Think Tank Photo

Monday, June 11, 2018

Traveling by rail across Cuba with Think Tank Photo and Peak Design gear

By Terence R Waldron

As a “semi-pro” photographer (I still have my Clark Kent job…) my desire to travel to exotic places is demanding especially with the need to carry a lot of gear. I have graduated from large, stuff anything in it, backpacks to something more practical. I now carry the Think Tank Retrospective 7 camera bag every day wherever I go. Sometimes I even place my camera in the bag, it's very roomy and useful.

Don’t get me wrong… carrying around a 30-pound bag of gear and supplies is difficult and makes you wonder, do we really need every one of those things in the backpack? The Retrospective 7 taught me the answer is no. 

The Peak Design camera strap system, Slide and Cuff allows me the freedom to be quicker on the draw. I have found that you can travel over 1000 miles, shoot over 10,000 photos and still have a shoulder left at the end of the day.

On a recent trip to Cuba, I hooked up with a group of 21 train aficionados. I caught up with them in Cienfuegos and completed the long grueling journey in Santiago de Cuba. We also did trips to Guantanamo, Las Tunas, Holguin, Moron, Remedios, Santa Clara, Trinidad and I’m sure a few other towns. Fortunately, cameras have geo-tagging nowadays. I also used GPS tracks app on my iPhone to follow my trails.

We made our way along the beautiful Cuban countryside and spotted some incredibly unique old steam locomotives, tenders, rail cars and mid-century diesel engines. Many date back from the turn of the century to the 1950's. It is said that Cuba has one of the largest collections of steam trains, operable and non-working, in the world. 

Traveling through the Caribbean's largest island I knew every moment I saw I should capture in a photograph. Who knows if any of us would ever get back that way again.

I took two DSLR bodies, a Canon EOS 6D and the Canon EOS 80D with two lenses, the Canon EF 24‑70mm f/2.8L II USM and the Canon EF 100-300mm f4.5-5.6 USMtwo chargers, a few cables, journal and assorted travel guides and magazines. I also carried one or two bottles of water each day, and my daily medicine…(we are an aging population) 

When I was not using the Retrospective 7 as a full-fledged gearbox, it also made an excellent pillow and catch-all for the day’s activities. I must admit, up until the night before the Cuba trip, I was seriously considering taking a hard case without wheels, what was I thinking? I was packing my case, and looking over at my camera bag, I realized, that due to my previous experience, the Retrospective 7 would easily hold my DSLR camera body, and two lenses, as well as other items I needed to have in my carry-on. The second camera body I just wrapped in my suitcase, without a lens attached. It arrived safely... besides, it’s a crop sensor camera… I wouldn’t be heartbroken. 

As it turns out, I used the Retro 7 every day of my 12-day journey and I was never happier traveling with my gear. The trip was the most taxing thing I have ever done, traveling constantly, and juggling two cameras but, having to carry around my smaller “messenger” type bag, instead of a backpack was very liberating. 

It was my first real-world experience using the Peak Design interchangeable straps. I really loved the freedom of movement and adjustability of the Slide, and the versatility of the Cuff. I was always able to quickly adapt to the shooting environment, as I was getting off at the next stop. I must add, that having the Cuff or Slide attached to my camera and my hand, afforded me a level of comfort while leaning out the train windows and doors, that’s freaky! I’m glad my mom wasn’t there to see those “moments”! 

Another great aspect was the comfort of the Sling, even with the 70-300 dangling from my neck as I leaned over rails, viaducts, waterways. I would have to say that both of these products are well-designed, built & useful. 

The other great thing about the Retro 7 is that it never gets noticed as a camera bag. If you are into street photography you can quickly open the flap, grab your perfectly positioned camera, raise and shoot.

Here are a few of my images… the memories are incredible 
I have a thousand more… Just ask!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Tomorrow Night - Celebrate Leica Store Miami's 5th Anniversary

Help Us Celebrate 5 Years

5 Year Anniversary Celebration
+ Gallery Opening: Richard Sexton's Enigmatic Stream

Tomorrow! June 9th, 2018   |   7:30 - 9:00 PM   |   RSVP

When we opened Leica Store Miami five years ago, our goal was to be more than just a camera store. We wanted to be a resource and destination for photographers, both locally and abroad. And with the continued support of our incredible customers, Leica Store Miami has made a sizeable impact in the Leica world as well as in our local South Florida community.

Please join us to celebrate this important milestone tomorrow, June 9th at 7:30 PM for our five year anniversary party! Bring a friend and enjoy door prizes, hors d'oeuvres, craft beer by Brooklyn Brewery, and a Leica-inspired bubbly.
We'll also be kicking off the opening of our new gallery show, Richard Sexton's Enigmatic Stream: Industrial Landscapes of the Lower Mississippi River. Richard will give a brief artist talk and sign copies of his new book.
To learn more about this event, click here.
As always, our events are kindly sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery. Stop by, bring a friend, and try out Brooklyn's latest brews.
Images from Richard Sexton's exhibition, Enigmatic Stream.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Two Lighting Photography Workshops by Photographer Robert Sullivan & Steampunk Cosplay Characters

Robert Sullivan, one of Photo Workshops Miami’s instructors, will be conducting two photography workshops (beginner and advanced) at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum during a “Steampunk” festival on Saturday, April 21st.

What the heck is “Steampunk”, anyway?  According to Wikipedia, 
Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.”  Basically, it is an excuse for adults to dress up in Victorian era or Wild-West era clothing, decked out with gadgets, inventions, and weapons from an alternative future that came about as if gasoline engines or nuclear power were never developed.  For Robert Sullivan, one of Photo Workshops Miami’s instructors, it is an excellent opportunity to create amazing, cinematic style portraits of elaborately costumed characters.
Robert has been photographing the creative, costumed participants in this genre for several years.  Last year, he conducted two, very well attended, advanced off-camera lighting workshops in conjunction with Rivet Nation’s RAIL – A Steampunk Journey event at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami, Florida.  Afterwards, he was inundated with requests for a workshop that would be geared towards beginner photographers as the material that he taught was over the heads of many who would like to get started in off-camera flash photography.
So, this year, he will again be teaching two workshops at Rivet Nation’s RAIL – Steampunk Under the Sea event on April 21st.  However, the first of the two workshops will be a Beginner photography workshop to accommodate those who are not yet ready for the advanced lighting workshop later on the same day.  Starting at noon, it will a very aggressive 3-hour workshop that will begin with a lecture on the basics in photography.  It will progress to shooting in modes other than automatic, and culminate with photographing Steampunk cosplay characters, under Robert’s supervision, in the setting of the locomotives and train cars at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum.  It is Robert’s ambitious goal to elevate the knowledge and skill of novice photographers to the point that they will be able to use a single off-camera flash to produce extraordinary portraiture in this 3-hour workshop and leave with some incredible images that they created.

The second of the two workshops will be a repeat of the advanced off-camera lighting workshop that was so popular last year and will run from 5-8pm (think sunset!).  In this advanced, 3-hour workshop, participants will attend a brief lecture of less than an hour followed by the “hands-on” portion in which they will put to work what they learned.  Under Robert’s supervision, participants will practice photographing the Steampunk characters with an off-camera flash.  This advanced lighting workshop will culminate in a photo shoot using 4-5 remotely triggered studio lights that will be powered by lithium battery packs.  Steampunk cosplay characters will pose on and around a colorful antique caboose with the setting sun in the background while participants rapidly adjust their camera settings and studio flashes as they “chase the light” at sunset.  Robert will instruct on how to turn an ordinary scene into a spectacular image with a cinematic look, using in camera techniques as well as his post processing steps in Photoshop.

Here is one of the cinematic style images that he produced at sunset during one of last year’s workshops at the Steampunk Festival.
This caboose has already been relocated for Robert and will serve as the backdrop for the steampunk subjects.  It will be the scene of the sunset photo shoot for this year’s advance off-camera lighting workshop.

Participants of the beginner workshop who feel ambitious, can also take the advanced lighting workshop.  Even though it will be quite a leap, there is much that can be learned from taking both courses. The Beginner Photography Workshop with Steampunk Characters and Old Trains runs from noon-3pm on April 21st and costs $75.

The Advanced Lighting Photography Workshop with Steampunk Characters runs from 5-8pm on April 21st and costs $95.  This advanced workshop is limited to only 12 participants so that Robert can ensure quality time working with the participants in the “hands-on” portion.

About Robert SullivanRobert Sullivan is an award-winning photographer who conducts local and destination workshops, instructing other photographers in several areas of photography including nature, landscape, and remote-triggered off camera flash photography.  He often travels up to 12 weeks per year to places such as New Zealand, Patagonia, British Columbia, and the Galapagos Islands.  His adventurous style of travel photography usually involves him staying in remote hostels or camping in his hammock-tent so as to enable him to be onsite during the best light to capture images of scenes that have not been photographed often, or to do so from unique perspectives that other photographers don’t see or won’t even attempt.  Rather than follow in the footsteps of those who photograph iconic landmarks, Robert looks for “the path less traveled” to discover unique scenes that, sometimes, even the locals don’t know about.
Many of Robert’s steampunk images can be viewed in his online portrait portfolioRobert’s website:
Here are some more images from last year's Steampunk photography workshops: