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Photography tips

A journey in Photography and sharing of how I go about taking various types of photos. Discussions include software and camera equipment and how to make the most of your equipment in a given situation.

Supporting structures

04/07/2008 03:29

Well, tripods to be exact.  In the last week I finally got around to going out and getting a new tripod. For too long I have been getting by with a good tripod that has a lousy head on it and finally did something about it.

I went along to the local store with my Camera with my biggest, heaviest lens attached to it to find a suitable combo for my needs. I came home with a Mafrotto 190XPROB with an 804RC2 Head and a couple of extra Quick Release plates. My needs for a tripd are fairly modest and the biggest lens and Camera is a total of less than 3Kg in weight. I wanted a tripod that was going to be sturdy, give me a lot of options in relation to height and not too heavy in itself. 

The 190XPROB is made from alloy and has 3 section legs plus a center pole that can easily be moved from vertical to horizontal.  The legs can spread to 3 positions  to allow the ultimate in flexibility. With the center pole horizontal, and the legs at their maximum spread I can get way down to 8cm from the ground or right up to around 165cm high as well.

The 804RC2 Head is a 3 way pan/tilt mechanism. The head has a couple of large easy to twist handles - one for pan and one for tilt, along with another knob to rotate the head.

On the night I bought it, I headed into Adelaide to take some night photos of the Northern Lights - which was a wondeful display as part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts. I had used my old tripod to get some photos the week before and was not really happy with the results. On my first outing, I found that the head was really easy to use to allow me to align everything - even in the dark. This was a huge step-up from my older tripod.

So, yes, I was pretty happy with all aspects of the new tripod and head.

This afternoon I went back to a location I recently visited with my new tripod in order to take a few pictures of something that caught my eye. First off a couple of photos, then I'll explain.

The first photo is the shot I had visualised and wanted to get, and the 2nd shot I took to show How I got it.

For interest sake the top photo was shot at 100ISO, f9 1/50sec at 11mm using center weighted average metering.

I wanted to get in nice and close to the Grass tree  and have it fill the frame. Additionally, I wanted only sky in the background.

So, the tripod allowed me to position my Camera quite close to the base of the grass tree on the uneven ground on the side of the hill. I positioned the center column horizontally (as I wanted a portrait shot). One leg was extended almost horizontally and the other 2 were set to the required height. Once I had the right spot, it was a fairly simple matter to adjust the pan/tilt to get the image square. I was able to get the phoo with just the sky in the background. I guess it also hels that my camera has Live view so I could see what I was shooting without getting down on the ground as well.

My old tripod would not have helped me to get this shot at all - as it does not have the flexibility in terms of setup as the new one. Additionally, without a tripod would have meant I would have had to lie on my back and try and get the shot.

So, a good tripod should allow you to get the shot in any conditions and I think that mine has already been a great investment. 

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