I like the laser pointer idea.
One thing I find VERY annoying is when I am using my F80, is that stupid low-light assist light. Some person at Nikon decided to make it an insanely bright white-light.
Which totally screws up shots when you don't want people to notice. They all turn to see what the light is!
I like the assist light on my flash which is RED and very unobtrusive.
Red is the way to go. I am thinking of coating the assist light red on the camera so that when I am shooting fast film I can focus easily and unnoticed.
Ok, me again. For low light focusing, I've modified my Stroboframe Reggie (QR-66) with other strobo parts to have 3 hot shoes + metz mount. On one of the shoes sits a 10W rechargable video light. Great for focusing in low light.
Also, when I shoot my Hasselblad without a bracket, I have a modified white LED flashlight with a thin Roscolux filter chunk and old cold shoe off of a *flash*. I also added a touch pad type switch from Digikey and a thin piece of flexible pc board. With this sitting on my prism (or on the side shoe if I'm shooting WL) and the switch double-sided taped to my winder, I can touch the pad to light up my "color-corrected" focusing light. Once I get the focus corrrect, I slide my finger off the pad and onto the shutter release. (Made it for $20.00)
I tried the laser pointer idea about 2 years ago and I realized how rude it was to point a laser diode at somebody's face when you want to focus for the eyes! (not to mention how pissed off somebody gets from the 1mw laser in their eyes!)
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (docholliday @ May 9 2003, 12:08 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> I tried the laser pointer idea about 2 years ago and I realized how rude it was to point a laser diode at somebody's face when you want to focus for the eyes! (not to mention how pissed off somebody gets from the 1mw laser in their eyes!) </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
Yep - I guess that would be pretty rude! I never used one (laser pointer) for portraits. Portraits either get hot lights or my big strobes that have really decent modeling lamps in them. I had to laugh about the laser on the forhead though - Bad plan indeed. I did a few weddings - I think it would take an enormous amount of money or a very weak moment for me to accept one again. When i do portraits, it is not for them (although I give them a favorite) - It is strictly for what the portrait is for me - like a landscape or still life. Most of the portraits I do are LF. They know it will be a lot of holding still and waiting for me to get it just right. And that there will be a lot of light on them in the process. Often my DOF is less than 1/2 inch in a portrait - so they need to be very relaxed - I need that closest eye to be right on. It is what I like right now anyway.
One good low-light focus trick I've heard, replicating the old Kalart Focuspot trick, is to aim a laser pointer through the eyepiece of a rangefinder on a rangefinder camera (obviously not aimed at someone's face). This will project two spots, and when the spots are in line on the subject, the subject is in focus. I've tried it with a small LED flashlight, and it works in principle, but one spot is fuzzy and one is sharp, making it pretty imprecise. The laser pointer is supposed to solve the fuzziness problem.
BTW, forgot to mention...don't EVER take a laser pointer to a mafia wedding...http://apug.org/forum/html/emoticons/smile.gif
My favorite tricks don't have much to do with exposure, at least not directly:
1. I always carry a keychain size flashlight, either a Mini Mag-Lite or one of the nifty newish LED lights. Even if I'm not shooting at night or indoors there are times when extremely contrasty bright sunshine can make it difficult to read the aperture ring, shutter speed dial, etc.
2. I *nearly* always carry a bubble level. Mine's an inexpensive, small but reliable Credo Pocket Level with two bubble vials.
3. When shooting 35mm I note (either directly on the cassette, on a bit of masking tape or a note tucked into the film can with the film) the EI, date and which developer I had in mind for a particular shooting session.
My favourite dodge is loading 2 120 films on 1 spiral-when you've loaded 1, stick down the tape on the end attaching the film to the backing paper-this is the crucial bit as it stops the films riding over each other-and then push it all the way round until it stops. Then load the 2nd film using the ratchet. Just tried it and it works great.
A silly one
I've just purchased a cheap digital count down timer (used for cooking, I believe) that beeps when it reaches zero.
Very handy for film tank inversion every X minutes, 'telling' it's time to take the paper out of the dev tray, etc.
Black Dog, a picture would be worth a 1000 words.
windshield wipers make the best squeegees :)