I was raised a Flea Market kid. Most of my almost 40 years have been spent getting up early on Sunday mornings and pawing over other people’s stuff. Flea Markets are my Church and I was raised on the religion of Bargaining.
Every once in a while I’ll find a stellar purchase. It’s rare, but every so often you find something that makes you shake your head and go “how the hell did I find this for *this* price?”
That happened this season.
One of the first sellers we came upon had a large silver photo carrying case.
Kinda like this one.
It was sealed, but I recognized that it’s the type of case that wedding photographers usually have gear in, so I ventured over and opened it up.
Inside was a whole bunch of stuff:
There was a shade hood for a medium format camera, a basic light bracket, and a Mamiya grip. But the most important thing I saw was a complete Lumedyne portable lighting kit; the flash, the battery, the battery extender, the cords, manuals, trigger voltage adjuster. . . everything.
I got that chill down my back that you only get when you see something that is unbelievable. I quickly closed the case again and ran up to the guy selling the kit. I asked him how much for the case of photography lighting.
He said “What? What photography lighting?”
“The stuff in that metal case” I said, walking over and pointing at the case.
“Oh” he said. “I didn’t know what that stuff was. Huh.”
So I asked him again “Okay. How much for it?”
he said “I really don’t know much about it. Make me an offer.”
At this point I was buying blindly. The Lumedyne kit was made in the mid 1990’s, and it has a portable battery. That battery could be dead. The flash tube could be busted. The whole thing could very well be trashed and I don’t have any way of knowing it. I figured I’d make a low offer and if the flash was trash, at least I could get a cheap flash adapter and maybe I could find a use for the shade hood and adapt it to my Hasselblad.
“How about 20 bucks for the whole case?” I asked.
He kinda looked at me “Hrm. How about $25?”
“Does the stuff work?” I asked.
“. . . How about 20 bucks?” he came back with. If he didn’t know if it worked, I wasn’t going to go over 20 bucks.
I padded a $20 in his hand and walked off with the case.
I had a hard time concentrating the rest of the Flea Market. All I wanted to do was see if this stuff worked.
Finally, when I got home, I plugged the battery in and let it charge for a bit, not knowing if it was toast or if it still worked.
I hooked up the flash, got it all ready, and turned on the battery pack. It made that high-pitched hum of powering up. This might work.
I popped the flash – it went off perfectly. I did it again and again, and nothing went wrong. The battery still had some juice left.
I brought it to the studio the next day, and it worked perfect with my radio triggers.
I just found a Lumedyne portable strobe kit for $20. New these things are in the hundreds of dollars.
This is why I love flea markets. You never know what you will find, even on a week-to-week basis.
All that searching eventually pays off if you look long enough.