I’ve Been Downsized

I knew the day would come. It started like this.

“Mr. Milnor, all three of your bags are overweight.”
“WTF?”
“Yes, you are going to have to check all three bags.” “And there will be a fee.”
“WTF?”

“How did I fly here without any trouble?” I asked.
“Americans are lazy, but we enforce the rules here,” she replied.
“Ouch.” “I like blanket statements as much as anyone else but that was harsh.”
“I work for a book publishing company,” I added, looking for mercy.

I unzipped my roller bag and asked “Would YOU want to check that?”

She looked own at a massive clump of equipment, cables, drives, fan belts, antiques, solid brass bodies and photographic buzz saws. “Ah, no, not really,” she answered.

“Okay, I will give you permission this one time, but that’s it,” she said. “I love you, I mean I seriously love you to the DNA level,” I said.

Now, I thought at some point the TSA would crack down on us filmheads but I didn’t see carry on bags being the issue that forced me from my ways. The day has come when I realize I just can’t carry what I want when I fly. Bastards! They don’t care, and I get why they don’t care, but it still royally sucks. So, I was downsized. By my own free will, credit card and Amazon Prime Account.
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The first and second images here are my old setup. For audio you have Zoom H6 (NO I’m not linking everything slackers.), EV mics(x2), tripods, XLR cables, dead rats, mice, cats or whatever you call them, etc. This all fit in my Tenba backpack. The second images is of my Tenba Roller Bag. (Buy Tenba, I love them.) (Buy, buy, buy….)This is where poeple think I’m crazy. Hasselblad and two lens, Leica and two lenses, Polaroids and four packs of film, iPhone film rig, two hard drives, film, Canon 5D III and three lenses, cards, card reader, cables for EVERYTHING, batteries, bellows for Blad, chargers, model releases…..WHEW. My back is KILLING ME. ALL of this fit in this roller, its’ incredible.(Buy, buy, buy.)(Tenba, Tenba, Tenba.)
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But now you will meet the NEW me. The smaller, lighter, hipper me. With short hair no less. From all the above to the following.

iPhone 6 Plus

(Yes it’s big. Get over it.) I see this as my COMPUTER and much more. The iPhone is now my email, text and phone, yes, yes, but also my audio recorder, podcasting base, digital camera and movie camera.

Lav Mic

x2. So small and light and cheap.

Splitter

Runs both lav mics and my headphones

External Ambient Mic

This replaces my Zoom for ambient street recordings for my “Just Listen” series, and also runs off the phone.

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Oh, and in case you were wondering where all this goes, and how I’m going to downsize my equipment…I’ll show you. From this moment forward, when I’m flying, I will carry this audio setup, my Leica M4 and two lenses, my Polaroid and film packs, my meter, film, model releases and all of it fits in ONE tiny backpack that is so comfortable. (Tenba, buy Tenba) (You know I’m kidding about this, but this bag is fantastic.) Check out the small packs inside, designed for GoPro, that work perfectly for all my stuff. I just pull out the ones I don’t need, leave them in my hotel room and take what I need.
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The last thing I have to mention is, I now check a bag. Most of the time. People are insane. Seriously, they carry on so much stuff, and yes I was guilty too, that I don’t like that feeling of now knowing if your bags are going to make it without being checked. So now I will get on with my small Tenba bag and my small, leather satchel and I don’t care if you attempt to carry on a stuffed Caribou, including the antlers. Go ahead schmucko!

The new me also travels with things like a yoga mat, so I need to check anyway, and speaking of what yoga does to your brain….I’m not rushing or frantic. I’m just being……OMMMMMMMMMMMM. I’m still missing one small, extender cable, but other than that I’m loaded for bear and ready to move. Get out of my way people, I’m a media professional.
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Now, some folks asked why I just didn’t go this route from the beginning, and I’ll tell you. This new setup isn’t as good as my old one. It’s not as stable, durable and the sound quality is not the same, but it still works. Does this sound familiar? I’ve never had my Zoom crash. Ever. You could pound nails with the EV mics, and people have walked on my XLR cables without issue, but I’m in a pickle here and this was the solution I came up with. Anyone want to interview?

What I’m Thinking

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I’m thinking I need to lighten my load.

What you don’t see in this series of photographs is the rest of my daily gear. Leica, Blad, Polaroid. Why do I do this? Because I can’t stop shooting film cameras. I still prefer the negative to anything digital. I like the cameras themselves, the process of shooting analog, the limitations of analog, which I feel are what make it so great, and the archive of analog. Yes, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my 40TB of digital data looming over my head. So on the chopping block is the 5D Mark III and three lenses, and in is the Canon s100. Without a doubt the 5D III is the better, more versatile camera that shoots much higher quality imagery and motion. But what is also indisputable is s100 is a lot smaller and lighter. When I started my current campaign with Blurb it was thought I would be shooting a lot of digital, at least at times, but I’m not. What I am doing is creating a stream of images for lesser needs, and continuing to capture most of the good stuff on film.
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Speaking of film…On the way to San Francisco last week my film set off the TSA alarm for….explosives I think. Something. Anyway, I got the full court press, which was no big deal, but that was the first time it ever happened. They had me for about 15-20 minutes maybe. I got felt up, which is always great, and they got to see all my personal items. Sadly I had nothing exotic or even anything slightly amiss.

Oddly enough, traveling with film, at least for me, is easier than ever before. It’s such a rarity now that typically I get the “Cool, haven’t seen this in a while.” Followed by “Man, I really miss film.” Now, this does NOT apply when speaking of France or Switzerland where I’ve been grilled, threatened, insulted and yelled at for both carrying film and for being an American. Such is life. I kill them with kindness. Or I don’t say anything. Or I keep asking for a hand inspection until they threaten me with not getting on the plane. (This has happened numerous times.) This actually doesn’t bother me. What bothers me are the new rules about carry on bags. And weight. Returning from Australia a few months ago it was deemed, on a whim, that all three of my bags were overweight. The same bags I’d flown to Australia with no problem. Suddenly all my bags were an issue and they tried like Hell to get me to check my gear bags. I opened them up and asked “Would you want to check this?” “Ahhh, no,” was the reply and they let me on, but those days are fading.

So, it’s lighten the load time. I’m even contemplating an iPhone 6 Plus for my interview and podcast needs, which would allow me to leave recorder at home. If I could somehow get my junk down to ONE bag it would be ideal. I know I’m dreaming here because when my Blurb duties are over and I aim at the open spaces of Australia or Abilene, I’m going to want my film junk. What I will try to do is consolidate my backpack and roller bag into one backpack. Audio and visual gear in one bag. Time to call Tenba once again.

Or maybe, if I buy an iPhone 6 Plus I don’t even need this little camera? See, more confused than before.
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