Saturday, January 26, 2013

Macro with a water drop

 For a photo contest I am entering this week I decided to do a macro shot of a drop of water with a reflection of a rose. The shot had to be really precise as the water drop should be really in focus. In this situation there are things you have to remember, you have to keep your camera really steady, the light should be enough for you to close down the aperture of your lens to get the maximum depth of field, and you should be using a lens that will get you close enough to see the little drop of water.

For this shot here are the equipment I used:
Canon 6D body
Yong nuo wireless flash trigger
Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro USM lens
Canon 430ex II speedlite
light stand
Manfrotto 190XPROB Pro Aluminum Tripod
Yellow/orange paper background
Studio clamp

I setup my camera on my tripod. The Manfrotto 190XPROB Pro Aluminum Tripod is an excellent tripod to use for this kind of shot because it lets you setup your camera forward to whatever you are shooting. I needed that extra reach forward so my subject is closer to my lens without the tripod legs getting in the way. I then placed a rose bouquet in front of my lens so I have a leaf that I can put water on for my droplet. I then placed another rose on a studio clamp and placed it behind the first bouquet...this rose is the rose that will be showing up on the water drop that I will photograph. I then placed my colored paper behind the 2nd rose.

The simple setup for this shot.
I then placed my speedlite on my Yongnuo wireless receiver so I can trigger it wirelessly from my camera. I set the flash to manual mode and set my flash to around 1/2 power. The flash was placed on the right side of the subject rose. I then aimed it towards my 2nd rose. I then placed my tripod with the camera in front of the rose bouquet. I set the focus to manual and then I focused on the leaf where I'm putting my water droplet at. I then sprayed the leaf with water till the water was heavy enough to form a drop on it's lowest point.

It takes a while to find the perfect placement.
I then used liveview to focus my lens into the droplet. Liveview allows you to zoom in to whatever you are focusing which is really helpful when photographing something small. When I got the perfect position for everything, I then tried some test shots to see how much light I needed for my shot. I ended up with an f11 aperture which was enough coverage for a shot like this. When everything was in place, I triggered my camera using my smartphone so I wouldn't have to touch the camera and prevent it from moving...a very useful feature of the 6D that other cameras don't have.

The final shot.
It is a very simple setup with outstanding results. I printed it out on luster paper and the results were outstanding.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

MeFoto A1340 Tripod

MeFoto A1340 Tripod.
For a recent trip to florida I needed a tripod that is light, small, and converts to a monopod that is pretty cheap on the budget. I needed to fit this into my Lowerpro Vertex 300 when I go and take nature and bird shots, so a large tripod just won't work. I was looking at those HorusBennu tripods but I didn't have time to wait for 2 weeks since the HorusBennu tripods usually come from overseas. I needed one in like a week or so.

Pretty stable even when on its minimum height.

So I found the MeFoto A1340 tripods online. They were just released when I saw them. I found the older MeFoto tripods once online and the colors were pretty attractive and that's what basically caught my attention. I did research and found out that the MeFoto tripods are made by Benro. Couple of month ago I wanted to get a Benro ballhead for one of my tripods, I was thinking of getting the new MeFoto tripod and getting the ballhead at the same time. Well the MeFoto A1340 includes everything that you'll need for your setup.

The twist lock system found in many tripods.
I ordered it online and got it within a week. These average from $150-$250 depending on where you get it. I got mine pretty cheap at $149 so I can't complain. I got my package and was surprised at how good the packaging was. The tripod included a carrying case with a strap. The carrying case is pretty well made. Also included in the pocket of the carrying case was an allen wrench for tightening the screws on the legs, and the spikes that you put in the feet to keep the feet planted into soft surface like grass or earth.

The leg angle is adjustable by pulling the locks.
The tripod features a twist lock locking system for the legs. As I mentioned before in an earlier post, a lot of photographers don't like the twist lock system for tripods. In my opinion it's just a matter of getting used to it. I kinda liked it on my monopod and in my new MeFoto tripod, it's not too bad at all. Right now I am used to either the twist lock or the usual tab lock found in other tripods.

The ballhead is really nice.
The leg angles can be adjusted with the locks that are on the top of the legs that attach to the main body. Just pull, adjust, then push back. One nice thing about the MeFoto A1340 is when it's folded all the way with the midpart tucked in, the total length for it is around 17 inches...with the ballhead attached. It actually fits in really nice inside my suitcase. It is one of the reasons I bought this. Fully extended, the tripods height is around 62 inches.

Really compact when folded.
The MeFoto A1340 converts to a monopod when you need one. It's actually buying two things in one. One of the legs unscrews and attaches to the middle tube that holds the ballhead. The bottom cap that includes the hook that attaches to the middle tube attaches to one of the legs when in monopod mode so you don't lose it. The monopod isn't too bad at all. I carried the monopod almost all day everyday in Florida when I shoot birds, and it did its job. The only gripe I had with the monopod is that it is not as compact as a real monopod which folds down to like 17 inches. Also the foam part isn't as high as it is on a real monopod which is really useful when carrying the monopod with your camera on in your shoulders. The foam part makes the monopod comfortable to carry because it cushions the metal tube against your shoulder. If you're really uncomfortable then I suggest getting an actual standalone monopod for that...or you can attach foam into the middle tube of the MeFoto A1340.

The bottom cap attaches to one leg when in monopod mode.
The ballhead that comes with the MeFoto A1340 is really nice. It feels like a higher priced ballhead. I suppose it's because it's made by Benro which is one of the best ballhead manufacturers around. The ballhead features 3 knob adjustments for rotation, ballhead position and friction...which is pretty handy when doing macro shots. The Arca swiss compatible mount has a bubble level. The lock for the mount feels nice too. The ballhead does not slip when tightened, even with a larger lens mounted on the body. The ballhead includes an Arca swiss compatible plate that has screws on the side to prevent slippage when the mount isn't tightened all the way. Although you'd have to unscrew these if you are using the plate with other Arca swiss compatible ballheads because it's not universal.

Easily becomes a monopod.
The tripod feels solid for being a travel tripod. Although it is not as stable as higher end tripods from Manfrotto, Gitzo or other more expensive tripods, it is pretty good for its price. It feels like its more expensive that what it really is. I've tried this with a 70-200 2.8 lens attached to my 5D MK2 as well as a 400mm f5.6 and the tripod still feels pretty stable even when fully extended. The best thing I liked about this tripod is the ballhead and the monopod conversion. For around $200 you really can't beat having a monopod and a tripod in one.

Monday, January 7, 2013

BlackRapid RS-Sport-2

BlackRapid RS-Sport-2
Using the stock camera strap that came with your camera isn't bad...when you are using the kit lens that came with it or any other lenses that are less than a pound in weight, or when going on a not so lengthy walk just taking snapshots of whatever. When you are going hiking with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached to your body with the strap around the back of your neck you've got a problem. That weight tugging on your neck can give you neck strain that will stay with you for a couple of days...that's bad news when you're on vacation or on a trip.

The "R" logo that comes with the BlackRapid straps.
After using the BlackRapid RS-Sport strap, I swore to never go back to using the stock strap that came with my cameras. In fact I still have the stock strap that came with my 6D still brand new in packaging. I'm pretty sure that I'm never gonna bother using that anymore.
The RS-Sport-2 comes with a strap that goes under your arm.
BlackRapid straps are awesome for comfort. This is because the strap never goes around the back of your neck. It goes around your shoulder down to the bottom of your right waist. The shoulder supports the strap instead of your neck which is more comfortable. This relieves the wearer from neck pain.

Just grab and go when you are ready.
The BlackRapid RS-Sport-2 includes a strap that goes under your arm that prevents the strap from moving while you walk or take a shot with your camera. It keeps the strap in its original position no matter what. That's the difference of the Sport series strap from the regular BlackRapid strap such as the cargo, classic or curve. Other than that everything is pretty much the same.

The strap doesn't move and stays in place.
The strap comes with the BlackRapid Connectr (CR-2) which clamps on to the Fastenr (FR-3) which attaches to the tripod mount screw underneath your camera body. The mount is far I've never had my camera fall when I attach it to the RS-Sport-2. One thing you have to remember is to make sure you screw the safety lock in the Connectr when you attach it to the Fastenr, failing to do so may accidentally release your camera body from the strap. The camera basically weighs itself down when you're not holding it. It's kinda awkward at first but I got so used to it that I even attach a 400mm lens with my camera body attached to it and it still feels pretty secure.

The camera will weigh itself down when you're not holding it.
The RS-Sport-2 is nicely padded for that extra comfort that you need when taking long walks and hikes. I've brought mine to a hike for a couple of hours and I never felt any discomfort in my shoulders after.
The RS-Sport-2 comes with the box, strap, and the Fastenr that attaches to your camera.
The BlackRapid RS-Sport-2 is around $69 online. It comes with everything that you need to securely attach it to your camera. Try one and you'll never go back to your old strap. I highly recommend it. For more information about BlackRapid straps, check their link here.