tripod

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Video: How to Shoot Fireworks

Saturday, June 30th, 2012
Other than your camera, the most important piece of equipment is a tripod. The exposures required for fireworks are too long to handhold your camera. I found an excellent video for how to shoot fireworks on YouTube from phototips.biz.

Basic Settings for a DSLR

  • Manual Mode
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Shutter speed: 1 second to start
  • ISO: 400
  • Focus: Turn off auto focus and manually focus on infinity

I agree with the video’s suggestion to just change the speed if you need to adjust the exposure. Increase the shutter speed if your shots are too bright or slow down the shutter speed if your shots are too dark.

Even if you don’t have a DSLR, you can still take photographs of fireworks. If you have a compact digital camera that doesn’t have Manual mode, look for a Scene (SCN) mode for Fireworks. As with a DSLR, it is manditory that you use a tripod.

Feel free to post links to your fireworks photographs in comments.

Review: Manfrotto MBAG80PN Padded Tripod Bag

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Summary: The Manfrotto MBAG80PN Padded Tripod Bag is roomier than expected. Not only does it hold my Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 Tripod with a Manfrotto 322RC2 Joystick Head on it but I can also store two more heads in the bag. This bag is really heavy duty!Manfrotto MBAG80PN Padded Tripod Bag

  • Recessed zippers
  • Comfortable carrying handle
  • Easy access even with the bigger video tripods
  • Thermoformed padding

Review: As I stated in the summary, the bag is very roomy. At first, I wasn’t so sure that my tripod and head were going to fit because I have the optional Manfrotto 204SPK3 Retractable Rubber Spiked Feet attached. Click to continue »

Selecting the Best Tripod

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

There are many different tripods on the market and selecting the best tripod to fit your needs can be daunting. The following is a list of criteria to consider:

  • Price
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Construction
  • Load capacity
  • Ease of use
  • Special features

The main purpose of a tripod is to provide stability and prevent camera movement. Keep that in mind as we look at each criteria. Click to continue »

Video: Finding the No Parallax Point of a Lens

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Finding the no parallax point of your lens mounted on a panoramic head can be a task. This video does a great job of explaining how to do it.


Follow this link to read my review of the Panoraurus panoramic head.

This link leads to my post, “How to Shoot 360×180 Degree Panoramas with a Panosaurus Panoramic Tripod Head.”

Photography Tip: Levels

Friday, November 11th, 2011

You may have noticed the bubble levels on your tripod and tripod head. Use them! Each serves a different important function. The following is a list of level and tripod related tips:

  • The level on your tripod itself is used to ensure that your tripod doesn’t fall over. If you are using your tripod on uneven ground and the legs are different lengths, the level can be used to center the center column of the tripod over the legs which centers the weight of your camera over the legs so that the tripod will be less likely to tip over. If the tripod is level, the center column will be perpendicular to the ground.
  • Another important tip for your tripod is to always have one leg toward the lowest ground. Let’s say that you have positioned your tripod on a hill with the camera pointed up the hill. One tripod leg should be toward you rather than two legs. The single leg toward you will be more stable and the tripod less likely to tip over. The tendancy is to always have two legs toward yourself so that it is easier to approach the camera. This is the time to not do that.
  • Add weight to your tripod. I know, you bought a carbon fiber tripod so that it would be light and easy to carry but, while shooting, you may need some extra weight to keep it from moving. Tripods often have a hook on or near the center column of the tripod. I have a backpack camera case that I hang under my tripod.
  • The bubble level on your tripod head is used to ensure that your camera itself is level.
  • If you shoot a lot of landscapes, you will want to invest in one more kind of level. It fits in the hotshoe of your camera and can be more accurate than the round levels attached to your tripod head. I use a hot shoe level to make sure that the horizon is level. There are times when I am taking long exposures at night and I can’t even see the horizon. I use the level to make sure the camera is level and I know the horizon will also be level in the photograph. I only need to illuminate the level to see it, not the subject. Works great and I highly recommend that you get one.
  • For panoramas, you can use the hotshoe level to ensure that your lens is parallel to the gound. That is what I do when I am using my Rokinon Fisheye Lens to take a 360×180 degree panorama. I mount the camera on a Panosaurus panoramic head and make sure the tripod is level, the head is level, and finally that the camera is level and the lens is parallel to the ground. If everything isn’t level, software such as Hugin will have difficulties stitching the shots together. Click here to read my article about using a Panosaurus panoramic head to shoot a 360×180 degree panorama.

How to Shoot 360×180 Degree Panoramas with a Panosaurus Panoramic Tripod Head

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Required Equipment: Panosaurus

17th Street Causeway BridgeShooting 360×180 degree panoramas usually requires a special tripod head. Trying to shoot this kind of panorama hand held would not be an easy task. Each picture has to overlap by 25-30% not to mention the likelihood of seeing parallax errors in the final image. Parallax errors occur when the camera rotates around a point other than the no parallax point of the lens. The bottom line is that the shots can’t line up properly if there are parallax errors. I have gotten great results with an inexpensive Panosaurus panoramic tripod head. Click here to read my review of the Panosaurus.

Software

To stitch the images together I rely on two programs. Hugin is free software and does a great job with a 360×180 panoramas shot with a fisheye lens such as the Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens. If you use an 18mm lens, then Serif PanoramaPlus X4 is a better choice. Each program has its strengths; what one can’t stitch together the other can. Click here to read my review of PanoramaPlus. Your camera may have come with software that can stitch together panoramas but don’t expect it to work with a 360×180 degree panorama. Click to continue »

Review: Sigma 150-500mm F/5-6.3 APO DG OS

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Sigma 150-500mm LensSummary: The Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO DG OS HSM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras is a huge, heavy lens. Be prepared to use a monopod or tripod with this lens.

Review: The lens weighs 4.2 pounds and is 3.7 inches in diameter by 10 inches long when at its shortest length. This is the longest lens I have owned so please bear with me if I write about some things that anyone would already know if they owned an ultra-telephoto lens.

The build quality is solid. The only thing that feels cheap is the lens hood which is made out of a relatively thin plastic that feels like I could crack it if I squeezed it too hard. It comes in a well padded case and two straps — one for the lens itself and another for the case. It is good that they included a strap for the lens because I’m not so sure that I would want my camera to support the burden of this lens hanging around my neck. Click to continue »

Enhance Google Searches for Photography

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Google has a new service to enhance Google searches.

In order to use Google Subscribed Links, you must create a new Google Account or sign in with an existing Google Account.

Review: Manfrotto 055XPRO3 Tripod

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Summary: The Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 is a light but stable and heavy duty tripod. It is made out of carbon fiber and magnesium. Click to continue »