Friday 23 January 2009

Long Lenses- Part 3-Getting Down

Being a wildlife photographer normally means shooting low down to the ground as there is nothing worse than feeling like you are looking down at your subject when looking at the final product,Eye level is the name of the game, Now using long heavy lenses for long periods of time mean that some kind of support is needed, Its rare for me not to use some support as sharp images are what count and supporting your lens will help when composing an image, There are 3 types of support that i use, The first is the tripod, A nature photographer needs a tripod that can be used at ground level without a long centre column, I use a Gitzo 1548 which is now superceded by the 5541-fantastic tripods made of carbon fibre with a fantastic price to match, For those who do not want to spend so much money i would recommend the Manfrotto 055 pro,This is a great tripod and will comfortably hold lenses up to 500F4, I always have a beanbag in my car and in my opinion there is no better support,
There is no way that you will get a soft image if you use a beanbag, The one i use is bt wildlifewatchingsupplies, Its a double beanbag so sits securly when shooting in a car or equally good flat on the ground, Mine weighs a hefty 8KG when filled with rice so not the best thing to lug around and if you want one for walking with then by the smaller version, There are 2 inner bags that go into the outer bag so you can actually just take a bag out and use it individually, I always take one when travelling and fill it when i arrive, If i am in India or Africa i give the rice away to locals when i leave,

The 3rd and latest support i have been using for the last few months is the Skimmer pod which is available from the Naturescapes web site, Basically its like a platic frying pan which you add your tripod head, Its designed for use on flat surfaces like a beach and its works perfectly, I find a subject on the beach like a bird or seal and then lay flat and push the 'pod' with camera attached towards the subject, By being flat to the ground its amazing how close you can get without spooking the subject and the low point of view really helps give the image some impact,You could actually use a frying pan with a beanbag in it or convert a frying pan which i know some people do, Buying the pod is the easy way out and it works perfectly


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