Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday evening creature feature, Slaty Skimmers are prima-donnas

There is a backstory to this post. In my younger days, way before it was considered cool and sexy, I was shooting birds. I spent a big chunk of my stipend as a grad student on a Bogen tripod with a ball head. I kept that tripod for years. Along came other interest and family and I dropped out of film photography. When I got into digital, I went out on a photo shoot with that damned Bogen tripod. Yes, it was cursed at because the damn thing kept shedding parts. The feet would fall off, the legs would loosen up and it drove me nuts. But is was rock solid with the ball head. It was build for the studio, not for the trail.

Well as I said, along came the digital age and I dug up the tripod and took it out to a photo shoot one winter’s day. As happens when you get too cold, you don’t think too good, and bordering on hypothermia and hyperhunger, I left the tripod on location. By the time I thawed out and got some chow down and my senses kicked back in, I realized I better go get my tripod. But by the time I got back on location, it was apparent that someone though it was a cool find that some idiot left behind. Yes, my damned tripod was nowhere to be found.

So I picked up a inexpensive tripod to get me through the grieving period while I saved up for another on. That was six years ago. Six years at swearing at an inexpensive, overworked, overloaded tripod that was doing the best it can. I mean come ©2012 Steve Borichevskyon. You wouldn’t put a Chihuahua in the lead position of a dogsled team would you? That’s what I did with that tripod. Every time I swore at that tripod, I knew deep down that I was swearing at myself for losing my good one. But look on the bright side. At least it didn’t drop bits and pieces along the trail that I would have to go back and find.

Well, the inexpensive tripod and I worked out an agreement. It would work for me as long as I used my remote to trip the camera. That’s all it asked of me.

That’s the backstory. Well, I had a life’s realization a couple of weeks ago as I was futzing around setting up a shot and muttering something obscene as the weighty 300mm f/4 taxed the limitations of the head, “Dude. You can afford a better rig.” And the storm clouds parted, voices came down from on high, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” Yes. I can afford a better rig. But I’m not getting a frigging Bogen. (You will see the irony in this statement later.)

So I started doing my research and went for the best bang for the buck. Now I know that there are kick-ass carbon fiber tripods out there, but here’s the skinny on that. 1) I’m seriously in need of an upper body workout. 2) The industry’s dirty little secret. Shhhhhh. Don’t tell anyone. Carbon fiber shafts are cheaper to make that aluminum shafts. No S&^t. But we’ve been conditioned the pay a premium price for carbon… and they are not lighter enough for me to pay 3X.

So I bought a Bogen…oops Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod with a 496RC2 ball head. I’m digging it. So far, nothing has shaken lose, the head is rock sold with my gear and it really is a nice rig for the do-re-mi. (If you’re not up on the little joke, Bogen later became Manfrotto. They probably had to do an identity makeover as the the world became littered with Bogen bits and pieces. Doh!)

Well, the Manfrotto rig has become the favorite break hangout of one of my best models. Here he is munching on a deer fly.

 ©2013 Steve Borichevsky

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

Okay, brake’s over, finish your snack and get back on the set. (Skimmers. They are such prima-donnas.)

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

A final word about shooting with a tripod. Check out the detail in the eyes and face of this Blue Dasher.  In order to get a shot like this, you have to be rock solid. This was done 1/200 sec at f/7.1 and ISO 250. Dead nuts.

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

Actually, I put the Blue Dasher in just to keep the Slaty Skimmer in check. He was trying to up his modeling fee. He threatened not to sign his photo release. I swear. Skimmers can be prima-donnas.


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Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

An enjoyable read. I have the 190XB (no PRO) with the now discontinued old school 3030 head I found on eBay. I tried the ball head style but didn't care for it as I guess I just prefer fiddling with 3 different adjustment knobs. Just wonder if that old Bogen of yours is still working for someone out there?

Carol Mattingly said...

Fantastic post.

eileeninmd said...

Steve, awesome shots of the dragonfly. Great post.

Roy Norris said...

Superb images especially the last one Steve and a great tripod.{:))

Gunilla Bäck said...

Amazing photos!


LOVE that closeup of the dragon fly!!! Incredibly amazing.

Margaret Adamson said...

Hi Steve. Great read and it did make me laugh at times. The photos of the Dragonflies are wonderful especially the last one.

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Wow! Great photos!

Misty DawnS said...

I've never photographed a Slaty Skimmer, but I can tell you that the Widow Skimmers are just as bad... must run in the whole Skimmer family ;-)

Judy said...

I am so impressed with all those shots!!! Of course, I am still working hand-held in the great outdoors...

Huldra said...

Wow.. The bottomn picture was amazing! Thank you for sharing this series :)

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