by Sean Setters
I've been doing a fair amount of long exposure images lately as I've been testing out my latest filter acquisition, the ROCOLAX 77mm 15-stop ND
. Unfortunately, light leakage through the viewfinder spoiled many of my early test shots. The best way to get rid of the light leakage is, of course, the often overlooked accessory that Canon includes free with your camera – the Canon Eyepiece Cover. I say "overlooked" because many people never notice the handy little tool attached to their OEM camera straps (or realize its function).
The problem, though, is that I do not use the 5D Mark III's camera strap (instead I use a BlackRapid strap modified for Arca-style plates
). Not using the OEM strap means I had no convenient way to keep the small, seemingly easy to lose Canon Eyepiece Cover with me.
At first I considered finding a place in my main camera bag for the eyepiece cover, but I realized that I often use my smaller camera bag when shooting these types of shots. That means I'd need to remember to transfer the eyepiece cover every time I intended on shooting long exposures while using the smaller bag (and knowing myself, I would forget it 90% of the time).
The second thing I considered was storing the eyepiece cover in my tripod bag. That made a bit more sense as I'm always using the tripod when shooting long exposures. However, I realized that I don't always take the tripod bag with me on long exposure outings (especially around town). I sometimes simply set up my camera on the tripod (with a remote timer attached) and simply put the compacted-down setup in my car. That way I'm ready to hit the ground running as soon as I get to the location (all I have to do is extend the tripod legs). So storing the eyepiece cover in the tripod bag wouldn't work.
Keeping the eyepiece cover with the tripod – not the tripod bag – seemed to be ideal. I tried to search for a small bag to attach to my tripod. However, I didn't find anything specifically designed to be strapped to a pole. I reasoned that I could use a bag designed for a belt loop and simply find a strap to fit around the tripod leg, but that seemed like a lot of work (and added bulk / expense) just to keep the small rubber eyepiece cover with me. And depending on the size of the bag, it might make storing the tripod in my tripod bag more difficult as there isn't much "wiggle room" in the bag as it is.
While looking at the Canon Eyepiece Cover in my hand, I realized that the eyepiece cover's design held the solution to my problem. It was designed to fit on the thin part of the OEM strap, so I should simply strap it to my tripod with a strap something similar in size. And as luck would have it, I had the perfect strap sitting in a tool drawer – a thin hook & loop cable tie
I had to cut a little bit off the edge of a cable tie in order for it to fit in the eyepiece cover's slots and then cut it to a length that fit well around the tripod leg. Once cut to size, the eyepiece cover fits perfectly around the tripod leg. The cable tie proved to be the best possible solution for my needs as it keeps the eyepiece cover on the tripod at all times (extremely convenient) while also remaining low in profile (not bulky). And if the eyepiece cover molds to the curve of the tripod over time, that's ok – it'll stretch to fit the eyepiece just fine.
Here's what my setup looks like:
As you can see by the picture above, I'm also using cable ties in another way. I realized that cable ties could also be used to attach my TC-80N3 Timer Remote
firmly to the tripod as well. Up until now, I typically used the center pole's weight hook to keep the timer from dangling from the camera (instead it would dangle from the cord a short distance from the timer). But in windy conditions, the constant swaying movement of the timer could lead to softness in the long exposure images. To counteract this, I would sometimes physically hold the timer to keep it from swaying (not an optimal solution to the problem). The timer cable already had a tie attached to it; all I needed to do was add one more cable tie around the tripod leg to complete the windproof setup.
Of course, cable ties
are also extremely handy for their intended purpose, too, which is why I had them within arm's reach when looking for a solution.
Have you used cable ties to creatively solve a photographic need of your own? Let us know in the comments
Site visitor John has suggested an even cheaper, practical solution – attach a piece of gaffer tape
to the camera dome and use it to cover the viewfinder when needed. Keep in mind, though, that long-term use of gaffer tape can
leave a sticky residue on the surface of whatever it's stuck to (even though it's designed to be removed cleanly under normal use). I'd suggest replacing the tape periodically to avoid this.