The Making of Without Bound

I've received a handful of questions about how we made Without Bound and I think the answer deserves a blog post. Here we go!

I'll start with the budget. We travelled 4500 miles, burning approximately 150 gallons of fuel at an average cost of $3.50 per gallon. During the 14 day trip, most nights we either slept in the car in parking lots or tent camped on public land.  We also stayed at developed campsites with shower facilities six nights costing an average of $15 per night. Here are the numbers:

Fuel $525

Campsite Fees $90

Total Budget = $615

Fueling up in southern California. 2012

Fueling up in southern California. 2012

Next: the cameras. We used two Canon T2i DSLR's while sharing three lenses, a Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II, a Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II. I've owned my T2i since 2010 and it's still going strong. I'm amazed by how well such a plastic device has held up to heavy use. The T2i was discontinued in 2012 so the current equivalent is the Canon T5i.

For lighting, we used what the environment gave us, and paid dearly for it.  There were lots of situations that really needed lighting but I only owned hot lights and knew that access to power would be either extremely limited or nonexistent. As a result, we ended up with a lot of noisy, underexposed shots that had to be boosted significantly in post.

Audio was recorded with a Tascam DR-40 field recorder. I love this recorder but we did have a few problems. On the first day in Bob's camp, I accidentally over-torqued the headphone jack, broke the solder and was left unable to monitor in-ear. For the remainder of the trip we relied solely on the meters which was very unsettling. We were also using a DIY windscreen for the DR-40 which worked well for the most part. In a handful of shots with heavy wind gusts we got some rumble but didn't realize it because we weren't monitoring in-ear. 

All post-production was completed using Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects and Audition on a Mid-2010 MacBook Pro.

That was a very brief overview but I am happy to answer any other questions. Please feel free to ask in the comments or send me an email to


Without Bound - Perspectives on Mobile Living (Documentary)

This project started the summer of 2012 when Aaron Harlan and I traveled through New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah to meet and interview a fascinating group of people who choose to live in vehicles rather than traditional dwellings. As a personal interest project, it has been repeatedly postponed for other priorities like work, illness and family issues to the extent that I often wondered if it would ever be completed.

I am pleased to announce that the finished video will be available Friday, November 21st at 6:00pm CST on YouTube. You can check out the trailer below.

You can learn more about the people here:

Bob Wells -

Randy Vining -

Josh and Meisha Manwaring -

Steve Ballee' -

Profile Pictures - Truth In Advertising

The finished product. This is much closer to what I look like in person.

It seems like it was only a few years ago (the key word is "seems") someone would ask my age, I would tell them and they would say "no way, I thought you were twenty-something." Now when people find out my age they get a confused, awkward expression. Apparently they think I am in my fifties (or more).

Anyway, I was looking at my LinkedIn profile image and realized that it was a poor representation of what I look like today. I'm a big advocate for truth in advertising so you know what that means. Time for a living room photo session!

The Set-Up


Two compact fluorescent fixtures in soft boxes, one above the camera and one below, were used to light me. These were both part of a cheap three light kit I have been using for video projects for about three years. How cheap? The whole kit was $150. A third fluorescent soft box was illuminating the painting in the background.


I used my rusty-but-ever-trusty Canon T2i with a Canon 50mm f1.8.


  • Shutter 1/125
  • Aperture f2.8
  • ISO 100
  • Manual White Balance


It needed just a touch of Photoshop. I fixed a few (ok, many) blemishes, removed a yellow glow from the window curtains and cropped the image because I've heard it's hip to be square.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Intuos Creative Pen & Touch Tablet

I think I'm in love.

I think I'm in love.

I just picked up the Intuos Creative pen & touch tablet at my local Best Buy.  It was ten bucks more than I would have paid through Amazon but I was happy to pay extra to have it in hand today.

So far I am LOVING it!  The touch feature works beautifully, essentially giving you a giant magic trackpad. Most of the native OSX gestures seem to work flawlessly. I haven't looked in to customization but I imagine it's possible (I'll get back to you if not). The pen & touch tablet costs $20 more than the pen only model and it is money well spent.