Something Cool We are doing for WPPI

Have you ever thought of attending a trade convention like the Wedding and Portrait Photography Expo, better known to most as WPPI? Not sure of what you will get out of it? This year, we are inviting a new and (upcoming) photographer to blog about her  experience as a first time attendee of WPPI in Las Vegas! Please stay tuned for details!

They never made it to the final destination

Out one day with my wife exploring ghost towns, I came up on this sign. I guess who was ever retiring this pair of sneakers was to tired to carry them on to what should of been their final resting place… Is there more to the story?

Oct 11, 2011. Somewhere in NV.  A pair of shoes that never made it to the final resting place

Oct 11, 2011. Somewhere in NV.
A pair of shoes that never made it to the final resting place

Some times I forget I am a photographer

Oct. 20th, 2007 Alamo Nevada: "Outlaw Rose" a homeless woman near Alamo NV

Oct. 20th, 2007 Alamo Nevada: “Outlaw Rose” a homeless woman near Alamo NV

Sometimes I forget that one reason I started this blog, is because I am a a photographer. As a photographer, I get to meet several interesting people, like “Outlaw Rose” who was once a sheep herder. My wife and I met Outlaw Rose at a wayside near Alamo, NV by Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. The desert is a harsh place to live. Somehow Outlaw Rose makes do. We have passed this area several times since we first met Outlaw Rose, but we have not seen her since..

Imagin the horror!

Back in September my wife and I spent a few much needed days at our favorite spot, Disneyland. On our last day, we had a call from our neighbor letting us know someone broke into our house.  It was a very long trip home. When I opened the door, the first thing I saw was a box I had hoped would arrive before I left, containing the  Think Tank Photo’s  Glass Limo. The box was EMPTY and my feelings of despair hit a new low. The bag, our laptops, TV’s, game systems, and many other items were gone.  Then, while glancing over the mess that the burglers made, I saw a plastic wrapped black bag with a blue tag up at the top. The bag was carelessly thrown off to the side. Could it be? Was it? It was! My Glass Limo escaped the hands of the burglar (probably because they had no idea of the worth of Think Tank Products).  So, that would be why this review is late in coming out on Think Tank Photo’s Glass Limo.  In the aftermath of the burglary this review is being posted later that I would have hoped.

Before using the Glass Limo, I had never used a camera gear backpack.  I have tried a few sling style bags, and they were good, and if I did not carry a beast of a Canon 1D Mark III the slings would of been awesome for me.  When going out to shoot, I usually roll my big Air Port Security bag, then on location I use Skins and the Belly Dancer, and a Speed Racer. None of these bags are designed for hiking or for carrying a camera all day and not looking like a photographer. The Glass Limo gives you the opportunity to be a photographer, plain bag division. I loaded up my heavy gear, 1D Mark III, 100-400 F4, Flash, Batteries, and 24-105 to start this review

I had to slightly re-arrange the inside of the bag to fit my  needs. Though this is typical of most camera bags, I did like the fact that it was wide enough to accommodate a tall body like the 1D Mk III. Many bags that I have tried  are either a supper tight fit or the camera is too tall. The Glass Limo was just right!  And there is enough room to carry what you need with out being over stuffed for a hike or say, a day at Disney.

The outside of the bag has three places to add a modular component or skin. This adds to how much you can carry and gives you quick access to tools like batteries or lenses. It makes the bag extra functional and expandable. If that is not enough, you can also add a pro speed belt.

The Glass Limo has thick back pads that mold to your back, making this small backpack comfortable to wear fully loaded and, the best part, for long periods of time.

Last, the Glass Limo was really made to carry big glass, like a 300 f2.8 or an un-attached 600 F4.  My glass is not that big, so I used cans of Pineapple in the demonstration.  As always, please check the expiration dates on your pineapple cans before you take them with you on a shoot.

My next ThinkTank Product I will be reviewing will be My 2nd Brain. My wife was very happy I Got a 2nd Brain.


Two cans of Pineapple Juice about = 300 mm f2


Think Tank’s system allows you to add pouches, like this skin.


Two cans = a big lens


Canon 1D MkIII 100-400, 24-105 Lensbaby Spark, 580 Flash, card wallet

Canon 1D MkIII 100-400, 24-105 Lensbaby Spark, 580 Flash, card wallet

Clean up the dash. See where your going while you see where you have been.

How many things do you have plugged into your car? GPS? Radar Detector? FM Transmitter, Camera?  There is a way to get rid of all of these individual devices. The award winning App-Tronic’s Smart Nav 5  and  Smart Nav 5 Plus. This is the first of it’s kind, a rear view mirror that also has features of a tablet, front facing camera, radar, radar blocker, (radar is either an add on for the Smart Nav 5 or included in the Smart Nav 5 Plus. Bluetooth4.0 to stream music and take/answer calls, fm transmitter and a hard wired option to the radio, and navigation system.  And a rear view back up HD camera. You can also include parking sensors too.

The Smart Nav 5 with Radar

The Smart Nav 5 with Radar








For review I had the Smart Nav 5 with out the laser detection and parking sensors.  I did my own install, and it only took me about a half hour or so to have it completely installed, add another 15-20 minutes to install the rear view camera. The app on the Smart Nav 5 are an e-book reader, music player, picture viewer and movie player. Of course, you would not use the e-book reader or movie player while your driving. but I can see using the picture viewer.  Think of a person that spends quite a bit of time on the road. It’s a comfort to see an image of family. Drive down the road, check your rear view. Not only are you seeing the road behind you, you will see the image slide show.  Even better, how about law-enforcement, that might have most wanted, or missing people playing continually. These are just a few ideas of use. Similar could be used with the video player too.

The music player is self explanatory.  Load your music on a 16 or 32 gig micro sd card and keep it in the mirror. Your phone or music player dies, you still have a back up. to play in the car. Play through the FM transmitter to the radio, or if you have the system hardwired with the auxiliary out on the back of the mirror.  When your in the middle of Nevada, there are no radio stations. Your wife or kids might be using the phone or tablet to play a game, or watch a movie. You have back up.

The e-book reader; Sure your not going to read while you drive. But there are times when your stopped, you might need to entertain your self. Personally, I would keep a Bible version in an e-book form, because there are times when I need a quick look up. A sales person might keep a price list that they can assess easily.  Families could keep a travel guide. There are countless possibilities. The model mirror I have also has nuance voices, so it will read the audio book to you.

Take the GoPro off the dash. The Smart Nav 5 has a built in camera. It constantly records. Its nice to have this little bit of insurance, and you never know what you might catch. It also catches audio at the same time. Pop the card out, take it to the computer, and hit the player file on the card. It’s super cool!

Speakingcamera of cameras, there is also a rear view back up camera. This feature alone can save lives. Taking that extra second to look at the video camera before you back up can show you a small child behind you. What is nice, it’s already on your mirror. Your going to look there anyway. The HD rear camera is a 5 inch, compare that to the 2.5 inch on GM Models!


The Smart Nav 5 of course is a GPS System. The native navi system is IGO, though if you have another operating system on a windows CE Platform, you could have a dual nav system.

Igo has many features, and may take a little while to get used to. I have been using another brand for well over 8 years, so I have had to take a little while to learn another system. IGO has all of the great features of other systems, Text to Speech (speaking street names) Speed limits, and your speed. It even has the speed warning, letting you know that your over the speed limit. It makes my wife smile when she hears “The speed limit is 40 MPH” It gives us a good laugh as I slow down knowing I am “busted” This feature is adjustable and can be turned off.  Leaving it on can be annoying, but not as annoying as a speeding ticket.  I also enjoy having the 3d building view, and a customizable “dashboard” You can set it for distance to, time to, arrival time, speed limit, and altitude. I am sure their may be more that I forget. This would be easy if there was not so much to include!

But wait, there is more!

The Smart Nav 5 PParking Sensorslus also has radar detector, with state of the art Laser Diffusers. It will detect the X, K, KA & KU bands. I would go into more detail, but I have not had a chance to install and use them. I can imagine having these installed, and it used as a reminder to follow speed limits. I am sure when many people think of a radar detector, they think of a way to beat the Law. I think its a great tool to remind us to follow the law. But that is my two cents. If you would like more of an in depth look at the radar system please check out Cerebral-Overload. There is also a parking sensor option, which will make back in parking or parallel parking a lot easier.


We are almost done. The Smart Nav Series also has Bluetooth 4.0, so you can make and take calls from your phone, with smart phone music intergration, If you really wanna get fancy, it’s called A2DP.  The feature I really like is streaming music to the Smart Nav 5, and it playing through the FM Transmitter to the radio. Of course, you can also hard wire so you don’t need the FM Transmitter. Either way it takes away another cable!

Here is the best part. All of this, is in your rear view mirror, hard wired in, When a potential thief looks at your car as a target, they won’t see a GPS system, a radar detector, a FM transmitter, camera and Bluetooth speaker. They will see a mirror.  So while  price of $1999.99 for the best of the best (with radar) might seem a lot, Consider this. The cost of a few tickets. The cost of a GPS System. Back Up mirror, Bluetooth for the car, Video Recorder, Music player, FM transmitter and of course radar detectors, Now your saving money. And, the price of laughter from your wife when Smart Nav tells you your speeding? Priceless!

And one last thing to make it even more appealing, App Tronic will match your car’s warranty up to 5 years. If your car does not have a warranty, if installed by an authorized dealer, you get a 3 year warranty.



And, thats a wrap, or thats an Unplug???

The 2014 CES show or Consumer Electronic Show. has been unplugged for the year. I will have some really awesome products to tell you about in the coming months. And, I am looking forward to it!

One question I have been asked over and over again, what was the best thing that you seen? What was that one WOW thing.  Believe it or not, the wow item for me does not take any power at all. This product will be unveiled in a blog soon, so I will not spoil it here. I will give the hint that it’s a device for photographers.

Of course there are some wow items that take power. But I have seen so many things, so many awesome things that I don’t want to point at any one things. Each thing has it’s own wow factor to it. I loved the smart watches. I loved the iDevices I loved the innovations in GPS and in Radar detectors.

I think the biggest Wow factor in everything I have seen, is the passion that has gone into creating each device. I love seeing how the people have a passion in what they do, and they truly believe in their products. It’s this passion that drives the industry we all undeniably love. (ok, maybe not all of us, but most of us).

Now, if I can only get technology to clean my desk….

2014. It’s CES Time!

For the past 7 years, I have been starting my New Year off with the Consumer Electronic Show. It’s funny, I remember my first show, I won a 512 meg flash drive. I was so happy! Now, they give away 4 gig sticks with press releases on them. It is amazing how technology changes. So what is big this year? Wearable Tech, Wearable Health Tech. The Connected home. It’s either electronic monitoring or electronic controlling. You have to wonder, how healthy is it. Does it really help enhance our life and make us healthier or does it make us to dependent on our electronic gadgets? It’s all in how you use them. But how would you feel having your phone tell you that your not brushing your teeth correctly, because the toothbrush sends data to your phone? Or how about the watch that monitors heart rate? Or the headband that does pulse, body temperature? Or the light bulbs you can control by your smartphone?  So, I think it’s you go for a run, ride, or gym, then you come home to watch a little tv, and your to tired to turn off the lamp so you use your cell phone?

Personally, I love it. In fact, it was a pedometer that got me to start exercising more, that lead me to biking, that lead me to doing 4 Tour de Cure’s for the American Diabetes Association. And yes, I do have a cell phone holder for my bike. The Tablet mount should be in next week…

The Commercialism of Christmas

Like many, I used to be put off by the commercialism of the Christmas Season. The idea of stores opening Thanksgiving morning to get a jump on the holiday sales season really kind of angered me. Seeing the first of the Christmas Commercials way before Thanksgiving Day would make me scratch my head. Really? All ready? but its not even Thanksgiving yet…

Then a few weeks ago at a major theme park who also capitalizes on Christmas Sales it hit me. All this because a savior was born for the world. The world gets all up in a tizzy to celebrate the birth of Jesus. All the sale ads a month before Thanksgiving, stores that can’t wait to get a jump on the holiday sales, all the commercialism is because Christ was born. How fitting, that our Savior causes the world to jump on the celebration of His birth. Christmas time tends to make people a little nicer if for a month (unless your brown Thursday or black Friday shopping). And how many people that are not Christian still celebrate the Christmas Season with exchanging of presents, decorating their house with lights? Or people that would not do anything silly most the year wear a Santa Hat for a month? Or steal a kiss under the mistletoe? All this just because we celebrate the birth of Christ. (who, was more likely born in the summer)

Now, I welcome the commercialism of Christmas. Because the world is celebrating the birth of the Savior.

Your thoughts? Let me know!


For the past few days, I have been walking the show floors of the SEMA and the AAPEX show. It’s all about car stuff.

I had the luxury to talk with Bosch, the makers of the Actron OBDII Bluetooth dongle. I should be able to tell you more about the Actron brand and the U-Scan a for both the iOs, and Android systems. They also said they will be as so kind to send me a OBD I scanner for us with the older cars.  Also, I have chatted with two other companies that make a wireless OBDII dongle, both WI FI and Bluetooth. So I am hoping to work with them so I can tell you all about it. I am looking forward to working with some of the newer technology for America’s second love.. their car…