Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Travelling Road Show

Anyone who flies on a fairly regular basis knows how frustrating it can be with the downsizing of both physical size and number of pieces that can be checked. As well, there are also differences in these restrictions from one carrier to the next.

And, don’t even get me started about the variances in security from one airport to the next. Let’s just say that I have learned to accept the fact that I will be randomly selected for a body pat down or x-ray. At least I have a choice and this always amuses my travelling companions as I tell them well in advance.

I digress.

It is a given when I fly to a job my luggage will be overweight, oversize and excess pieces. This adds up to a serious amount of money. What these increases in restrictions has forced commercial photographers to do, however, is to be extremely vigilant in the size and weight of their equipment cases.

I just returned from a job and all my road cases were piled on the dolly in my studio. Seemed like a good time to take a photo of some cases that have been with me for upwards of 20 years (the blue custom case), but will soon become storage cases as I streamline my kit and replace my cases to better suit air carriers.

So what are in these beasts?

Case 1: This is affectionately called the Tickle Trunk (Even though an Air Canada employee with a great sense of humour once asked me if it was my mother-in-law inside. No, said I, but pointed to the gentleman beside me and said Father-in-law ... Pop was travelling with me on that job to northern Manitoba. All three of us had a great laugh, and I hope my Mother-in-law never heard!) This case is, however, my grips case. It is loaded with stands, tripods, cables, magic arms and everything else from light gels, to black velvet fabric to clothes pins. If it is not in this case, I don’t need it.

Case 2: This case is the entire back-up camera system ranging from spare bodies, lenses not usually used and redundant lenses.

Case 3: This case carries my strobe heads. I use Paul C. Buff White Lightening mono blocs. I prefer the mono bloc for the style of work I do. I don’t have to worry about power packs and cables, the mono bloc just plugs into any regular household outlet, and they have a fabulous slave system.

Case 4: Back-up portable lighting which consists of Canon 580 EXII flashes, back-up light meter and Pocket Wizard remotes for camera and flashes.

Case 5: This case doesn’t fly with me but usually goes with the Wilson travelling road show. When I can drive I take along my Honda generator. It is unbelievable how many times I have got on location to do scouting to discover there is no power. More times than not it became difficult trying to get power on the set, so I simply bought this generator.

Case 6: This is the newest addition to the arsenal and I really look forward to hitting the airports with this puppy. It is a brand new release from Tamrac and is carry-on compatible. It is the Tamrac Big Wheels SpeedRoller, Model 5591. There is a bigger version, model 5592, but I stayed away from it as it's slightly larger (36 x 23 x 56) than Canadian airlines carry-on allowance of 23 cm x 40 cm x 55 cm. I am hoping someone from Gentec, the new Canadian distributor for Tamrac products, can take one of the larger cases to an airport and see if it will physically fit in the “test rack.” I wasn't prepared to accept the risk of one cm over and having to fight with the luggage police! I have already transferred all my ready-use gear from a back pack to this roller case and can see where it is going to be a nice improvement as I begin to upgrade my road cases. I know this case won’t be the best for all worlds, and will never replace a backpack when trekking is involved, but I highly suspect it is going to be the perfect ticket when I am on location doing industrial or commercial work. I’ll report later how I actually like its functionality.