A Lantana flower head prior to opening. The entire head with all the buds as you see it in the picture has a diameter of 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch.
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Since this thread was posted I have taken the time to look into some insurance, and some from the providers that some of you have mentioned on this thread, and have found that it is a major challenge to find something affordable that can cover more than, say, $10K in equipment. My homeowners policy rider, in the amount to cover my equipment, would be nearly $2,000 per year but would not cover more than $10K in losses or damage outside of my home, which is where I would need the insurance coverage the most....I checked with Hiscox and their insurance would only cover up to $10K...anyone out there got anything that would cover, say $50K worth of equipment at a cost say $1,000 per year instead of $2,000...
I you join the North American Nature Photographers Association (NANPA), you can sign up for insurance through Rand/Chubb. My one claim experience was very positive and it is true commercial photography insurance so there's no need to worry about affecting your homeowner's policy or having a claim rejected due to "commercial use" or anything like that. It's $0.0245 per dollar of insurance (you determine the full replacement value) so $10k of insurance would be $245 a year + $100 annual NANPA membership fee - $345. I have well over $10k worth of gear insured and I'm sure George Lepp and others (who use their insurance) do as well. NANPA's pretty cool, too, so the $100 isn't a waste at all.
Unfortunately, none of the State farm agents in Houston agreed to a stand-alone policy. I think it differs by location and the agent involved.
Do you have a homeowners/renters policy with them? I'm pretty sure that's the only way they'll write a Personal Articles policy. It's the same policy that covers jewelry, fine art, etc., above the basic limits on the primary policy, so if you have home/rental coverage with them, and the agent still won't write a PA policy, I'd get a new agent or call State Farm directly.
You are right, they will write a personal articles policy WITH a renter's/homeowners policy. However, they didn't agree to a stand-alone PA policy as miah mentioned in his post. I have heard State Farm agents do so elsewhere, but not in Houston.
I don't need a renter's since I live in a high-security apartment for doctors and scientists with police surveillance and close-circuit cameras, so I am trying to get an insurance just for the photography equipment against accidental damage and security away from home, as is available in the UK (for non-professionals). I guess I might end up getting a renter's after all, but I would like to see if there are any options.
Talk to your agent and add it on to your homeowner's and car insurance for best discount. They will have you list everything, including prices and serial numbers. Be sure to get a rider that provides for replacement not pro rata payout for loss/theft/damage, etc.
I really recommend you buy a copy of Syl Arena's Speedliter's Handbook before buying anything else!
I have a pair of 24" Ezyboxes, and a 12x48" stripbox. They're all very robust, the Ezyboxes are easier to set up (they just spring open and you attach the diffusion panel(s) with Velcro. That size (up to ~600 in2 surface area) is about as big as you'd want to go with a single Speedlite. Bigger modifiers need a monolight or a bracket to hold multiple flashes. For the 24" boxes, I have the fabric grids to limit spill, and one set of shaped diffusers (I really only use the round one, for catchlight shape).
For the light stands, as with everything, there are cheaper and more expensive ways to go. For outdoor use, you'll want something tall, and strong enough to take a sandbag on the base (softboxes can catch the wind like a sail, although umbrellas are worse). I have several Manfrotto light stands (two each of 1052BAC, 1051BAC, and 1004BAC). The 1051 is indoor only (small footprint), the 1052 is ~8', likely still short for outdoor use. All of them are robust, they fold flat (vs. round like a tripod) for easy transport/storage, and stands of the same size lock together when folded.
One stand you might consider is the Manfrotto 420B - it's a combination light stand (12') and boom. A boom is great because you can get a light out over the subject, and the Combi Boom lets you do that when you need to, and works as a normal light stand otherwise. The only reason I don't have one is that I have the Manfrotto 024 boom, which I mount on a 1004BAC and sometimes use to hold a monolight. The 420B will hold a Speedlite and 24" box fine.