24
Oct
09

New Tripod

My birthday was a couple of weeks ago and in the weeks leading up to it, I spent some time trying to fill out my wish list on Amazon.  I would like to briefly plug their universal wish list button – you can add it to your browser’s bookmarks toolbar and then add anything you find on any website to your wish list.  That’s pretty handy.

Anyway, I have wanted a sturdy tripod for a while.  After a lot of looking, I decided that I wanted a ball head since I had grown tired of having to adjust two or three knobs in order to get my composition right.  I settled on the Manfrotto 322RC2. It seemed like it would allow incredibly fast composition changes and would be very comfortable to use.  So, that found its way onto my wish list.

By pooling together money I got for my birthday I was able to get the 322RC2 head with the Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod legs.  I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to use everything yet but so far I really like it.  The ball head is so nice.  It is super easy to change your composition, very quick, and it locks solidly into place.  The legs are big – if I extend the legs fully, the eyepiece of the camera is at eye level without raising the center column at all.  This is great because it maximizes stability and gives me some freedom to play around with shots that might require the camera to be above my eye level.

Shortly after I got my kit and put everything together I took a picture of my wife and me enjoying our nerdy lifestyle:

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Of course, this picture isn’t going to win any photo contests – it’s just a fun way of documenting what our evenings sometimes look like.

Earlier this week, I needed to provide someone with a head shot of myself for a poster on my research work.  I couldn’t find anything suitable among the pictures in my collection since I’m normally the one behind the camera.  So, I needed to have one taken.  I decided to try taking one of myself using my tripod.  In addition to the tripod, I also used my Pentax Remote Control F to trigger the shutter.  I wanted the picture to have a background nicer than the curtains in our apartment or something such so I went down to the banks of the Charles River and set up the camera.  I had to experiment with the camera height in order to make sure that the banks of the river in the background didn’t line up with the middle of my head, which would have been distracting.  I also ended up using my circular polarizing filter control the appearance of the clouds.

Below is my favorite from the whole batch, which includes probably 2 good pictures and about 45 bad pictures.  I felt pretty silly standing there smiling at the camera and taking pictures of myself as people drove by on Memorial Dr. and as runners strode by on the running path but I’m pretty happy with the result and I’ll probably never see any of those people again, anyway.

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I’m excited about the possibilities the tripod creates for me.  I’m looking forward to trying my hand at some high dynamic range photography.  While a tripod isn’t essential for these, it certainly makes things easier since HDR pictures require at least 2 source images that have to be properly aligned before combining them to create the final product.  Also, I’m looking forward to being able to photograph the city at night.  I have plenty of good pictures looking across the Charles at Boston but none of those I’ve taken at night have been acceptably sharp.  I’m hoping my new tripod will change that.

All in all, I’m very happy with the setup, which also includes a padded carrying bag and a separate strap for carrying the tripod without the bag.  Given how solidly these things are built, I expect to be using them for years to come and probably passing them on to my offspring.

I’d like to thank my parents and my parents-in-law for their generous gifts, which not only got me the tripod but also got me the remote control and circular polarizing filter at Christmas.  Thanks!

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3 Responses to “New Tripod”


  1. October 24, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    It’s a bit strange to see you without a goatee! My mental image of you still has one.

    Nice lighting on the bottom one.

    One of the nicest things about a tripod is night shots. Try some longer exposures on Mem Drive at night. Or possibly even try the same portrait but with a slow-sync flash to light you up in the foreground.

  2. 2 Colin
    October 26, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Yeah, I guess I shaved off the goatee a few weeks ago. It’s even taken me a while to get used to seeing myself in the mirror without it. I’ve had it nearly non-stop for probably about 4 years, so it’s not surprising that we’ve grown accustomed to it.

    What may really blow your mind is that I’m about to head out to an eye appointment and I may end up getting glasses. If I do, I’ll definitely make a post about it, though I can’t guarantee that I’ll put as much effort into the photo I take for that as the one I posted above.

  3. 3 Colin
    October 26, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Thanks for the comment on the lighting. It was tough actually because the moving clouds kept changing the lighting conditions. Also, the sun was in my face pretty strongly, so I had to consciously not squint or furrow my brow.

    I like your idea of taking long exposures along Memorial Drive. I haven’t played around much with the different settings on my flash. I really need to do that. It’s the kind of thing where I have to consult the manual every time I want to do something. Because I do it so infrequently, I have to figure it out again from scratch every time. Anyway, I’ll give it a shot.


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