Due to climate change we haven’t had winters like we had in the past. In fact the last two winters had such little snow that I shoveled the driveway by hand. And my son’s cross-country ski team had to deal with cancelled and delayed meets. Even this year practices early in the season were mostly running and training in the gym or skiing on a dusting of snow on the artificial turf of the football field.
But now in mid-February we got a string of snow storms that dumped a couple of feet of snow on us. I’ve been keeping the deck, driveway and front walk clear of snow using a good old fashioned shovel – which is great exercise and a nice and quiet way to enjoy the silence of a snowy day but also with an electric snow shovel and an electric snow blower.
My electric shovel is probably 12 years old now. I got it originally for vacation house in the North Conway area. My electric snowblower is more recent. After dealing with a gas powered, noisy, hard to start and frequently breaking down snow blower for years, I sold it at a yard sale and got this electric one.
We had a long driveway in Maine so the gas powered blower was required but here in New Hampshire the entire driveway is reachable by a long electric cord. The gas blower was two stage and more powerful then the electric blower but so far I haven’t run into any storm that it can’t handle, as long as you go slow. The gas blower will chop through anything with its metal blades while the electric blower is made of hard plastic and is designed for smaller jobs. But still its been fine and best of all its quiet and starts immediately. Plus there is no gas to mix and spill.
If you have a smaller area to blow and don’t have killer storms, I highly recommend an electric snow blower and shovel.
Ok, you’ve bought your new GoPro Hero5 Black or Session action camera. Congratulations you have one of the newest and most advanced action cameras on the market. If you are like me maybe you bought a 32 gb memory card or something for it and have quickly found out that you are always wanting more storage.
There is nothing worse than having to replace an SD card the size of a finger nail in the middle of a fun day of shooting. For me, I’m thinking of my upcoming 10 day trip to Iceland. I’m not going to have a way to download video off the card while traveling. I’m going to need a lot of storage and I’m going to need a lot of it – plus I want fast transfer speeds to there are no glitches. Bottomline I want big and I want the best, that’s why I’m going with the Lexar Professional 1000x microSDXC 128GB UHS-II/U3:
The GoPro Hero 4, the Session and newer, all support cards up to 128GB. Do you need such a big card for a day of shooting? Probably not. You could get away with a 64 gb card and a lot of extra batteries but for multiple days of shooting, consider 128 gb card.
Consider the difficulty of swapping cards on the GoPro Hero 5, it’s a little more difficult to change out the cards compared to the other cameras since the bottom door is a little difficult to open and usually your camera will be inside some sort of holder. So if you use you’re camera a lot, you’ll likely fill a 32GB card and have to interrupt a shoot to swap it. In this case, I would recommend a 64GB card which should get you through the day.
High-speed performance-leverages UHS-II technology (U3) for a read transfer speed up to 1000x (150MB/s)
Includes micro SD UHS-II reader for high-speed file transfer from card to computer, dramatically accelerating workflow
Premium memory solution for sports camcorders, tablets, and smartphones
Designed for high-speed capture of high-quality images and extended lengths of 1080p full-HD, 3D, and 4K video
Includes lifetime copy of downloadable Image Rescue software
DSLR SD Memory Cards
Cameras keep coming out with bigger and bigger megapixels sizes. The resulting files are YUGE so that’s why I’m upgrading to a larger and faster SD card for my DSLR to quickly capture and transfer high-quality photos and 1080p full-HD, 3D, and 4K video.
Don’t need extreme speed? Save some cash with a slightly slower card.
For my Canon 6D DSLR I don’t need extreme speeds. This SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB SDXC Flash Memory Card provides very fast transfer speeds for a reasonable cost.
Or this bargin from Lexar – a two pack for a bit more than a single SD card.
The new Lexar Professional 633x SD cards are an update to the 600x SD cards. The cards meet the UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) specification that is given to cards that support 30MB/s or higher continuous write speed, a requirement when recording 4K video.
The Lexar 633x cards are quoted at 95MB/s read and 45MB/s write write speed, essentially the same as the 90MB/s read and 45MB/s write of the 600x cards they replace. The 633x cards are available in 16, 32, 64, 128 and 256GB capacities (the 16GB card has 20MB/s write speed). This review is for the 633x 64GB SDXC card.
Winter Boots – I typically review photography equipment but the recent dumps of snow we’ve gotten lately (more snow than the last two years!), has made me re-evalute my winter footwear equipment.
At this point we have an inch of ice as a base layer followed by six inches of crust and then a layer of about 8 – 12 inches of fluffy snow. On the sides of the road we have waist high snow plow created berms and then anything between ice and waist deep drifts of snow in the fields.
I can no longer keep putting off new winter boots. My last pair must be about 10 years old and the soles are nearly worn through, the laces are long gone and water is seeping through holes in the sides.
I have several pairs of shoes for the winter:
A short pull on sneaker like shoe with very aggressive soles for when I’m walking in shoveled area. Mine are kind of like these from Merrell but mine were made by Salomon and have an even more aggressive soul. When they came out on the market they were an entirely new kind of shoe. Something you could slip on to go from the ski lodge to the car. I don’t know why they stopped making them, they were very unique and different than anything I’ve seen since. Mine and my wife’s pairs are still going strong after about 12 years of use in the snow.
A mid-height insulated “duck hunter” type boot that great for wet sloppy stuff. But I don’t like fiddling with the laces!
And a tall winter boot for deep snow, snowshoeing and snowblowing/shoveling the driveway. Plus for jumping over banks and into drifts of deep snow to capture some winter photographs.
My criteria for winter snow boots is the following:
They have to be warm.
They have to be waterproof, at least on the bottom few inches.
They have to be easy to slip on and off as I’m going out to get firewood and have to come in an out several times.
They have to have a good grip on ice and snow.
No laces – I’m done with having to lace them or having the laces break constantly or come undone.
I have to be able to drive with them on.
I ended up getting these as my replacement for my old used up Sorrells.
Its a basic boot that meet the criteria I need to attack the drifts and climb the snow mounds. Thick sole, high sides, no laces other than a pull string at the tip to close up the boot to snow, dirt, salt crystals or whatever. Easy to pull on and off these will be great for tackling the rest of the winter season.
The Kamik Men’s Greenbay 4 Cold-Weather Boot –
Protects to -40! Kamik: an Inuit word meaning “foot covering.” Kamik Boots Company has operated over 100 years and, much like the Inuit, they know a thing or two about staying warm in the deep freeze. Waterproof; Flexible Duration 600 nylon uppers; Lace lock snow collar; Self-cleaning PULSE Rubber HE outsole; Removable Thermal Guard moisture-wicking lining; Rear pull-on loop; Rated to -40 Degrees F.; Each approximately 14″ height, 31 ounces; Imported; Half sizes, order the next larger full size. Kamik Greenbay Men’s Waterproof 4 Winter Boots, Black
You’ll scoff at wintery weather in this high-tech snow boot from Kamik. Constructed with a lightweight yet durable waterproof nylon shell, the Greenbay 4 features a removable felt liner and a lace-lock snow collar designed to keep warmth in and cold out. Rated to -40° Fahrenheit, the boot has a mid-foot adjustable Velcro closure strap to help keep the foot snug and a thick treaded rubber outsole for traction on slippery, icy surfaces.
FCC Disclaimer: I purchased these boots myself. No product was provided.
Looking for a fun action cam but have a small budget?
For budget minded consumers, people wanting to test the waters of action cams, kids and maybe even those who want to keep things simple and cost effective, the Polaroid Cube is a fun little action camera that actually takes some decent HD video.
Here is a good review of the original Polaroid Cube to get an idea of its capabilities. The original can be had for around $60. The new version which adds image quality/resolution and WiFi capabilities is around $100 – $130.
The newest version of the Polaroid Cube adds 8mp stills (up from 6mp) and in creases the video resolution to 1440p well as adding Wi-Fi and Video stabilization, all for $100 less than GoPro’s similarly configured Session camera.
The camera is weatherproof out of the box and for $25 you can get a waterproof housing for underwater shots. For $25 you can get a bundle of mounts, many of which work with GoPro style mounts.
If someone just getting into action camera or for kids or people looking for a bargain camera, this Polaroid Cube+ fits the bill.
From the manufacturer:
Polaroid CUBE+ HD Lifestyle Action Video Camera
Introducing the Polaroid Cube+ lifestyle action camera weatherproof, shockproof, mountable and built to handle everything you can imagine. Packed with fun including 1440p HD video, 8MP CMOS sensor, 124° wide angle lens, and built in battery that records up to 90 minutes
NEW! Wi-Fi + FREE App; Shoot, View, Save, Print & Share with Your Mobile Device
The Polaroid CUBE+ HD Lifestyle Action Video Camera makes capturing and sharing life’s adventures easier and twice the fun, with everything you need like built-in Wi-Fi, apps for editing, printing and live streaming, full HD recording, image stabilization, and photography.
Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and app turn your mobile device into a viewfinder and shutter remote from up to 30 feet away. Features include time delay, photo burst, time lapse and slow motion camera settings; resolution and framerate selection; viewing, editing, saving, printing and sharing photos on social networks; and more.
One cubic inch (35 millimeter x 35 millimeter)
Standing at just 35 millimeter, the Polaroid CUBE is here to prove that the best things do indeed come in small packages. This tiny action camera supports Micro SD cards up to 128 GB, and is ready to capture your most exciting moments in full 1440P HD video and photos. It is weatherproof and shockproof, and more than capable of handling anything you throw at it.
124° of Awesome & Action
It is weatherproof, splash proof and shockproof, and more than capable of handling anything you throw at it. But not only does it look after itself, it looks after you: With a 124° wide-angle lens, it sees the big picture and bears witness to your most outrageous shtick. And with a battery life of up to 107 minutes recording time (1080p at 30 FPS with Wi-Fi turned off), anytime is go time.
Variety of mounting options avail.
From protective to proactive, the Polaroid CUBE+ accessories lineup punches up the fun to even greater heights. The Bumper Case makes for fashionable wearing, Helmet Mount, Bike Mount, Suction Mount gives you more options, the Waterproof Case is also shockproof and connects to all CUBE+ mount; the Tripod Mount features a universal metal insert to fit all standard tripods; and the 1 inch Strap Mount fastens the camera onto virtually anything.
World’s Funnest, Cutest Lifestyle Action Camera in Light & Tiny Cubic Package
NEW! Wi-Fi + FREE App; Shoot, View, Save, Print & Share with Your Mobile Device
8MP still images; Selectable 1440p / 1080p / 720p Video Rate; Full Image & Video Stabilization
Built-In Rechargeable Battery for up to 107 Minutes of Continuous Recording Per Charge
124° Wide-Angle Lens; Magnetic/Clip Mounting Options; Includes MicroSD Card & Polaroid Bumper Case
World’s first Rainproof 3-axis Gimbal made for GoPro® CamerasREMOVU S1 is a 3-axis gimbal for GoPro camera. The S1 can be mounted anywhere a GoPro can be mounted. Mount it to your body, a bike, a helmet, wherever you can mount a GoPro. The S1 also comes with a detachable hand grip that is equipped with a wireless joystick remote, which will allow you to control your gimbal from a distance.
Manufactured with world class brush-less DC motors and rotary sensors, the S1 delivers extremely stable professional shots in any kind of activity. The S1 removes unwanted movements and vibrations, resulting in buttery smooth footage
Rainproof design. The motors and S1 body are specifically designed to be water resistant. Together with the rainproof housing for GoPro, you can use the S1 in the rain or snow and not worry about damaging your camera equipment
Handheld, Mountable, Wearable. REMOVU S1 is the world’s first hand-held and mountable gimbal. The S1’s handle can easily be detached from the S1 body, transforming the S1 into a mountable gimbal that can be attached on any GoPro compatible mounting system
Wireless remote control. REMOVU S1 is equipped with a detachable wireless joystick remote control. Using 5-way jog key wireless remote, it can control the angle of camera and change the mode on the gimbal
Getting bloggers to review your products can be a tremendous way to get publicity for your products. Bloggers are often the experts that reader turn to for honest straight forward reviews. Readers trust their favorite bloggers more than they trust press releases and ads, because they count on bloggers to be actual users of the products.
I know personally I’d be happy to review a product that pertains to my interests of photography, videography and travel. Here are some tips for getting your product in the hands of the right blogger.
Do your homework. Products sent to the wrong blogger is just a waste of time. Research the top thought leaders in the market space your product competes. If it’s a GoPro accessory or a camera back up travel hard drive, put it in the hands of someone who will use it.
Send marketing materials. I know from my days of writing magazine articles that a well written, ready to go copy would most likely be picked up by a magazine. Content providers need content and the more ready to publish the material are, the better. Don’t make the reviewer have to track down information about the product. Provide features and pricing information.
Be timely. If you know a blogger is heading to Iceland in a few months, get your product to them in plenty of time for blogger to familiarize themselves with it before the trip. Otherwise it might get left behind.
Pick influencers Carefully Pick the bloggers who have active sites and seem engaged with their community on a regular basis. Also don’t pick bloggers who are inundated with products. You might have better luck with an emerging blogger than an established blogger who has too many products to review, yours will only end up on the bottom of the pile.
The O-Bolt is an inexpensive ($40) motorized panning head for the GoPro and other small action camera or your cell phone. There are options for panning and for 360 degree movement in three speeds. It’s a great option for moving time lapses videos.
The unit is small – very pocket-able and charges simply via a USB connection to its build in battery. Build quality is what you might expect for the price range, not the most solid feeling item but the options are fantastic. Being able to pan back and forth with three speed options as well as a full rotation is a lot more functionality then a cheap mechanical unit.
Here the un-boxing and initial tests of my O-Bolt mounted on a light stand:
Cheaper rotating units are available but they are not motorized. The cheap units start around $15 but they are purely mechanical and only travel in one direction, don’t pan and don’t have the abilty to change direction. The cheap units also only have one speed are really only useful for time lapse. Cheap mechanical units are basically kitchen timers co-oped for use as a rotator.
I used it in the following video in the scene with the red deck chair. Time lapse and panning – shot with my GoPro Hero5 during a blizzard.
O-Bolt is 3/4″ standard and compatible with all brands of action camera. (Gopro, Isaw etc.) and digital cameras up to 300g max.
Combine 3 panning motions (continuous, swing, stop-n-go) with 3 speeds (normal, fast, time lapse) to get the result you need.
Built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery via USB. Take it with you during your travels
Use it with your smartphone to create unique videos.
Perfect for time lapse lovers
“BLACKBOLT O-Bolt THE FIRST MOTORIZED PANNING HEAD FOR ACTION CAMERAS
Compatible with all action cameras with tripod 3/4″” mounting
Control the speed
Not too fast, not too slow! Timing is everything and you can get the timing right and switch between 3 different speeds whenever you need it.
Control the movement
Don’t just stand there! With BA20 you can double the movement and multiply the action! Continuous 360 degree rotation, simple swings, stop-and-go? Choose the best camera movement for each situation to get the professional effect you want.
• Blackbolt® O-bolt x 1
• USB cable
• Operating guide
• 1 year warranty
O-Bolt panning head
• 90 min running time.
• Recharge via micro USB plug
• 3 speeds
– Fast : 3 round per minute
– Normal : 1.5 round per minute
– Timelapse : 1 round per hour
• 3 movements
– Swing (Left, right 120 degree arc)
– Stop-n-go (Pause every 90 degrees)
• 2 directions (left – right)
• 3/4″” male screw (top), 3/4″” female (bottom)
• Best with cameras up to 300g. Heavier load will affect performances.
• A miniature device for a professional touch
First person filming can be dull, repetitive and often won’t do justice to the scenery or the action going on.
Take your videos to the next level with the panning motion of the BA20 and include reliable motorized camera movements to impress your friends with a professional result. Don’t worry, it’s small, light and it includes a battery so you can carry it around with you for all your outdoor shootings.”
Fine Art America Prints – When I decided to offer my photography and artwork to the general public as reproductions or prints I looked around at various vendors and settled on Fine Art America. I’ve ordered prints to display at gallery shows and to display in my own home.
My Experiences with Fine Art America Prints
I’ve ordered framed and matted prints. Prints rolled in a tube on rag paper as well as large metal prints. The quality has always been excellent and if there ever is problem, the 30 day money back guarantee is outstanding. Fine Art America will replace any problems.
With Fine Art America I can offer prints of any size including non-standard sizes. If you wish to have these matted and framed locally to save on shipping you can do this, although the matting and framing can get expensive and the options through Fine Art America are very reasonable for a custom framing job.
Standard Sized Prints On Fine Art America
In the past you could often only find non-standard print sizes on Fine Art America. Recently Fine Art America has added an option of choosing a standard size print from any of the images. 8×10, 11×14 etc. You can even get a vertical print from an horizontal print or visa versa. If you want to crop the image differently than the artist offers, you can now do this.
Very Large Prints from Fine Art America
I’ve sold a number of very, very large prints on Fine Art America. These two image in particular have been ordered at the maximum size of 40 x 60 inches. That is a huge print!
For some reason the largest prints purchase from my portfolio of fine art photography and artwork always seem to involve guns.
Metal Prints from Fine Art America
If you want a large, modern print, one of the least expensive prints you can get are the metal prints. With a traditional framed and matted print you are paying for a lot of custom work, a lot of labor. Metal prints are a simpler production, basically printed, trimmed and then a hanging part is added to the back. Less labor intensive so you save money.
The metal prints from Fine Art America are very competitively priced especially since everything needed to hand the prints is included. Some other places add on hanging accessories to the price. With Fine Art America its included. Metal prints offer a clean modern look with the artwork floating on the wall.
Shipping metal prints is also less expensive because they don’t weigh as much as a framed image. Any very large print going through the mail will be expensive to ship but you save on weight and metal prints are unlikely to be damaged in shipping.
Fine Art America Prints Quality
I’ve sold over 1,500 pieces of artwork through Fine Art America and have only had an handful of returns for some reason or another (people changed their minds or didn’t like it for some reason or another). That’s less than 1 percent of returns and the buyers got their money back. I think that says a lot about the printer that Fine Art America uses.
NOTE: I got my Vanguard Auctus Plus recently but currently it seems to be out of production. There is still some stock out there so if you want one, grab it fast. Maybe more will be coming out in the future but right now you can’t even find it on the Vanguard company site.
I just got back from Florida and was reviewing some of my video clips taken on a windy beach on the Sanibel Island Causeway beach at sunset. Intending to capture some stock footage of cars traveling along the causeway, all I ended up with was shaky unusable footage due to my flimsy travel tripod. Never again. Next time I travel I’m going to check in a nice heavy duty tripod. My choice – the awesome Vanguard Auctus Plus 323CT Professional Tripod for Cameras and Camcorders.
Here’s what I like about this tripod – its one solid MFer for the price! That being said it has a lot of other cool features besides being a rock solid tripod for studio, video and field work provide you are trying to hike to the bottom of the grand canyon with it. Most of my work is done in the studio or close to the car so weight is not much of an issue for me. Besides judging by the number of times I’ve bent or broken a tripod leg in the past, its time for something beefy!
I’ve had Vanguard tripods in the past and they always come out with the most features for the best value. They also stand by their products. They’ve replaced legs for me in the past and sold me replacement parts when I slipped on ice and crash down on top of my tripod. Once they even sent me a new tripod to replace a broken section. Vanguard tripods come with lifetime guarantees and they mean it.
In the studio I’ve been looking for a beefer and more versatile tripod to handle weird angles for still lives and more precise positioning. I’ve been looking at various geared tripod heads for this but the wheeled height adjustment on the Vanguard Auctus Plus 323CT Professional Tripod for Cameras and Camcorders will take care of a lot of the issues in the studio. Rather then fool around with the legs, you can easily crank the center column up or down.
VANGUARD Auctus Plus 323CT Tripod Manufacturer Product Description
Professional photographers whose shoots take them from studio to outdoors will love VANGUARD’s new Auctus Plus Series tripod. This ultra stable, flexible tripod enables precise positioning and fine tuning that is great for the studio with extra features that make outdoor shoots a breeze, too. Available in carbon fiber or aluminum, Auctus Plus tripod offers extreme stability and flexibility. Its ultra-smooth Extreme Support Height Positioning (ESHP) Wheel System is a dual-function wheel gear that adjusts central column height securely while supporting heavy gear. This advanced gear wheel also enables precise height fine tuning while holding an extreme loading weight. Auctus Plus’ leg locks are exceptionally solid, secure and seal out dust and sand to provide impressive reliability. Setup is quick, too, with one-twist-to-loosen locks. Unique All-terrain Feet convert from anti-rust spikes to angled, textured rubber for secure footing on an array of terrains. It’s flexible, too, with legs that adjust to 25, 50 and 80-degree angles for use on uneven ground and for low-angle photography. The Auctus Plus 323CT has a 32 mm top tube and is a three section tripod that at maximum height is 70 7/8 inches. Its folded height is 28 inches and the minimum extended height is 57 1/8. Other features include an innovative locking camera screw wheel, large bubble level, anti-shock ring, leg scales for precise height adjustment, rubber foam grips and bonus snow shoes.
From the Manufacturer”
Designed to go from the studio to an outdoor shoot in a snap, VANGUARD’s top-of-the-line Auctus Plus 323CT tripod is loved by professional photographers for its stability and flexibility.
VANGUARD Auctus Plus 323CT tripod highlights
The wheel thing
Repositioning your tripod’s extended height with large format camera and extra long telephoto lens doesn’t have to be a nerve wracking experience. Auctus Plus 323CT’s ultra-smooth Extreme Support Height Positioning (ESHP) Wheel System easily adjusts central column height securely while supporting heavy gear, so you can set up your big shots with confidence.
This advanced gear wheel also enables precise height fine tuning while holding an extreme loading weight, so you can dial in your exact camera position with ease and peace of mind.
Sealed with a twist
Auctus Plus’ one-twist-to-loosen locks not only make setup a breeze, but they’re also solid, secure and seal out dust and sand to provide impressive reliability.
With legs that individually adjust to 25, 50 and 80-degree angles and unique feet that convert from anti-rust spikes to angled, textured rubber with bonus snow shoes, Auctus Plus is ready for use on any terrain and even for low angle photography.
If that wasn’t enough, Auctus Plus 323CT has been recognized with several major photography and product design awards, including its being named Best Tripod 2011 by the Technical Image Press Association, an award voted on by the editors of several major, international photography magazines. Other awards include a 2011 reddot design award and, when paired with VANGUARD GH-100 pistol grip ball head, a 2011 IDSA design award.
Lightweight carbon fiber legs
Large bubble level
Leg scales for precise height adjustment
Rubber foam grips
Innovative camera attachment screw easily converts from ¼” to 3/8”
Folded Height: 28 inches (710mm)
Extended Height: 70.875 inches (1800mm)
Minimum Extended Height: 57.125 inches (1,450mm)
Macro Height: 7.5 inches (190mm)
Weight: 8.04 lbs (3.65 kg)
Maximum Loading Weight: 39.7 lbs (18 kg)
Diameter of Leg: 32mm
Number of Sections: 3
Other Variations of the Auctus Plus line:
The Auctus Plus comes in two sizes 323 vs the smaller 283 and two materials -lighter, stronger, but more expensive carbon fiber (CT) or aluminum (AT).