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Sunday Leftovers

October 28, 2012
Smoky Rubyspot

© jmillerphoto.com – Smoky Rubyspot

I admit to not being very creative this morning.  Actually, I’m really tired.  I stayed up way too late last night assembling what has evoloved into a semi-annual image submission for my friends in the Concho Valley Photography Club.  Great group of folks and one of these days I’m going to make it back for a meeting–I don’t think I’ve been back in over a year.  Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans.

Rather than trying to be creative on a morning when I’m not, may I point you to this Photo Focus article on tripods.  There is much wisdom in what is said there:  Buy a good tripod.  Where I will disagree with the author, but only gently, is that often we don’t know what we really need in a tripod until we actually use the thing.

I have been lucky that in my formative years of shooting I have only had four tripods.  Well, more specifically, four sets of tripod legs.  Much like the author, the first one was a freebie and was wholly unusable.  The second was a low-priced Velbon tripod, but at least it had a quick release plate that worked most of the time and I was much more likely to use it.  I sold it at a garage sale.  And so the circle of life continues :)

About 10 years ago I got my first really good tripod.  A heavy, solid, Bogen/Manfrotto 3021 Pro tripod and it served and continues to serve me well.  But gosh darn it is heavy.  Not something one would want to go hiking with.  If I’m going to be in a blind for a long time and the car is relatively close to the blind, I will take it.  Otherwise, it stays home.

Today I use a Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 with a 322RC2 head.  It works very well when I’m hiking–lightweight but sturdy.  I love the 190CXPRO4.  Carbon fiber goodness.  It has taken 2 years of abuse and keeps coming back for more.

I have had the 322RC2 for about 5 years now, but it is due to be replaced with a more traditional ball head.  As much as I love the trigger action on it, it is not as stable as a ball head and has limitations in terms of how far I can tilt up.  I often am adjusting 1-2 tripod legs down so I can aim skyward.

But I probably will end up investing in two heads when I finally make the move.  One will be a standard ball head for my hiking activities and the second will be a gimbal head for bird work inside of blinds.  And that is the great thing about interchangeable heads and legs–you don’t need to buy a whole new tripod just to get the features you want.  They can, and in my opinion, should be purchased separately to ensure you get exactly what you think you need the first (or second, or third) time.

I’m hoping to get out for an early afternoon shoot today before returning to the grind tomorrow.  Perhaps some java will push the sleep out and refresh the creative side.

About the Image:
This Smoky Rubyspot (Hetaerina titia) was shot at Medina River Natural Area off of the same perch as my life list add from an earlier blog entry.  The difference here was light and proximity.  The soft autumn light was much better than my first attempt and this time I was able to get much closer than before.  Standard Gear, ISO 400, f/16 @ 1/50th.  I couldn’t have done that handheld.  Not in a million years.  But the tripod/head combination worked very nicely for me.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2012 10:46 am

    I have an 8-lb Gitzo with a great ball head which was great for my view camera, Bronica ETRS, portrait studio, etc. I’ve carried it hiking, but I’m too old for that nonsense. I have an el cheapo Canon Deluxe 300 $40 at B&H with quick release and I’m totally happy. One of the few el cheapo lightweights that was tall enough for me to use (62″) without bending over every time. I miss the ball head but I hardly notice its 2.5 lb weight while hiking. It ain’t perfect, but it does the job.

    • October 28, 2012 11:52 am

      My old 3021 Pro is a dandy, stable tripod. But like your Gitzo it is just way too much in the field. Of course, my distinguished friends in the photo club will often remind me that “back in the day” they would carry twice as much weight hiking twice as far. And I believe that they did it in the snow, up hill (both ways…) ;) The 3021 also gets mighty hot in the sun. Thanks for stopping by.

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