Some of my favorite things: the Lenskirt
Once in a while you come across a problem that seems simple to solve, yet that perfect solution turns out to be elusive.
For instance, when taking photographs or video from the upper floor of a building, it's not uncommon to discover that the windows don't open, causing no end of issues because of the reflections from lights and objects inside the room behind the camera. Modern multiple-pane thermal glass only complicates things by causing multiple reflections via refraction.
Turning out all the lights and drawing the blinds sometimes works, but, as evidenced in photo No. 2 in the collage below (taken from my room at the Omni Hotel in Dallas a few months ago), it's an imperfect method. In that case, light was seeping in unnoticed from beneath the door to the hallway from my room.
Turns out that Aaron Pinto and the folks from Lenskirt had experienced the same issue, and created an elegant solution. A Lenskirt is a cone-shaped piece of heavy black fabric, with a drawstring at the narrow end and suction cups at each of the corners of the wide end. Those suction cups stick on the window you want to shoot through, and the drawstring snugs around your lens (see photo 1 below). Simple, effective, and convenient. Folded, it takes up no more space in your bag than an extra T-shirt, and I keep one in the laptop compartment of my camera backpack all the time and don't even notice that it's there. And it works really well, allowing you to leave some lights on in the room so you're not banging up your shins against unfamiliar furniture (see photo No. 3, but don't expect to see any shins).
Candidly, I first thought the Lenskirt was a bit too expensive, but then I considered the costs involved in sourcing the proper thick fabric that won't let any light through, then acquiring or borrowing a good sewing machine, and the trial-and-error involved, and decided it wasn't that expensive after all. The things are made very well. Despite having seen several years of regular use, my two Lenskirts don't look any different than when I first got them.
My only issue with the ones I have were that they sometimes seemed a bit small, especially if I wasn't using a long lens and couldn't get my tripod or camera bracket close enough to the window to allow the Lenskirt to span from the lens to window pane. I contacted Aaron with a suggestion for a larger version only to learn that he was in the final stages of manufacturing that very thing. I'm now the happy owner of one of the first larger Lenskirts. It only arrived recently so I've not yet had a chance to use it, but I've several trips coming up soon and will report back with the results.