try it out...

This is a very light, very slim neck strap. You can easily put it on or take it off your camera - for me, this is its best feature! It has three modes - you can change how the strap functions depending on your needs.

But a video of its modes is the best way to show how the strap works...

This strap is the only strap I can't hate.

This Joby Convertible Neck Strap is Highly Recommended!

So get yours here:


Special thanks to the wife, @reina_reyes, who served as my videographer.

Special thanks go to Emily Voigtlander. Good luck on your new endeavor. Special thanks to Joby, Inc for providing the strap.

Gear used to make this post:

-- Canon Powershot G15 (Reviews Part 1 and Part 2)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Battling the Early Afternoon Sun with the Phottix Ares and ExpoImaging FlashBender

It's never a good idea to do portrait photography in bright sunlight.


If you do this, then there will be really harsh shadows on your models's face. Also, because of the bright sunlight, your model will be squinting.

These two things will not give you a very flattering portrait…

So, if you have no option but to do your portrait photography in bright sunlight, then I suggest you follow these sure-fire techniques to improve your photography.

The first thing you need to do is to put the sun behind your model. With the sun behind, there won't be any harsh shadows on the face and the model definitely won't be squinting.

However, putting the sun behind our model will produce an unfortunate effect: to properly expose the model, the background will be overexposed! Just take a look at my photo below. My face is properly exposed and side-lit, but the background is very, very bright.

A solution to this problem is to add a “kicker” light.

The cheapest solution is using a reflector. Just aim the light back to your model and your model's face will be lit. The downside to this is a reflector can also be blinding! And this can make your model squint. Also, you are at the mercy of the ambient light. If the sun, say, gets blocked by clouds, then the amount of light reflected back will diminish.

A better solution is to use an external speedlite. With this, you can control the amount of light that you want to illuminate the model with. Also, you can place the kicker light anywhere you want. The only thing you would have to consider is the power ratio between the sun and your speedlite. And of course, you need to diffuse the speedlite or else it will cause harsh shadows on your model's face.

Also, a positive outcome of putting the sun behind your model is the sun will serve as a rim light. No need to bring, or buy a secondary speedlite just for this purpose. And nothing beats free!

I hope this will help you in your next outdoor photography. And don't listen to those who say you can't shoot in harsh sunlight. You just need to be wise about it. :)

Check out my set up for the photo shoot. I absolutely love the Rogue FlashBender and the Phottix Ares. I also used my Lowepro bag to weigh down my light stand. Also, I believe that it's critical to use a radio transmitter for your off-camera speedlite(s). With the bright sunlight, the infrared used by the camera system might get drowned out by the strong visible light spectrum.

Gear used to make this post:

-- Canon Powershot G15 (Reviews Part 1 and Part 2)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Autumn in Chicago

These photos prove that you don't have to drive far to see fall colors... Just go to downtown Chicago to have your fill!

I love these colors. And I certainly am not the only one enjoying them! So catch the changing colors while you still can.

Gear used to make this post:

-- Canon Powershot G15 (Reviews Part 1 and Part 2)


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