Sunday, February 23, 2014

New Line of Manfrotto Bags- Part 2

The new line of Manfrotto Professional bags I wrote about a while back includes five Shoulder Bags in sizes from the 10 to the 50. Like the Professional Backpacks, the Shoulder bags are well designed, well built and have a number of interesting, even unique, features.

The biggest difference between these bags and the older "Domke" style shoulder bags I used in the distant past is that the shell is made from the same semi-rigid material I described in my review of the backpacks. It gives structure to the bags and offers a high degree of protection. Many of the details are what we've come to expect on any high quality bag. A well padded shoulder strap and lots of pockets are there.
It has a couple of features that are unusual, if not unique. One is the way the internal sections are structured. They have a sort of hinge built in that allows a multitude of usable options, like having a camera at the ready with the lens pointing downward and stacking lenses with a padded section between them for protection.
The top lid has a weather sealed zippered slit, which let you get in and out quickly and easily if you find yourself changing lenses often. It's a nice touch and works faster than opening the lid to get things out.
The bags all have slots for laptops and/or tablets depending on the size of the bag. I tested the 10, 30 and 50. I particularly like the 10 since I'm using the Fuji X-E1 more and more. The 30 is a nice size, too, for when I'm using my Nikon or Pentax. The 50 is a behemoth! I can't imagine actually using it and trying to work off my shoulder. It's so big, that when it's loaded it's very heavy. I think it's probably more of a gear bag that has a shoulder strap to facilitate taking it short distances- not all day!

My only complaint about these bags- and it's a small one- is that there aren't any velcro tabs to make entry quicker that the zippers for situations when speed is important. Other than that, these are excellent additions to the marketplace. Well designed, well built, and very usable bags.

New Elinchrom Monoblocs

Elinchrom has just announced a new series of monoblocs, upgrading the top of the line Style RX. The new ELC Pro HD comes in 500ws and 1000ws maximum power. The major changes include much faster recycling (.6 seconds for the 500 and 1.2 seconds for the 1000) and very short flash durations. They're rated at 1/1430 at full power and as fast as 1/5260 at lower powers. That's fast! They have the wireless Skyport system built in. They also have several advanced features for the demanding pro shooter, including a stroboscopic setting that let's photographers do multiple exposure motion studies.

Shipping and prices haven't yet been announced. I'll post about them as soon as I hear. And I'll be giving them a thorough testing and writing about that as soon as I can get my hands on some.

Stay tuned!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Two Interesting Projects

My son sent me a link to a project on the CNN Photos blog today. "The Waiting Game" is a documentary piece about prostitutes in Spain who work along highways. The photographer, Txema Salvans worked primarily on the Mediterranean coast photographing women waiting for johns to stop and pay them for sex. The pictures are simultaneously provocative and banal. There is nothing particularly sexual about what is shown, but there is still an air of anticipation as we see these women, sometimes wearing fairly revealing clothing, attempting to entice passing motorists to make a (presumably) short detour as they travel. The pictures are landscapes with the prostitutes appearing relatively small in the frame. Everything is sun drenched, parched, and a little faded looking, running counter to other images of hookers we may have seen at night in "red light" districts. Their postures make many of the women looked bored and tired, even though we can never really see their faces. It's excellent work.

It made me think about another project about sex in public places called "Cruising" by Chad States. States' work is more explicit and shows men cruising for and sometimes having sex with each other in public parks and highway rest stops. Like Alvans, the pictures are always shot on sunny days and superficially appear to be landscapes. Only when we look closely do we see men, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs, engaged in having or waiting for sex. Because of the heavy vegetation, the pictures aren't explicit. They suggest the activities rather than describe them. They are, however, more active than Slavans and, as a result, are kind of creepy, at least to me. They, too, are excellent work.