To me a tripod is vital as I love long exposures. I started out with a very cheap one from Dixons which was a ‘proof of concept’ purchase. When it broke I looked for a better quality one. I visited a good camera shop and worked my way up the price range until I found one I though suited in both handling, weight and cost. It’s a Velbon but that is chance – it could quite easily have been one of several other makes.
What I didn’t appreciate at the time was how useful having legs that could adjust independently would be. It’s not quite as stable as one where they are braced, but it lets me use it in all sorts of situations where a braced tripod simply couldn’t be used. It has a quick release plate which lives on the bottom of the camera. When I got my super-size lens with a tripod mount I got a second release plate.
I love filmy shots of water as you can see from a number of my images. Originally I was setting the lowest ISO and stopping down, and in dark places that worked. However I realised I needed more control so invested in some P-size Cokin-style ND filters. These have a couple of advantages over conventional screw-in filters:
- They can be used on any lens – all I have to do is buy the correct size filter ring, which is a relatively cheap item;
- They can be stacked to a degree without causing significant vignetting;
Sometimes I’ve stacked them, and I aim to start with ISO 100 and a reasonable aperture – say f8 – and use the LCD on the back of the camera to check the effect.
I have a lots of 35mm slides and negatives and wanted to digitalise them, so I took a deep breath and brought a Nikon LS500 ED scanner, and from Ebay a slide feeder for it. It does a terrific job in no small part because of the Digital ICE software. I scanned all my slides fairly quickly, but scanning the negatives is taking time as they are relatively fiddly to feed and scan. The EXIF for scanned images says the camera is an ‘Nikon SUPER COOLSCAN 5000 ED’.
Bits and pieces
Of course there is a bit more to it than a camera, tripod and ND filters… I take a spare battery & memory card, the printed manual and a remote release if I go with ‘all the kit’, and I have a photographer’s rucksack to make it all easier to carry. I could do with a tripod bag as well!
Of course I also have a printer or three…