The low down with the tripod!

Well its an exciting day for me – at last I have a good tripod and head combo – the Manfrotto 055XPOOB legs and the Manfrotto 322RC2 head. The legs let me go down to 10cm of the ground with the centre pole set to the horizontal – which means camera head too is set to the horizontal. This would be a problem for most heads, but the 322 will twist and let you keep the camera in the normal viewing position – at last something to get low down with for macro and wildlife.
I am back home again so its stuff from the garden that is getting the low down tripod treatment

All shots taken with:
Cannon ESO 400D
Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro lens
Tripod 055XPROB + 322RC2

For settings save pic to pc and review properties

Day 1
Swan Goose

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Emperor Goose

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Two nice profile head shots taken at a low height – the lighting and quality is a little lacking in the emperor goose though. For the Swan I used the burn tool in photoshop to take some control of the whites, but thankfully they were well under control this time around – backgrounds in both are a little distracting, but not unreasonable. I also shot both of these shots on f16 – something that I don’t normally do for wildlife as I normally stay in the f5.6 area. This time around it was an accident as I had been shooting some flower macro shots before and left the camera in the wrong settings – well wrong is subjective because it has really captured the depth in these two shots of the bird – though I hasten to add that I was close to these birds so a greater depth of field over that given by f5.6 is needed. However as you can see it has brought out the background most so as a result.

Carolina Wood Duck

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Two nice shots taken low down in the grass where I found the tripod better than the cushion, which whilst letting me get lower was not as stable and also lead to me getting too much grass in the foreground. The only shame was the other duck getting in the way of the first shot. By this time I was back to my normal aperture settings – not sure if it was a valid change this time around though.

Flowers

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First off two shots that I would not have been able to get with the older tripod as it simply would not let me get low enough with the lens. So first of again a very please me with the tridpod and also very pleased at these results.

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This shot really sums up possibly the strongest area of the sigma lens – its not a great wildlife lens as it falls of in quality with the longer focal lengths and it simply does not allow for true 1:1 macro photography, but for flowers with a 300mm macro the lens really excels in being able to lose all the background wonderfully whilst the close up of the flower retains all its detail and clarity. A very good shot (if I do say so myself) and one that I am very pleased to have taken.

Come the end of the day in a darker corner of the garden I spied a robin which kept visiting the same patch of ground again and again for food. So I ran off and came back with the camera and to my luck the bird kept visiting. I was able to get very close and get off a few shots – both with and without flash as the waning light made me cautious that my camera might not get enough details in.

Without Flash
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This worked well and looked better on screen than on the LCD on the back of the camera – enough light to get the details.

With Flash
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A little too much light and a little harsh. Part of this is because I don’t really need the flash in this case and the other is the fact that all I have to flash with is the built in flash for the 400D which is less than ideal.

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This shot came out much much better than I thought it would – being as it is a totally handheld shot from my sigma at something a good distance off. Even the fullsized version is not too bad in overall quality – a sure sign that I have got better with using the camera at some point along the way (and that for a moment I managed to hold it still enough!)

Lesson’s learnt

1) The sigma lens is really great for flower photography

2) Sometimes it better to use a smaller aperture for shooting wildlife

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