About Me

My photo
Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Simple Gear to Improve Your Photography






Pemaquid Light
 Sue and I are getting ready to head off to Camden Maine for a few days at the beginning of next week.  Hopefully we will catch some nice color, but as a result, this week’s blog will be a short equipment recommendation.  It great to talk about the latest cameras or big lens’, but some of the most important gear are not the most expensive, but things that fit, almost invisibly, into your everyday process.  For me one of those simple but essential pieces of equipment, which I use on every shot, is my L Bracket.


Gearing up at the Maine Media Workshop


Marshall Point Light
Back several years ago I took a wonderful workshop at the Maine Media Workshops with Vermont landscape photographer David Middleton.  Early fall was a perfect time to explore the Maine coast with a small group of enthusiastic photographers.  I had been attracted to David’s workshop after reading his book on photography in Vermont.  It was a helpful guide but what really interested me was David’s no sense approach to photography.   Over the course of a week we had a wonderful and exhausting time shooting the coastal icons including Marshal Point Light, Rockport Harbor, Stonington, and   Pemaquid Light.  I had a great time and caught some wonderful shots, but the most long-lasting part of the workshop came at the end.  It was just a wrinkled piece of paper.




Throughout the week David gently critiqued, both our
photographic technique, and our equipment.  He kept coming up with recommendations about how I could up-grade my kit.  Among other things, he suggested a new, sturdier tripod and ball
David Middleton hard at work
head, a set of variable neutral density filters and an L-Bracket.  It was a substantial list and I told David that I would need a note for my wife justifying the purchase of this essential equipment.  And he came through.  On a crumpled piece of paper he scribbled the list of gear along with his assurance that the acquisition of these items would make me a more proficient and satisfied photographer and therefore a much more pleasant spouse.  Surprisingly Susan went for it and didn’t crumble as I gleefully went on a  B&H shopping spree.  Off all the equipment that David recommended the L-Bracket probably had the most significant impact on my day-to-day photography.

 



The L-Bracket
Simply stated an L-bracket looks like a roll cage added to the outside of your camera.  It allows the camera to be quickly attached to a tripod in either the horizontal or vertical position and makes switching from one orientation to the other a very simple and fluid procedure.

 




Walpole Town Hall Color, Landscape



Portrait Orientation
The L-bracket has a number of important advantages over a fixed attachment to a tripod.  After taking shots in the horizontal (or landscape) position, I often want to grab the same scene in the vertical (portrait) mode.  With the camera fixed to the plate, I have to flip the body over to the side of the tripod.  The result is that the framing changes as the camera moves
Miss Aligned
& Unbalanced
down and to the side of its original position making recomposing necessary.  Additionally, with the camera hanging off to the side, the tripod becomes less stable and more subject to accident and vibration.  With the L-bracket, the camera stays centered stably over the tripod legs and the framing of the image is not altered.  The difference is especially noticeable when photographing subjects which are close to the camera.  You will be surprised what a difference this makes in capturing the exact composition that you want. 

 




L-Bracket Aligned & Stable





The L-bracket also provides some protection to the camera. This is an unintended benefit and the bracket doesn't cover the entire body, but this "roll-cage" has saved me a few times from drop-related damage.  Besides it  looks cool.

 











Engulfed, Portrait
L-brackets are available for a range of cameras.  They are generally custom designed for each body to allow access to all the important
buttons and connectors.  Arc-Swiss is the most common connector and you must have a head which takes this system, but older tripods can usually be adapted for this connector.  L-brackets are widely available.  Mine came from Kirk photo, but really Right Stuff is also a reliable source.  Depending on the camera they range in price from $125-nearly $200.  It may seem like a lot of money for a piece of metal, but it is well worth the expense.   This is something you will use on every shot, so don't skimp on the quality. I typically order my L-Bracket at the same time that I order a new camera. 






Bracket Custom Cut for Connectors


If you don't have one already I would strongly suggest that you consider getting an L-Bracket for your camera.  You will find it makes a simple but persistent improvement in your work.

Really Right Stuff has a nice video which demonstrates the use and benefits of L-brackets.

 Jeff Newcomer

partridgebroo0kreflections.com

2 comments:

  1. G'day Jeff,

    I've been meaning to pick up one of these L Brackets for my Canon 5D Mark III. Would you recommend the Really Right Stuff bracket? Thanks, Gustav

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gustav
      I have a Kirk L-Bracket and have been happy with it, but Really Right Stuff also makes excellent "Stuff" as well. Don't think you can go wrong.
      Jeff

      Delete