Monday, March 9, 2009

I :heart: Tripod

On Feb 28th, 2009 in Akumal, Mexico, my beloved tripod was stolen off the beach by an evil tripod bandit while I was in the surf taking pictures of a bride and groom. I'll miss you, beloved friend.

Evan in the Carribean
by Kay Anderson of Frozen Moments Photography

The tripod (A Gitzo Basalt Reporter with a Markins M10 Ballhead) has already been replaced: I ordered its successor the moment I returned home. The only change this go around is I opted for the Really Right Stuff BH40 ballhead instead of the Markins. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

This may seem strange to some as tripods are usually not considered "sexy" by many of my contemporaries. Many of my colleagues' tripods serve primarily for extra rear-wheel traction in winter: dead weight in a car trunk. So why do I love my tripod so much?

First off, I didn't really love using a tripod until I got a really good one. My very first go with a tripod was a little Sunpack deal purchased before I went pro. It was clunky, wobbly, and drooped incessantly. My first "serious" tripod was a Giottos leg set with a Manfrotto ballhead. It was a step up, but the legs were clunky and the ballhead still drooped. Further, the plates were uncomfortable when used with a vertical grip, so I always took them off. That setup also wound up failing rather spectacularly, when in the space of a week the ballhead chipped and the legs split in half for no good reason.

After my $400 tripod setup failed, I decided to bite the bullet and go with the gold standard: Gitzo and an A-list ballhead.

One interesting thing is I'd always thought of tripod weight as a non-issue. I'm a big macho former SF-guy, so what does a pound or two matter for my tripod, right? Well, the funny thing is that when I finally owned a light and compact tripod (and a convenient Tamrac tripod bag), I started actually taking it with me more often!

Some of the reasons I love my tripod:
-It forces me to really THINK about my composition.
-Not only can I shoot in low light, but I can shoot in low light at clean ISO's or with more than a hair's breadth of depth-of-field
-I can use live-view with 10x magnification to focus my lens when I'm at f/1.2 or 1.4. Even a 1D won't hit that critical autofocus 10/10, but I can do it manually!
-Even if your shutter speed is high, swaying in or out can also soften your pics at wide apertures. Not gonna happen on a tripod.
-HDR
-Composites made easy! Have trouble with a reflection from your light in a window? Shoot once with the strobe and once without.... easy fix!
-Panoramas (especially with the RRS Pano kit). Want a 50+ megapixel file?
-Depth-of-field stacking... want to get it ALL in focus?

Anyway, I just realized I hadn't posted in a bit so I thought a love-song to the tripod would be a good fit.

Also, for those of you who don't know I've completely re-done http://www.bainesphoto.com and I have a new lead image up on http://www.evanbaines.com!

Cheers all!

3 comments:

andrewdale said...

Call my crazy, but this might be one of the more random things I've ever done! I'm Andrew Dale, Amy Dale's husband. There are many occasions where extreme boredom push me to do some of the most random things in my life. I'm sorry to hear about your tripod and hope that you are getting along well with your new tripod. Amy is extremely excited about all her new knowledge and you can bet that I am hearing all about Rembrandt and some type of lip lighting. Have a good one. -Andrew

Evan Baines said...

Thanks Andrew!

Gray Photography - Zach and Jody - Nashville Wedding Photography said...

sorry to hear about the stolen tripod. For real? Someone actually stole it? Those peeps need a life! Love the pic of you shooting in the water :) awesome!