Saturday, January 12, 2013

Long/Heavy Lens Pistol Grip with Shutter Release

   After using a Nikon Pistol Grip 2 to support a heavy Nikon lens on occasion, I decided I wanted to be able to use the existing switch on the grip to trigger the shutter.  Unfortunately, there is no Nikon cable available for this purpose.  By using a few commercially available parts, and performing a little soldering, it is possible to fabricate an OEM-looking cable that can be used to both focus and fire the camera shutter using the trigger on the pistol grip. 

   The interesting thing that became apparent after completing this project is that it now is easy to support and operate the camera using either the right or left hand.  This is great when attempting to hand-hold a heavy set-up since it will be possible to swap arms.  The application is not limited to heavy or long lenses, though.  It can also be used as a grip for just a regular camera by attaching the grip to the tripod mount on the camera.  This seems like it would be a great modification for someone that does not have use of their right hand or arm.  The grip makes any camera a right- or left-hand camera! 

  The Nikon pistol grip can be used with other brands of cameras, like Canon, provided the appropriate connecting cable is purchased.

   To start this modification, there are a few pieces that need to be ordered...  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The RadioPopper System: My Experiences

   Although there is plenty of technical information on the two RadioPopper (RP) systems on various web sites (e.g. RadioPopper, Strobist, Flickr: Strobist), there isn't as much information regarding the JrX and PX systems in terms of general usage and operational characteristics.  Hopefully my personal experience with both of these systems can add another perspective for those considering remote triggers for their Nikon or Canon flash units.  Not only are both systems described in terms of their individual operational characteristics, but the characteristics of using both systems simultaneously is also described.  This article is prefaced by noting that these are nothing more than my opinions.  There are certainly users out there that would not agree with some (or all) of my opinions and conclusions.

The JrX Studio System

   At some point it became apparent that the infra-red (IR) trigger line-of-sight system for Nikon flash remote control was not working for all of my needs.  The IR system reliability was just too low in some situations, particularly outdoors.  Plus, I wanted the ability to put the remote flashes behind barriers.

   Not having the funds or the need (so I thought) to invest in a TTL-based system, the RadioPopper JrX Studio system was quite appealing.  The JrX system allows full manual control of certain flash models from the camera using simple knobs.  There at first appeared to be several advantages to this system:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Project: Nikon SB-800/SB-900/SB-910 Quick Battery Loader-Unloader


AA Battery Loader/Unloader

The goal of this project is to develop a method for quickly loading and unloading AA batteries from Nikon SB-800, SB-900, and SB-910 flash units.  While this won't save much time for a single flash, it can be real handy when using multiple flashes.

Why go to this much trouble?

   Being the geeky technical-type, taking care of equipment is a big peeve of mine.  Having had a few pieces of electronic gear ruined by leaking batteries - not only as a kid but also as an adult - I decided that leaving AA batteries in my Nikon SB-800 and SB-900 flashes was not an option.  I tried the generic AA battery holders, but quickly grew tired of having to handle each individual battery at the beginning and end of every use. With multiple flashes, the process of dealing with batteries became a real pain.  As a result, I sought a better and faster way to load and unload batteries from these flash units.  Although this article is targeted at Nikon units, any flash unit that has batteries arranged in a single line will work with this holder.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Welcome to the ShepoPhoto Blog

   My interest in photography and photo gear was rekindled in 2006 right before a trip to Hawaii.  Although I had used a Pentax ME SLR film camera extensively in high school, I had only been using point-and-shoot cameras since that time due to the lack of time - and money - to spend on photography.  I somehow decided that I needed a better camera for this once-in-a-lifetime trip.  Since Best Buy was running a special on Nikon D80's, that was where I started.  I didn't really do much research beyond reading a few user reviews on the web site.  Little did I realize what sort of commitment I was making to a camera system.  Nevertheless, the experience with that camera was what rejuvenated my love for photography.

   The following summer my brother-in-law asked if I had ever heard about on-line stock photography companies.  He told me about iStockPhoto, which is a company that would sell images and give you a royalty for each sale.  Although the name iStockPhoto was foreign to me, the desire to make money with my photos was not.  We were both part-time (hobby time) photographers.  Nevertheless, he had been buying photos for his business through that site.  In July of 2007, I took the plunge and joined iStockPhoto as a photo contributor.  My start at selling royalty-free photos was a little rocky.  While I plan to blog about that soon, suffice it to say that I eventually got a little traction going.  Today, I have more than 5,000 royalty-free images for sale on that web site, with more than 20,000 downloads/sales since that small beginning. My portfolio can be viewed here at sshepard on

  I feel that today I am at somewhat of a cross-roads with my photography.  While I plan to maintain and continue building my stock portfolio as well as my business web site, ShepoPhoto, I want to help others with the few things that I have learned along the way.  I also plan to verge out into other areas with my photography.  The plan for this blog is to talk about some of my experiences with stock photography, sports photography, gear, and just having fun traveling and taking photos.  I also hope to talk about new things that I want to try in 2013.  I look forward to this new venture in starting a blog and hope that you as a reader walk away from my posts with at least something positive.

Kindest Regards,
Steve Shepard