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What's in Your Bag, Alex Evers?

Published by Jen Tse · August 4th 2011

What makes a great photographer? Besides a good pair of eyes, great intuition, some technical know-how, and sometimes sheer luck, no great photog can do what they do without their gear. And the contents of a gear bag can say a little, or a lot about a person.

The What's in Your Bag series features remarkable photographers from the 500px community and gives us a peek into what they consider their essential tools on the go. This week's feature is Alex Evers.

Who are you, Alex?

Hey guys, I’m Alex Evers and I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California.

What do you shoot?

I shoot a lot of sports, but horse racing is my favorite. It’s what made me interested in photography. Shooting the races can get monotonous, so I began experimenting with remote photography. It really makes each race a challenge, because I’m always trying to push the envelope with what I can do.

Over the years I built a collection of cameras. At the Kentucky Derby this year I had 10 remote cameras going on one hardwired line. Having that many cameras insures you get the shot, but also allows you to be creative with some as well. When I am shooting a race without an assistant, I rely on the remotes to get me different angles from a finish, which helps sell more pictures because you aren’t just confined to a horizontal crop.

It also covers me in case I miss the shot with my hand held if its an tight finish and they are spaced apart. On a successful day I will come away with four completely different photos from one race. In a climate now where there are so many photographers, going the extra mile and setting up remotes, or pushing yourself to be creative will separate you from the herd.

What's in your bag?

Below is my setup for an event. Everything fits into two bags and is neatly organized and doesn’t weigh me down too badly.

1. Cameras: Canon 1d Mark III, Canon 1ds Mark II (x2), 1d Mark II. I shoot Canon because when I first decided to try photography I used my Mom’s AE1 Program from the year I was born. When I got my first digitial (10D and a 80-200mm f/2.8) I went with Canon because I was familiar, and the price was right. I have also shot extensively with the Nikon D3, and it’s a great camera too. What I highly recommend, if at all possible, is to be familiar with both systems. You never know what job you may get and they might have gear for you. Always good to be prepared.

2. 580EX flash. Nothing special, although I dropped it down three flights of stairs and it's stuck and vignettes terribly, but I like it and have adopted it into my style.

3. Old film snap bag with PocketWizard and remote cables. I build all my own cables and use add-a-taps and male prong to miniphone cables to hook multiple cameras onto one line for remotes.

4. Hip pouches. One fits a 70-200mm and various other things, the other is The Think Tank Everything Else for my Pocket Wizards, Card Wallet and other remote needs. It also stays in my bag.

5. Lowepro top-loader bag. I use it for my 300mm f/2.8. Great for travel, and stores my minipods and some extra batteries.

6. Pelican King case. Stores a lot of gear. I’ll use it for larger shoots or for shipping gear before an event to minimize what I carry on a plane.

7. Manfrotto 650B monopod. I really like this monopod. It easily holds my 400mm 2.8. I like the snaps better for speed than using the twist ones. It’s really light too, and fits nicely with my Think Tank Airport Security bag.

8. Think Tank Airport Security bag. This is easily one of the best purchases I have ever made. It holds almost everything (see leading bag picture). It has a TSA approved lock built in, and a lock that allows you to lock the whole bag to something. It's designed specifically to fit the maximum size a carry-on can be. In addition I can slide my laptop in the front pocket and carry my 300 in the Lowepro bag and get away with three carry-ons. Oh, and it rolls really smoothly, and Think Tank lifetime guarantees everything too.

9. Think Tank Artificial Intelligence bag. Keeps my laptop and all my computer supplies organized and slides into the roller.

10. Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 II. It’s my go-to lens. I love it. The 400 is really heavy and its bulky to lug around but it produces such amazing images that its worth the work. My photo, “Battle of the Sexes” was shot with it. It allows you to shoot tight but also in low light with the 2.8. I have a digi-camo lens coat on it to protect it from the synthetic race tracks. They are sand-based with wax and it sticks to everything.

11. Canon EF 300mm f/2.8. Sometimes the 400 is too long, and that’s when I go to the 300mm. It’s much lighter and still maintains f/2.8. It’s a great portrait lens, and my first really nice prime lens. I like the prime lenses over zooms because they are sharper. This is a great lens for portraits too, with the shallow depth of field and compression. The portrait of “Zenyatta” was shot with this.

12. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8. It’s the industry standard lens. Incredibly versatile.

13. Nikkor ED 400mm f/3.5. It’s all manual and has an adaptor to fit on Canon bodies. I use it for remotes. It's tack sharp and produces beautiful images. It’s just one more tool that allows me to come up with different angles.

14. Batteries.

15. Canon EF 17-40 f/4.0. It’s not the f/2.8 version, but it's sharp almost all the way to the edge of the frame. I use this lens all the time, for both handheld and remotes. The remote shot of "Street Sense" and "Grasshopper" was with this lens.

16. Zip wire. 18 gauge wire used for hardwiring remote cameras or strobes.

17. Super Clamp with ball head. Great mounting tool for flashes or remotes.

18. Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye. One of my favorite lenses. I pair it with my Canon EOS 1DS Mark II, which is a full frame body to make the most of the distortion. “Winning in the Rain” was shot with this combo. It’s a nice lens to get really wide but also to create an interesting perspective.

19. PocketWizards. I have one transmitter and two receivers. Both receivers have the soft side of Velcro all over them and then I keep a Velcro strap wrapped around them. This is so I can attach them to higher locations. I find that PocketWizards work much better with elevation. With custom built cables I can make them longer allowing for greater elevation from the camera.

20. Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket. CF and business card holder.

21. Nikkor ED 50mm f/1.4. I have an adaptor on it so that I can throw it on Canon cameras. It’s a great lens for remotes. It has a wide aperture and all my remotes are manually focused so I’m not worried about its lack of auto focus.

22. Manfrotto Mini-Pods. Great for low angle remote cameras. Light and easy to keep in a hip pouch.

For more of Alex's photography, check out his 500px page and his website.

What Do You Care About? Let's Talk!

Published by Jen Tse · August 3rd 2011

All of us here at 500px are passionate photographers just like you. While discussing our own reasons for taking pictures, we realized that not only do we share a love for photography, but we also care deeply about certain issues specific to photographers.

What is a manifesto? As defined by Merriam-Webster, it's "a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer". We'd like to invite the 500px community to participate in a discussion on various topics, starting with your manifesto as a prompt: What's your personal manifesto—why do you take photos, and for whom?

From there, we'd like you to voice your opinions on whatever else you care about in your profession or hobby that others (i.e., non-photographers) might not understand or appreciate. There are many, many ideas to possibly touch upon:

Appreciation of photography as work: Do you feel that photos are undervalued because technology has made images are so ubiquitous? What else do you feel clients, editors, and people who look at photos need to understand?

Payment and pricing for your work: What price is fair for gigs, prints, and assignments? Do you find it difficult to make a living as a photographer? How can we try to increase the perceived value of our work and make things easier for ourselves?

Shooting rights: Have you been harassed about shooting something when it was perfectly within your rights to do so? Is the awareness of photographer's rights important to you? What actions could the photographer community take to make these rights known, and/or to protect themselves?

Copyright and a user's respect (or lack thereof) for the limitations it places on the use of your photos: Do we still own our work after it's been published online? How can photographers protect themselves and their photos, or take legal action (and win) when their copyright is ignored? Is there a better way to find and bring image-stealers to justice? How can we avoid being taken advantage of through loopholes and legal grey areas?

Altering images and journalistic integrity: Where do we draw the line when it comes to publishing altered photos? What amount of processing or editing would be considered enough to obscure the "truth"? To what standards should commercial photographers and photojournalists adhere, and what rules should we be allowed to bend?

...etc, etc, etc.

Hopefully we can get a conversation rolling. Leave a comment (or two, or three) with your thoughts!

500px PHOTO PARTY next Saturday! + Friday Behind the Scenes

Published by Jen Tse · July 29th 2011

Do you like to party and to take photos? Of course you do. And that's why we have some awesome news for you.

Join us next Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 1 p.m. for the first 500px Photo Party (we decided that "party" sounds much more fun than simply a photo walk). Andrey Tochilin and I will lead the walk, starting from Yonge and Dundas in Toronto. Rain (bring an umbrella!) or shine. Feel free to RSVP in the comments below so we have a rough idea of how many to expect.

Who: Your AWESOME self
What: 500px's first Photo Party (walk)
Where: Southeast corner of Yonge and Dundas intersection, Toronto
When: 1 p.m. - whenever
Why: Pure fun times with cool 500px-ers!

See you there.


In other news, it's Friday and we have some behind-the-scenes photos to share of the boys hard at work at HQ. So you can rest assured that we're real friendly people and not evil robot overlords.

Arseniy, our Developer, loses himself in dizzying worlds of code. Nothing can break his concentration. His steely-eyed determination is only matched by...

...the flock of guardian owls on his Gelaskins-covered Macbook. They protect him, giving him superhuman endurance and keeping disastrous mistakes at bay.

Oleg, our Co-Founder and Technical Director, has important calls to make with important people. Clearly! He just really likes to smile, and he'll make you smile too.

Andrey, our Marketing Director, works with 500px partners and chats with users in a Google+ Hangout. If you ever have questions and want to talk one-on-one with someone at 500px, he's your man. His signature 70-200mm Canon lens mug sits on his desk.

And finally, here's Evgeny, our Co-Founder and Creative Director. Five words for you: don't mess with this guy. I mean, he's really friendly, but would you want to get on the bad side of someone with that many screens to manage? Yeah, I wouldn't either.

EDIT: Because Andrey insisted, here's a picture of yours truly on my 500px-Gelaskinned Macbook with my 24-105mm Canon lens mug. He threatened me with evisceration if I didn't smile. Just kidding, I like smiling. And I'm 500px's Media Director.

Happy now, Andrey?

Time to get things done so the site can be the best it can be. Happy Friday from 500px HQ!

What's in Your Bag, Peter Crock?

Published by Jen Tse · July 28th 2011

What makes a great photographer? Besides a good pair of eyes, great intuition, some technical know-how, and sometimes sheer luck, no great photog can do what they do without their gear. And the contents of a gear bag can say a little, or a lot about a person.

The What's in Your Bag series features remarkable photographers from the 500px community and gives us a peek into what they consider their essential tools on the go. This week's feature is Peter Crock.

Who are you, Peter?

I am an amateur photographer based in Toronto, Canada. Photography has been a part of my life since I was 16 years old and took a photo course in high school. Since then, it has allowed me an outlet to express myself creatively in a way that would have been difficult in any other medium.

What do you shoot?

Streetscapes, landscapes, abstract, and portraits are my favorite subjects to capture, but I don’t allow any of them to limit what I do. The more creative a perspective I can find in things, the better.

What's in your bag?

1, 2. Lowepro shoulder bags. These are older models, so I can’t reference which ones they are specifically. 1 is my primary bag, which holds a camera and two lenses easily. 2 is when I only feel like carrying one camera and a small lens.
3. Nikon MB-10 vertical grip. I rarely use this anymore, but serves its purpose well for constant shooting in portrait.
4. Manfrotto tripod. Purchased 5 years ago and still holds up well for night shots, or double exposures.
5. Nikon D700. My only camera in my gear at the moment. Acquired last year after trading in my D300 for it. Excellent build and versatility, and love the flexibility it gives with the full frame sensor.
6. Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 DG. Anybody who is familiar with my work knows that I love to shoot wide angle, and this lens delivers in spades. Great for interior architecture, tight spaces, landscape, even streetscapes. What it lacks in the aperture department makes up for in range.
7. Nikkor 50mm f1.8 MF. A used manual focus lens I purchased a number of years ago. Great for street and portrait shoots. Found that using this manual focus was better for depth of field than my previous auto focus primes, so I kept it.
8. Nikkor 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 AF DX. A non full frame lens which gives an unfortunate crop factor. Still great for up close street shots and wide enough for landscape. I also bought this used, but has held up well after many years.

As you can tell from my gear, I am an extreme minimalist. I travel very light and take only what I need whether I go out for a few hours, or a whole day of shooting. This forces me to focus on my subject(s) rather than my equipment.

For more of Peter's photography, check out his 500px page and his website.

What’s New from 500px HQ

Published by Jen Tse · July 27th 2011

Hey 500px users, it’s time to get updated! A bit about myself—I’m Jen Tse, a Toronto-based photographer, journalist, and media junkie. From now on I’ll be managing the blog and other media updates for 500px as its Media Director. Feel free to get in touch by email or on Google+. Things are just getting busier as the site grows and we are excited to roll out more improvements and features than ever.

Expect to hear from us weekly with the latest news from the 500px development team. But that’s not all. We want our blog to become a forum for discussion and a showcase for the talent that makes 500px shine. Our goal is to build an interactive community and to put the spotlight on its best (think exclusive photographer interviews and other goodies). Be sure to check back often, and don’t be shy—leave a comment and tell us what’s on your mind. We always love hearing from you!

What's Happened Over the Last Week

Thanks to our fast-growing and dedicated community, we achieved what we couldn’t even have hoped for— passed 4 million visits in the last 30 days. That’s 35 million pageviews and 1.9 million unique visitors. To compare with last month, we had 3.5 million visits. Things are only looking up!

The 500px team welcomes Ruslan Doroshenko as our new Systems Architect. He will be doing back-end work for us, creating high-scalable systems. With his help, we’ll be able to handle many more users and photos. He will be providing more support for future growth.

We’ve redesigned the way our uploader works from the back end. It shouldn’t crash as much anymore. In the worst case scenario, it will be slower than usual, but it is now much more robust and responsive to high volume uploads.

The way our photos are shown has also been redesigned on the back end—no changes from the front end. We’re using less code, so it loads faster. The system will also be more responsive because less resources will be used.

What We’re Working On Right Now

All of the changes we’ve made over the last week and will make in coming weeks have been to prepare the system for increased volume.

We’re now re-factoring our comments sections to make them more compact, more robust, and less challenging for our servers. We will also be re-factoring our email system.

Wrapping up API: soon you will be able to take our API and use it with other applications. Examples of these would be Lightroom integration and Flickr plugins. We’ll be beta testing this internally next week, and hopefully releasing it to select developers the week after (mid-August). Those interested in developing something cool with the API can contact Arseniy Ivanov.

As always, we encourage you to contact us with suggestions for improvements to the site, or to determine any potential bugs and fixes. Chat with us on Google+, or leave a comment below.

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