Yet another messenger bag...

A review of Peak Design's Everyday Messenger Bag
By Mark Lyndersay
This is what I crammed into Peak's new bag on its first outing. Two Canon full-frame bodies, speedlight, 40mm f2.8 STM lens, 20mm f2.8 lens, 17-40mm f4 lens, LimeFuel battery pack, iPad Air with Logitech keyboard cover, Manfrotto Carbon Fiber tripod. Photo by Mark Lyndersay.

At the precise point that I pledged to buy the new
Peak Everyday Messenger Bag on Kickstarter (US$4.8 million was raised on a request for $100,000), I knew there was something seriously wrong with me.

It's not as if I don't have a bag to fit my gear into, but I'm getting dangerously close to becoming a bit OCD, if not metrosexual, about having the right bag for the right occasion.

My heavily internalized argument identified a need, between my small and really quite neat
Think Tank Retrospective 10 (SLR and lens) and the larger Think Tank Urban Disguise 60 (SLR with two lenses, three speedlights and an extra body, laptop and tablet, reviewed here) for a medium-sized medium-sized bag that had a smaller profile than the larger bag but offered larger capacity than the much smaller and neater one.
Plus, the guys from Peak had done a remarkable job of selling the many new features and innovations they built into the Everyday Peak Messenger.

Here are some first impressions (
click on a thumbnail to view larger).
On delivery, the bag made it clear that it was special. I'm used to receiving boxes stuffed with air-filled plastic that have notably unfragile bags inside them.
Peak basically shipped a tiny pillow, stuffing the bag into a triple strength paper bag that just fit the profile of the compressed product.
This saved me a fortune in shipping and I still haven't had the heart to dump the bag, which demands to be used for something else.

Peak ships a very direct and straightforward product.There are just three dividers (ThinkTank ships almost a dozen of varying sizes) , but the Peak dividers fold down neatly, offering the possibility of a second level of packing for gear.  I'd have liked to see just one more in there to organize speedlights or a light meter.

I bought the optional gear pouch, but haven't figured out how to make use of it. It's made of the same soft natural feeling material as the bag, but without the reinforcement, so while I understand it's intended purpose, as an organizer, it's pretty floppy and really needs to go in a bag rather than stand alone as Peak's rather hopeful marketing suggests.

I'd planned to put a camera body, a couple of zoom lenses or maybe three primes if I'm in a mood to shoot that way into the bag. It was also possible to stick a flash, an external battery pack and an extra body in without problems.
The bag does expand as promised and does so without losing its basic form though it does tend to bulge a bit in the middle.

The metal latches, which form a stepladder of sorts on the outside of the bag readily notch up and down to meet your volume demands on the bag's space.
The front pocket doesn't seem to expand as readily and seems designed to accept flatter items, though wrapped cables fit easily enough into it.
Unfortunately, crammed with stuff, a penalty is paid first in the sleeve service aside for a laptop or tablet.

As packed, I wouldn't have been able to carry my laptop and my iPad with a keyboard cover was a disturbingly tight fit.
The laptop sleeve at the back of the bag is simply too flexible for what's supposed to go into it and a heavily packed Everyday Messenger, which tends to curve in the middle as its' packed, according to its design, will quickly reach a point that demands a larger bag if a full laptop kit and its supporting gear are required.

The shoulder strap, made from the material that's used for safety belts feels tough and comfortable, but the company hasn't thought through their padding for it, particularly what happens to it when the strap is fully extended.
It probably made sense to have the padding be an integral part of the strap. It's comfortable and robust, but it also ends three inches short of my shoulder when the strap is completely extended, which it needs to be to fit my tall frame properly (I'm six foot six).

I'm sure the padding is perfectly wonderful, but it would just be really nice to be able to have it on my shoulder instead of completely off it.
But the Everyday Messenger does have one trick that's likely to make it a critical player for day-to-day assignments.

Peak looked at the top of the bag and the way it merges with the covering flap and decided that space, often unused and gifted to air would be a nifty place to put a small tripod.
On my first job using the bag, a tripod, often a painful addition to the travel process was not only required but in the Everyday Messenger, agreeably fitted .

I think I'll have to consider putting some padding between the camera and the tripod legs and that folding flap system may get some reconsideration on that front, but the tripod, so often a mutant addition that fits nowhere and ends up an annoying weight dragging on one hand, snugly fits into the top of the bag. 

The total package went through a scanner, onto a small inter-island plane and into the small overhead compartment with room to spare. Nobody gave it a second look.
Which after years of having a tripod grafted to me as a folding wart is a huge improvement in getting around.
A small light stand and double fold umbrella would go into that space easily as well.

Every bag won't do everything. The bag that swallows up all your gear is a huge tugboat yoked to you, the neat small one demands tough decisions about what to pack. 
On the basis of a single day long assignment with the Everyday Messenger., I'm convinced of the wisdom of most of the choices that Peak's design made in the construction of their new bag.

There are a number of features I haven’t mentioned, all of which require that you buy more fully into Peak’s growing camera support ecosystem and have a greater zone of comfort with a camera mounted temporarily to your actual bag. 
But even with my outlier caveats (lots of consumer goods aren't made for people at the extremes of height) this is an excellent bag and I’ve got no buyer’s remorse at all.

The Peak Everyday Messenger Bag is very well made, thoughtfully designed and an excellent carrying option for a small to medium-sized pack of gear.
Packed and staged in the small overhead bin of an inter island small jet, there's room to spare even with a tripod buckled in there.

The architect as photographer

Brian Lewis, photographed at Fort George. Photo by Mark Lyndersay.

One of two forewords written for the publication of Brian Lewis' collection of photographs examining Contemporary Caribbean Architecture, published in November 2015.

It’s probably worth stating this right up front for anyone who has somehow missed the fact, but Brian Lewis, the author of this body of work, is a second generation architect.
Indeed, he is a fine designer of buildings, many of which are remarkable examples of Caribbean habitat, so it might not be out of line to wonder why he would bother to be down in the scrum of taking photographs.

At least part of the reason would surely be a desire to have good photographs of his work. I can empathise.
Many years ago, I despaired of the photographs that accompanied my stories in the daily newspapers and began taking my own.
That can be a powerful motivator, the need to fully realise a vision, and for a man capable of imagining completed structures where there are only stakes in the mud demarcating land boundaries, the desire must be overwhelming to shepherd a building from imagination to two dimensional plans and into constructed reality.

To have that process scuttled in the public mind by lousy photos of a carefully designed building is to drop the baton before the race is done.
That might explain why Brian took up a camera. To understand why he continued and amplified his goals into this epic effort at capturing the designs of others is, ultimately, the thesis of this book.

The architect, you see, is not just a vendor, he’s also the client.
Brian Lewis loves a well-designed building. Actually, he loves a well-designed anything, but his passion for structures is lush and promiscuous.
He may frown at a detail or two he might have approached another way, but he is fully capable of basking in the clarity of vision of another architect’s sensibility and that informs his images with a passion that’s rare in the business of architectural photography.

This all began in his teens, but truly flowered when he began photographing the buildings his architectural firm was producing.
By the time I met Brian he was firmly placed in my mind as an exceptional architectural photographer with a little side practice in designing buildings.

It was on that basis that I asked him to offer some photographs for publication in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian’s Sunday magazine, then rather pointedly named SG Magazine.
He responded by offering, pretty much once a month, a remarkable selection of images for which we never had enough space.

His writing accompanying these stories was clear and sensible but the photographs immersed you in the architect’s thinking and more impressively, made it clear why Brian thought the design work was worth a potentially disinterested party’s attention.
For as long as the magazine was published under my guidance, roughly a year and a half, Brian regularly delivered a selection of remarkable images, evolving his approach to compensate for the stark and brutish treatment they received on newsprint and always sticking to a clear and lucid style that guided and informed.

In remembering that work, and reviewing what Brian has produced for Contemporary Caribbean Architecture, I’d be tempted to call that early work Lewis Lite if it weren’t more accurate to think of it as a rehearsal for the far richer palette he has developed for reproduction here.

His earlier ascetic style has matured into a deeper appreciation for all the variations of light, texture and personal quirkiness that characterise our most successful architecture.
Brian is unafraid of that most challenging of subjects, the Caribbean building lit by the stark, cold light of midday sun, and he uses that cruel severity in many photos to bring deep drama to rooms designed to be illuminated by dark patterned shadows.

The minimalist sharpness of these buildings leap to life as frames that embrace the bold colours of the landscape, the rich blues of sky and sea, the brilliantly verdant vegetation and the languid browns of the wood that accent them.
The enormity of the work is staggering. I dabble a bit in architectural photography myself, but really, what I do is take attractive portraits of buildings.

Brian digs in deep, feeling the foundations of the buildings, understanding the arc of the walls and the dip of the stairwells.
It’s possible to do this work in a day or two, but that supposes a perfect 48 hours and that’s a fantasy that anyone who has waited out a building will find utterly hilarious.

This is work that demands an understanding of line and form, of textures and shapes, of light and shadow. It begins with photography, with all its optical and dynamic range challenges, but can only be brought to a successful conclusion through a profound empathy with the architect’s intent and an understanding of the building as a designed space.

The successful architectural photographer does not simply photograph a building, he inhabits it visually, bringing the designer’s concept, the contractor’s concrete, metal, wood and glass and the style of the owners and their impact on the space together into still frames, collections of pixels and dots of ink on paper that breathe a new life and understanding into the finished project.

So the work that follows is the result of Brian’s stalking of these buildings, his wooing them with a careful study of how the light plays over their forms before he chooses his firm and definitive interpretation of the structure.
These are works of both cool contemplation and considerable passion, the frames of Brian’s images taut with consideration and very deliberate points of view.

He leads us through these buildings with a confident awareness of their purpose and their considerable pleasures.
Brian Lewis has always brought a distinct and clear perspective to his architectural photography. I can always identify his work, no matter where it appears.

That’s a special talent.
To be able to clearly and professionally represent the collaborative work that is a lived space is rare enough. To be able to do so while stamping the work with a distinctive style makes the final project transcendent.

I commend to you with professional pride and personal envy the work of Brian Lewis on the following pages. His loving, precise rendition of the work of the many architects, artisans, contractors, interior designers and commissioning clients speaks eloquently for itself.

Commentary about Carnival since 2009

Exhausted by the relentless stupidity of the preparations and execution of Carnival 2015, I offered instead a round up of recent stories, columns and blog posts on the subject which remain depressingly relevant. Read More...

A kinda legacy

A review of the book We Kind ah People featuring rate and largely unseen photographs of the bands of Stephen Lee Heung by George Tang and text by Ray Funk. Read More...

In the pool with King David

David Rudder and the photographer, on location at Westmoorings.

Two grown men peer at the screen of a telephone, both wrestling with the metaphysical considerations of the now ubiquitous wefie.
Behind are palm trees, the edge of a building's roof and a Photex Softlighter, all offering tangential clues of the afternoon's activities.

The business of the day is done. Mr Rudder, finished with splashing about in a pool is now gamely indulging the photographer's invitation to be a participant in his first public, non-family wefie.
It's an odd moment for them both. A few minutes ago the snapper directed the famous singer/songwriter in a shoot that would normally feature a far more nubile and determinedly female subject.
But, Mr Rudder is a manly man, and carried it off with aplomb.

Now he stands alongside the photographer, waist deep in a pool, arm perched on its deck, the photographer lying alongside him, the smartphone dangling perilously above the cool and very chlorinated water.
The picture captures two men with the required manly space between them, a distance commanded by decades of being a dude in the Caribbean. Ya know, we're close, we just not that close.

Look here, the digital reflection of their gaze commands, so they do, bemused by this fun house refraction of themselves, the mirror that captures a moment, if not souls, a slice of time raddled with bemusement and befuddled curiosity.
Take another picture, it seems to urge. So we do.

The Portrait: In the bag

A review of the ThinkTank Retrospective 50 and Urban Disguise 60 camera bags. Read More...

A dip into the day job

HDC Housing Slideshow from Mark Lyndersay on Vimeo.

Folks sometimes ask what I do for a living.
That's easy enough. I take portraits.
Sometimes I do editorial projects and sometimes I do executive portraits. And sometimes I do architectural portraits, photographs of buildings that seek to show the structures in their best light.
I'd begun doing this work just before I returned to doing photography full time in 2006 after several years in corporate life.

It was 2005 and Dennise Demming's communications firm was working on a 50th anniversary celebration event for Consulting Engineers Partnership, a company that's behind the structural design of major structures throughout the Caribbean.

Since then, I've done a few more projects and then began doing work for the state housing agency, a project that's proven to be particularly satisfying on a creative level.

The video was produced from the 2014 collection of images I produced for them two months ago. The images are all HDR captures, including the panoramics, which can require as many as 24 separate exposures to complete.

Wake up call

Berlin energy plant, September, 2013.

Sometimes a photograph demands your attention.
I was struggling to sleep in a room in Berlin, squeezing in winks between the tight schedule set up by Samsung for its launch of the new
Gear SmartWatches.

So a brilliant shaft of light reflecting off the mirror into my eyes was definitely not part of the plan. Finally, I gave in, hauled off that delightfully warm coverlet and planted reluctant feet on the ground.
Stomping over to the window, I glared out to see what could possibly be stealing my precious and desperately awaited sleep from me.

And saw the amazing scene above. I found out later from our driver that I'd photographed a steam driven energy plant, a gift from the US after World War II when supplies were delivered via airlift to the population of the city.
So when things come calling, make the time to find out who's ringing the bell.

Make money with your Carnival photos!

My letter of response to the request from [named State Agency] for the use of a Carnival photo in return for that most precious of currency, a photo credit. Read More...

Farewell Suzanne

Remembering the late Suzanne Salandy.

Why I have nothing to say about your Facebook Carnival gallery

A consideration of what Carnival photography is today and how it may be changing the very nature of playing mas on the stage on Carnival Tuesday. Read More...

On Marlon James

A conversation with Jamaican photographer Marlon James, currently living and working in Trinidad and Tobago. Read More...

Photographing Elize

A photographic encounter with Elize Rostant. Taking pictures while backed into a corner. Read More...

A copyright conversation

A transcript of a recent conversation I had about copyright ownership that highlights issues related to intellectual property that muddy understanding and respect for creative output. Read More...

Say hello to McIntosh

Dressing Carnival model Sian McIntosh in shadows and little else. Read More...

New vidcast posted

Today, Yesterday + Tomorrow from Mark Lyndersay on Vimeo.

Me and the peoples and them. Photograph of the talk courtesy of Peter Limchoy.

Today, yesterday and tomorrow was a presentation given on August 14, 2013 at Antony Scully's Studio 30 in Woodbrook.
It's a response to a brief from Mr Scully about staying relevant in the industry and seeks to offer some notions for consideration to young photographers just starting their journey in the craft.
This is the 30 minute rehearsal vidcast of the presentation done the night before the presentation.
Or download the 360MB MP4 file here

Jeffrey Chock, photographer

Remembering the documentary photographer Jeffrey Chock.

Justice served

Recalling my professional encounters with Justice Wendell Kangaloo and considering the long term value of an archive built on commercial purpose. Read More...

Clean-up man

A consideration of just about the only still life work that I do anymore, photographs of branded detergents. Read More...

On behalf of Andrea and Alva...

Invited to speak on behalf of both the bride and groom at the wedding of my friends Andrea De Silva and Alva Viarruel, this is what I had to say about this photographer couple. Read More...

Copyright discussion on TV6

CarnivalTV, 2013
Copyright and Cacada
Dear Allison
Tradition and Commerce
Carnival's Axis of Copyright
The Images of Carnival (Video)

Images of Carnival

Part one of the broadcast...

TV6 - Images of Carnival, Part one from Mark Lyndersay on Vimeo.

And here's part two...

TV6 - Images of Carnival, Part Two from Mark Lyndersay on Vimeo.

CarnivalTV, 2013
Copyright and Cacada
Dear Allison
Tradition and Commerce
Carnival's Axis of Copyright
Morning Edition on Carnival copyright (Video)

Carnival's Axis of copyright

A first response to the attempt by Carnival's special interest groups to increase their draconian grip on the very public festival of Carnival.

Other links on this subject are here…
BitDepth#875: CarnivalTV, 2013
Copyright and Cacada
Dear Allison
Tradition and Commerce
The Images of Carnival (Video)
Morning Edition on Carnival copyright (Video)

Noel and Mary Norton on Trinidad's Carnival

This interview with Noel and Mary Norton appeared in the book Noel Norton’s 20 Years of Trinidad Carnival , published in 1990 and currently out of print. Given the travails of modern Carnival, it is reproduced here as a reference point for how little has changed since then. Read More...

The Andros Factor

Andros Belfonte and I have very different views about what constitutes a career in photography. This post and the comments and Facebook threads that are linked to it offer some insight into what we both think about the way photography should be done today. Read More...

Andros chat

If you're not on Facebook, the transcript of the posts that sparked a discussion about the practice of modern professional photography is here. Read More...

On local photography, a 2012 overview

An overview and contextual positioning of the Art Society's photography retrospective Record : Art : Memory and other initiatives in 2012 that made it a stand-out year for photography in Trinidad and Tobago. Read More...

The Queen

A long overdue photography session with Athaliah Samuel brings me face to face with a very unique and interesting young professional on the rise. A discussion of technique and serendipity. Read More...

Photography as a vocation

Why do we photograph? It's not a question that seems to come up very often, but it's one that's worth asking ourselves constantly.
Some thoughts about my own motivations and considerations on the matter are here... Read More...

Asked, answered

Two young photographers put some interesting questions to me. With their permission, I answer publicly in the hope that the responses might be of use to some one else. Read More...
Web Analytics