Category Archives: travel gadgets

California, Gear I Come…

Vanity Plate

As I prepare to head back to the Left Coast and settle down in a permanent office for Zoom Street, I’ve gathered a few of the accessories I’ll be transporting across state lines. (This is the first in a series of posts.)

Zoom Street Photo

1. I’m not a fan of GPS windshield mounts. Attaching & detaching the GPS from the mount is a hassle. So I was pleased to discover the Nav-Mat Portable GPS Dash Mount from Bracketron. It balances the GPS securely, yet can easily be moved and stowed away. Bracketron specializes in mobile electronics and you’ll find the Nav-Mat and other accessories at Radio Shack, Staples, and big box stores.

2. I never put peddle to the metal without a Magellan GPS in view. Currently it’s a Bluetooth-enabled Magellan RoadMate 9055 with a beautiful, wide, 7-inch touch-screen. This is definitely the Rolls Royce of navigation. It features subscription-free, Lifetime Traffic Alerts; pre-loaded maps of the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico; One-Touch favorites menu for bookmarking your searches and favorite photo-op spots; built-in AAA TourBook; and its advanced Bluetooth provides a speakerphone for hands-free calling.

3. Since I’ll be porty-strobing** across the good old USA, I can’t be without a LumiQuest Softbox LTp. For drive-by portraits it softens the light just right. It also conveniently folds up flat and fits in the outer sleeve of my Domke bag.
(BTW, I’ll include gear bags in the next installment.)

**not to be confused with potty-stopping

4. In advance of April showers I’ve got a Rainsleeve 2-pack from OP/TECH USA to protect my cameras and lenses. Foul weather won’t keep me from shooting on the road.

5. When shooting videos I don’t rely on a DSLR’s built-in microphone. Instead, I opt for professional broadcast-quality audio at a bargain price. Thus, I’m packing the new RODE Videomic Pro Compact Shotgun. It’s little 9V battery provides 70 hours of recording and will last the 3,000 miles I’m covering. The Videomic Pro features integrated shock mounting, two step high-pass filter, a three position level control, and a cold shoe mount with 3/8” thread for attaching to a boompole.

6. If I’ve learned one thing from driving cross-country 13 times, it’s that you can’t put a price on comfort. There’s an  unavoidable stress-factor at play, so whatever one does to maximize the C-zone makes the trip go smoother. As always, I surf on over to Magellan’s Travel Supplies—the Santa Barbara-based shop stocked to the gills with gotta-have accessories. My first choice this year was a pair of Clarks WAVE—specifically designed for heavy-duty walking sans fatigue. The energy-saving sole is curved to propel one’s forward motion. The WAVE is also heavy on the shock absorption, so when I get out of the car I can trek for photos and return with a spring in my step. Bonus points for making me look good, too.

7. This trip I’m armed with the LumoPro LP160 Quad-Sync Flash (actually three of ‘em, although only one is shown in the photo). As mentioned in a previous post, this flash doesn’t come with a case, but I tracked down a great one from Tamrac (the MX5385 Flash Accessory Pocket, not shown) and will be taking three of those along as well. To find out why I chose this particular strobe, read my review here.

8.  Well you didn’t think I’d leave behind my Batman thumb drive did you? I’m gonna hang this sucker from the rearview mirror in place of the foam dice and St. Christopher medal. It’s a handy-dandy digital talisman. Available from Mimoco.

9. Time flies when you’re holed up at the No-Tell Motel in Belleview, OK… that’s why I pack this slim, loud chirping (92db) Foldable Alarm Clock from Magellan’s so I’m out the door before the cleaning crew starts spraying the room with chemicals. It’s lighter than my watch and easier to see.

10. I always keep a bunch of Nasty Clamps with frio cold shoes attached in my gear bag. Whether I’m on the road or shooting in the backyard, I can’t live without them. You can clamp your strobes to anything solid and discover cool new angles for flashing. No stands or tripods necessary. Clamp and shoot.

11. Last but not least… the Digital Tire Gauge with Multi Tools (you guessed it—it’s available from Magellan’s.) This is a Swiss Army Knife for folks in the fast lane. I can check my tire pressure after dark on its easy-to-read blue backlit LED screen (w/3 mode gauge: PSI, BAR. KPa) It has a white & red LED flashlight; pliers; screwdrivers; scissors; seat belt cutter; and glass hammer. Runs on 1 Lithium battery (included) and 1 AAA battery (not included).   

12. I lied. This is the last but not least. (Now you know why comments are blocked on this blog.) The eco-friendly 21 oz Hydro Flask was too shy for the group photo so I’ll stick a snap bellow. As a confirmed java-junky (on or off the road), my intake goes through the roof on long drives. And there’s nothing worse than sipping cold coffee at the wheel in the wee hours. The Hydro Flask, however, is “double-wall” insulated and keeps my Sumatra Bold steaming hot for 12 hours. Then, when I’m speeding through the desert, it’ll keep my spring water chilled for—no joke—24 hours! Made with 18/8 Stainless Steel, it’s BPA free, has a leak-proof lid, and doesn’t sweat the slings and arrows of travel.

Yet another gem from Magellan’s.

Zoom Street Photo

Click here for Part 2.