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The Grip!

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Nikon D300s + Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.4D at f/5.6, ISO200 1/200 Second, CLS triggered SB-900 camera left

Nikon D300s + Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.4D at f/5.6, ISO200 1/200 Second, CLS triggered SB-900 camera left

Or as Joe McNally (my hero) would call it, “Da Grip.” One of the many things I learned from studying Joe’s work is a camera hand-holding technique that I’ve found to be very solid (above left). The shoulder makes a steady base for the camera to rest on top of and keeps the camera’s center of gravity close to the body. The left hand can brace the right hand for extra support, or can even roam free to hold an off camera speedlight. It’s a great technique if you want to get your flash off the hot shoe and create some directional light when you’re on the move, but there’s only one catch: you have to shoot left-eyed.

I’ve always naturally put my right eye up to the viewfinder, so it took some getting used to. But after forcing myself to use the technique for a while, using my left eye started to feel natural as well. The effort was worth it because once you lock the camera in the grip, you think “wow, this is rock-solid!” I’m pretty comfortable using either eye now. But one more thing is needed for this technique to work: a grip! What?

A battery grip, that is. Before very recently getting the MB-D10 battery grip for my D300s, I had trouble with “Da Grip.” Without it, the camera is not tall enough to rest on your shoulder and still get the viewfinder to your eye comfortably. The only solution is to raise your left shoulder, which makes it a less stable platform than when it’s relaxed.

I was hesitant about getting the MB-D10 for a while. It has, after all, turned my D300s into a giant, D3-sized monster. It’s also pretty expensive. But the added ergonomics, particularly when shooting in portrait orientation (above right), made it a worthwhile choice.

About the images above (a screen capture taken straight from Lightroom 3 Beta’s library module):

I took both of these shots in front of a mirror, which means I had to cover the pop-up flash in order to use it trigger the SB-900 I had off-camera, otherwise the commander pulse coming from the camera would have hit the glass and ruined the shot. So I used a hot shoe attachment that blocks the visible light coming from the pop-up but allows the infrared to pass right on through it, which the SB-900 can still see. It appears that some of the light bounced off of the back of this filter and hit me, however, heating up the right side of my face a little. I must say, the accessory looks a little goofy, especially in the image above right, where I look like some sort of weird cyborg.

So yesterday I had a day off (woohoo!). I spent the entire day with Suki and the camera (not the best combination if you want to concentrate on taking pictures), and we were all over the city! I look forward to uploading some images this weekend.

Written by Jonathan

December 4, 2009 at 10:54 am