Down the Hatch. And a great monopod vertical grip/tip! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Down the Hatch. And a great monopod vertical grip/tip!

What’s Up?

Again, not much. I swam a mile — 48 lengths in the morning and that was about it as I had to run into town to do some errands.

Today is Wednesday 16 November 2022. I got lots accomplished yesterday but still have tons more work to do on the urgent and ongoing problems at NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association). In addition, I began working on my next B&H Event Space program. Details on that tomorrow. This blog post took about 90 minutes to prepare and makes two hundred thirty-four days in a row with a new one. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

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Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy a post-purchase, 3% off-statement credit (excluding taxes and shipping charges) on orders paid with a credit card. The 3% credit will be refunded to the card you used for your purchase. Be sure, also, to check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. This offer does not apply to purchases of Classes, Gift Cards, or to any prior purchases.

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Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are — out of ignorance — using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads. And the same is true in spades when ordering new camera bodies or lenses. My advice will often save you some serious money and may help you avoid making a seriously bad choice. Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. If you are desperate, you can try me on my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up.

As was yesterday’s image, this one was created on 9 November 2022 at Circle Bar B Preserve in Lakeland, FL. I used the Robus RCM-439 4-Section Carbon Fiber Monopod, 65/Wimberley MonoGimbal Head-supported Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens
the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 1250. 1/2000 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file exposure was determined to be dead-solid perfect. AWB at 9:42:09am on a then partly sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed to perfection. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #1: Great Blue Heron swallowing armored catfish

The Next Keeper

I created today’s featured image nearly three minutes after the heron had tossed the catfish in the air. I had turned the camera to vertical, but the first few frames were not very successful as the bird had stooped forward. I was, however, duly rewarded when the bird stood tall and tipped its head back.

I should have mentioned yesterday that I was able to lean against a tall post to steady the monopod. Tripods will always be more solid than monopods, but their lighter weight and portability are very attractive to the elderly (and to others as well).

The background clean-up for today’s image was less extensive than it was for yesterday’s.

iPhone photo by Jim Litzenberg
Image #2: The traditional over-the top grip for shooting verticals

The Traditional Over-the-top Grip for Shooting Verticals

If you are on a tripod and not using a vertical grip with the camera controls, the traditional approach to shooting verticals is to rotate your telephoto lens counterclockwise in the tripod collar. This places your hand above the camera as seen in Image #2 above. I quickly realized that when you are working off a monopod that the traditional approach increases the height of the rig. You might say that increases the length of the lever-arm and creates additional instability.

iPhone photo by Jim Litzenberg
Image #3: The non-traditional hand-below grip for shooting verticals

Building the Better Mouse Trap

Rather than deal with the instability that resulted from using the traditional over-the-top grip for shooting verticals, I experimented by rotating the lens clockwise in the tripod collar. This made the whole set-up shorter, reduced the length of the lever-arm, and made the monopod rig much steadier. Thinking back, I can recall using the same approach with a big lens on a tripod when another photographer was behind and slightly to my right. Rotating the lens clockwise will get your elbow out of their shot when the going is tight.

Note that in Images #2 and 3 that the monopod is resting against the inside of my left elbow. That to further increase stability.


With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

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