Articles

All articles presented here were written by me for B&H's InDepth microsite and InSights! blog, under the pseudonym,  Megan Iverson. Click on an article's title to be taken to the article on the B&H Website. 


An Instant Tradition

By Megan Iverson 

 

This past Thanksgiving I did a little experiment involving my boyfriend’s family: I brought a gaggle of instant cameras to the festivities. Seeing as he’s the love of my life, I wanted to bond more with his relatives. I wasn’t sure that everyone would be into this idea of mine, but I thought it just might work. That or they’d be dreading the next holiday where I would be in attendance. Guess what? It worked!

Now, let’s just stop for a moment before we go on. If you are scratching your head thinking that instant cameras were dead and gone, I am here to tell you they are not! In fact, these devices, generally regarded as relics of days past, are alive and well and just waiting to make your holidays extra special. From Fujifilm to the venerable Polaroid, you can find several options that are fun, easy to operate and are affordable.

OK, now back to the story.

To warm things up, the first camera I brought out was the Fujifilm Instax Mini 7s. In addition to comments like, “That thing looks like a marshmallow,” reveries on formerly owned Polaroid cameras and the utter joy of instant pictures (especially from the over-35 crowd) were shared. There were also lots of oohs and aahs—and statements that all boiled down to: “That’s really neat!” Of course, I can’t forget: “Those are mini Polaroids!”

Another plus of this little marshmallow—I mean Fuji—is that everyone could operate it with no explanation required. Well, with one exception: to turn it on, you have to pull the lens out—which, in itself, encouraged conversation. Things were off to a good start, so I went to my bag and put the rest of cameras out on the coffee table: the Fujifilm Instax Mini 25 and the Fujifilm Instax 210, along with two Polaroids: the Z340 and the PoGo (working for B&H does give me access to some pretty cool cameras). You would have thought I had just given them each five bucks. Instantly, so to speak, we went from holiday dinner to party.

From that point on, everything from the turkey to Bandit the Dog had its picture taken. The two Polaroid cameras I brought were especially fawned over. While they each put out an instant print, they’re also digital, which allows you to save files to a memory card for other uses as well—just like those non-print-producing digitals of which we’re all so fond. Another appreciated aspect of these cameras: you don’t have to print out every photo you take. You can peruse the shots on the LCD screen and decide which ones are most deserving of the honor.

The Z340 gives you the option to add the Polaroid border to its ZINK prints and adjust the color, and the PoGo prints out little photos that double as stickers! If that is not the coolest thing ever, well, then… I am severely misguided.

In an inevitable meshing of analog and digital, some family members even pulled out their phones and started snapping away at the prints, with intentions of putting a picture of the picture up on their Facebook pages. What a startling moment; people using modern digital phone technology to make images of old-school prints. Since you can use the film cartridges from the Fujifilm camera as low-tech picture frames, I put the big group shot I took with the 210—which provides a wide Polaroidesque print (a Fujiroid, if you will)—into one and left it as a present for my boyfriend’s aunt, who was also the host.

Everybody loves an instant photo. And what’s not to love? After you shoot the picture you “instantly” (well, almost) get to see it! That time lag between shooting the photo and its development is some of the most exciting anticipation you’ll ever experience. I had to explain to the little cousins in attendance that shaking the prints doesn’t make them develop faster, it’s just a part of the ritual. Shortly after, they were shaking all the freshly taken pictures with glee.

Not only that, but as the photos were placed on the coffee table, one after another, everyone would gather by the growing collage to check out the pictures, commenting on and admiring the shots, and reminiscing about our good time, even though it was still in progress. What’s more, I got to know every family member a little bit better than I had previously known them, as they asked me about my cameras, the pictures, and everything in between.

The picture of Bandit the Dog was a particular favorite, honored with a spot on the fridge. What other kind of camera gets the type of immediate response in which even the family dog’s picture is marveled at? What’s more, the prints from all these instants have an old-school color and look to them, much like original Polaroids, which everyone enjoyed. Our memories already looked like memories—that added a definite boost to the nostalgia factor.

By the end of the night I had given away a pile of pictures to those who are fast becoming my new family. There was no need to promise to email the photos later on, and no wait for having prints made, which can add up. It was a great success and, I hope, another step in the right direction of blending in with my sweetheart’s family.

Making a family tradition of fun, easy-to-use cameras at the holidays might be just the thing you need to shake up the same old, same old—or perhaps “get in good” with your significant other’s relatives. Whatever your reasoning happens to be, these cameras will also come in handy long after the presents are unwrapped and you’ve sung the last round of Auld Lang Syne.

In fact, a trend at weddings lately is to have a DIY photo booth set up with an instant camera. The photo booth documents friends and family enjoying the big day and provides guests with a little memento, or a unique photo album for the couple to keep—not to mention how it enhances the mood of the reception. The instant photos can even be written on, allowing guests to leave messages and good wishes.

In addition to instants however, there is also an entire line of cameras from Lomography, the great re-animator of low-fi analog cameras. From the hallowed Diana to wonders of the Cold War Soviet era—along with many of the company’s own creations—Lomography makes fun and unusual cameras that shoot fun and unusual images. From the Colorsplash, which splays a splash of color all over the image, to the Holga and its artistic light-leaks, and more, the only hitch you’ll encounter with these is that you’ll have to get the film developed the good, old-fashioned way. But once you do, you’ll have visual records of your memories unlike anyone else’s.

Whatever your event—holiday, party, wedding, graduation—or low-fi camera choice, you are (I promise) going to: A) make new friends; B) enjoy yourself; and C) be the life of the party! And by the way, you’re sure to get invited to the next party—in the hope that you’ll bring your camera along, of course. So, make sure you’ve got plenty of film, and you’re ready to be the center of attention. Then get out there and start creating a whole new holiday tradition. I guarantee a good time will be had by all.


Rite in the Rain

By Megan Iverson 

 

Rite in the Rain notebooks are tough, durable notebooks that were created to survive the wet conditions of the Pacific Northwest. Developed in the 1920s by Jerry Darling for the logging industry, Rite in the Rain notebooks truly can write in the rain. In fact, they can also write underwater, in blizzards or in any humid or wet conditions, without falling to pieces. Your notes won’t run either; they’ll be just as clear and legible as they would be when written under perfect conditions. This list of characteristics just might make these notebooks magical.

Manufactured in Tacoma, Washington, with pride, Rite in the Rain notebooks are a true American success story. Today, brothers Scott and Todd Silver are at the helm; and their commitment to Jerry Darling’s original vision continues on. The Silver family is devoted to creating quality products made right here in the United States, for outdoor professionals and enthusiasts the world over. No matter what activities take you out in wet conditions, these notebooks are for you.

You’ll appreciate what a difference a notebook this tough can make. You need tools that can go where you go, and can stand up to the kinds of conditions in which you frequently find yourself. With Rite in the Rain, you have found paper that’s as dedicated as you are.

The DuraRite Waterproof Notebook No. 635 is a 3 x 5" white reporter’s-style notebook. It has 50 universal patterned sheets (100 pages) and top wire-o spiral binding. You can jot down notes with a standard pencil, or use most other pens. However, the Rite in the Rain All-Weather Pen, which writes not only underwater but also upside down, provides the best results. This pen works when other pens fail; what’s more, its ink won’t smear. Specifically developed for use with Rite in the Rain field books and paper, this fine-point pen can even be refilled. As an interesting aside, the All-Weather Pen was used on manned space flights.

As would be expected, you can use the All-Weather Pen with any of the Rite in the Rain books, like the All-Weather Notebook No. 135. Similar to the Waterproof No. 635, the 135 also has 50 universal patterned sheets and is 3 x 5" in size. The notebook is top wire-o spiral bound and features a yellow Polydura cover. This is a good place to note that the Polydura covers are made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials. Additionally, all Rite in the Rain papers are completely recyclable, just like standard paper.

Should you be in need of more writing space, the All-Weather Journal No. 393 provides 4.6 x 7.0-inch pages, along with a side wire-o spiral binding. The notebook’s 32 sheets (64 pages) have journal page ruling. A slightly different version, the All-Weather Universal No. 373, provides you with almost the same notebook, with the exception of having the universal page pattern.

For those who require extremely hardy copy paper, Rite in the Rain’s Duracopy Waterproof Laser Paper is able to stand up to the harshest conditions. These 100 sheets of 8.5 x 11-inch paper are made from synthetic, heat-resistant and tear-resistant materials. Both sides are printable and completely waterproof. Duracopy is suggested for use with photocopiers and laser printers.

No matter what your needs, waterproof notebooks, paper, and pens from Rite in the Rain are tools you can rely on to get the job done. Write with confidence, no matter what the conditions. Your notes will be there just as you wrote them when you return to dry land or a dryer climate.


An Ode to the Sharpie

By Megan Iverson 

 

I will admit that I am a compulsive Sharpie buyer. I see one on a store shelf and before I know what I’m doing it’s in my hand. Perhaps I might even sniff the ink a little. Even if I already own that color or type of Sharpie I always find a way to tell myself that I need another one. My last such purchase included five Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers that I just had to have (Yes, I really needed all five). An opportunity to procure another Sharpie never goes unmet. It doesn’t matter what color or what type, because I love all Sharpies!

I’m not alone on this one. Every photographer I know has one Sharpie on them at all times. Just ask for a pen and they’ll pull out an Extra Fine Point Permanent Marker.  There’s sure to be at least one Fine Point Permanent Marker within reach too for tasks like selecting negatives from a proof sheet or sketching out a shoot. And when one marker or pen sadly passes away, the next is selected from the Sharpie stockpile we all seem to have stashed somewhere… all those Sharpies we picked up “just in case”.

More than an indispensible tool for photographers, however, the Sharpie is a friend to artists of all stripes. These multi-purpose wonders not only leave their mark on your work from start to finish, they leave their mark on the art world as a whole; and have been doing so since 1964, when the Sanford Ink Company started making Sharpies.

The Chicago Company began with the Fine Point Permanent black marker, which was the first pen style permanent marker in existence. It became an invaluable tool to artisans, tradesmen, hobbyists, and the average Joe because not only did it write with smooth precision, but it could write on glass, wood, stone, and plastic, in addition to paper. An instant American icon was born.

As the years have progressed Sharpies have become more than a way to mark your work, they’ve become a medium themselves, inspiring all sorts of self-expression from artists to teenagers to anyone who wants to make their ideas and thoughts known. Sharpies are also a cornerstone in the world of memorabilia. When was the last time you saw a player sign a baseball with anything but a Sharpie?  Oh, Sharpie what would we do without you?! Thankfully, we don’t have to even imagine such a bleak world.

Tell your Sharpie stories below. Or simply share why you love Sharpies! I know you do.


Angry Birds Roost at B&H

By Megan Iverson 

 

If you own an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, you know about Angry Birds. Even if you don’t own the aforementioned devices, you still probably know about these cute but fearsome birds! Defenders of their eggs, Angry Birds—along with a few of their pig nemeses—can be found at B&H.

You can bring the gang home to your house as well. Whether they’re hanging out on an iPhone or iPad case, or playing your tunes, there are a number of ways to get more Angry Birds into your life. The following products from GEAR4, makers of officially licensed Angry Birds products, can help you do just that.

The numerous protective hard plastic iPod touch cases from GEAR4 include the Black Bomb Bird, the King Pig and the Red and Yellow Birds. When it comes to iPhone 4 and 4S cases, the Black Bomb Bird, King Pig and the Yellow Bird proudly defend your phone against scratches, dings and more. All these slim cases fit nicely on your device and provide complete access to all ports and controls.

GEAR4 also makes some pretty spectacular iPad cases for iPad 2. These hard plastic cases are available at B&H in two versions: one sporting the Angry Birds family, with the sun coming up on the horizon behind Birds and Pigs alike, and another that illustrates the epic battle between bird and pig. This King Pig vs. Red Bird Case features a green motif and separate panels for the opposing sides, clearly defining just how serious this battle truly is. Both cases are slim fitting, while providing access to all ports and controls of your iPad 2.

When it comes to playing music from, and charging your iPod touch or iPhone, GEAR4’s Angry Birds Helmet Pig Speaker docks your device in the helmet of a dastardly green pig. Ports on said helmet also play your tunes through a 2.1 speaker, while volume and bass controls let you adjust to your desired levels. A remote control comes included as well.

If you want to dock your iPad (1 or 2) then the Red Bird speaker is for you. While designed to dock your iPad, the Red Bird can play music from your iPhone or iPod as well. In addition, the Black Bird speaker is compatible with iPhone, iPad (1 or 2) and iPods for both playing and charging. All other music players with a 3.5mm jack can be played by any of the above speakers via the AUX connection.

Angry Birds Tweeters Headphones go great with the aforementioned speakers. Featuring the Blue Bird, Red Bird, Yellow Bird, Black Bomb Bird and the Pig King, you can express your love of the game while rocking out, or of course, playing Angry Birds! These headphones fit into any 3.5mm headphone jack and come with small, medium or large earbuds so they’ll be sure to be nice and snug.

Go ahead. Let your love of Angry Birds show! With these products from GEAR 4, you’ll not only be protecting your favorite digital devices, but you’ll be proudly displaying your favorite pastime.