Sunday, December 19, 2010

Let it snow!

I love snow, I love the look of fresh fallen snow on the trees and houses. The beautiful landscapes and scenery inspire me to want to go out and take photos, but for some reason, it is so hard to actually go out and do it. On a cold and snowy day it is so easy to just sit inside and curl up on the couch with my husband, kitties and a good book or movie. So I have to force myself pull out the camera and practice photography. When I'm driving through my town, I look for houses, places or things that I want to photograph, hoping it will get me off my ass. Unfortunately it doesn't always work, but today, after a nice snow I decided to at least go out and get a couple shots.

I loved the textures of this old shed. I wish I would have positioned myself better in front of it, but since I was almost standing in someone's backyard, I decided not to go in much further.

I also decided to practice a bit with one of my favorite subjects, my boy Spitze. One of his favorite things is getting shoulder rides from Brandon. He flops down like a rag doll on his shoulder and loves to just look around and get some lovin'. He is such a handsome guy, I guess I need to take more photos of him, he is such a good looking subject.
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

A few more from Dublin.

Because the weather is crappy and I'm too lazy to shoot and edit some new photos, here are some more from our Thanksgiving trip.

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I loved the shamrock light posts in Dublin, there were

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The Georgian architecture and colorful doors were all throughout the Dublin neighborhoods. They say that when Queen Victoria died the British people painted their doors black to signify their mourning and the Irish were ordered to as well. In response to this, the Irish painted their doors anything but black.

Not only do I love the name of this little cafe, but the Lemon Meringue Tart was amazing! Those silver discs are all the awards they have won in recent years.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My bags...a review.

I am, admittedly, a bag whore. I blogged about this before with another bag review, but it is time for a new review since I have added to the collection and some of my reviews have changed a bit. It actually extends beyond camera bags to purses, backpacks, gym bags and pretty much all types of bags. My photography hobby has just given me a new type of bag to shop for. Finding the perfect bag is difficult because I don't have a well stocked camera store nearby so most of my bags have been purchased online. Some of them I love, some are okay, but I really have yet to meet a camera bag that I hate. Here are some of my thoughts on the ones I currently have, and a couple of really bad photos that I probably should have spent more time on...

Check out my previous post for my Jill-e review.

From left to right: Ketti Bag, Kelly Moore Hobo, Epiphanie Ginger (bad photos but you can see the size differences)

Kelly Moore Hobo:

I love, love, love this bag. It was seriously love at first site when I opened the box. The KM Hobo was exactly what I was looking for in a bag to take with me on a day out shooting. I can fit my camera and my favorite lenses for traveling (24-85mm, 14-24mm, 105mm), along with my wallet and other "purse stuff". The padded cross body strap is comfortable and adjustable, and there are zipper pockets on the front and back for keeping money or other things safe but accessible. There is also a zipper top with a magnetic flap to deter anyone from trying to reach in and grab something. Besides being gorgeous, the bag sits perfectly at my side/hip while I'm walking, standing, crouching or whatever position I am shooting in. It has a much slimmer profile than my Ginger, which ideal for walking around, but also means there is less room to carry some of the extra lenses and other things I may want to have on me.

The padding is adjustable and sturdy, but not quite as thick as my Ginger or Tamracs. It offers sufficient protection, but I would definitely have concerns if my bag wer to fall. I don't really see this as a problem considering I am pretty careful with my gear and the bag is so slim that I don't have to set it down while shooting.

I have only had this bag for a few days, but it is already a favorite and I can see my KM Hobo being my new "go-to" bag....sorry Ginger.

Left: Kelly Moore Hobo in Grey Right: Epiphanie Ginger in Brown (excuse the horrible photos)

Epiphanie Ginger: My Ginger is my current "go-to" bag, she is beautiful, functional and big enough to carry most of the gear I need for a day out. I have used her while traveling and just walking around town. I can fit my camera body and about 2-3 lenses, accessories and my wallet and other "purse stuff". Not only does she fit just about everything I need and want, but she is beautiful and looks like a purse instead of an ugly camera bag. The padding is very good and protects my gear very well. The dividers are adjustable making this bag very functional.

The only real downside is that is can be a bit bulky. I don't really mind the bulk too much, but when I have to carry it around when traveling it is sometimes a pain. Also, if I load up my bag with as much gear as it can hold, then it can definitely get a bit heavy. While the shoulder strap is well padded, it does get a bit heavy. Then again, that is more of a problem with me bringing too much gear than an actual problem with the bag.

My problem with bringing too much gear brings me to my next bag...

Tamrac Adventure 9: This bag is a backpack camera bag and doesn't quite have the same charm as Ginger or KM Hobo, however, it is extremely functional. The bottom portion holds all the gear I need when traveling plus it has a slot for my laptop in the back. The divider in the bag offer great protection and are fully adjustable, in fact, the entire bag has great padding for both my camera gear and my laptop. There is a top compartment that has room for anything else I may want to carry with me, like a small jacket or snacks...I get bitchy when I am hungry. In the camera compartment I can carry my camera body with lens, two large lenses, my camera charger, speedlite and remote. If I didn't carry all the "non-shooting" accessories, I could easily fit another lens or 2 small ones in there. There are also small pockets for memory cards and other small accessories. The photo shows the bottom compartment with room to hold my 24-85mm, 14-24mm, 105mm, battery charger and cord, extra battery and some accessories. Even with all that gear, I can fit my camera body with lens, as well.

The downside to this one is it isn't pretty like some of my other bags and it is pretty big. I am 5'2" so it is a pretty big back for me. When it is packed with all my gear it can get heavy but the straps are so well padded and there are waist and chest straps to help distribute the weight. This bag is now my primary travel bag and is perfect for a carry on at airports. It keeps all my important stuff with me in one bag and even allows me to pack something to read and some snacks for those long trans-Atlantic flights.

Ketti Handbag: My Ketti handbag is probably the cutest of all the camera bags that I own. She is adorable, holds my camera with lens attached and 2 extra lenses and is handmade. As much as I want to love my Ketti, it is not really functional for my needs/wants. The straps are long enough to go over your shoulder, but with a bulky sweater or coat it may be uncomfortably tight. Also, the absence of a cross body strap means you have to set it down when shooting. There are two non-adjustable dividers inside the bag and one small pocket in the liner. Additionally, I don't find the padding protection in this bag to be a good as the Epiphanie or Tamrac, it is much softer, thinner and more flexible. While it does offer some protection, I think a fall could possibly damage some equipment in this bag.

I really wanted to LOVE this bag, but, like I said before, it doesn't really fit my needs/wants as a photographer. For someone that doesn't need a cross body strap and can set the bag down while shooting, this bag will work well. It is very cute, well made and does not look like a camera bag at all. Ketti has several very cute styles and is supposed to come out with a bag with a cross body strap sometime soon. Overall, a great bag, just not what I really need.

Tamrac Velocity 7x &9x: I wrote about the 7x in my previous review and really liked the bag. Unfortunately, the size of my lenses has grown since that trip and the 7x doesn't fit my favorite travel lenses anymore. When I had just my kit lens and the 50mm, it worked out perfect, now, not so much. So I decided to get the 9x thinking that it would be a perfect upgrade to fit my longer, bigger lenses. Unfortunately, the 9x is huge so carrying it on my hip isn't really practical. The best place to carry it is more towards your butt and back, but part of the reason I liked the 7x was that it kept my camera gear tight and close to me in cities where pickpocketing was an issue. Keeping my gear at my back and out of sight isn't how I like to keep my gear in those cities. While I can always move it up to my front on subways or walking through crowds, if I want to shoot while carrying it, I need to keep it at my back when crouching or kneeling. So not only am I distracted by taking photos, but my gear is at my back.

Additionally, the Velocity models have a triangular shape to them you can't really maximize use of the space because of the size and shape of your camera and lenses. While you can stuff smaller items in some of the air gaps, the shape causes it to be a little limiting when trying to fit lenses or other photography gear.

I'm not saying the 9x isn't useful for some photographers, but for the purpose that I bought it (to keep at my side while traveling) it doesn't fit my needs. It is the size of a backpack and isn't practical for keeping on my hip. The triangular shape restricts what and you carry and doesn't allow you to maximize the space in the bag. The 9x is actually still sitting in my closet with the tags on.

Overall, I love my bag collection and feel that I have a nice range of bags for any type of shooting situation that I, as a hobbyist, may encounter. If I was forced to narrow it to only 3 bags, it would be Ginger, KM Hobo and the Tamrac Adventure. I'm not sure I could narrow it any further without serious deliberation. I love these three bags for different reasons and love having all of them at my disposal. I'm a lucky girl. I also realize that not everyone is able to test out or see each of these bags, much less all at once, so I hope this post was helpful.