Returning from a five-day excursion with some of the OSS team in New England, I thought I would reflect on some of the issues I encountered leading up to and during the trip. You can learn from my mistakes, but if you’re like me, you have to learn on your own. These things happen sometime.
First of all, I lost my flisheye; flipcam fisheye. It was dangling from my Kodak Zi8 connected to a magnet at the end of the strap of the camera. I was devastated. It must have flung off when I was throwing it in my pocket somewhere between Boston and Billerica. Really though, they are only $17 and the fisheye gets overused sometime anyway.
A couple days before embarking on the trip, I was shooting with Nick Seabasty and one of my Lumedyne Action Packs made the sound of a paintball gun when the flash fired. At first I thought it was probably the bulb exploding, but upon further inspection, the noise was coming from the pack and the bulb was fine. I kept shooting with it, because it was obviously already fucked, so I might as well get the photo… it was still firing. I called Lumedyne and explained to him the problem and he told me it sounded like an arc in the circuit, something that only he could take care of because of the intricacies of the Action Pack itself. This isn’t the first time I’ve had problems with the Lumeys… I bought them from a skate photographer on the west coast knowing that one of the packs wasn’t producing a flash. I had read for years about the problems with Lumedynes and the risks involved with their purchase, but with their power and short flash duration, it is the most viable option for a lot of people.
Down one 200w Action Pack, I was lucky to have been collecting a grip of Sunpak 555‘s. I broke them out of the closet and started charging the Ni-Cad battery packs they run on. 2 555’s on one stand was usually my setup before I had purchased an Alien Bees setup early in 2011. On half power a 555 produces a 1/900th duration, barely fast enough for action sports. At 1/4 the duration is a much safer 1/1800th.
On a side note, I used to use these miniphone plug splitters to use the same PocketWizard on two different flashes. I remember that they would sometimes fail and only one flash would go off. Maybe it was because the two outputs were stereo and not mono. Although I did try the dual mono, same problems. Not sure why that is, but it wasn’t necessary with 4 receivers. (My typical setup was a 200w Action Pack for rim light, 2 555’s at quarter power for key and a Vivitar 285 at half power for fill).
(Power stance not necessary but recommended. Photo by Adam22.)
Every night I was very proactive about charging batteries, even taking care of the VX a few times. My Lumey battery is pretty old at this point and probably has only about 50 flashes in it, so that’s something I have to consider / get fixed immediately. What saved me most was a car power inverter than turns your 12V cigarette adaptor into an AC outlet- particularly for the flipcam I use, which has an internal battery that lasts probably 30 continual minutes.
The 285 flash was running on four AA batteries (Energizer Ultimate Lithium- the best) and I usually keep at least six of those on deck.
I don’t know if anyone else has this problem, but I keep a lot of old images archived on my memory card, for some reason, I guess if anything were to happen to my hard drive at home… who knows. I was shooting a sequence and started to run out of space. I have a folder dedicated to the sequence images in the camera so that I can easily dump them after each failed attempt.