Author Archives: jimkoepnick

It’s all in the bag…

The search for the perfect camera bag seems to be an eternal quest for a photographer. When I started out as a professional photographer, my camera bag of choice was the Domke bag. I could fit just about every camera and lens I needed in that bag. The downside was about 30 pounds of gear hanging from my shoulder. Domke also came out with a satchel bag, which became my daily carry all for business. All the business essentials that wouldn’t fit in a camera bag. When traveling, I could even slip in a camera body and lens into the satchel. My Domke gear saw me through decades of use at the local newspaper and EAA.

Then came ThinkTank bags. First the airport roller- ideal for traveling. An industry standard. And they had a satchel style bag too, which became my daily carry-all for business. When traveling, I could even slip in a camera body and lens. Hmmm…I seem to be repeating myself.

The downside as time went by was how much I was cramming into the bag. And then finding it when I needed it. And lugging it all around like a briefcase. And while it was sized to fit under an airline seat, when it was fully loaded for a trip, it just barely fit under an airline seat.

Enter MyGoFlight.  They sell fantastic iPhone and iPad accessories for use in an aircraft. And, as I found out during my 2015 AirVenture assignment for them, they also sell flight bags.

In my mind, satchels/briefcases are for daily business…flight bags are for flying in small planes. I actually have a flight bag- a huge flight bag, from Sporty’s. It carries everything I could ever need when I’m flying.  But I never really carry it anymore. It’s too big. But this MyGoFlight bag was different. It was a stylish backpack styled bag that struck me as being more versatile than an ordinary flight bag.

And I was impressed that Patty Wagstaff had gotten her own MyGoFlight flight bag long before I was set up for a photo shoot of her for MyGoFlight. I was impressed Mike Goulian had gotten his own MyGoFight flight bag long before I was set up for a photo shoot of him for MyGoFlight.  Hmmm…I seem to be repeating myself. Again.

It was during the photo shoot with Patty that she opened up her Flight Bag PLC Pro 2016 flight bag and showed me the interior features. Sure, all those pockets and compartments are great in a flight bag. But they might also make a great carry-all bag to replace my ThinkTank satchel. And…since it was a backpack style with options for sling strap or backpack straps, it just might help me distribute the weight in a way that would be easier to carry.

Let’s put the conclusion right here…this has become the perfect daily “briefcase” for me. Goodbye ThinkTank…hello MyGoFlight. And here’s why:


Rear compartment of MyGoFlight Flight Bag PLC Pro 2016.

I’m frustratingly organized. The rear compartment of this bag holds all of my computer necessities- 15” MacBookPro; iPad; card reader; external hard drive; chargers and cables; spare phone case; backup battery pack. All in little zippered pockets. Very organized. And the bag is set up for going through airport security without having to remove your laptop. Just unzip both sides of the case and let the bag go through the screener. Whether pilot or photographer, this rear section is perfect for keeping all of your electronic gear organized and easy to find.

The front compartment is similar to that on many backpacks and cases- an area for business cards, pens, keys, earphones, sunglasses. Again, whether pilot or photographer, perfect for keeping all of your gear organized and easy to find.

There are small compartments on both sides of the bag, but what I like most is the small zipped pocket on the top of the bag. It is the ideal size for my wallet and phone. And the perfect spot to place it for easy access when traveling.

Top front pocket is great for phone and wallet.

Top front pocket is great for phone and wallet.

Which brings us to the large middle section, where you can let your creativity run wild.

My pilot friend Jessica has a similar bag, and uses this section for her headset, MyGoFlight iPad mounts, GPS puck, charts. You know…all that pilot stuff.

For me, the photographer, I bought a padded insert to hold my camera and Sigma lenses. The zippered inside pocket has a mini tripod and iPhone mount accessories. This is what I keep in the bag every day.

If I’m on a business trip and traveling with all my camera equipment, I always like to keep one of my Nikon D5 camera bodies and a 70-200 Sigma lens in my briefcase just so I have my main gear with me.  More than enough room for that and more.

And if needed, plenty of room for a noise cancelling headset and light jacket on top of the gear.

I couldn’t get all of that in my previous briefcase. And this bag fits comfortably under an airline seat.

And looks cool. I’ve had people stop me in an airport and ask where they can get a bag like mine. 

And whether with the sling strap or the backpack strap is easy to carry. Which my back is thankful for.

And looks cool. Hmmm…am I repeating myself again.



The bag, and some really cool gear can be found at:


PR…and all that Jazz- Oshkosh Gallery Walk at Becket’s

blog2Few things are more difficult than picking photos for a photo gallery show. Mind you, not because there are so many “great” photos to choose from, but each photo should compliment, as well as contrast the others. And maybe from the perspective of a photographer, after you have shot a photo you like, post processed it, and viewed it over the course of time, you get used to it and don’t find it special. So, that said, I have just about completed picking the photos for the July Oshkosh Gallery Walk show at Becket’s in Oshkosh. It’s a mix of aviation images taken in my post-EAA career. And a mix it is. Not every image needs to be an in-your-face air to air with full prop circle. In fact, that was the last photo I added to the collection today. The files are now in process with Tim White at Image 360 in Oshkosh. If you get a chance to stop by Becket’s during the month of July, and like any of the images, Tim will print them for you.

Goodbye Henry O…

1618211_10202631775931641_1018402183_oThat’s Henry O in the back row. Second from the right. With the perfectly groomed hair.
That’s the Henry O we are all holding in our prayers tonight while he is still with us. 
As I look through photo after photo of the good old days with Henry at EAA, I’m struck with the thought that he was always in the back row. He was the “PR Guy”.
He did a lot of his work in the background, making Paul and EAA look their best.
And as I scan across photos of my ride in Frecce Tricolori, or Neil Armstrong, or Cliff Robertson, or getting to ride in a Huey chopper in the air show…it was Henry in the background. He wasn’t in the photos of us standing in front of the plane we just got to ride in, or the celebrity we just were photographed with. But it wouldn’t have happened for me in the foreground if Henry wasn’t in the background.
The “kids” in these cell phone days would never understand why, when we wanted to have a private conversation during Oshkosh, we turned our radios off. And then took the antenna off.
And then took the battery out. It was just one of our inside jokes. Just like sitting at Daniel’s after a long day at the convention and calling each other so Paul would overhear us and think we were still working at 11pm. Or the joke we would play on people acting like we were French and Henry was a famous French aerobatic pilot
Ah, the good old days.
Henry always did things with class. And style. There was a tradition to follow.
And at the loss of one of our comrades, we would adjourn to the local bar to commiserate.
Henry would order a drink and place it on the bar in front of us. And we would tell wonderful, and funny and touching stories until the ice had melted in the drink.
When I saw Henry at this year’s convention I asked him again about that tradition. So when Paul died, we took that tradition to Herbie’s Acee Deucee to celebrate and share all our good stories about “the boss”.
And so with sadness, yet tradition…we will gather one day soon at the Acee Deucee to tell stories about our beloved Henry, as the ice slowly melts in his drink.

Luke solos

1560474_10202679448123416_129357481_nRemember the word “family” as you read this…

…While you were sleeping this morning, a newly minted 16 year old was wide awake
preparing for a birthday he will always remember. Luke Lachendro was going to take
his road test for his driver’s license this morning. After, of coure, he completed
his first solo in the family Cub. 
It was dark outside when I arrived at Wisconsin Aviation at the Dodge County 
Airport. The smile on Luke’s face, however, lit up the inside of the FBO. As the 
minutes crept closer to dawn and engine start, friends and family started packing
the cheering section. The cold cheering section, I might add. 23 degrees, cold 
wind, dreary sky. After Luke’s dad, Ed (or should I say Eeeeeddddiiiieee, as I’ve
always called him) did a quick check of the condition with the Cub, Luke was on his own. 
With more confidence than I ever had at 16, Luke taxied to “20” and was off in a 
flash with the head wind. A quick circle of the airport and he floated the Cub in
for a landing. Or 2 landings, as Ed would kid him later, because of the wind. 
That memorable moment was over so quickly…but will be remembered for so long
of a time. Remembered by Luke. And remembered by his aviation family. Those of us
gathered there. And those keeping track on Facebook. Because we all are family. It
just seems to be that way for those with aviation in their blood. Just like we will
all follow Luke’s journey of flight and life.

Memorial Day





Memorial Day0002When I was maybe 9 or 10, Memorial Day meant a chance to see real veterans shoot real guns in the park in Omro.
And if I was lucky, I got to grab some of the brass that fell to the grass from their World
War II rifles. But at that age, in my young mind, war was comic books where Sgt. Rock always won and only
the bad guys died.


But the bad guys aren’t the only ones who die.
And so I stood surrounded by white marble stones, each engraved with a name, a date, and a war.


At first glance, it’s a beautiful pattern of stones and flags. Until you walk the rows.


And read the names. And they are no longer rows of white marble stones. They are people. Some
have flowers next to them. Some just have dandelions. A car pulls in and in the distant I can hear someone
talking to his father as he puts flowers next to one of the white stones.


They are people.


Not parades.
Or politicians.


But people. From so many wars. Father. Mother. Son. Daughter….


But also not forgotten if you walk past the stones and read the names.


Remembering Gregg…

JRK_0282_0935Always with us…

Levels of an idea

I’ve always thought of a photo idea being shot on several different levels. A quick definition is 1) documentation of the idea 2) refinement of the idea
but lacking the final composition or emotion…and 3). The shot that says what you felt and wanted to convey.

Here’s an example using a few photos of my mother. As mom got older, she got shorter, and eventually had trouble seeing over the dash of the car.
I kidded her about it but also had an idea for a photo that would illustrate it in a slightly humorous way.

I didn’t get the feeling that the shot would work from inside the car, so I decided to try to shoot it
from the outside. The first shot was after we got back from having coffee one afternoon. I had a 50mm 1.2L lens on my Canon 5D3 camera and
thought I could blur out the background and highlight her eyes looking over the top of the door.

Here’s the shot, but I didn’t think it achieved the feeling I was looking for. It didn’t touch that something inside me that makes me smile
when I look at it. The background, although blurred, is still distracting.



A few months later we were on our way for coffee in Oshkosh. I stopped off at home to pick up my camera. It was a nice summery day and
I was reminded of the photo of mom looking over the door. This time I grabbed a 500mm f4L lens on my Canon 1DX to try a different perspective.
I had mom put on a pair of my sunglasses and told her to look at me. The longer lens really blurred the background and brought attention
to just over half of mom’s head peaking over the window. I knew when I shot it that this was the photo
I was looking for and would convey the feeling I had.

Comparing the two photos, the second one is simpler, cleaner, and because of the compression of the 500mm lens, does a better job
of showing her face.


You never know when a photo of someone that’s in your heart will be the last. These were the last of mom from Monday. Despite being tired, she could still give me “the look” when she knew I was taking her picture and she didn’t want it taken. Or give me that devilish smile when she was about to say something with childish honesty. Mom passed peacefully in her sleep. In my heart she is trying out her wings without any pains or troubles now…zipping around, filled with wonder…and knowing she doesn’t have to worry about not being able to look over the steering wheel. 🙂


(Originally posted September 5, 2012)


My photos of mom always seem to capture comments about her spirit, her smile and her happiness.

But life is not always like that. As with anyone, mom has her ups and downs. And while I usually don’t photograph her downs, I did shoot this last week and thought it was worth sharing.

It was a quick snap from the iPad one afternoon in Planet Perk. Between forced smiles and laughs, mom had things on her mind. We had sold her car. She agreed to it. It had been in storage since November, and I took her everywhere she wanted to go. But……it was sold. Gone. And so was the freedom the car had represented to her. Even if she hadn’t driven in months. Even if it was a physical challenge for her to walk from her apartment to her car. Even if she knew she didn’t want to drive in Oshkosh with it’s new round -a-bouts…it still represented freedom to her. And now it was gone.I know I lament each small step in getting older. Sometimes it’s realizing I can actually forget something; sometimes it’s realizing my reactions are getting slower. Each of us have our own personal ways of getting smacked in the face by the reality of what getting older takes away from us. But the biggest whack might just be the loss of freedom when you can’t drive anymore. We can’t go to the store when we want groceries. We can’t just take a drive. We are dependant on someone.So this photo is now a reminder to me that at a significant moment like this in someone’s journey, the best thing to say is not say anything at all. Don’t give a list of all the practical reasons why this makes sense. Just be there. And maybe just take that person for a ride for no reason at all…just so they can feel the wind in their face…and a hint of freedom.  (Originally posted June 24, 2012)