Having some fun, taking time to smell the resin

It seems to me that I am always on the go, from photographing weddings, events, portraits, to prepping sites that rested all winter under a blanket of snow and a myriad of home improvement projects that come with of having a home. Well this weekend we ditched all of that and headed South to Chicago for some FUN and don’t worry we didn’t leave any clients hanging.

Normally when I take some time away from photography as a job I normally don’t take my professional gear with me, I’ll take my point and shoot or just use my phone and try to be in the moment and kinda be a tourist. Though weekends like these are a little different, this past weekend marked our yearly trip with friends to C2E2.  For those of you not familiar with this it stands for Chicago Entertainment and Comic Expo. Think of it as the Midwest’s answer to San Diego’s Comic Con, except it’s better cause it’s close to home.

As hard as I try I cannot seem to leave the camera at home when I come to this event. The time and effort cosplayers put into their costumes is truly astounding and a camera phone or a point and shoot does not seem to do their attire justice. Q’s necklace was hand made and Tank Girls gun is not something you can buy off a shelf. Over the past few years one of my favorite piece was a green sparkling jewel made from a green beer bottle. Also with the advent of 3D printers being more readily available already amazing costumes are being taken to the next level.

So below are a few of my favorite cosplayers I’ve found over my Saturday trip to C2E2.


Lume Cube Review

Back in December of 2016 I bought a set of Lume Cubes and I wanted to give them a good run though before writing a review for their product. For those of you not familiar with Lume Cube they are a small yet fiercely powerful light and can be used in a variety of settings and activities.

The light dimension is about a 1.5” cube to give you an idea of its size, it comes in blue, black and sliver/gray casings. Lume Cube has made some special give away cubes that were red and other colors but I have not seen those for sale (cause I would love a red one). The light color is around 6000K so it does have a light blue tint to it and it is extremely bright.

The light itself is really simple to use it has two push buttons on top one to operate the light. With the back of the light facing towards you the left button operates the light on its own. Once it is turned on you can tap the button repeatedly and increase the power of the light in 10% increments. the right button is activates the Bluetooth function of the light which allows it to pare with your phone or tablet.  From there you can modify the light in single percent increments.

The App for the Lume Cube has recently been up dated and for the most part is still the same. You can pair up to five Lume Cubes at one time and active them all with the touch of the screen. The one thing I like about the app is that it remembers the intensity percentage of the light when you turn it on and off the lights or the App. The one down side I did notice in the App is when you do modify the light brightness on the App the results are not immediately visible it does require you to turn the light on and off again with the little light power button on the app. The distance the light works with is the App is based on the power of its Bluetooth and your mobile device. I use a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet and Motorola X Pure phone and the distance from where it works to where it doesn’t is about 40 feet for my devices. So results may vary depending on your mobile device.

When the light is on full power it will last about 20 to 30 minutes depending on surrounding conditions. Lume Cube says on full power expect about a 22-minute run time. So what I have experienced is within stated running time  With the light below 75% power one can expect anywhere between a 45 minute to an hour and a half run time. The light does tend to get a bit warm with time especially on full power, not by any means that this is a down side but it is something to be aware of.

The one thing I love about this little light is that it is water resistant/proof up to 100 feet. I live on a lake with a max depth of 40 feet and this winter while the ice was on the lake I did pare both lights up with my Contour Camera. They work quite well in low level light and a depth of around 35 feet.

As for charging there is a screw off cap on the back of the Lume Cube to access the charging port. The cap has a rubber O-ring on it so it keeps the water out when screwed on tight. It can be easily removed for charging with a quarter or a nickel. The charging port is a USB type C connection and it will charge the Lume Cube in about an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half from being completely dead. Even if the Lume Cube is not being used for long periods of time the battery will still slowly drain, so the night before you use it to put it on the charger for a while just to make sure you are prepaired.

Some of the other uses I have found for Lume Cube is working on my vehicles because of their small size it has allowed me to get light into a small area where you can’t normally fit a normal flash light.  It also works well in flagging a passing by snowmobile with the pulse setting on the app when you are broken down on the side of the trail.

Lume Cube also offers a multitude of accessories for their lights. I am looking forward to getting the light house case and along with the honey comb pack and defuser bundle when they are released. By the looks and current online information, they will be held to the case by magnets so it will be interesting to see how they hold up with jarring and shaking. You can currently also get mounting accessories kits for the DJI Phantom series, Inspire series, also for the Yuneec Typhoon H and the Autel Robotics X-Star Drones.

The Lume Cube light is a small light that packs a big punch and is extremely versatile and it worth the $79.99 price tag. So if you are in the market for a small compact light it is worth the purchase and addition to your lighting arsenal.

Look, Listen and Live!

Look, Listen and Live –

As a photographer, we are here to create lasting images that our clients will love forever. In today’s world though it seems we have forgotten about keeping them safe in some circumstances. I will be the first to admit I will go to almost any lengths to get the precious shot my clients want.
Though a recent horrific event for one photographer has been a reminder for most to stay away from active railroad lines. Per CNN on March 16 a young aspiring model was struck and died from passing by train (full story) in Texas. Occurrences such as this happen more than I would ever like to admit.  Tragic events like this seems to make the news at least once a year and it runs the same, a model or photographer were killed by a passing train while photographing on the tracks. Also, through online messages boards or magazine stories, close calls happen way more frequently than most people know about.

I grew up around railroad yards in Central Wisconsin and as a kid we played around the railroads which was a big no no. As I got older, I learned that our normal waitress at a place called the Little Pink Restaurant had lost her leg while playing around the trains as a teenager. Also, there were several incidents in the early 90’s where trucks would go through the railroad grade crossings and get taken out by a locomotive from the Green Bay and Western or the Chicago and Northwestern and later on the Wisconsin Central.

Having grown up around events like this has made me appreciate the fact that we as photographer should offer something different to our clients. Yes, it is easy to go to a set of steel rails polished by hundreds of trains a week or to a trestle with a scenic view where you don’t know the schedule of the intermittent trains but it’s not safe and it is a major risk we take. As big as those giant work horses of industry are, they are fairly quiet and can sneak up on you quickly. At first one hears a light humming in the distance and then the next before one knows it right there and you might be left without a place to run to, too get out of the way.

In 2016 according to Operation Lifesaver and the FRA, in Wisconsin, we had 46 vehicle vs train collisions resulting in two deaths and 15 injuries as reported. Which raked Wisconsin in the top 15 in the US, while this isn’t a lot but it is significant but it is down overall. Granted we were lucky and didn’t have any people vs trains due to trespassing in our state in 2016 in Illinois they had 22 person vs train related deaths due to trespassing on the rails. But here is some food for thought for photographers from 2015 to 2016 there was increase in trespassing on the rails by 14.5%, deaths were up by 12.8% and overall injuries by 16.4%. Also, the fines are not cheap fines according to Wisconsin statute 192.32 starts at $100 a person but can vary by county/municipality and go up from there. So, if it’s you, a model and assistant the fine can be as little as $300 in total fines. Also in some locations in Milwaukee and some other major cities you could end up in jail plus a fine.

For that photographer in Texas I feel so sorry for them because it something they have to live with and I hope like hell it never happens again to any photographer.
As events like these become more prevalent why don’t we as a community say, hey we’re not going to work in those locations anymore? Is it worth it?

The 4 positives and negative of being an outdoor, on-location photographer in Wisconsin.

The one thing we have always prided ourselves on, is being an on-location photographer with a willingness to go pretty much anywhere (minus dangling from a cliff) for our clients. Being an on-location photographer is not for every photographer though.  So, in this blog post we are going to look at the positive and negatives to being an on-location photographer.

In the beginning when we started our business there was a decision to be made where were we going to be located the majority of the time, in a studio or on location? Yes, we started out as a sports and journalism photographer but as we progressed to portraits and other styles of photography we had a choice to make. In the end, we decided it was in our best interest to be an outdoor, on-location photographer. For us at Vagabond Photography we are outdoorsy people and love the ability to bring the outdoor world into our photos and being indoors day in and day out become repetitive to us.

Now understand we are not saying that if you decide to invest a brick and mortar studio and work out of one place you won’t do on-location work as well far from it. This blog post is mainly designed to address some of the upfront ups and down of deciding to work exclusively outdoors.

The pro of photographing most of your clients outside is that your back drop is ever changing. Every location can be found and sculpted to fit the clients own personal style and that works great because some clients may want a more country/nature setting while others may want more of an urban setting. While this does have its upsides the down side is that as a photographer we should really only use these locations two to three times a season/year to keep it fresh for future clients. Also one thing to keep in mind when photographing in a urban environment is your surrounding and is it safe for you and your clients to be there.

When setting up for a client’s session the main thing we as photographers must keep in mind is the weather. In Wisconsin and like other states in the snow belt we are all aware that the weather is something we always keep an eye on and it is constantly changing. It’s been stated that in Wisconsin you can have three of the four seasons all in one day and over the year we have seen it happen. In the summer, you still have to keep an eye on the temperature and with the added inconvenience of whether or not it may rain. Which is why having reschedule date in mind for you and your client is must even though we hope you never have too. Now this works for family and senior portraits and some corporate clients, but for weddings it’s a one day only deal with no reschedule date. For us in the north, come winter we keep in mind about how cold it is outside and what your clients are wearing. While a colored snow ball fight between loved ones on a field or ice-skating engagement sessions seems like a cool ideas for a photo session if it’s under 20F it may not be the best idea. This has two reasons one; clients and photographers get cold quick and frost bite is nothing to fool around with, secondly is gear can become brittle and is easily damaged when the temperatures get bellowing freezing.

One of the better things about working on location is we can go bigger. It allows photographers to incorporate larger things such as a cars, trucks, bikes or animals. Its comes in quite nice for senior portraits especially if a client would like to incorporate a classic car that they may of helped restored with their family. Also incorporating animals can bring extra life into a photo especially if it is a horse or the family dog and it is something that we always recommend our clients to consider incorporating into their sessions. The down side of both of these is going too big and not being able to deliver in said session this can hurt the image and return business. In addition, with large animals they can be easily spooked by flashes and noises if they are not used to being around those. Having recently attended ImagingUSA in Huston we watched as a long horn steer get spooked from behind when a fair amount of people were around it, thankfully no one was seriously injured Granted this animal was not spooked by a flash but still this is an example of what can happen if you as a photographer are not prepared for what could happen. Animals decide when they are done, not you and you can only string them along so long.

Working outdoors and on site means that the light is always changing and that is something you always should be attentive to. If you start in the early morning around sunrise if will go from blue hues, to golden, to full white light and the opposite it true before sunset.  This is a great thing because depending on what/who/where you are photographing a photographer can get several different moods in a short amount of time. On the other side of the coin it can also be a hindrance if you are not ready for how fast the light is going to change. Working outside also means that you have to contend with the sun due to your time of day during your photo session. This is a time where one would want to remove excess light by using scrims and gobo’s. This is quite the opposite when working in a studio where light is much easier to control.

These are just a few of the positives and negatives we have encountered in Wisconsin over the past few years and it is just something you may like to consider when working outdoors. We can say that even though it presents several unique challenges the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

Love is in the air or is it cabin fever?

It’s that time of year where love is in the air or maybe it’s the cabin fever or some form of both. For us at Vagabond Photography it’s where we come out of our winter hibernation and start gearing up for spring/summer weddings, corporate events, senior portraits and so much more. Also, we will be traveling around to a few of the areas comic cons for fun.

It’s been a long, kind of dull winter here in Southern Wisconsin. We have had a lack of snow and an abundance of rain and abnormally high winter temps. It seems though, weather is finally starting to change for the better, hopefully, and we would like to reach out to the recently engaged or couples looking to have a unique on location photo session. There is still some snow in parts of Wisconsin so if you were thinking “hey I’ve always wanted pelt my significant other with a colored snow ball (provided we still have snow) or ice skate on a lake” for a photo session we can help with that. The joys of Wisconsin the possibilities are endless you just need to have a love of outdoor spaces and the willingness to brave the cold.  As spring progresses and it gets warmer out we can even change it up to suit you and your significant others outdoor activities. That could be anywhere from activates on the lakes and waterways, to the riding trails of Northern WI or relaxing on the beaches of Lake Michigan/Superior to the cities Madison/Milwaukee or anywhere/anything in-between.

This spring we are also looking forward to getting back to some of our fun personal projects and we will be looking for some people to collaborate with to create some new and exciting photos. We’ll discuss those more at the spring rolls along.

We look forward to hearing from you and bringing your dreams and imagination to prints that will hang on your walls. We also hope that you and your loved ones have a great Valentines Day.

Year in Review 2016

As the year draws to and end and I sit here and enjoy the last breakfast of the old year and eagerly await the beginning of the new, it’s time to sit back for a minute and reflect on what a good year it has been for Vagabond Photography.

Vagabond Photography had a good year with some ups and downs. While at Imaging USA in Atlanta in January, I decided it was time to start writing down some of our experiences in the photography industry. This has turned out to be a good way to communicate with you our clients and readers.

Bookings didn’t come in quite as quick as I had hoped for, for weddings and senior/portraits in the first half of the year but we did have a large expansion into the Corporate photography niche, with this new area now comprising about a quarter to a third of our business.  Something that I learned from my father is that even though you may have intended for your company to serve/provide one style of service, sometimes it can take on a life of its own and move in a different direction.

In April and May we had the joy of teaming up with two non profit groups in Milwaukee called Sweetwater and the Water Council of Milwaukee. They both have a great mission Sweetwater aims to help clean up the Milwaukee River, Menomonee River and Root River basins. While the Water Council of Milwaukee looks at ways of restoring our aquafers and delivering clean water to the area. It was such a great experience to be able to work at both of their conferences, I learned a lot even though I was just there to document the day for them.

Over the summer, we saw the launch of our new website for Vagabond Photography. www.vbphoto.co  For many years, I used and loved the hosting company Zenfolio, they have great layouts and custom designs but with diminishing returns though search engines and a lack of being able to do customized SEO, I decided it was time to make a move. After some research beginning in late July I decided on moving our hosting duties to Square Space. It took a little while to get everything set up and also, I had to find a new hosting platform for our client galleries and for that we settled on a little-known company called Pixieset. I was able to integrate both platforms to create a seamless new website that I think looks marvelous.

As the fall approached we moved to the last of our Senior Portraits and a few weddings. It was so great to a part of our wedding client’s special day.  I really love fall weddings so much more than summer weddings. There is such a great wide range of colors from golden hues of yellow, fiery reds, hazelnut browns and every other color in-between.

At the end of October/beginning of November I interviewed with an auto auction company called Mecums to possibly photograph cars for them part time while still being able to run Vagabond Photography full time. It didn’t pan out but I am thankful for the time to learn from there master photographer David Newhardt. I always love to learn new things and in a couple of days photographing with them it turned into a great learning experience. Learning something from a gentleman that has photographed classic cars for over 40 plus years is a great treat.

As Christmas approached we moved back into our Corporate Christmas season. I was great, to have our friends at MUZA Metals in Oshkosh ask us back for a second year even though getting there it did happen on one of the more hazardous snow storms we have had it Wisconsin in a while. But it was fun, they all were but this one stick out in my mind the most because the getting there was just as interesting as the actual event was.

Christmas was spent back in my home town with my family and it was great to have some down time and to be able to be with friends and family for a few days.  I keep telling myself one of these years I need to bring my gear home with me and photograph a Gumz Family Christmas on Christmas Day but I have yet to do this. It’s a great time with mom and dad on my dad side of the family all the aunts and uncles show up with all the cousins and it turns into a great time when you stick 75 to 100 people into a town hall with the same last name. I guess next year should be the year to do that before the family starts to dwindle.

As we look forward to the new year it comes with hope and a little apprehension of the unknown. I cannot wait to get to San Antonio in the first part January for Imaging USA’s annual convention and trade show and to escape part of the cold Wisconsin winter.  We are still working on bookings for 2017 and I would love to be a part of your wedding or collaborate with you on your senior or family portraits. No idea is too big or too small for us. For our corporate clients, we would enjoy teaming up with you and photographing your summits, meeting and conventions and we can work with you based on your business size.

Have a great and safe New Years Eve folks, if you venture out tonight and you find you had a little too much to drink call a friend or a family member because a little lecture is better than not having your presents to enjoy. And as my favorite character Sherman T Potter from Mash says “Here’s to the new year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one, and may we may we all be home before she’s over.”

I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in the New Year.

Best wishes,

Tim Gumz
owner and principal photographer


Sorry We Can’t Help, let’s try and find someone who can.

To fellow photographers:

As a photographer, we would love to be able to assist every client that walks in the door, sends an email, or calls us on the telly. The sad truth is though, through bookings and other obligations we are not always able to accommodate all our potential client’s requests for photography services.

Just before Thanksgiving I had a perspective client call asking if I could photograph his grandparents 60th wedding anniversary (married 1956). The problem being as he had stated to me, the few other photographers he had already talked to said they were unavailable due to the anniversary falling on Thanksgiving and didn’t want to help point him in the right direction. I explained to him I was already out of the area for an extended holiday week away and that I would not be able to help him.  Before hanging up I asked if he would kindly give me his email address I would send him the links to a few other trusted photographers I know and that one of them might be able to help him in his quest to find a photographer.

Some might say this is not the brightest of business moves sending a person to the competition. As I see it, we should be striving to help others even if it doesn’t necessarily help us. When I tell a client “no” it does leave a bit of an unsettled feeling. I would truly love to be able to cater to the client’s needs. When I suggest them to other photographer (competition) we should only sending them to photographers we trust. For me these are photographer who are competent, that we would ask to cover our own wedding, anniversary’s and family photos.

If you think about we are not really losing out on anything but maybe the three to five minutes of time to send the email and collect the links to our other trusted colleagues. Also as photographers we a providing a service that it relatively quick and does help a potential client find someone who can help them with their request. It can also help us in the long run, other photographers who we recommended might in return recommend us when they are busy or the non-client we helped find another photographer for might come back to us because we helped.

So consider not just saying “NO” and hanging up the photo but say “NO” and be willing to maybe take five minutes of your time and help out.