Ian Spanier takes us through how he battled the crowds and rain at Luftgakuhit auto show to capture some unique, low angle photography.
How do you show subject motion in still photography? It's easy, just slow down the shutter speed. The problem is that if you're hand holding your camera, everything else gets blurry as well.
When Larry, CEO of Platypod and inventor of our tripods, took a Sunday stroll to the Highline in Chelsea, New York City, he thought it would be a great opportunity to test out his new invention, Ultra (preorder via Kickstarter). Due to the high flow of pedestrian traffic on the busy New York City walking path, spreading out tripod legs would be inappropriate and possibly hazardous, not mention how cumbersome it would be to haul on the mile long trail. Larry designed Ultra specifically for these types of situations, for places where traditional tripods just won't work.
The first photo of people walking along the path illustrates a few photographic and compositional principles. What makes an image interesting is often the way the elements lead the eye through the image. First-stop along the way is usually something bright or colorful, especially the color red, as in the man's sweater and the woman's top. Next, the eye moves through the "S" shaped curve of the path and along leading lines, seen in the railings at the two edges of the picture. It helps to have a story in the image as well and if you spend a few more seconds you notice the next element that grabs the eye, the two children posing for a photo as by passers look on with a grin that says "oh how cute" is the sharpest part of the picture.
What makes this photo work are the people moving at different paces as well as having sharp elements in the surroundings and background. To achieve the slow exposure of 1/4 second in bright sunlight Larry employed four simple techniques:
- Stop down to the smallest aperture available which on this 24 to 70 mm zoom lens was f/22.
- Utilize the lowest ISO possible, in this case 50.
- Use a polarizer or neutral density filter.
- Stabilize the camera with a Platypod Ultra placed on the corner of a handrail overlooking the crowd, strapped to the rail and through the fence below tightly and some counter-pressure from a spike foot.
Once the set up is done, just wait for the magic to happen with brightly colored clothes and two cute kids posing for the snapshot.
The next shot occurred further down the promenade in a covered area with artists selling their sketches.
Larry uses his standard tripods often, but there are some situations where they just aren't the right tool for the job.
By Ian Spanier - commercial and editorial portrait, travel, outdoor/adventure and fitness photographer
For one of my Right Next Door Series featured on Huffpost, I was set to photograph Heidi Volpe, a champion singel track bike racer, creative director, popcorn company owner, cancer survivor and cricket eater. We had arrange to do the shoot in the hills of Topanga Canyon, Ca- near her home. We would be hiking in to get a scenic spot up on one of the trails that is similar to what she trains on. Since this was a personal project, I would be managing this solo. Knowing we would be hiking, and the fact I would need a tripod for video, as well as a light for my subejct in order to stay consistent with the rest of the project I had some decisions to make.
First would be to travel as light as possible. Second, to come up with a solution so I could avoid lugging a heavy C-Stand with me for the light. I could have taken a lightweight stand, but given how windy it’s been this winter- I didn’t think that was going to work. I decided to take my Platypod Max and place it on top of my lightweight tripod. I added a simple light pin and tested how it would hold a Profoto B1 head. It worked great. Everything was very balanced, and thanks to the hook under my tripod, I could hang my Lowepro backback under it.
I had managed to fit all my camera and lighting gear in my bag, so the extra weight would serve as a perfect sand bag. The Platypod’s minimal quality slid perfectly amongst my various items. This was no doubt a better solition than a bulky C-Stand or a lightweight light stand.
As much as I love to use the Platypod for my cameras, it has also come in very handy as a floor plate- and now as a makeshift lightstand atop my tripod.
By Ian Spanier
We can’t think of anything more difficult than taking steady shots in a crowded area where traditional tripods are just impractical. Photographing the New York City Marathon must be one of the most difficult places to shoot due to there being so many onlookers. Photographer Harry Chefitz was documenting the 2016 New York City Marathon and was fortunate enough to capture US hero Amanda McGrory, three-time medalist in the 2016 Paralympic games.
Harry explains that he set up his Canon Rebel T1i on a Platypod Pro and had his assistant (14-year-old daughter) take images while he manned a hand held. In post-production he stitched together three images to make the above shot, allowing him to express the motion in a still image.
Harry says “It was easy to merge in Photoshop because the background was perfectly aligned in all the photos. I simple imported each photo as a layer and masked two of the photos to show only the athlete.”
Canon Rebel T1i
Canon Lens EF 40mm 1:2.8 STM
ProMediaGear PBX3 L-Bracket
Really Right Stuff Lever release clamp
Arca Swiss Monoball P-Series tripod head
Platypod Pro Tripod Base
While traveling through Eilat and shopping for presents for their granddaughters, Larry (the CEO and inventor) and Mina (Larry’s wife and co-owner of Platypod Pro) happened upon this nice lady named Irit at the beach side bazaar. Decades ago she and her husband started up a personalized jewelry business where they write someone's name in nearly any language in fine print on a grain of rice. The rice is then inserted with other ornaments, such as tiny beads and flowers, into a capsule with fluid and sealed. The trinket is then used in bracelets and necklaces. Irit is very proud that they were the local originators of this art, however business has been hard lately since many have copied their trade. Loving her passion and story, Larry and Mina bought nine necklaces for their girls.
Larry became enamored with her work and just had to capture her art. Luckily he always carries Max in his backpack, so he can easily document his travels. Irit kindly cleared a few square inches of her crowded counter space for Max and Larry was able to get these macro shots quickly and easily.
Boy, Duke Farms has some beautiful flowers. As we walked around I couldn’t help but pull out my camera and start snapping. Jumping around and quickly taking handheld shots. But when I came to the river scene I knew I had to stop and pause.
"A while back we had a cool product on the Photofocus website. The folks over at Platypod made a small little portable plate that you could put a ball head on. Well actually Scott [Bourne], they have come back with a bigger version that they are going to be releasing for sale on June 1st. I have actually got a prototype in my hand, it’s called the Platypod Max and it is essentially a base plate that you attach your regular ball head to so you get all the stability off the top part of your tripod, you just bring your own ball head off your tripod, but now you can set this on the ground for low angles.
Levi Sim, one of our writers, has played with it and put it on trees, rocks, stumps, top of a sign, garbage can, doesn’t matter. I have used it in lots of places, I took it all around Dubai with me where a tripod would have gotten in trouble. I was in the bridge khalifa, there I am shooting a busy mall and I just found a ledge, set it down- no grief. I am up at the top, shooting through windows, shooting down- no grief. You bring a large full size tripod and everyone notices you. You have a small little base plate like this and no big deal.
So we will have a link and a review on the Photofocus website here so you can take a look at that and hear some creative stories of how to use it. But the Platypod Max is another solution that I like and I just keep it in my camera bag because it weighs about half a pound, it is a thin metal plate that is easy to attach to a ball head. So I always believe in bringing all three of those, I like my tripod, I will take my monopod for when I need to compromise, and I will bring a plate so I will always have stability. I do a lot of of things like time lapse and HDR and having that stable platform is a must for my type of photography." Richard Harrington of Photofocus
The above is transcribed from The Q & A Show by Photofocus. Listen to it below: