Feature Story

Ballhead & Tripod rule the night

US Capitol Building
The US Capitol Dome
The US Capitol Dome
The US Capitol Dome
The Washington Monument
Washington Monument
Abraham Lincoln Monument
Lincoln Monument
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Ballhead & Tripod rule the night.

In a previous contribution to JPGMAG I talked about the dynamic duo of Ballhead & Tripod. I explained what a Ballhead is and how it compliments the stability of a tripod and provided you with the web address of a good company where you could purchase the dynamic duo of Ballhead & Tripod if you so choose.

In this article, I am going to try to explain and show what the dynamic duo of Ballhead & Tripod can accomplish. And why you cannot and should not always hold your beloved camera in your hands.

A few days ago I was looking at a widget on my Apple PowerBook G4 called VelaClock which allows me to see the time in different cites around the world and when the sun and moon will rise and set. On this particular day the moon was scheduled to rise around 2000 Hrs or 8:00 PM. This is a very handy widget if astronomical events are of any interest to you? You can obtain this widget at www.veladg.com. I have no idea if it works on windows machines.

I then checked the weather and knew this would be a good cloud free no haze night to take some pictures of the US Capitol Building and the full moon as it rises from behind this magnificent structure. Quickly I called the dynamic duo of Ballhead & Tripod as I knew I was going to need their services for the long exposures we were about to take.

When I arrived at the US Capitol Building with the dynamic duo of Ballhead & Tripod, we set up on the lawn and were quickly and very politely informed by the US Capitol Police that we needed a permit to be on the Capitol grounds. We thanked the Capitol Police for the information, apologized for not knowing the rules and moved across the street which actually got us a better view and ultimately better pictures. Keep this in mind if you are going to the US Capitol Building with a tripod.

As the moon began to rise Ballhead & Tripod, and I were disappointed to discover that the full moon is actually quite a bit brighter than the illuminated Capitol dome, so as with most things in life we had to compromise. Either the moon looked great, or the Capitol dome looked great. However, after several dozen exposures we found a happy compromise of f-stop, shutter speed and focal length which gave us some fairly nice images of the moon and part of the US Capitol dome.

All of the exposures required the services of Ballhead & Tripod because every exposure was much longer than what can be accomplished by holding the camera in your hands. Our exposure times ranged from one tenth of a second all the way up to thirty seconds. Obviously, those time are much to long to hold a camera in your hands. Especially, when you consider the very long focal lengths, we were using to compress the US Capitol dome and the moon. I believe the average focal length was in the 200mm or higher range and in several of the shots I had my 70-300mm lens fully extended to 300mm. Not a good thing to be holding in your hands when the exposure time will be measured in tens of seconds rather than thousands of a second.

After we acquired several good shots of the US Capitol Dome and the rising full moon Ballhead & Tripod and, I strolled down the mall to the Washington Monument which sits on a very nice little hill surrounded by American Flags. From this vantage point you can see the Lincoln Monument, the World War II Memorial and the US Capitol building. With the help of Ballhead & Tripod, we were able to get some nice images of the Lincoln Monument and the US Capitol building with the American flags waving in the fore ground. I hope you can see the movement of the flags. As you should be able to see in these images Ballhead & Tripod were indispensable. After finishing up at the Washington Monument we proceeded further along the mall to a vantage point just beyond the World War II Memorial where you can get a good view at the Lincoln Monument and see its reflection in the reflecting pool. These images also required the assistance of Ballhead & Tripod. Finally, we finished up the night at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Memorial.

Take a look at the pictures attached to this story and judge for yourself if the dynamic duo of Ballhead & Tripod have served me well.

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—The JPG team

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