Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2014

Sunrise on Cayman Brac (Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm leans, & Manfrotto BeFree Tripod

Cayman Brac Sunrise (Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens)

During my recent trip to the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands, Gentect International the Canadian distributor for Manfrotto tripods was kind enough to loan me the Manfrotto BeFree, which is a small lightweight tripod designed for travel. When the tripod arrived at my home just prior to my departing I knew instantly that this lovely little tripod would be perfect for my travels, and throughout my trip I was constantly reminded why having a small light weight tripod is so beneficial for travel.  Whether I was using my wide angle zoom or my large and heavy Nikon 80-400 mm VR lens the tripod met my expectations of what should be expected in a travel tripod – lightweight yet sturdy.

Great Egrets in Cayman Brac Wetland (Nikon D800 & Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens

Great Egrets in Cayman Brac Wetland (Nikon D800 & Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens)

First and foremost the Befree Tripod comes with an attractive and very useful carrying bag. I would often hang the tripod from the handlebars of a bicycle to ride down the road to nearby photo destinations.

Manfrotto BeFree Tripod Bag

Manfrotto BeFree Tripod Bag

The Manfrotto Befree Tripod weighs in at only 3lbs and is 15.75 inches in length when fully closed and boasts a maximum payload of 8.8 lbs. As is the case with most tripods designed for travel it is not overly tall when fully extended. With the center column extended the tripod will reach a height of 56.7 inches and 48.4 inches tall when the center column is not extended. Since I am 6 foot 1 inch I did find this a tad short, but I also much prefer to photograph my landscapes from a lower perspective, so this was not really too big of a concern to me. Also, it should be noted that when any tripod’s center column is extended the stability of said tripod becomes immediately less stable. As a result I was not extending the center column during use, and I would advise strongly that folks avoid extending the center column of any tripod unless they absolutely need to do so.

The Manfrotto Befree Tripod comes with its very own mini ballhead incorporating Manfrotto’s quick release system that has been in use for a number of years. I have found this to be a very functional system that provides the convenience and stability a photographer would need. The quick release plates easily screw into the tripod threads on your camera by means of a collapsible-type of thumb screw and once tightened to the camera you can then tighten a small set-screw to prevent the quick release plate from twisting during use.

Three features I particularly liked about this tripod were; one of the legs has a rubber section incorporated into it which I found greatly improved the carrying comfort and which would be very handy for use in cold climates. Secondly, each leg has a silver adjustment tab that allows each leg to adjust independantly for use on uneven terrain or to fold it down for storage inside the carrying bag. Lastly, the legs of the Befree are four section legs that are controlled by three lever-type cam-locks. I found closing and locking the levers to be a very simple process, I would loosen each leg-lock, close the legs, and then with one simple motion use the palm of my hand in a rolling motion to close all three of the locks.

The leg-locking levers and mini ballhead are protected by misuse from airport baggage handlers due to the manner in which the Befree folds down for travel. The leg-locking levers and ballhead are protected by being positioned inside the sturdy aluminum tripod legs.

Below you will see a series of images that better illustrate the fantastic features mentioned above. Please click on each image to see the larger, sharper versions. If you are looking for a small, light weight tripod for your next travel adventure do consider the Manfrotto BeFree. I found it to be an amazingly light, yet sturdy tripod that ensured I was able to create the tack sharp images I demand from my work. This tripod will become my brand new companion for all of my travel photography needs.

Manfrotto BeFree Tripod

Manfrotto BeFree Tripod

Manfrotto Quick Release Ballhead

Manfrotto Quick Release Ballhead (note base is notched for storage too)

Manfrotto Quick release Plates

Manfrotto Quick release Plates

Rubber Carrying Handle Incorporated Onto Tripod Leg

Rubber Carrying Handle Incorporated Onto Tripod Leg

Three Position Leg Adjustment Tab

Three Position Leg Adjustment Tab

One Hand Technique For Closing Leg Locks

One Hand Technique For Closing Leg Locks

Folded Position For Travel (Leg Locks and Ballhead Protected)

Folded Position For Travel (Leg Locks and Ballhead Protected)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Barn Owl in Cave on Cayman Brac

Barn Owl in Cave on Cayman Brac

Before I left for my trip to the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands I was aware of the Barn Owl population on the island. My research had informed me that these owls use the numerous caves found along the island’s bluff as roosting sites. On several nights while I was photographing treefrogs I could hear these owls calling nearby and did witness a couple of late night fly-bys too. My guide on the island had directed me to a couple of caves that would be productive, but the owls were to wary and would fly out when I would try to make my approach. Eventually my guide and I traveled to the eastern end of the island for an owl that was more tolerant of folks inside the cave. After climbing halfway up the bluff we made our way down into a large cavernous cave and sure enough a Barn Owl sat near the top of the cave, which was open to the sky, undisturbed by our presence. I quickly created numerous compositions of this owl, both wide views and tight crops. For the wider views I utilized the pop-up flash on my Nikon D800 to help illuminate the cave walls inside. Each of the images in this post were created with a handheld Nikon 80-400mm VR lens and to better describe how dark it was inside the cave I dialed in an ISO setting of 5000. Having previously tested my Nikon D800 at very high ISOs I did not hesitate to dial this setting in and fire away 🙂

Which of these photographs is your favorite?

Barn Owls are an extremely rare sight here in southern Ontario, so having the opportunity to photograph wild specimens on Cayman Brac was a real treat during this recent trip.

Please click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

Barn Owl in Cave

Barn Owl in Cave on Cayman Brac

Barn Owl in Cave on Cayman Brac

Barn Owl in Cave on Cayman Brac

 

Read Full Post »

Sunrise on the Caribbean Island of Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands

Sunrise on the Caribbean Island of Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands

It has been a most hectic week for me since my return from paradise on the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac within the Cayman Islands. I have been busy sending submissions to clients and preparing my entries for the BBC / Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, which closes on February 27th. I held off on entering any images until my return from Cayman Brac as I felt the island held many great possibilities for imagery that would be worthy of entering into this year’s competition – I entered 6 images from my recent trip into the contest.

Each and every morning I would set the alarm to wake me about forty-five minutes before sunrise. I would then walk down to the beach and commence capturing numerous sunrise images. When photographing sunrise scenes it is always a best practice to get into the habit of looking behind you to see what is going on in the western skies, as I did on the morning I created the above photograph. To accurately record the lovely pinkish tones I use my Singh-Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter and because I was photographing at daybreak just before sun-up my exposure was long enough to pleasingly blur the ocean waves.

During my trip to Cayman Brac I really wanted to travel as lightly as possible, which was made possible by Gentec International the Canadian distributor of Manfrotto Tripods. Gentec was kind enough to loan me the new Manfrotto BeFree Tripod for my trip to Cayman Brac. Please keep an eye open next week for my full review of this wonderful tripod that makes traveling a breeze.

Do remember to click on the image above to see the larger, sharper version.

Read Full Post »

Octopus, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Octopus, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

I returned home from the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands. Cayman Brac is a small island, which is 12 miles long and averages 1.5 miles wide with a population of approximately 1200 very friendly people and fabulous Conch Chowder. Leaving the island to head back to the snow and cold was hard to do. Throughout my 12 day stay on the island I experienced numerous very special photographic opportunities on land and in the deep blue sea. One such opportunity took place when I reach forward, grabbing a rock to steady myself in a strong current when the rock moved and out shot a small Octopus. I was delighted that the Octopus only swam about 5 feet away before coming to rest on the sea floor in about 6 feet of water. I was using my Sony RX100 in an underwater housing with ambient light, so this shallow water setting was perfect for retaining color within the scene (more on this in a future post). I snorkeled around the octopus for about half an hour creating numerous compositions before it slowly moved to a less photogenic location. The Sony RX100 is a powerful point and shoot camera for underwater photographic applications and I shot with it in the RAW mode (which creates a 20Mb file) the entire time so that I would have full control while optimizing the images upon my return home.

In the coming weeks I will share many more images from this trip and my rookie adventures into the wonderful world of underwater photography.

Please remember to click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.

Read Full Post »

Snowdrift, Thornton, Ontario

Snowdrift, Thornton, Ontario

I am bound for the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac, which is the most easterly of the Cayman Islands. As a result, the blog will be relatively quite for the next two weeks, but if I can find a wifi connection I will stop by with a Smartphone Snap update. I am quite excited about this trip for a number of reasons. First and foremost I am going to try my hand at underwater photography and secondly there is a wide variety of wildlife subjects to photograph including; numerous species of wading birds, Ground Boas, Cayman Racers (another type of snake), Iguanas, Parrots, Brown Booby (nesting season), crabs, and even several frog species 🙂

As I write this post we are being hit with yet another round of snow from Mother Nature. Around my home the road signs are virtually buried in snowbanks, and the wild winds of last week have created many cool snowdrifts along the county roads as well. On my way to pick my daughter up from school the other day I had a few minutes to kill so I decided to grab a couple of fresh snowy pics to share. Hope you like the new photos. I’m outta here – palm trees and sand here I come 🙂

On a side note – the February issue of Denise Ippolito’s Creative Photography eMini-Magazine is now available, please click here to check it out, and to see the article by yours truly click here. To check out Denise Ippolito’s blog follow this link.

Please remember to click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

Winter Farm Scene, Thornton, Ontario

Winter Farm Scene, Thornton, Ontario

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: