Sticking To Your Post - With Manfrotto And Cullmann
Saturday night last was a revelation for me. I attended a hafla - a dance show for Middle Eastern dance - at a local school auditorium. The evening was four hours of wonderful dancing to terrible music by talented dancers in colourful costumes. I hasten to add that the experience is not new - I do a half dozen of these a year. What was new was the equipment I took along.
Camera the same, flash the same, flash bracket the same...even the same old sandwich and bottle of beer in the camera case. The new bit was the monopod.
Four hours of holding a heavy DSLR rig is no fun, particularly if you are in a kneeling rifleman's position. Eventually your arms start to ache. This time I supported the weight of the camera and flash assembly on a Manfrotto carbon-fibre monopod and only had to concern myself with the zooming and firing. I was able to sit on a chair for some of the time as well, and my toes thanked me for it.
The one worrisome point was the fact that I had the camera in landscape position for most of the evening - fine for the wide shots when the whole troupe comes out, but it meant some cropping for portrait orientation on individual dancers. Fortunately my Nikon camera at 400ISO will support this sort of trimming and the resultant images should be all that the dancers could desire.
Oh, the blessed relief to be able to let the Earth support the weight and just move the camera around.
It struck me that the video people would also appreciate this facility with the dedicated Manfrotto monopod you see in the heading photograph. The thing stands fully a man's height and is in itself heavy enough to take even large video rigs. The fluid head means smooth pan and tilt and the monopod is equipped with a very wide-pread foot for use in boggy ground. There is a self-centering mechanism in that foot that basically allows the monopod to stand upright of its own accord, as long as there is no camera on top.
I know monopods are not new to Perth photographers, and they are in the basic pack of many sports shooters. But there may be far more uses for the theatre and wedding people - particularly if they want to make use of lower light and a slower shutter speed. I know I was able to drop my basic speed to 1/15 second for the dancers - the flash froze them, the background burned in, and there are the occasional little speed lines where a fringe of beads moved. Magic.