Gear and Software Innovations Photographers Want Now: Part 2

July 15, 2016

By Greg Scoblete

Illustration by Sharon Ber

Part 2 of our 3 part “Gear and Software Innovations Photographers Want Now” feature reveals many of the yet-to-be-invented equipment, software and other tools that would make photographers and filmmakers more productive in the studio, on location or in transit. PDN asked image-makers who work in various genres what innovations they would like to see in the future, and we also asked PDN Technology Editor Greg Scoblete to weigh in where alternatives and workarounds might already by available. Here’s the second bunch of responses we received; click here to read part 1 and part 3. (And for any manufacturers or developers reading this, remember to give credit—and stock options—where they’re due.)


“The idea of operating studio lights by remote control and having the strobe-equipped drone fly around would allow for so much range and it would save so much time on set with regard to changing setups,” says fashion photographer David Urbanke. “It would also cut down the need for additional assistants. The strobe drone would also be incredible for on-location shooting—so much more functional than setting up strobes on stands out on the street.”

There’s nothing precisely like this (i.e. a drone with built-in strobes) but some photographers have already jury-rigged drones with strobes, and there are now LED lights designed specifically to mount to drones. (See “Objects of Desire: Light and Motion Stella Drone Light,”, for one example.)   


Los Angeles-based commercial lifestyle photographer Sasha Gulish is regularly asked to shoot ads used in a variety of media, and wishes there was an easier way to plan for certain formats. “The Canon S series has crop options, but should include a general web banner crop,” she notes. “I have shot jobs where they wanted everything in a web banner-ish crop. We keep having to go back to the computer.” She wishes she could just “tell the camera what kind of crop you need,” she says. “Now that would be amazing!”


Gulish would like V-flats that come readymade to create the effects she wants when shaping light on a room set.  “I use V-flats to bounce [light], or to create a fake wall illusion with light. For example, if I am shooting something in studio, I may put a huge silk and light to the left of the camera. To make it ‘feel’ more like a real room with windows, I sometimes create a window setup with the V-flats.” The workaround is for her and her crew to cut shapes into the flats.


“Living at 7,000 feet in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a few years, I inadvertently discovered that the standard manufacturer’s maintenance procedures, recommended to prevent inkjet printer head failure in extremely dry conditions, were woefully inadequate,” says photographer David Robin. Every time a head failed, it cost $600 to replace, he says. Seeking a way to maintain moisture inside the printer he found nothing from the printer manufacturers. “That’s when the Dampit Musical Instrument Humidifier came into my life. These little low-tech, analog widgets were designed and patented in 1966 by Ralph Hollander, a professional violinist and composer, to help keep the wood in his string instruments moist.” The company,, sells the devices to professional violinists, cellists and others whose wooden instruments can dry out on airplanes or in overheated hotel rooms. So far, no printer company has licensed or adapted them, though Robin insists they do the job. “Just moisten these puppies, wring them out and place them inside your printer near your print heads, and voila! You just have to remember to rewet them every so often and remove them when you’re ready to print. While this hack may not solve print-head clogging issues in every situation, it goes a long way in mitigating the most common ones.”


Candy Kennedy, a New York-based commercial lifestyle photographer, wishes there were “a handheld pro Steadicam rig for Sony and Canon, that’s literally plug and play, small, lightweight and as smooth as the Movi, with a focus control on the handle. Wishful thinking. I direct, and have a DP that films with the RED, which is a camera that I struggle to carry as it is very heavy once kitted out. Sometimes I really want to work on some small personal film projects and go out by myself and film, but I don’t want to carry a massive, complicated Steadicam rig, I want something basic but really good. I recently bought the DJI Osmo gimbal with [integrated] camera and it’s amazing, but I want the Sony a7R II attached to it.”

Depending on how Kennedy defines plug and play, there are gimbals like this. One by BeeWorks comes close to her description. The Redrock Micro Ha¯lo can put focus control on gimbal handles (see a description in our story, “Innovative Gear for Photographers and Filmmakers”).  


“The Bridezilla Evaporator detects negative energy from a bride who is about to unload her wrath on unsuspecting or undeserving vendors or even family members,” says wedding photographer Jerry Ghionis. “This product will ideally have an app associated with it on your phone. The app is free but it has in-app purchases that will allow you to detect the groom’s energy, the mother–in–law’s energy, non-cooperative/cranky children, priests who do not want us to use flash at a church and angry church ladies. The app will then send a notification to the offending person’s phone giving them a chance to adjust their mood or attitude before being evaporated. If their mood fails to adjust and the evaporation takes place, their body and soul will be in limbo for the rest of the day until they wake up unharmed at their usual waking time the following day.”


“Scale is very important to my work and practice. I want my prints to be immersive to the viewer and to evoke a bodily reaction just like the spaces and places I am photographing,” says Chicago-based artist Clarissa Bonet. The problem is transporting them: “The tiniest of scratches, flecking, or dents that could happen while handling the print would be rejected by the gallery and the print would need to be made again, which can be costly when printing on fine-art paper.” Bonet likes to keep her prints flat when transporting them to her gallery or the framer. “Sure, I could roll the prints in a tube but there is a chance that the prints could become kinked or damaged when unrolled.” Instead, she’s fashioned something with foamcore, acid-free glassine and masking tape. “I secure the print to the best of my abilities in my homemade folio,” she says, then tries to keep the folio flat so the print can’t move or get scratched.

“One invention that would make my life easier as a working artist is if someone invented an easy to use, reusable folio and case for transporting large flat prints. I would think this new invention would need to have a flat folio to secure the print in, with an outer shell that would apply some pressure, maybe with foam similar to a Pelican case, but extremely lightweight. This outer case would ensure that the folio and print inside it would not move, allowing for easy upright carrying.”


For Mike Arzt, who owns a multimedia, design and fabrication studio based in Colorado, and who travels frequently to work on projects such as ski films and brand image libraries, “a complete camera gear carry and transport system” would help immensely, he says. “We have great camera backpacks, hard cases, slings and you name it. But they don’t all work together, and since we often travel by air we are limited with space and weight. It would be great to have a comprehensive system that all works together. We have worked around this issue a bit with camera bags that the block comes out of easily. That way the block can go into a hard case for travel and the backpack packs flat and tight into a checked bag. Then when we get to the shoot location, we can switch the block back to the camera backpack.”

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Related: Gear and Software Innovations Photographers Want Now: Part 1

From Inventor to Entrepreneur: Three Filmmaking and Photo Startup Founders on How Their Ideas Came to Life

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