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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sunday's B&H Adventure

Sunday I drove into New York City and visited B&H Photo NYC Superstore. If you don't know it - it's the photographer's toy store!

I always go on Sundays and for this visit I made sure I got there early because I wanted to ensure I had a parking spot in their parking lot. It's small with hardly any spots so I always get there at least a half hour before they open so that I get one. They guy said to me "1 hour limit and $100 minimum." I laughed at both comments. I knew I would never be an hour...not in this place! And I knew I was spending WAY MORE than $100.00! It worked out just fine.

The first thing I had to do was return a couple items from a previous shipment and I hung out on the sidewalk by the door while I waited for them to open at 10:00am on the dot.

After I was done I headed in. They have a ton of greeters at the door welcoming you like crazy. (I'm sure they like to make you feel special so you'll spend the big bucks! *giggle* Well they got me - because I emptied my bank account! I need to take up a cheaper hobby...this one is EXPENSIVE!

If you've ever been to Atlantic City or Vegas (or any casino for that matter) you may feel a very similar feeling when you're at B&H. Once you walk in you're in a wonderland where time stands still and you have no idea how long you've been wandering around the store. I always feel that way in A.C. (where you're not sure if it's an hour or 10 hours that you've been there!)

This time for me was even stranger because I made my familiar right turn and ended up in unfamiliar territory! Oh my goodness! They rearranged the entire superstore! I was LOST and unfamiliar in a normally familiar place! LOL! Such a tragedy! *giggling* I walked around aimlessly on the first floor looking for the Nikon station. After reading all the signs and aimlessly wandering the floors I realized I had to go all the way upstairs and around the bend to find the "pros."

Nikon is the first one you hit and there I found my favorite Nikon rep, "Gerry." He was talking to a soldier so I patiently waited to speak to him once they were done. I had my "list" (you always need your list or you will soon be overwhelmed) and you also need a plan of action in massive place like this (So I'm organized! Now don't laugh at me!) If I didn't want to spend 5 hours there (and not get reprimanded by the parking attendant...kidding) I had to have a list and plan of action (I was also meeting my friend Lee for lunch afterwards so I needed to move fast for that too).

I discussed a number of kinds of things with Gerry - from wide angle lenses, to battery packs, to backdrops, to carrying bags. I always enjoy talking to him because he's so helpful and honest. After I left Gerry I went on my journey around "wonderland." I started with the the wide angle lens I wanted. Gerry and the rep behind the counter both convinced me to go with the TOKINA 12-24mm (I hope I made the right decision). I tested it for a few shots while I was in the store...not sure what these test shots really even told me but I took them anyway LOL.

I decided to go with the Tokina based on my forum friend and the 2 reps from B&H's recommendation. I haven't taken anything with it and I got it yesterday (I know...surprising...but I just wasn't in the mood today).

After I ordered the lens I headed over to the "bag" section and ordered a Pelican rolling suitcase for photo jobs. It looks like carry-on luggage and has wheels and a detachable laptop piece which is an added bonus (I hope I like it when I get it). I'm so paranoid about bags because they never seem to totally satisfy me. I'm already up to 4 different camera type bags of varying sizes. The worst part about the amount of time I spent picking out a bag was the fact that the rep mistakenly didn't add it to the order properly and I never got it with my order yesterday. It was a blessing in disguise because I didn't go with the original one he showed me. The other blessing was that B&H had free shipping on this bag when I went to order it today (so I didn't have to worry about calling to argue an additional shipping charge with B&H).

After the bag selection I headed over to the used section with NO LUCK. I was looking for a used power pack or a flash meter. They had neither for me so back on line AGAIN to order the Seconic flash meter. Even though Gerry's didn't suggest it I also ordered one Nikon SD-8A Battery Power Pack. I can't afford a better one so I had to go with this option (especially for the charity event I'm doing tomorrow night where I will need all flash-all night).

Lastly I headed downstairs to the lighting section and ordered a GIGANTIC roll of super white seamless paper. It's so massive huge that it went from the back of my SUV to the dashboard. You should have seen it when I had to get it from from my work (where I had shipped it to) into my car. I can't even stand it up in my house...it has to lean... LOL. I'm not going to be taking it around with me to photo jobs (I'll have to get something smaller) but I want to have it at home for clients to come here. Once I clear out my spare room of some boxes I will make my studio there. Then clients will have the choice to come to me if they'd like. I can't wait to experiment with the paper and colored gels, etc!

I also ordered a Hakuba 400 Pro Series bag for my 2 light stands, 2 umbrellas, and my tripod. I filled it and it worked out really well and so far I am happy with it. My goal is to be very portable and not make a hundred trips to the car with on-location photo jobs. Now I will be showing up with a rolling suitcase with camera gear, a long bag with the backdrop stand, and a long bag with the lighting stands/umbrellas/tripod/backdrop and that's it! It should be great and save me time to have everything together and bring it in and out of the houses/locations quickly!

The lighting rep talked me out of the mini softbox for my SB800 and said that I'd be much happier with my Gary Fong diffuser. I DID NOT get a black backdrop like I wanted to because they just aren't large enough for what I want (that really gave me a sad face because I can't deal with my wrinkly muslin!). Back to the drawing board on a black backdrop (on the cheaper side...maybe a king size blanket).

So, all in all, the trip was good but slightly frustrating for an organized girl with a list! Everything I thought I would walk away with was changed up and I felt like I had to make a lot of split second decisions. I hate when my list and organization doesn't pan out like I expected but what are you gonna do!?!

Lee met me at the end, I paid for my items, and headed out to get an amazing parking spot right in front of the restaurant he chose for us (Borough Food & Drink) and I had the BEST cheeseburger with cheddar cheese (and fries) ever! It was excellent!


M Palmer said...

Great Post - B&H is overwhelming - you did get a meter right? = )

Henry Posner said...

Thanks for this GREAT anecdote and for all your kind words.
Henry Posner

B&H Photo-Video

Heather said...

Wow Jen. I am truly happy for you. So jealous of you having that wonderland of a store so close to you!

The best I get out here is Samy's and I get overwhelmed there. Hopefully on my trip out there I will get to see B&H in person instead of only online like right now. Your photos now give me an idea of what it's like at least. Yay!

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Enigma3 said...


How could you not take me with you. Arm candy at B&H with a girl who knows her photography. I think I love you :)

Jen Weaver Photography said...

Yup - I got the light meter Mike :)

Henry - wow - a real live B&H'er commenting on my blog - thanks!

Heather - when you come out here I will definitely take you to B&H. From DC to me it will be about 3.5 hours...and then we will make a trip to the superstore if you'd like...save your pennies girl!!

Wolf-Your comment cracked me up out loud! Love you too! *giggle*

Jonathan said...

Your blog is awesome - just wandered in here from Blog365.

This post is the closest thing I have seen to "camera porn" for quite some time :) The big bag with all the kit in it looks fantastic

Proud Oscar said...

You have certainly moved along. i remember discussing with you getting equipment and you said you didn't know what you needed. Look at you now. I am SO PROUD of my adopted daughter and friend, Love Daddy Oscar

Oscar said...

Oh yeah, BTW - Italy is aplace you would really enjoy photographing. I thought of you many times today and said to myself, how would Jen see this. :)

lg said...

it was fun experiencing b&h w/ u.
and my lunch was yummy too!

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm....and my husband thought MY photography wish list was big......... :)

I'm happy for you, friend. You are certainly making good use of ALL of your gear.


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