Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Best Working Photographer Shoes (boot) for Hawaii

Red Wing Men's Hiking #8691 in Black, Review

After killing two of my favorite  Ferragamo dress shoes at  wedding beach shoots,  I started to hunt for the “Best”  Working Photographer Shoes.

And I finally found one  … the  Red Wing WaterProof Work shoe that looks like a Hiking MID Boot  in Black (NO aluminum Toe). It is actually a new style  , # 8691 Men’s Hiker $ 180.00 + $ 8.00 to ship to Hawaii  :

It also comes in a  true work boot style with aluminum toe  … but that is another style number.

For me, this shoe  had to be:

1)      Comfortable.  It always surprises me how much time in a Photogs  life is spent standing and “waiting”.   And if shooting Events, Sports : Add Walking , and semi-running.

2)      Waterproof.  This has floated high on my list.  In Hawaii,  you will end up at the beach doing a shoot.  And maybe even walking across rocks.   For sure a beach Wedding.   And you don’t want to  look like a total  wimp,  by screaming and/or running  like a baby when you are surprised by a large wave on shore.  Or cry out loud when your  $400 shoes gets wet.  (tearing up a little is understandable)

3)      Durability.  This kinda  relates to the  Rocks at the beach thing , above.   Beach rock is very hard on shoes.    And it’s nice when a work shoe lasts , to add value.

4)      MID.   it needs to be a  slightly higher  MID boot design so  SAND from the beach does not go into the shoe when walking on the Beach.   I did not realize how important a feature that was until I started shooting Weddings on a beach, and saw another  Wedding photog with Hiking MID boots on.    

5)      Black.  Most  hiking boots are brown.   In order to disguise  this WaterProof Hiking boot as a dress shoe it has got to be at least BLACK, preferably all black.

The Red Wing  #8691 Men’s Hiker  in Black  meets all requirements!

Have been wearing it for over a week now.   Shot a number of events (with a lot of standing and walking)  … it is so comfortable, even my  Nike  running shoes and my Rockports  will sit on the shelf unused from now on.  The shoe holds my heal snuggly like a good running shoe and even has a wide base like a running shoe.  A moderate arch support (the Merrell  Pulse II Waterproof is slightly more comfortable, with more arch support),  and though I bought it in Normal (D) the width and toe space is roomy , I  do what I normally do, and bought a half size larger , for airlines travel  (Normal width, they call it D … note: the Hawaii Red Wing store only carries Wide and in this style only Brown , so I had to special order in D / Black … it only cost $8.00 more and took only one week to get to my home)   In fact on a upcoming trip to New York City  (a city of walking)  I plan to ONLY bring this Red Wing Hiker (no dress shoes).  (well, along with my fav slipper  Reef Mick Fanning -02 :

Fyi: the shoe is made like a TANK!   And the sole is like truck tires.  But, it also has a slightly bouncy/Airy feel  (similar to my Doc Martins, but more comfortable, durable and better looking …  those Doc Martins are only for  yard duty now).   Have a   “Beach Home” Wedding on the North Shore to do this week  … so, it’s  SAND , Rock,  WaterProof ability will be tested.
* 9/23/2011 update:  Did that North Shore wedding ... and of course as I was shooting them walking down the beach I got hit "good" by a wave.  Talking pants all the way up to my knee wet (lined wool pants).  The Red Wing #8691 never really felt wet on the inside (like any of my previous shoes would).  AND it kept the sand out.  And did not feel uncomfortable the rest of the night (even after the wave hit me, I did not take the shoe off that night).   The sand and water pretty much fell off by the end of the night (terminator style), and it did not have a wet feeling inside. My pant was wet , but it did not feel like the inside of the shoe was really wet (though my socks did get wet).     After getting hit by the wave, it did destract me enough that I forgot to take a  bride "single" shot at the beach (hate when that happens). :)  ...   I don't think anyone really noticed I was wearing a hiking boot until I layed down on the floor to take a shot, and a Bridesmaid "exclaimed" out loud ,  he is wearing really heavy duty  Hiking Boots! ... LOL ,  you will only know why when you actually see this shoe, from the bottom. *
Shot this week a  “Business Dress”  Event at “The Modern Honolulu”  (formally the Edition Hotel) , and  “The Plaza Club” in Downtown  with this  Red Wing #8691  with  a black wool dress pant     it  seemed to disguise well as a dress shoe    No one  kicked me out for  not having a dress shoe on (or looked at my shoe strangely)  , LOL.
10/28/11  ...  found out on a trip  ... that this shoe , even though it does NOT have a aluminum Toe  ... does have metal in it  ... it set off a alarm when I walked thru a metal detector.
* Also, found out that if you go to the RED Wing store (in Aiea) and have your foot measured ... the size is pretty true.   When the store measured my foot I was a  Regular width which I special ordered (the store only stocked Wide)  ... But, I also bought my normal  1/2 size larger  ... so it would be easier to take on and off at the Airport. (and if my foot swelled on a trip)
This "might" have been a mistake with this shoe because it  probably would have fit perfectly if I bought my correct "measured" size.  I think this heavy shoe actually had a pretty good fit at my "correct" size.
*** This has become my BEST Work shoe  EVER !
Next test will be  Nov. in New York  (maybe in the snow) :).

This all Black shoe can be worn with  wool pants or Jeans.   Nice!

I have found the Perfect   Photographers  Work Shoe/Boot !   The WaterProof  Red Wing Hiker # 8691 in Black.

I plan to wear this shoe “Everywhere”    and will probably end up wearing less  Dress shoes in the future.

11/30/11 Update:  Just came back from a  10 day New York trip ...  30-40 degree cold, Rain , NYC sidewalks and roads , puddles   ... 
* This Waterproof  (and slightly heavy)  8691   really  shined on this trip. and it was the ONLY shoe I took in this trip.  
I am talking over  100 NYC blocks of walking  and two  rainy days that was not higher than 40 deg. ... walking quickly thru puddles, bad roads and sidewalks. 
This shoe PASSED with flying colors !  
Can you tell this is now my favoite shoe "Ever".       Now, I am wondering if I will ever bother to buy another Feragamo , ever.   (I might try a  Merrel Pulse II  if they ever do a black   lol)

Hope this helps someone,
Ross D. Hamamura
The Tourist of Light

Monday, September 5, 2011

Flash Strip Softbox , on the Cheap (as of this date , at least)

First,  this is a GREAT Value!  could not find anything better at this price. and I do NOT regreat my purchase.
Would recommend buying it, but you also need to know the rest of the story.

After a long search, I bought two(2) of these,   us$79.99 + ship each.
Even AB (Paul Buff strip box is $119 and it does not have a a Bracket for Flash, or Grid)
It arrived pretty quick , and the shipping to Hawaii added about $30 each.

VALUE is how I would describe this.
1) The Soft box looks pretty durable
2) It comes with a Grid!  and inside diffuser ... and bag
3) The Flash bracket seems pretty heavy duty for a "strobist" Flash solution ... and it seems you could probably load your studio strobes on it.

The BUT:
1) It looks more like a Strobe set up that was altered for Flash ... now depending on your point of veiw this could be good or bad.  imho, it is NOT as "Elegant" of a Flash/Strobist solution as my FourSquare Flash Softbox ... in fact my Four(4) Flash Softbox solution is "way" Lighter than this one(1) Flash strip softbox ... and Faster and easier to Set UP.  and the FourSquare Packs for Travel a lot smaller, WAY smaller.

* For what I wanted to use this for , it is a bit of a problem ...  a FourSquare , Two Flash Strip Box would be less than half the weight and size , IF they had one. (but there FourSquare Grid is way too expensive, imho)

2) The Speedlite bracket L on this is designed WRONG !  and at "first" you will not get WHY they included a picture of the Speedlite bracket "T" ... but, when you start using it with the "L" bracket with this Strip Softbox .. you realize quickly that this "L" design was a mistake!

So, YES  I bought two(2) of the Speedlite bracket "T" and extra $30 Free ship ...  * at about $130 total I still concider this a VALUE. TOTAL is:  $79.99 for the original Strip box , Grid and L flash bracket , add $30 each for shipping , then add another $30 for the "extra" T flash bracket (which I like better) ..  That gives you a TOTAL cost of  $ $139.99 each for this (and you have an extra L bracket).

Want to know why I bought the "T" bracket even when the "L" bracket is OK?

* Well, When you set up the Strip Softbox Vertical (which I will probably do most of the time) the L bracket does not easily allow you to keep the Flash vertical with it.  Not a big deal really cuz you can work around this ... but, it is bad enough that there is a Hot Spot in the center that with one flash is hard enough to avoid.
* But, that's not all ... you cannot move the Flash  Deeper into the Strip Softbox  ... after a while you start to realize there is benifits to this :) ... and you get pi$$ed that the picture of the "T" bracket solves this.

I think the Hot Spot can be helped a bit by putting on a Diffusion dome on your Flash ... and moving the Flash more inside the Softbox , then the Silver Reflector on the sides can help bounce the light around more and not have it in such a strait path to the center of the box.

It also helps if you have a sb900 where you can flip the Wide angle diffuer down and have the sb900 automatically go to a 17mm wide zoom , combine this with the dome and it really evens out the light on this 36" strip box.  Or as best that can be expected with one Flash

* The other benifit of paying extra for the additional "T" bracket is ...  the  Softbox "Swivel"  will work as it should ,  keeping the the strip and the flash , vertical with each other

* now this whole bowens softbox screw on bracken , T bracket ... starts to get heavy , and less "strobist-y"  ...  probably best as a studio set up , vs a Travel, On-the-Go ,  GUN and RUN Strbist Set UP.
BUT, it is the Cheapest , Flash Strip Softbox solution I have found , so far.  
Well,  at least until  Foursquare can make a two(2) Flash Strip Softbox

p.s.  Did I say that this Strip Softbox comes with a GRID ?  :)

Hope this helps someone, looking for a Flash Strip Softbox.

*** anyone wants to buy two(2) New / Unused  Speedlite bracket "L" ??? 
email me  ...   If I get  $20  each on these I will be happy.

Ross Hamamura
The Tourist of Light  :)