Surf Photography Using a Pistol Grip Tripod Head

Hi. This is Jay P Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens we’re out here at
Hannington beach taking pictures of surfers. The reason we’re doing this is to test our
new tripod here from Vanguard. This is a Vanguard-263. It’s the Alta Pro 263 and it’s got a GH-300T
ball head on it. I love these things when I’m shooting anything
that’s in a motion kind of situation. These kind of grip handles are fabulous. I’ve used them a lot from the very early days
when they came out. I just find them really effective and just
easy to shoot while on set especially if I’m gonna start dropping my camera like this and
moving. It just gives me so much flexibility to kind
of frame my frame, get my shot and just move on to the next shot really quickly. So I’m back button focusing and them I’m firing
the camera from the trigger here on the handle of the ball head. This is just a really nice setup. I can put different tensions on it here depending
on how loose I want this to roll with the tension knob. And then if I want I can just simply lock
this down. I can lock the tripod off and it’s not going
anywhere. So I’ve got the locking mechanism and/or the
friction, which the friction is really the way I use it for what we’re doing today because
we’re shooting surfers. It’s moving very quickly. I’m trying to follow the focus and shoot,
and this just gives me the ability on a 600-millimeter lens to keep that lens stabilized on the tripod
and the head set up, but also to give me the flexibility to follow the action, set my focus
with that back button focusing, and then fire away with the trigger on the handle. It’s a great setup for working out in this
kind of a situation. This comes both in Nikon and in Canon so you
can hook this up to your Canon or your Nikon camera, so it’ll just automatically trigger
from the camera, from the ball head. So there’s a locking mechanism here on the
collar that allows you to set this pistol grip at whatever angle you want. So if you’re working down like this and you
don’t want that your arm to be turned, just simply turn it, click on the next spot, and
now you can work with it in that…whatever way you wanna set it that’s gonna be comfortable
for your hand. Just has multiple places you can move this
thing all the way up. If you like this better…if this works for
you, you can do it. I’ve got this setup on manual. On manual, I’ll shoot a one-two thousandth
of a second for my shutter speed, I’ll be an F9 for my aperture because I’ve got a teleconverter
on my 150-millimeter to 600-millimeter lens and that teleconverter is going to require
me now to go to F9 because that’s gonna be the fastest this lens setup is with that teleconverter. But that’s okay because I’m in a very bright,
open sunlight situation or open cloud here. A lot of times on the stuff I shot at the
horse racing I would go to an auto ISO, I won’t do that here because the auto ISO is
gonna wanna take all this white and make it like a mid-tone grey which is gonna just be
too muddy and too dark. So I’m gonna set the ISO on my own. I’m just gonna have to watch the ISO and follow
it. Right now I’m about 2500 ISO but that’s been
kinda the extreme. When the sun comes out a little bit I’m about
at 800 ISO which is really where I’d like to be. I’d like to be at 800 ISO. It’s hard for me to feel like I’m gonna get
good images if I go much slower than 2000. I could go down to 12,000…I could go down
to 1250 and still get a pretty decent image. I may do that to bring this ISO up a little
bit because it’s gotten a little bit darker. Tip about exposure, just know that your meter
is gonna wanna make this 18% great when you got this whole white thing so you’re gonna
have to over-expose it just slightly. So if your meter says it’s good at standard
you’re probably gonna need to give it two-thirds of a stop to stop to be able to make that
look right. So just look at that, look on the back of
your camera, make sure it’s feeling right. But just know that there’s all this white
surf is probably gonna fool your meter just a little bit and make it too dark. But surfs kinda breaking up right now. It’s almost finished so we’re just about done
for the day. Whatever the surfs breaking up means? I mean, I act like I know what I’m doing out
here. Sure, the surf’s breaking up. Yeah, the surf’s breaking up, breaking up,
yeah, it’s kinda breaking up, that’s what I’m thinking, breaking right up there. Time to go have breakfast. But anyway, I keep this on my backpack all
the time. This is a BlackRapid Backpack Strap. So take off one side, hook it down the bottom
of your belt and now I’ve got a strap to be able to use my camera and let my camera drop
right here where I wanna use it. It’s really a great little addition to my
backpack. And I keep this just on each backpack so I
have it, and it’s available when I go to shoot. Look at that, our case has got sand all over
it. I’m gonna have to wash it off. [00:04:24]
[music] [00:04:43] We’ve got a Rebel T4i in here. Let’s see if it’s still dry inside this case. Except for the drips I just got on it when
I opened it, absolutely dry. Camera’s safe and ready to go. So I’ve really enjoyed shooting on this. It’s actually worked extremely well. You got the GH-300T, that’s the ball head. It has that friction head to be able to use
it in the shoot. On the carbon fiber just light sticks to make
it easy to haul this around. This set up worked out flawlessly for what
we were doing. Triggering from here worked out extremely
well because I’m focusing and focusing with my right thumb, and I’m just firing away with
my left hand. Just made it so I could shoot a lot faster
and a lot more images that way. This really is an action set up, but it works
extremely well in the studio when you’ve got a fashion kind of thing, somebody’s moving
a lot, just a nice set up to be able to follow actions and be able to make things happen. So there’s a look at the Alta Pro 263 and
the GH-300T. A great combination for your tripod for any
kind of action situation from fashion to surfing, just a great set up. So keep those cameras rolling, keep on clicking. If you love stop motion, you want to learn
how to do it? Get on to Go to our store, we’ve got a great download
there from Trisha Zemp, a beginning download that will teach you the basics of stop motion
and an advanced download that will help move your work to a professional level. Or you can bundle the two together at a greatly
reduced cost. So get over to Go to the store. Get your stop motion download. But this dude decides he’s gotta dig a big
hole in the sand right in front of where we’re shooting. There isn’t anybody on the rest of this entire
beach. Living in L.A, you gotta love it. Make sure you subscribe to “The Slanted Lens”
so bullies don’t kick sand in our face, or our ear, or our nose. So subscribe to “The Slanted Lens.”

9 thoughts on “Surf Photography Using a Pistol Grip Tripod Head”

  1. No sagging? I had a Manfrotto pistol grip years ago and the sagging made it unusable. I think it's holding a box down in the garage somewhere.

  2. I have the GH-300T, however since there are ways to fix it's friction (as the tightest setting still allows movement) I'm in the market for a new one… Apparently😕

  3. Off topic but serious question. Do you ever worry about looking like you are carrying a weapon? I distinctly remember a time I was walking down the the road with my gear and the police stopped in their car just ahead of me to take closer look and try to figure out what they were looking at. Made me rethink the flat black color scheme of just about every piece of gear I own. The pistol grips are nice but they do have a certain menacing look to them at first glance.

  4. Jay P,
    In the past you have shared a great deal of valuable knowledge. I have learned a whole lot from your video presentations, especially when it come to understanding lighting. However, I respectfully disagree and I feel compelled to advise those considering this pistol grip head for shooting surfing to Stay Away.
    In my onion the best head to shoot action and nature would have to be a first a gimbal head followed be a fluid head. A ball head especially with a lens attached to a tripod mount ring when trying to track a moving subject proves to be awkward at best. In addition pistol grips are not designed to handle a large lens and are noted for having a poor durability record. Yes anyone can get a few good shots if they're out long enough, bur their hit rate will be much greater with one or the other heads that I had mentioned.
    I'm sure that the pistol would be a fine choice for the right job, but in this case that's simply not so.

  5. Better watch where you go and where you point that thing with the pistol grip on it! I'm sure no photographers of color would feel safe using such a tripod head for fear of getting killed by police!

  6. Hi JP. You're my virtual mentor, mate lol please boss.. I own a Panasonic G85, do you think a tripod still necessary nowadays for a semi-pro surfing actions? Was wondering if the EIS is not enough to keep the camera stable… Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you! Cheers.

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