Jill Bliss Mini Journals

Jill Bliss Mini Journals

I got my first Jill Bliss journal when I started my first photography class. I needed a notebook to write down my exposures and notes on my photos, and what better than this pretty little book with flowers on every page? Even with it’s small size it didn’t fit well into my smallest camera bag; I had to put it on top of the camera, making it a little bit harder to get my camera out on the fly. But then I discovered that Jill Bliss had even smaller journals, and in a pack of four no less!

Each journal is 5 inches by 3.5 inches, is more than small enough to fit in the front pocket of my Crumpler 5 million dollar home, but is large enough to still be able to write in comfortably. Each journal has a different pattern inside – the green journal is lined, the blue journal has gridded pages, the purple journal has dots and the orange journal has plain pages with flowers along the edges. The inside of all four journals is white with a light purple print. While the interiors are not quite as nice as the Jill Bliss Native Flowers journal, where each page is beautifully printed in color, these little notebooks are still very pleasant to write in. And for portability, they’re top notch.

NOTE: The journal set that I have is available from Barnes and Noble, but is no longer available directly from Jill Bliss.  However, Jill Bliss has a new version that is slightly larger at 5.75 inches by 4 inches.

Crumpler, and Why I Love It

Crumpler in Red

When I think about taking my camera with me, sometimes I cringe. Do I really want to bring my camera THERE? What if something happens to it? The solution to these fears is having a really great camera bag. For me that means a bag that will keep my camera safe but at the same time give me easy access to it. A bag that can hold whatever gear I need to have with me, and that won’t make it easy for thieves to steal it. And I want the bag to look nice too.

The line of camera bags by Crumpler has fit my needs perfectly. I own two of their bags: the 5 million dollar home and the 6 million dollar home. These bags do not look like camera bags, they look like basic over-the-shoulder bags that could pass for messenger bags. They’re made of a water-resistant nylon shell to keep your camera safe from the elements, and the inside is super-soft no-pill fleece to prevent scratches. The dividers for the camera gear are all fully configurable so you can arrange in the way that works best for you. They have both a shoulder strap and a top handle, and I’ve found I use both fairly often, but if I wanted to remove the shoulder strap I can do so simply by lifting a piece of velcro.

The 5 million dollar home is great for a small or mid-size SLR and a spare lens or two, with two dividers and extra pockets for your wallet, lens cleaning cloth, etc. Generally I carry my 50D with a lens attached, one additional lens, my remote, a lens cloth, moo cards, basic necessities (wallet, keys, blackberry) and my “just in case” items (a Clif Nectar bar, kleenex, lip balm). There’s still enough room to add sunglasses, a small notebook and an ultralight rain jacket if I need them. All this in a bag that looks almost too small to be a work bag and that could pass for a purse if I needed.

The 6 million dollar home is quite a bit bigger, but not so large as to be cumbersome. It has two large dividers and two smaller dividers that are great for supporting a small-to-midsize SLR with the lens pointing down. I can fit both my 50D and my film rebel inside with all four lenses, two battery chargers, remote, etc. This is the bag I bring when I have no idea what I need, or when I just want to bring the basics but need to store a sweater or heavier jacket that doesn’t fit in the smaller bag, or I want to pack a lunch.

Crumpler also makes great backpacks for when you need to bring a laptop or just want a more even weight distribution. And they make smaller bags for compact cameras or for organizing gear within another bag. Since I take my camera everywhere, a great bag is a must. For me, this is it.