Strengthen presence in mirrorless camera marketCanon FY 2018 Financial Documentation
- Expand lineup of products with the EOS R system at its core
- Accelerate development of new products
- Raise proportion of full-frame models
- Expand sales of lenses that have high profitability
- Expand scope of production automation
At first glance, it appears that little has changed between the II (center) and III (left), but upon closer inspection, it seems that nearly everything has been changed. Hit the last link above to see larger versions of these images, but especially note that the tripod collar and foot have been moved significantly rearward, reflecting the much-improved weight distribution of this much lighter lens.
When shooting at a strong upward angle with a gimbal head, the bottom of the camera will typically impact the tripod apex and that impact will solidly prevent any further upward angle to be achieved. Most of us photographers will not let gear get in the way of a good image and there are some work-arounds for this one.
Remove the Battery Grip
When the bottom of a camera impacting the tripod is the problem, a battery grip compounds the problem. Remove the grip to gain some extra degrees of upward rotation. If battery life is going to be a problem, periodically swap out the drained battery with a fresh one.
Before reading any further, I need to raise a very important point: using any of the strategies discussed below will destabilize your tripod and the entire setup tipping over will be a real concern. Use extreme caution if implementing any of these ideas and be ready to catch your rig if tipping happens.
Highly recommended is the use a very strong tripod (the UniqBall IQuick3Pod 40.4 for example). Extending one or more of the tripod legs longer while using the next-higher leg locks can provide a larger, more-stable footprint. The orientation of tripod legs relative to the camera's weight can make a difference in stabilization. Also wise is to strap/stake the tripod down, add weights to the tripod feet and/or to use counterweights. Pressing long, spiked tripod feet deep into the ground can also aid tripod stabilization.
Tripod Leg Orientation
Orienting the tripod legs so that the camera is centered between two of them usually provides the camera the most range of vertical motion. If the subject will be moving horizontally (solar and lunar eclipses check this box), the tripod may need to be repositioned to keep the camera centered.
Lens Plate Position in Clamp
Observe your setup and determine if adjusting the lens plate or tripod foot dovetail's location within the gimbal head's clamp will provide additional clearance. Remember that longer lens plates offer a greater range of adjustment.
Raise the Gimbal Head Cradle
When using a gimbal head with a height-adjustable cradle, such as some of the excellent Wimberley Gimbal Heads, typical is to place the center height of the lens at the axis of the tilt pivot. This position provides ideal balance and handling. However, raising the cradle higher will raise the camera higher above the tripod apex, providing more clearance and allowing a greater degree of camera tilt. The cradle is raised only partially in the above image, but this height provided enough angle to photograph a high-overhead sun (important: solar filter in use). This tactic also moves the center of gravity of the camera and lens combination when the lens is not positioned level. Tilting up will then make this setup back-heavy.
Use a Tripod with a Narrower Apex
Tripods designed for big camera and lens combinations often have big, broad apexes. While a large apex is great for strength and rigidity, it can impact cameras at lower angles than narrow apexes. If a strong-enough tripod with a narrower apex can be used, a few degrees of upward angle may be gained. Note that the tripod legs can also be the first-impacted. The top of the legs being positioned tighter together can be helpful in this regard.
Tilt the tripod Apex
If the tripod and head combination will not provide enough upward angle, it might be time to tilt the tripod, or more accurately, tilt the tripod apex to move it out of the camera's way. This may be as simple as extending a leg or two by a short amount or it can be more involved such as using far-rear-extended legs positioned in the next-up angle lock (reaching back like the wheelie bars on a dragster) with the front leg angled more sharply toward the ground and raised higher.
Tilting the apex of course eliminates the level base that is ideal for gimbal head use. One solution is to use the camera's tripod collar to level the camera each time it is repositioned. Much better is to use a leveling base or a tripod that has a leveling base built in.
Use great caution with the tilted-apex strategy as the tripod can become strongly unbalanced.
Reverse the Vertical Arm
If the gimbal head uses a vertical arm design similar to that of the Really Right Stuff PG-02 Pano-Gimbal Head and FG-02 Fluid-Gimbal Head, reversing the vertical arm places the camera to the side of the apex, clearing potentially great amounts of space. The image above shows a pro-sized DSLR (Canon EOS-1D X Mark II) and a non-gripped Nikon D850 is shown in this article's lead image.
Both of these rigs are shown with the reversed vertical arm as close to the center of the head as possible. Moving this arm toward the other end of the horizontal panning base would permit even more rotation, potentially 360°.
Assuredly, this technique is going outside of the manufacturer's intended use for this gear and tipping of the tripod is a serious risk. Consider positioning a longer-extended leg locked into the next-up angle lock under the camera and lens' center of balance. Also note that the right hand (or a reaching-over left hand) will be needed to access the gimbal head's now-right-side-located tilt angle lock.
Use a Ball Head
With the tripod foot raising the camera up and a drop notch likely available for use, a very high upward angle can often be achieved when using most ball heads. The downside to this option is that using a big, heavy lens over a ball head is not ideal and such a lens tipping over can cause an entire tripod to crash to the ground. Finding the sun and moon in a 1200mm angle of view while using a ball head is very challenging and keeping that setup level increases the challenge. But, it can work. A strong ball head is needed if the lens is substantial in size.
I don't shoot at strong upward angles with my big lenses very often, but when I do, I quickly remember that camera or lens contact with the tripod quickly becomes an issue when using a gimbal head. While perhaps none of the above strategies may be the perfect solution, hopefully a combination of them can get your upward shooting angle job done.
Do you have a strategy for photographing upward with a gimbal tripod head that I missed? Please share it with us!
This American quarter horse's name is "Nugget", as in "gold nugget", referencing the coat color. "Gold" also reflects the parent's perspective of what it costs to keep a horse. The positive in this investment is that the kid's have had to do most of the horse maintenance work, teaching them responsibility and how to work hard. The horses are of course fast and fast makes them good focus performance test subjects. An added benefit of such testing is some nice pics of the kid(s), as long as the camera and lens perform well of course.
And to that matter, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III Lens combo performed stellarly. They performed so well that they created a bit of a problem. It took forever to go through the well-over-2,000 images captured in this session as most were keeper-grade. With a great camera and lens, one's brain needs to be retrained to be OK with deleting really nice images. I keep telling myself that.
With steady lighting conditions (solid clouds), the setup for this shot was easy. Using manual mode, the shutter was set to 1/1600, a setting that I know works well for freezing galloping/cantering horse and similar action. The aperture was set to f/2.8 to let in as much light as possible and to create the strongest background blur possible. Having the shallowest depth of field possible also emphasizes the AF precision. The ISO was then adjusted until the snow was slightly overexposed, causing the brightest areas to blink while reviewing test images on the LCD. With the exposure locked in, I could concentrate on composition.
The AF mode was of course set to AI Servo (continuous) and the top-center AF point was selected with the surrounding points assisting (the horse bounces a lot, making it difficult to keep a single point on the rider's head).
While this camera and lens combination is handholdable, shooting it from a monopod is still more comfortable (especially for long shooting sessions) and doing so made tracking the subject easier.
Nugget was not moving very fast in this frame, but I liked the heavily-clouded sky in the background, making the subject pop with a bit of a high-key look.
Note that snow is a great reflector and gives images a different look, usually in a positive way.
I'll share other images of this horse in fast motion in the review.
Some of these images will show another way this lens can make the subject pop – by strongly blurring the background.
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
Regardless of what the event was named, the show was spectacular. I hope that you were able to take it in and, even better yet, photograph it.
The sky visibility forecast for everywhere within a long drive provided little hope of this eclipse being viewable. Unexpectantly, the problem, remnants of a significant winter storm, began to move out just in time and the sky started to clear about an hour before the eclipse began. With the full moon peeking out of breaks in the clouds, the hope became strong enough to warrant the effort to photograph the event and I scrambled to put a plan into place.
Also seeming to meet the definition of spectacular were the near-zero-degree (-18° C) temperatures accompanied by very strong winds those of us in much of the east/northeast US were required to endure for 5 hours (some short indoor warm-up breaks were taken). Admittedly, the temperature made shooting through skylights from inside the house a very attractive option, but donning many layers and going outdoors became the plan. While the skies cleared beautifully for the full eclipse, the wind remained an issue and wind is an especially big stability problem when photographing with a large, long focal length lens. Setting up next to a solid fence significantly aided with this issue and also took some of the bite out of the wind chill.
The composition plan was easy. The moon was going to be high overhead and that meant incorporating foreground elements in the frame was going to be very challenging, so making the moon as large in the frame as possible was the choice. That meant 1200mm, a combination of a 600mm f/4 lens and a 2x teleconverter.
For a solid base, the UniqBall IQuick3Pod 40.4 Carbon Fiber Tripod with spiked feet installed (for use in snow) was perfect. Simply stick the spikes into the ground and use the IQuick3Pod's leveling base feature to quickly level the tripod head platform. A gimbal head makes using big, long lenses easy and the Really Right Stuff FG-02 Fluid-Gimbal Head is awesome (the RRS PG-02 is also excellent). With a level base, the gimbal-mounted lens will always be level with only tilt and pan adjustments, both very simple to make, requiring attention while tracking the moon. It is much easier to keep a tightly-framed moon centered in the frame with a gimbal head than with a ball head. Shooting at a strong upward angle can be a challenge with a gimbal mount as the camera body can impact the tripod before a high-enough angle is reached. I'll talk more about that issue soon.
Looking through a viewfinder with the camera directed at such a hard-upward angle is tough, but the D850's tilt LCD made subject framing easy in this situation. An angle finder is another great option for shooting upward.
What is the best exposure for photographing a lunar eclipse? That depends mostly on the varying brightness of the moon and that changes by season and it also changes during the eclipse. When the moon had direct sunlight reaching it, f/8 (my max aperture with this setup), 1/200 and ISO 200 with a -1 EV adjustment in post worked well. During this time, I opted to capture brackets of up to 9-stops to use for adding as much detail as desired to the dark portion of the moon during post processing. A Vello ShutterBoss II Timer Remote Switch made vibration-free capture easy.
Once the moon was completely in the earth's shadow, it became very dark and 1200mm exposures became very challenging. The blood moon image in the center of this frame was captured at f/8, .6 seconds and ISO 6400. Getting tack sharp details from a subject that is over 221,000 mi (356,000 km) away does not happen and these settings do not help.
Photographing the lunar eclipse brought back great memories of the 2017 solar eclipse (a bit ironic is that event occurred in extreme heat for many of us). A similar post-eclipse scenario now faces those of us who photographed it. We have a large number of images capturing the entire eclipse progression and want do something with them. While each individual eclipse image may be great, likely none of your friends want to see all 300 (OK, 800) of them. The friends will be interested in a partial eclipse image or two and perhaps one from totality, but then eyes glaze over and they start checking their Instagram account. Creating a lunar eclipse progression composite is a very logical way to tell the full eclipse story in a single, interesting image.
The method for creating the lunar eclipse progression composite is the same as that shared in the How to Create a Solar Eclipse Phase Composite Image article (skip the HDR part). The arrangement options for such a composite vary greatly. The left-to-right option shared here works well, but this unique ultra-wide aspect ratio is a bit awkward to share online and will not typically be as easily viewable/displayable as closer-to-square arrangements.
Also ultra is the resolution able to be created from such a composite. This one measures 52000 x 5500 pixels for a 286 MP (over SmugMug's max file dimensions limit I learned) final image (the .PSD weighs in at 3.19 GB) looking for a long hallway wall to be displayed on. Those not able to frame the moon tightly in-camera can crop heavily and still have a high resolution result from the composite technique.
Sure, getting images requires some effort. Getting to bed well after 2:00 AM means being tired the next day and it took about an hour under the covers to get my core temperature back up. But, at least a day or two later, only the rewards remain. The memories of this lunar eclipse, with the images to buoy them, will remain a lifetime.
Did you photograph the recent lunar eclipse? We invite you to share your images and tips below.