On Assignment: Dealing With Bad Weather

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

Last Saturday, Oct. 8, was some of the worst weather I have had to work through in years.  It was 40 degrees, windy and raining. Throughout the day, the rain turned into snow then back into rain and finally back into snow. Surprise, surprise, all of my assignments were outside for the day. When I arrived at my first assignment it was immediately clear what the story would be: mud. Instead of a standard feature assignment, it became a giant weather assignment. I laced up my boots, headed into the pumpkin patch and concentrated on finding the muddiest pumpkins and people.

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Lighting High School Gyms for Basketball

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

Editors Note: While I am compiling my Year in Review photo galleries, I thought it would be a good time to post a few things I had been keeping in the bank. Enjoy.

The frozen parts of me are glad to be off of the football field and into a more temperature controlled environment. I’m talking about the start of the high school basketball season, of course! With the change of scenery comes a change in the equipment. This year I have streamlined my lighting equipment and managed to pack everything I need to light a gym into one small backpack, my Think Tank Photo Airport Antidote. Many shooters have given up on lighting gyms with the introduction of cameras that are capable of producing low noise, high ISO pictures. I still like the thrill of timing a picture just right and making an image that has good color to go along with good action.

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The Grip Case to End All Grip Cases

Man I could really use one of these. As you know I am pretty much a megaphone for Think Tank Photo bags and cases. I use them every day, own a ton of them and haven’t really found a company that seems to understand the needs of working photographers as much as they do. I want one. Enjoy the video.

Cheap Video Solution for Newspapers: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

© Matthew Jonas 2010

Web video is here to stay. And with the roll out of the new web platform I mentioned previously, we have been tasked with creating video content for all of our publications. I really want this to work out for us but I have made it clear to our editorial management that this will not be a “quantity versus quality” endeavor. Not every story will include video. I set our goals at 1 video per week, per paper. So basically I will probably end up cutting together 4 videos a week. It’s not going to be easy. But I like a challenge.

Speaking of challenges, the company actually purchased video cameras for the staff. In a time of furlough days, pay cuts and expense reductions it was a nice surprise. However, (let’s face it there is always a however) with the limited budget the equipment purchased was not the Canon XH-A1s and Sennheiser EW G3s that we would have liked. Instead we were given the Kodak Zi8 pocket video cameras and Audio-Technica wired lavaliere mics. The photo above shows the camera and mic along with my haggard Think Tank Photo Trim Changer.

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iPad For Transmitting Breaking News Photos?

I was listening to the police/fire scanner today when I heard a call about a wild fire. I immediately started thinking about how I would cover it and how I would transmit images from the field. I would need three things: a computer, wireless connection and a way to move images from the camera. It would also have to be light enough and small enough to fit in with the other gear I am carrying. Ideally it would fit in a belt pack or very slim backpack. Currently I would have to carry a 15 inch laptop, data card, card readers, etc. A 15 inch MacBook Pro is roughly 14 inches by 10 inches. It pretty much requires a backpack to carry. A single small device would be a great solution. So why not an iPad 3g and a camera connection kit? I think its a real possibility.

Here’s what needs to happen:

  1. Create a decent photo editing app with the ability to edit IPTC data for cutlines/captions. Ideally it should have the ability to upload the images via FTP/email directly from the app. There are some great photo editing apps already available for the iPad. Many of these apps can send images to social networking sites already. A developer needs to step up and create an app with just a few more features for press photographers. They will sell a ton.
  2. Design and build a case that can withstand the rigors of breaking news assignments and be easily carried. Think Tank Photo, I’m looking at you guys for this one. I believe that your designers have the ability to nail the design. Make it easy to access, slim, light and integrate it with your current modular system. Ideas? I already have a few. Call me. We’ll do lunch.
  3. Fix AT&Ts 3G network. (This probably goes without saying.) I don’t have an iPad…yet. Depending on AT&Ts network to move images quickly is not ideal at the moment. If there are a lot of people trying to do it, it won’t work at all. I have an iPhone 3Gs and I will admit the service has been better lately but it is far from perfect. Fix the network and widely distribute it. The money you (AT$T) spend will translate into profit when everyone uses your network.

Just a thought.

UPDATE: I just found this on FaceBook. Similar to what I had in mind but not quite as bulky.

UPDATED: Dear Think Tank…

UPDATED: It appears that I spoke too soon. The Hydrophobia 70-200 can be purchased here for $139 plus $35 for the eye piece or the Hydrophobia Flash 70-200 can be purchased here for $145 plus $35 for the eye piece. At least it was in the first month of 2010.

Dear Think Tank Photo, where are the rain covers for shorter lenses? I picked up this brochure at a store in Denver about 6 months ago. This was right before the rainy season and right before high school football started. When I flipped to this page I was so excited to find out you were making rain covers for smaller lenses than the 300mm to 600mm range. There finally was a competitor to the awesome but cumbersome Aquatech sport shields.  So I sent you an email to find out how I could get these and you promptly replied “We hope to release this new Hydrophobia by the end of the year.  If you have not done so already, you should register on our WEB site for immediate notification when this product is released.”

Well, it is now 2010. I am not writing this to rip on you guys, I am writing this as a loyal customer. I own more belt system pieces, airport bags and shoulder bags than most of the other working pros I know in Colorado. And guess what? I really like them and I use them everyday. So if you guys happen to find this post, drop me a line. Seriously, I want one…or two.

Sincerely, Matthew Jonas – Think Tank Photo customer since 2007.

The worst way to carry a camera

Wow. I can’t begin to describe what a bad idea this is for carrying a camera. If I catch any photojournalism students using one of these I will take your camera and make you shoot weather features for a month. I see a lot of angry reviews and broken cameras coming from the design of this holster. You will drop and break your DSLR while using this. I almost guarantee it. But don’t take my word for it, make sure you know where to send your camera for repair and get ready to whip out that credit card instead of your camera.

I recommend using a Domke strap or a Think Tank Strap. Solid design and sturdy as hell. I have used these for years and have NEVER had a problem.