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Custom Filter Case


As (primarily) a landscape photographer, split neutral density filters are my bread and butter. I have 5 in all plus a solid ND and a polarizer. Split NDs are virtually useless in screw-in ring form, so I opt for the Singh-Ray rectangular filters with Cokin P series holders.

I've gone through several different filter cases from generic to name brand to custom to different custom, etc. There were some specific points I needed in a filter case that none of these fulfilled entirely. I wanted it to be small enough to fit in a camera bag and in a photo vest pocket, I wanted it to be able to attach to my belt or belt loop, I wanted it to be entirely enclosed when shut, I wanted no velcro closure (too loud) and I wanted it to adequately protect my filters without overkill.


Now I'm sure it's no secret among photographers that a CD wallet is a great option for this (if it is news to you - hooray!). The materials used to protect CDs are generally on par with materials used to protect photo equipment so there's no worry there. The sleeves are in a convenient binder-esque arrangement for easy browsing. It's small in width and length and relatively thin. The only problem I kept running into is I couldn't find a blasted CD case that would lay flat when opened. They all had this wrap-around design on the binding that would cause it to shut on itself like a new paperback novel.

Well this post is about a great case I found for this application as well as some of my modifications that make it the ultimate filter case.

First off, the brand of case is Case Logic and it's a 24 CD/DVD CD Wallet. It's great because it lays completely flat when opened - no spring return - and it's covered in this somewhat rubbery outer that has stood up excellently to the elements for me. It features a full zipper that is smooth and has a rubber-tipped zipper pull. It is the smallest CD wallet I have found that will still fit all my filters and its rounded corners and edges make for easy storage. I like it so much, I got two in case they discontinue it. I bought mine at Best Buy - not sure if they still sell them or not.

Now onto the mods to make it even better. I wanted to be able to attach it to my hip belt loop, so I needed to add a carabiner in the upper left corner. I did this by taking some strong string (I used a sunglasses cord I bought at REI), threading it behind the sleeves and wrapping them around the binding pegs (see picture). I then tied it at the top with a slight loop hanging over the edge at the end of the zipper. I recommend melting the ends of the cord with a lighter to avoid fraying. This made it so a small loop of the cord would hang out of the wallet in the upper left corner when the zipper was completely shut. I then attached a small carabiner to this loop and presto, you got yourself a wicked side filter wallet.






To make it even better, I put labels on each sleeve indicating the filter. I did one horizontally on the opposing sleeve for viewing horizontally and a smaller one vertically on the filter's sleeve. The vertical label makes more sense when using the wallet when it's hanging from your side. I then put little squares of thin cardboard on the opposite side of each filter sleeve. This keeps the sleeve rigid when the filter is removed making it much easier to slide it back in later.


I found this setup to work great for me. I just attach it to my right hip belt loop when I get my camera out and start shooting. I have every filter right at my fingertips in a completely sealed wallet (not water PROOF of course, but water resistant nonetheless). I can remove a filter and let the wallet drop to my side with no worries. It has stood up perfectly to many harsh conditions (especially sand and sea spray). I've never had a filter break in this wallet, it's easy to store and transport and it's cheap!

Aperture 2, You Win

Alright, I caved and bought the Aperture 2 upgrade. Was I wrong about the things I said in my previous post? No (for the most part). True, proportional spacing in grid view shouldn't have been dropped in this upgrade and, yes, the jumpy scrolling is annoying as all hell, but there are some pretty awesome changes that actually do outweigh my quibbles.


I will admit that I can understand the advantage of unchecking proportional spacing in grid view in Aperture 2. It's hard to explain without a firsthand demo, but having it unchecked makes things more orderly when organizing pictures, splitting up stacks, creating stacks and all that jazz. It should still be an OPTION, though, not a requirement!

And it seems the "ignore stack groupings" option on smart albums has been replaced by the (surprisingly) more useful "include stack picks only." The way smart albums work in Aperture is a little different than in previous Aperture versions. It's almost like it automatically ignores stack groupings, but still lets you know when an image is part of a stack. It indicates, for example, that both of these images are 5-star, but they are 2 of 5 total images in the stack. It just doesn't show those other 3 images.

As for the jumpy scrolling: That's just straight up stupid. I can't for the life of me figure out why they swapped out the intuitive, logical smooth scrolling of Aperture 1.5 for this jerky ridiculousness. I really hope my dozens of complaints get through for the next update.

Now for the reasons TO upgrade:

- Vignette tool: Incredibly handy
- Smoother straightening: This was a major frustration point for me in 1.5
- Metadata and Projects panels in the HUD: Full-screen mode just got useful
- Retouch tool: Surprisingly effective
- Flip tool: FINALLY
- Interface: I can customize this thing until it's unrecognizable and it makes better use of my screen real estate
- Tether: So easy to do
- Customizable hot keys: I love hot keys even more now
- RAW Processing: WAY better results than in 1.5
- Background export: I can keep working? WHILE images are exporting?! Sweet!
- Faster: Don't ask me how, it just is

Here are some images from my first batch using Aperture 2 - an engagement photo shoot for my awesome friends, Bubba and Lisa. The new adjustment tools made my job much quicker and easier. Thanks Aperture! (cue cheesy 80's high five)

Band Shot Style

Cute Couple

Dusk at the Beach

Aww...

What'd I do?

P.S. You may notice the large majority of my recent work is all portraiture stuff. Don't fret, nature is still my main game. It's just that summers in Southern California for the nature photographer, shall we say, leave something to be desired. The weather is boring, the heat is relentless, the crowds are ridiculous and the vegetation is...crispy. I'm not a sell-out and I'm not money-motivated (but I do need to, you know, eat). I wouldn't be doing this portraiture work if I wasn't loving it.

New (Old) Toy!


I've been wanting a really old camera for quite some time now to put on display in my room/home office. I've been putting it off because it's not exactly something I "need" to spend money on. But then I was invited to a party this Saturday with a 1920s theme. Yay! An excuse!

Luckily, not far from my home is the quaint center of Old Towne Orange in the City of Orange. It's a historical area - well, about as "historical" as you can get in Orange County. The main point being there are tons of antique shops. I swear there must be a couple dozen antique shops within a 2-minute walk. I went down to one of these stores and found an Eastman Kodak No. 2-A Folding Autographic Brownie camera. This thing is in excellent condition and was a hell of a find. I'd bet I could still get shots with it if only the film size hadn't gone the way of the Dodo. The patent dates say "Jan 18, 1910. Jan 7, 1913." Two words: awe some.

Just wanted to share my excitement over this thing. Enjoy the pictures.



On a side note: If anyone knows how to acquire film for this type of camera (No. A-116), please let me know!