I Love This Thing – Soliom Feeder

Caliope Hummer, male, first hummer back to The Ranch captured by Soliom camera

I love this thing, it’s simply brilliant! The Soliom Humbirdy I thought would free up some of my time while providing biological information about how the hummers use our feeders. It has done this in spades! Because of the Soliom, we know exactly when the first hummer returned (April 29th, 06:09) to our feeders. We know who is feeding, Caliope, Rufus, and Allen’s so far, when they feed most right now, and much more. And we know all of this without having to sit and watch the feeders!

Like so much of our world today, this is all operated by settings inputted in the App. I have the video quality setting cranked down so I can monitor the feeder from across the country and save battery. There are a gazillion of settings so you can customize the Soliom to your needs. I can’t recommend the Soliom highly enough. I Love this thing!

Shure MoveMic – Brilliant!

Sure MoveMic in front of the Nikon Z 30

ingIn upping my video game, I needed to make sound simpler. Shotgun mic, G3 Lav mic and others in the gear locker are bulky and even worse, wire intensive. Whether in the office or on the road, setting up the mics took time creating a mental roadblock for myself. Shure MoveMic has taken all of that and made it a thing of the past! The MoveMic is super small while producing big sound. I used the Z 30 for the background for scale so you can see how small the receiver is which slips into the hot shoe and has a small, coiled cable to connect to the camera. The Lav mics have no wires, send their sound Bluetooth to the receiver. The reach of the system is 100′ line of site. The entire system is charged via USBc with the charge lasting and lasting. Getting beyond the amazing stats, it’s the ease and quality that is truly amazing. Now, I’m energized to record video with this one aspect so streamlined. Shure MoveMic, brilliant!

Traveling with Gear ’24

ThinkTank Airport Security, Mindshift MP-1 v2, Eagle Creek 36″ Trunk & Bagsmart 17.3 Briefcase

Traveling is a fun and exciting aspect of our photography! Reaching our destination by plane for many is scary because of the unknown. If we expose the unknown though and go into it with eyes wide open and prepared, your worries will be back to just the normal, on time departures and making your connection. And that’s where traveling with gear starts and most of our decisions lie so lets look at that first.

I’m very fortunate being able to travel to some location of my liking each month which means jumping on a plane. Having to start and end my travels for the past thirty years at a “feeder” airport means I have to get to a hub to make a connection to get to my final destination. This has made me very aware of taking my gear and dealing with overheads/carryon restrictions as well as checked luggage rules. One of the first things I learned first hand was, going for the cheapest fares meant the great amount of stress when it comes to my gear which brings me to my first suggestion, pick an airline and register in their loyalty program PDQ! Because of my travels and feeder airport, United was my choice and they have taken good care of me and more importantly, my gear all these years. Yes, there has been a couple of bumps along the way but that goes with air travel. My second word of advice, always travel with a smile!

Being a Premiere with United pays dividends for my gear. When I pick my flights, I get on the first flight of the day so I’m early in the system and then I avoid puddle jumpers. This sometimes means paying more money but I don’t have to stress about my gear so worth the price to me. Being Premiere means boarding first so I don’t have to worry about overhead space. Before I was Premiere, I paid extra to board early and in that process, I became Premiere faster. In the beginning, I sweated out the 50lbs weight limit for checked luggage but it was a good life lesson. Now that I have the status I can have 3, 70lbs checked bags at no cost, I rarely take advantage of that. One of the nice features of flying United is their app which permits me to track my luggage from the moment it’s in their possession. You want to look at your local airport, figure out the carrier that works best for you and work the system to remove the stress from flying with your gear.

I carryon my camera bodies / lenses and put all the rest in my check luggage. That means exactly what it says, either the ThinkTank Airport Security or Advantage XT (not pictured) or Mindshift MP-1v2 (photopack of my design just for this purpose) have just bodies and lenses in them and nothing else. You can see how I pack my gear in these bags on my YouTube channel. Chargers, cables, spare batteries, tripod, flashes, all go in my checked luggage. My MacBook Pro and SSD drives go as carryon in the Bagsmart Briefcase.

I have depended on the Eagle Creek Trunk 36″ for decades, this is my third one (their warranty repair is amazing!). They are simply the best! The checked in luggage which normally weighs in between 60-65lbs (I have a 70lbs per bag limit) will have all the support camera gear mentioned above not in the carryon, tripod and other personal belongings. I pack my checked luggage thinking it will be scanned, as it better be, by security. This means that I pack thinking vertically. An example is a book, I don’t lie it flat in the luggage but on its spin. So when scanned, there is not a dense brick but narrow spin. The same goes for batteries, flashes, anything that could make a big signature in the scan. I can’t remember the last time my bag required a hand security check.

And that’s it. I keep it real simple which also helps elevate the stress of air travel. Have I ever had my gear damaged in my travels? Knock on wood, I have not. Has my checked luggage ever been “lost”? Never lost but delayed a flight or two. The funny thing, the delayed luggage has always seemed to be on the homeward bound flight so no big deal. Flying 1k miles a year, I have lots of practice flying with my gear. I hope this help you come up with a strategy for stress free travel with gear in 2024.

Zemlin v2 Snap Cap – a Lens Gem!

Zemlin Lens Cap on Z600f4 TC

My good friend Jerry has the original Zemlin Lens Cap on his Z600f4 TC. He really likes it, showed it to me and talked it up pretty fiercely. I checked it out and was impressed. Zemlin just came out with their v2 and I had the opportunity to get one and I’m really glad I did! The first thing that impressed me was the fit, it’s perfect as in, with the hood on or off, it’s easy to take on and off and fits snugly and tightly on the Z600f4 TC. The v2 looks the same on the front, operates the same but the back end us been updated and streamlined. This truly makes for great protection which is what a cap is all about. This is a great accessory I’m so pleased now resides on the Z600f4 TC.

Seriously, an Important Tool!

The White Towel!

If there is one tool I use on every shoot, everywhere, all the time, it is the white towel! It’s such a simple thing that has saved me and a whole lot of other folks time and time again. It so important that I went to the store to pick them out. They are all cotton, white, very fluffy hand towels. They are not used to block the rain. Their main purpose is to BLOT rain off my gear when I’m out shooting. They are kept dry inside my jacket and brought out to BLOT moisture off, never wiping (which can force water into crevices where it should not go). The white towel serves as extra padding in my camera bag riding between the lid of the bag and the long lens. When I’m working on the beach, the white towel is used to wipe the salt moisture off my hands (in these situations I borrow one from the lodge going out with a clean one each day). I prefer white as it shows dirt be it from my hands or the gear. That’s dirt I don’t want to reapply to my gear. The uses for the white towel are nearly infinite from bouncing sun/heat off gear to a snot rag in subzero temps, it’s a miracle tool! The white towel is seriously, and important tool!

Yep, All Mirrorless Shop

The Current Locker

Yes, I am all mirrorless, been so for over a year and love it! This is a common question of late most likely because all that gorgeous DSLR gear is available used and killer prices (great way to get into photography!) What’s the main reason I’m all mirrorless? It’s split between the ease of shooting video and the reduction of gear / weight. I totally go with, less is more and KISS and mirrorless does that for me and my visual storytelling. What to learn more about why I have selected the gear I have and settings I use, head to Moose’s Gear Locker where I have that info for all my current gear and, all my gear of the past.

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