Lost Camera Gear

In 2017 Brace Hemmelgarn and I went on a photo trip to Iceland and the Faroe Islands from November 4th through 17th. The plan was to stay in Iceland for a couple days, then fly to the Faroe Islands from Nov 6-10th, and then back to Iceland for the remainder of the trip.

We had a list of bucket shots and places we wanted to visit and we’d try to squeeze in as many pictures as possible. One of the last places we wanted to visit was over the town of Funninger. It’s a popular image on the Faroe Islands and it can make for a fantastic picture. As we drove to the small town the weather was not cooperating, which is typical for the Faroe Islands. A saying on the islands; “if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes”. After visiting there, it’s not an exaggeration.

To get the image we wanted we had to park the car on the side of the road and hike about 15 minutes to the crest of the hill. Once there, you have a spectacular view of the small village of Funninger, with the beautiful mountains and fjords in the background. When we arrived we had a nice sunny day as we started our hike. When we got to the top, naturally, the weather took a turn for the worse and it started snowing/sleeting. So we packed up, hiked back down and waited in the car for another clearing in the sky. After an hour or so we saw another blue patch coming, we packed up our gear and went back up. Again, poor timing because when we got to the top, the weather turned and we missed our opening. So again, we hiked back down and waited in the car. We thought we’d wait there a little longer and hope for another break in the weather. Sure enough, a short time later we saw a break and we decided to go up for our third (and last) attempt at getting this picture. This time we left a little earlier hoping to time the weather a little better. We get to the top and waited out the weather until we had our clearing. It wasn’t looking promising so I put my camera bag, tripod, and camera on the ground. I was yelling at Brace approximately 40 feet away but it was too windy and he couldn’t hear me. So I walked back to him saying I wanted to wait another 10 minutes and if it didn’t let up, we’d call it a day and go somewhere else. As I’m talking to him a huge wind gust comes up and I see my camera bag start to roll towards the edge of the cliff. My first instinct was to run after it, which I did. As I’m running I feel the wind pushing me towards the edge as well so I immediate fall and sit down. As I’m sitting there I see my bag slowly rolling over the edge. Sadly I had to just watch it go over and there was nothing I could do about it.

After sitting there in disbelief, I realize what just happened and started to swear a little. I walked as close as I could to the edge but it was still too windy and I couldn’t see over the edge. It was gone, over the side of the cliff and sitting on the side of a mountain. I have no idea how far it would have rolled down and accepted that it was gone forever. I then picked up my camera and tripod off the ground and was thankful I didn’t go over with it and I’m still alive. We then took a few more pictures, got the shots and left. Sadly, the pictures weren’t even that good. We then drove to our next location on the trip. I was probably a little quiet, taking in what had just happened, making a mental note what was inside the bag. So I just lost my camera bag, the Think Tank Streetwalker Hard Drive, Canon 24-105mm, Canon 8-15mm Fisheye, the DJI Osmo and some other miscellaneous items (filters, batteries, etc). Luckily I had taken out my Canon 70-200mm and the Canon 14mm to save on weight for the hike. I still had my camera and the attached 16-35mm. If there’s any lens I needed to have the rest of the trip it was the 16-35mm f/4 so I felt a little “fortunate” because we still had another 9 days left. The rest of the trip went by without incident and the daily joke was “remember when your bag blew off the cliff?” All we could do was laugh.

So 7 months later I’m in bed and my wife shakes me, “your phone is ringing”. It’s 3:30am and it’s a call from a number I don’t recognize and I let it go to voicemail (no message). An hour later, it rings again, same number so I decide to answer it. It’s the Faroe Islands police department. They ask for Brad Rempel, so I say it’s me. My immediate thought was I was in trouble, I got a ticket, or there was something wrong with my rental car. They then tell me that someone found my bag and they wanted to make sure I was alive and wasn’t a missing person. At the time I never thought about reporting the bag missing because I felt stupid losing it in the first place. I never thought anyone would ever find it. They start asking me some personal questions, like my birthdate, when I was there, where I live, etc… I immediately think it’s a phone scam so I ask if I can call them back when it’s not 4:30am and I can actually think.

Sure enough, later that morning, I google the Faroe Islands Police Department, I call them back and they had my bag and there were things in it. I don’t think they really knew what was in there, just stuff. We agreed that they’d ship it back to me as soon as I transferred $90 USD to them. It wasn’t that easy transferring money and it ended up costing me an additional $50 from my bank but screw it, I wanted to see the bag and the gear!

A couple weeks go by and I’m walking out the door to go to work and there it is, at my door, my bag. Holy shit, it’s here but I couldn’t look because I needed to get to work. My second thought after seeing my bag is “WTF? Why didn’t you pack it in a box!?” They just slapped a label on the bag!

So I finish taking pictures at the Twins game, tell everyone there what happened and get back home. First thing I do is try the Osmo. I figured it was in a case, inside the bag, and it had the best chance of surviving 7 months, in the winter, on the side of a mountain, in the North Atlantic. I turn it on, battery is dead. I run upstairs, find another battery and plug it in. Amazingly, it turns on and it works. I’m shocked. I then take the lenses out and give them a quick look over. The caps were knocked off with the front elements exposed and they looked a little dirty. I give them a quick wipe off with my shirt, and put them on my camera. Holy shit, they seem like they work perfect. I can’t tell if the focus is off, but the motor and the zooms work fine. I’m giddy and in total disbelief. I can’t believe my gear stayed protected in the bag all winter long. Obviously I’ll recommend this bag to anyone now. 5 stars!

Since I lost this gear, I had already replaced the Think Tank bag with the newer version 2, replaced the filters and bought the battery I lost. My gear was insured, so there was a claim. I have separate camera insurance and they covered the lenses and the bag, but everything else wasn’t listed on my insurance so it wasn’t covered (my fault, not the insurance company). I also contacted the insurance company and tell them the story how my items were found and sent back to me. After talking to them, they just wanted the lenses and the bag back. If I wanted, I could buy them back. I declined.

More trip photos: Top 20 Travel Photos
Purchase Photos: https://bradrempel.photoreflect.com/
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Super Bowl LII

I was really excited when I heard I got to cover my first Super Bowl. I knew I was covering it for awhile but I didn’t want to get too excited or tell anyone in case things changed and I was pulled off the assignment. USA Today sent 12 photographers to cover the game, as well as a few tech people, card runners and 3-4 editors. I found out my shooting position was going to be in a first row seat USA Today purchased for the event. They had seats in each corner of the stadium that would be hard wired into our cameras and images sent directly to the editors in real time as we photographed the game. They also had two stationary people on the field, two field roamers, two people shooting elevated, two stadium roamers getting scenic shots, as well as a number of remote cameras from the rafters. Even though I was shooting from my home town stadium and I covered every game this season, everything about today was different including my shooting position, entry into the stadium, shooting tethered and our workroom. All of this was unfamiliar.

I wasn’t sure what to expect the week leading up to the Super Bowl so I left my calendar pretty wide open just in case. It turned out I was only assigned a handful of things including team arrivals, opening day media event, the Kitten Bowl, and the Super Bowl. I was actually glad I didn’t have too much so I didn’t feel overwhelmed the entire week and I wasn’t stressed at all.

Here is the rundown of Super Bowl Sunday:

  • 8-9am: Team meeting. Covering logistics, assignments, what to shoot, transportation, and security. Our COO covered it extremely well and really got you prepared for the long day ahead. It was very helpful being a first timer.
  • 10am: Arrive at the stadium and get through security which is never fun at US Bank Stadium.
  • 10:30am: Go to our shooting position and test out our hard lines.
  • 11-1pm. Sync cameras, eat, kill time.
  • 1pm: Go outside and photograph the cold (3°F), people arriving, and anything else.
  • 3pm: Go to our seats and photograph warm ups. It was actually a little tough because I was surrounded by Eagles fans for 2 hours with cell phones trying to take pictures the entire time.
  • 5:30pm: Game time and start photographing the game. Once the game started it felt like every other game I did all year. You’re just photographing another game.
  • 9pm: Post game celebration. It turned out I had a terrible spot to get a lot of post game celebration. I was behind the stage and there wasn’t a lot to photograph but you work with what you got and shoot what you can.

Arrivals, Opening Day, Kitten Bowl


National Anthem by Pink and halftime with Justin Timberlake


Game Action


Post Game Celebration


Swag, Souvenirs, and Work Crew

My final thoughts. Overall it was a really incredible experience going to my first and hopefully not last Super Bowl.  Shooting elevated in the stands was great for getting clean shots without players in the way but it lacks the cool field level angle. I regret not having a stadium wide angle shot with a remote for my own personal use and I felt like I should have taken more photos and videos of myself to document everything at the game. Pretty minor hindsight regrets.

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Instagram: @brad_rempel
Twitter: @brad_rempel
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Sony A7R3 Initial Thoughts

So I recently jumped on the Sony bandwagon and purchased the new Sony a7r iii. I was in the market to replace my aging Canon 1D Mark IV with the 5D Mark IV. I own two Canon 1DX’s and I wanted a smaller travel landscape camera that I could still use for sports and remote shots if needed. Sony then released the a7r3 and it looked so amazing on paper I had to try it out. So after a lot of reading, educating myself and asking questions, I took the leap and made the purchase. I figured the worst case scenario is if I really hated the camera, I could sell it and still purchase the Canon 5D IV and not lose any money.

The Good, Bad, and Neutral:

Menus: The first adjustment to get used to is the menus. You’ve probably heard they are bad, cumbersome etc. I actually found it similar to the Canon and it just takes getting used to. Part of the issue is translating menu items from Canon to Sony and figuring out what things even mean. I’m so used to the Canon vocabulary that it was an adjustment figuring out what was what. One example on the Sony is “Swt. V/H AF Area”. I immediately have no idea what this even refers to until I read the manual and it’s the same as the Canon “Orientation Linked AF” (switches focus point when you move the camera from horizontal to vertical).  Once I figure out what the menu items mean, I think it’ll be easier to use.

Lightroom: I have to process images slightly different in Lightroom. Part of my sports workflow is to import images into Lightroom where I apply a general preset to all the images that’s specific to the venue I’m photographing at. For example I have a preset called “MN Wild 1250/3200/4.0”. I’ve found that the colors Canon produces are similar no matter what lens I’m using. I’ll use the 8-15 fisheye, 16-35 f/4, 70-200 f/2.8 and the 200-400/f4 and the preset gives me the desired output I’m looking for. When I applied the same preset to the Sony images, the images looked much warmer and “orange”. It’s not that the Sony images are wrong, I just have to make an additional preset for the Sony body. In my “Canon preset” I have my camera calibration set to “camera standard” and switching it to “adobe standard” seems to fix most of it with the Sony to match the output of the Canon. I also have to change the White Balance down from 5500k to 5250k and since I shoot RAW it’s an easy switch.

Focus: I felt like it missed getting the focus right on some simple shots but I feel it was my fault and I’m still trying to figure out how I want the camera to focus. I tried face focus, then I tried using the focus dot, and now I just figured out how to do pupil focus (which I haven’t tried yet). So again I’ll chalk up the “misses” to user error before I can blame the camera. I think it’ll perform great when I use it more and when it was on, images were really sharp. For my purposes I didn’t really pixel peep and compare it between the Canon lenses but all three seemed great for my use (Canon 16-35, 200-400 and Sony 24-70), see the last images for a comparison.

The Adapter: So along with the camera I also purchased the Metabones Canon to Sony e-mount adapter (5th generation). The hope was I could use my existing wide angle Canon 16-35 f/4 for landscape shots but it turns out it didn’t work with that lens. Extremely disappointing! The odd thing is that the lens works with the Sony a7r ii and the 4th generation adapter. It also didn’t work with my Canon 200-400 f/4 but worked with my Canon 70-200 f/2.8 ver. II. I tried to update the firmware but it looked like it was up to date so I ended up returning it. Since that was a bust I ended up buying the Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM. FYI, Sony lenses aren’t cheap and probably more expensive then the Canon L series. So before I go on my next trip I’ll probably have to sell the Canon 16-35 f/4 (which I love!) and end up buying something similar from the Sony line up.

The Battery: I also found out that if I want to use it as a remote camera I’ll have to end up buying a battery grip because one battery wouldn’t last an entire game. Part of the reason I bought the camera was because it was small, tiny, and light, so buying the battery grip kind of defeats the purpose. It’ll be close to a wash when I return the adapter so it’s not a big deal. I’m not sure I’d travel with the grip just so I can save space when packing.

Pocket Wizards. So I tested it with the Pocket Wizard Plus III and IV’s and it works! I only tested it at my house but everything seemed to work perfectly. I was a little worried because a friend of mine said it didn’t work properly. What he/we discovered that it doesn’t work with the old versions of the MultiMax but it does with the Plus III. No idea if it works with the newer versions of the MultiMax. I’ve yet to use it at as a remote at a sporting event yet so I can’t give an opinion on how it worked.

The Verdict: Unknown so far. I haven’t used it enough to give it a grade and decide if I’m keeping it. My hunch is that it’ll perform great once I get used to it and eliminate the user errors. I’m not sure when I can take it out for some series landscape shots and I assume it’ll be amazing (I hope). It would be an expensive investment to completely jump ship. The cost of the Sony lenses are slightly higher compared to Canon and they just don’t offer the long lenses I’d need for sports. I’m sure they will down the road and the adapter is too much of an unknown for me to rely on.

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Top 20 Travel Photos – 2017

2017 was an amazing travel year for me. I was able to travel to Canada, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and Arizona. My wife had encouraged me to take a photo trip with a friend of mine (Brace Hemmelgarn) for a year or two so we both decided to take the leap and go traveling together. We’re both sports photographers but we appreciate great landscapes and seem to like similar destinations. We get along, and we get a chance to shoot along side each other a lot, so it made sense. My 2017 trips were:

  • Lofoten Islands, Norway – February (with Brace)
  • Arizona – April (family trip)
  • Manitoba – August (family trip)
  • Iceland & the Faroe Islands – November (with Brace)

The photo trips are a lot of planning. Deciding where to go for the day, where to take sunrises, daytime exploring, sunsets, and northern lights. Go home edit, post, repeat. At the end of the trips we both enjoy putting the cameras down and exploring the city and culture for a couple days. We spent a couple of days in both Oslo and Reykjavik at the end of each photo trip, walking through downtown, eating, and exploring.

I doubt my 2018 travel destinations will top this so I hope you enjoy the photos (click to see full size). All images are for sale at: photoreflect.com

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Twitter: @brad_rempel
Facebook: RempelDesignandPhoto

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Antelope Canyon Pics

A gallery of images from my trip to Northern Arizona where I visited Upper Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. These are bucket list images for a lot of photographers and when I knew we were planning a spring break trip to Phoenix and Sedona, I had to travel a couple hours north and photograph these amazing landmarks. The images look peaceful, isolated, and almost in a place where people rarely set foot in, but the reality is quite the opposite. There’s a video in another one of my blogs of what it’s really like photographing these landmarks and the crowds of people that are there. Regardless, I felt I was able to capture some pretty amazing images.

All these images are for sale at: PhotoReflect under Arizona.

Please follow and share at:
Instagram: @brad_rempel
Twitter: @brad_rempel
Facebook: RempelDesignandPhoto

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