Monday, November 7, 2011

String Around Your Finger

Okay, so you remember I mentioned a thousand years ago just a few posts back? Well, this wasn’t quite that long ago, but it was at least before cell phones. And yes, there once was a time when you had to find a booth if you wanted to make a call outside the office or house.

So before there were cell phones, we used to shoot pictures with film. I know, taking the picture and then waiting while it went to the lab and came back before we could tell what we had, positively ancient. And most of us shot slide film cause print film was outrageously expensive and if you didn’t have a client to charge it off against you had to pay for it yourself and there was never enough money, so slides were a whole lot cheaper.

Then you had to deal with the whole internegative thing to get them printed and that was another trip to the lab and more waiting and probably it was one of those guys shooting slides who invented the whole digital thing to cut out all of the waiting.

But that was the way it was and film was no big help either. We thought Ektachrone 64 was blazing fast and boy-howdy when I heard about labs pushing Ektachrone to 160 ASA I almost swallowed my gum.

See in those days the mark of a really good photographer was to take a hand-held camera with a longish lens and crank it wide open in some brightly lit venue like a club or arena and get the picture anyway. No they didn’t allow flash and would probably thump you pretty good if you popped off a strobe so that wasn’t a good idea.

Trying to hold an 85 m/m steady opened up to F1.4 in near dark was the true test of a photographer and I could do it most nights of the week. I had a peach of a Komura lens that could see in the dark and that helped some, but it was mostly young nerves and muscles.

Now days I find I’m not so steady. Guess I’m getting old; sometimes I shake when I try to get a shot across the bar with the mega-zoom cranked out to there.

But for all of us old codgers there is a trick that turns back the clock and makes muscles and nerves act like they were twenty years old again.

It’s a string tripod. Okay it isn’t really string, but rope tripod just sounds clumsy. The idea is to take a bit of rope and tie it to your belt or step on it and pull it tight while the other end is tied to the camera. You probably don’t want to actually tie the rope around the camera, but what you can do is tie the rope to a screw eye bolt and use that to screw it into the tripod socket of the camera.

That won’t work, I heard you say, but it really does. You pull the line tight and by working against the tension of the tight line you keep the camera steady. It’s just like you learned to use a rifle strap on an M1 back at Paris Island…okay, so you were only nine and never went to Paris Island, lucky you, or you were a girl sort of person and didn’t have to learn how to wrap a rifle strap around your forearm to steady your shot. Ask your ole man, he’ll love a chance to talk about The Day and think you are swell because you asked him something.

Now you can go out and buy this nifty, neat and cool store-bought goodie from Steady Web Tripod, but making one up is probably better for your self-esteem. You remember that was one of those categories on your report card you never really understood like deportment and self-control, but so long as you got a B or so it was okay?

Try it out the next time you want to grab a shot and find that it is really too far away. Might not help a bit, but then you won’t get to say “I told you so,” if you don’t try it.

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