Done. Home. 12,531 miles. Flew out. Drove back, and not in a straight line. Life on a bus. A three foot wide, moving, turning, stopping and starting bed. It was like sleeping for five weeks in one of those beds that have the magic fingers, and the bus was a never ending supply of quarters. It was, you know, fun. But then, I have a broad definition of fun.
We’ve got a lot of people to thank, first and foremost all the folks who came out to a stop. Lots of gracious, easy going flashinistas investigating light out there. Good crew, good questions, great enthusiasm.
Our ever wonderful VALs, or volunteers. In every city, they were terrific. We could not have pulled this off every morning without the consistently willing, good-natured groups of folks who were there when we stumbled off the bus at 6am, looking and feeling our best. We would rub our eyes, look around at the loading dock or dumpsters, and mumble, “Where the hell are we?”
Adorama. They put the gas in the tank. Harry Drummer, Jeff Snyder, Monica Cipnic, Brian Green, Jerry Deutsch–all of them made the wheels on the bus go round and round…and round and round…and, well you get the idea.
Heard on the road: Me to David after the entire crew knocked a few back before boarding the bus. “David, I’m concerned that we’re losing control of this bus.” Grippi, walking by, without missing a beat. “Shut up old man.”
We had sponsors. David and I reached out to folks we know and respect in the industry, and tried to make the Flashbus a worthwhile day. They all pitched in, and what they pitched in with, attendees walked out the door with. Schwag bags, and giveaways galore.
Manfrotto and the Manfrotto School of Excellence helped out big time. We rolled with a ton of their stuff, from Lastolite gear to stacker stands to tripods for still and video, fluid heads, monopods…you name it.
Heard on the road: Jeff Snyder to me in the morning. “You look like Nick Nolte’s mug shot.”
We gave away about 100 Justin Clamps. They easily have to be the most popular clamp in the industry, at least for small flash folks. What we have done to customize ours’ is to fit them with Frio cold shoes, another free item in the bag. Yep, Frio gave out freebie coupons for thousands of their cold shoes, with free shipping.
A forest of Frios! David H sold me on these guys. No moving parts, one size fits all. (Or any that I know about.)
We rolled, literally, with Thinktank. They are simply making some of the most intelligent stuff out there to put gear in. What I’ve done with their rollers is take out all the dividers, wrap all the cameras and glass in velcro protective wraps, and snug everything in there.
Heard on the road: Joe, struggling with TTL, turns to the crowd…”Okay, what do I now?” From crowd…”Call David Hobby.”
Our staff fell in love with two Thinktank numbers; the Retrospective bags, and Shapeshifter backpack.
Life on the road. Annie was concerned about me getting sick, so she fixed me up with these Hibistat high powered antiseptic wipes, which she swears by. We had lunch on the road together and wiped down with these guys so thoroughly the table we were at smelled like an ICU. Both of us finished our pre-meal cleansing, and, holding our hands up like surgeons, started giggling like idiots. I was like, “Okay, honey, want me to scrub in on the mozzarella panini?”
Pocket Wizard supplied posters, which were a big hit, even though David and I both cautioned everyone that when we sign something, the value drops. They are showing us the doorway to the future that is radio TTL. Controlling lights you cannot see. Bye-bye line of sight. The future awaits!
All the images were captured on Lexar pro cards. Plus we gave a boat load of them away. They really came through for everybody. Every stop, David and I gave away screaming fast 600x 32 and a 16 gig card for answers to questions and challenges that ranged from “Who shot the first cover of LIFE?” to “First one to hold over their head a human spleen wins this prize!”
Stuff happens on the road. Drew, trying to manhandle an overstuffed cart of equipment down a ramp, lets too much velocity build and is danger of being crushed by 1,000 pounds of photographic irony on wheels when Phil, our intrepid driver, steps in and stops it. Phil’s comment: “Black man to the rescue again.”
Speaking of heavy gear, all our big stuff got stuffed into Kata bags. Their sling bags are basically indestructible.
Lumiquest was out there with us, big time. Not only for stuff we shot, but as giveaways galore. They anted up with an UItrastrap for everybody, and light shapers as giveaways. It was our honor to have Terry White at the Grand Rapids show, and he captured an LTP in action, perhaps not in a way everyone might choose to use it.
Everybody was gellin’, courtesy of Roscoe and The Strobist. The gel pack in everybody’s bag represents the basics of color control for your small flash.
After spending years in the tethering woods, and breaking platform after platform, one of our sponsors, Tether Tools, came to the rescue with an incredibly well designed platform with a undercarriage for hard drives. Awesome. Plus they make repeater USB tether cables that just don’t quit, and we gave those out at every stop.
Life on the road. I can report that Cali, who fell in love, long distance, with a beautiful young lady whom he had never met, has now met her, and is absolutely over the moon about her, which is, of course, terrific. They’re both talented, wonderful young people, and they appear to be soul mates. I’m glad it worked out ’cause we gave him a ton of shit about it on the road. Which he richly deserved, because he was consistently acting like a love smitten high school girl, albeit one with a lot of body hair. I mean, I would watch him lift a case, get an Iphone buzz, smile, put the case down and text. Half of me was, “Awww, that’s nice,” and half of me wanted to split his skull with my Gitzo.
Spyder kicked it with the donation of discount cards for everybody, and a giveaway Spyder 3 Pro Calibrator at every stop. Yowza!
Phil, our driver, was super cool. He was like a surgeon with the bus, and he’s a trained bodyguard to boot. Great guy who could boil down any discussion into a stunningly accurate, pithy, five word observation. Bartender to Phil: “You want a glass with that beer?” Phil: “Nah, I’m from the hood.” Raised up in Newark, NJ, he’s out there now driving a vet. Yep, a vet. Here’s what the bus looks like.
NIK Software came along for the ride, with discounts, and, at every stop….drum roll….. a free Color Efex suite, or a Viveza suite of post productions marvels. People went crazy, especially those who were blessed by their parents with the names, Nick, or Nicole. Often these namesakes walked off with complete sets of software goodies.
And Peachpit came through for the readers in our crowds, discounting all manner of terrific books, even though I tried to convince everybody the coupons were only for mine:-) That didn’t work. It was cool to have them out there with us.
For five weeks, we were out there on wheels. Couldn’t have met a nicer bunch of people. Couldn’t have had more fun, and also, couldn’t have learned more. I tell ya, watching the Strobist in action, you learn some stuff, which I will share in an upcoming blog….more tk….
Gear still life pix shot by Cali at f1.2, his favorite f-stop…..:-)