Friday, September 17, 2010

Tripods, what will they think of next?

I am a big advocate of tripods. I will use one unless it gets in the way. Tripods for me are not
an accessory but an essential tool for all types of photography!

Let me put my landscape photographer’s hat on.
Tripods are more than a form of image stabilization. It is a platform on which you can place
your camera to help you compose and arrange the elements in your photograph. I do find my
compositions evolve and as I work I can systematically position the camera to get the
composition I want. To me not using one would be like a painter trying to paint a landscape
without an easel! It’s easier with the right equipment!

I also have several other reasons to use a tripod. I think of a tripod as a third hand, a
place I can safely leave my camera for a minute when I have other things to tend to.
All of the long exposure photography I do is impossible without a tripod, impossible.

I also think of a tripod as a form of protection if needed. I have come across a few shady
characters during my wanderings over the years and there is also the possibly of being
confronted by an aggressive dog or wild animal. If I had to I could immediately snap the
quick release removing my camera and wield a mighty weapon. Hope to never have to do that.

The Great Outdoors
As a lover of the Great Outdoors I also have a fascination with great adventure stories.
The tales of Ernest Shackleton and Heinrich Harrer are two of my favourites. It is through
this fascination combined with my new found love for foreign films that I came across the
Akira Kurosawa film “Dersu Uzala”.

Dersu Uzala is based on the book “Dersu the Trapper” published in 1923 (it was out of print
for 50 years).The author V. K. Arseniev tells of his travels in the eastern reaches of
Siberia with Dersu, a native hunter who acted as a guide for Arsenyev's surveying crew
from 1902 to 1907, saving them from starvation and cold. Arseniev was amazed, as many
who watch the movie or read the book are, by this man’s resourcefulness and connection
with nature.

Dersu’s Den
Upon watching the movie I was stuck by “the Blizzard on the Lake” scene. Arseniev and Dersu
head out to explore a lake, expecting to be back to camp by evening they travelled lightly.
A snow storm arises and they become lost and their lives are in peril. Dersu in his ingenuity
constructs a shelter using a surveyor’s tripod saving both of their lives.

Dersu Den
This is a shot I captured from the movie. Unfortunately the book provides very little
detail and no picture of the construction!

I had a chat will a local man a while back who was telling me he went for a hike with
some friends on a local trail recently. The trail was said to be a one day hike and they
were delayed and had to night over and weren’t prepared. Fortunately it was a mild time
of year and they made it out safely.

You never know when you’ll need a tripod!

Can you think of any other reasons to use a tripod? Love to hear them!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The “Photographers Disease”

Do you have the “Photographers Disease”? You know where that great photograph is always
one equipment purchase away. Don’t fret actually it’s not an official disease you’ve
probably just been swooned by all the marketing hype we all experience these days!


I was in the car with my daughter a while back and I told her about a new lens I’d like
to get. She told me that she was talking to a friend who is also a photographer and he
said that photographers always in want of equipment, ``its like a disease``. Got to
agree I sometimes wondered about this myself. I was thinking about the new
Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS II USM lens. Pinch, pinch, back to reality!

My Opinion

Case in point the 10 stop ND filter. There’s been a storm to buy these over the last
couple of years. I’ve even seen some comments on-line saying that because of the large
demand in these filters supply is low. Sounds like two reasons not to buy one!:-)
In light of this I am surprised to find that I have not seen one, in my opinion, “great”
colour photograph taken with these filters. Now, perhaps surprisingly(?), I have seen
many great black and white photographs taken using these filters. Take for example my
friend Joel Tjintjelaar's work. Excellent!

Besides on many occasions I use Mother Nature as my neutral density filter. Thanks Mom!

Rhythm and Blues

If someone knows of a “great” colour photograph taken with this filter can you post the
link here so we can all have a look? There has got to be some out there, I’d love to see one!

Ironically just yesterday I was thinking of a possible use for this filter. I want to make
an image based on a verse from a “Police” song, “Spirits in the material world”.
I visualize a shot of people meandering about in a shopping district. I want the commercial
district distinct and the moving people, ghost like. I think a shutter speed of perhaps
1/10 of a second would be a starting point. Then again depending on the ambient light I
might be able to stack a couple of polarizer’s to get what I need. I already got those!

Oh and if you think a Lens Baby or HDR is the path to great photography, good luck your
going to need it! Unfortunately these things often take a person away from focusing on what
makes a good photographer/photograph, technique, composition and lighting!


Equipment should be put in perspective. If you just want to have some fun and make some great
images then many of the compact cameras will do. Some even have great macro and video
features included!

Personally the last print I sold to our provincial art gallery was taken with a Canon Powershot.
Not one of my fancy and expensive DSLR’s!

The End of the Line

For a professional who does landscapes, portraits or weddings a good body with a 24-70 2.8
and a 70-200 2.8 would be great tools to get you just about everything you need and leave
lots of room for the creative process! In the real world it’s not going to make any difference
if you use a Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM lens or the new Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS II USM lens.

It’s not about the equipment, it’s about you! Enjoy your photography!