Amazing Product Absolutely Makes Wildlife Photography Easier

What’s in Her Bag

 

Anette Mossbacher profiles an important piece of equipment that she uses in her professional wildlife photography. These ongoing equipment tips can help you in your wildlife, landscape, and nature photography efforts.

 

Famous African animals, African leopard walking in grassland, motion blue picture, taken in Botswana

Focused and intent, this adult leopard races past Anette’s camera at breakneck speed. • Photograph by Anette Mossbacher

 

“Wildlife photography is a lot like detective work. You search, you sit, you wait, and you watch, and when the moment you’ve been waiting/searching for arrives, it can be over in seconds- and you better be ready.”

– Anette Mossbacher

Many of us own a tripod with a gimbal head or other, because we know that this is a very important piece of equipment for many forms of photography.

 

African Savannah Camelthorn Tree Acacia, African landscape pictures taken early morning, the savannah of the Etosha pan with tree in front, taken by Landscape Photographer

Long telephoto lenses- affords great composition when photographing the distant landscapes of Africa. This Camelthorn Acacia Tree becomes dominant in the shot, due to the optical quality known as ‘compression’; Anette’s telephoto lens compresses the foreground and background of this scene in Etosha National Park. • Photograph by Anette Mossbacher

 

Photographs, such as the Camelthorn tree (above), require a good solid sturdy tripod when capturing an image with a telephoto lens. This is to prevent camera shake from ruining the shot. These same extreme telephoto lenses are also perfect for wildlife photography.

“However, there is a problem on the wildlife side of things that requires a different solution, and that is why I’m digging into my camera bag for you today. I want to share my solution with you!”

 

Hyena cub is lying on the ground looking into the camera

This hyena cub stares inquisitively at Anette and her camera from some distance away. When photographing cubs of any form of wildlife, it is important to keep your distance, or the moment could become quite dangerous. This is just one example of where the extreme telephoto lens is very useful for wildlife photography. •  Photograph by Anette Mossbacher.

 

Let’s identify the problem (alluded to above).

Wildlife does not sit still. It moves constantly. Also, they often keep their distance, and if they don’t, it is in the photographer’s best interest to keep that distance for them. This requires often the use of longer telephoto lenses when photographing wildlife. Many of us are aware of the techniques and issues that come with long telephoto lenses, and if you aren’t; these are one of the many subjects that I discuss in my workshops and private photo tours. 

A primary concern is always camera shake, which is why for landscape photography (when the subject sits still) a tripod is the perfect tool. However, wildlife photography typically requires a different solution.

 

“I’m reaching into my camera bag…”

 

FujiFilm X-H1 attached to a Eckla Sphere base, which sits on a big beanbag on a car window

Wildlife photography requires stabilizing the camera, while also providing extreme mobility. • Photograph by Anette Mossbacher

 

In the above photograph, you can see my setup for stabilizing the camera when I am using my telephoto lenses, but I also require mobility and portability. This setup is comprised of three pieces of gear. I will highlight each of them for you. However, the one piece that I think you will find the most interesting is the ECKLASPHERE Swing Tripod.

 

ECKLASPHERE Sphere with quick release bracket sitting on a beanbag. Big lens is attached to quick release plate

The beanbag, quick release bracket, and ECKLASPHERE viewed up close. • Photograph by Anette Mossbacher

 

The ECKLASPHERE is the round gray disk attached to the bottom of my lens in the above picture.

However, before I delve into that…

Here is something that you may not be aware of – especially if you’ve never traveled to Africa to photograph wildlife, but you have a desire to. In the National Parks, you are not allowed to exit the vehicle. This is to protect the wildlife and the environment. And also to protect you!

 

ECKLASPHERE Sphere on a big beanbag in a car window. Big telephoto lens is attached to it

There are many different devices to secure a camera and lens to the window or door of a car or truck. The above setup is superior for wildlife photography. Read on to find out why. • Photograph by Anette Mossbacher

 

I like the use of the beanbag. It offers good support. However, it does not work well when you must pan or swivel your camera quickly and smoothly, which you will often do when photographing wildlife.

The ECKLASPHERE Swing Tripod offers a stable platform on top of the beanbag support, but now… I can swivel my camera with ease.

 

Ecklasphere with a quick release plate attached standing on ground

The final piece of this setup is a ‘quick release’ plate. I use these plates on all of my cameras and support devices. For example, I can quickly detach my camera from a tripod and move to the ECKLASPHERE in mere seconds. • Photograph by Anette Mossbacher.

 

Ecklasphere with a quick release, including tools to attach the quick release

This photograph details the components of the ECKLASPHERE and quick release bracket. • Photograph by Anette Mossbacher

 

Why is this setup superior? You ask!

“You are smart! I knew you would ask this!” In the car or jeep, it is a superior method because it allows me to move very quickly from one window to the next. Imagine a lion approaches your jeep, and then circles it several times, as wildlife will often do, and your camera is stuck mounted to the window on one side. You will miss three sides! “Not Anette! I’m flying from window to window, because I am mobile with my ECKLASPHERE.” This is in my opinion an excellent tool!

 

Ghost crab standing right beside a wave coming in from the sea. Many bubbles

I captured this ghost crab on the beach in Africa, as he checked me out. For this captured, I used my ECKLASPHERE. • Photograph by Anette Mossbacher

 

Walrus is sitting on the beach, behind the sunrise with clouds and the Arctic sea

This walrus soaks up the light of the setting Sun. For this shot, I also used my ECKLASPHERE. •  Photograph by Anette Mossbacher

 

The above two photographs illustrate several other advantages to my ECKLASPHERE setup.

      • I can quickly and easily stabilize the camera from a very low angle.
      • It is very lightweight and easy to carry for long distances.
      • I can easily move my camera and the stabilizing platform, as the subject moves.

 
You can imagine that some movement on my part was critical to capturing the ghost crab in a close, perfectly composed, photograph. She was a quick little creature, and it was absolutely necessary to photograph her from a very low angle to see her amazing features. I also had to move frequently when photographing the arctic walrus, as he kept shifting his position to warm up different parts of his body with the sunshine.

 

Ecklasphere turned upside down to show the round bottom for the use in the field

The design of the ECKLASPHERE makes it not only portable, but it also allows maximum flexibility for composition- by easily adjusting the camera angle. • Photograph by Anette Mossbacher

 

If you closely study the above photograph of the ECKLASPHERE, you can see that there is a slight flattened bottom section, and then it gently tapers upward – toward the top of the sphere.

 

Side view of the ECKLASPHERE Sphere with a big lens attached

A side view of the ECKLASPHERE shows the unique shape that allows for stability and angle adjustment. • Photograph by Anette Mossbacher

 

This curve is an excellent engineering detail! Imagine, that you have framed up your perfect wildlife photograph. However, the animal is moving. You notice that a slight change of angle on the camera would create a much better composition. Now, imagine that you are fumbling around with the locking knobs of your tripod, as you watch your picture dissipate into history. With the ECKLASPHERE, you steady the camera and with a fluid gentle movement, you tip to create your composition – fast, easy, smooth, and steady!

 

Black and white fine art photo of an African elephant walking towards to waterhole in Botswana

A gentle tip on the ECKLASPHERE creates a dramatic portrait of this fine fellow, while also keeping the horizon line straight in a perfect composition! • Photograph by Anette Mossbacher

 

There you have it my friends, a highly useful suggestion for your wildlife kit!

      • Sturdy beanbag support
      • Quick Release brackets
      • The ECKLASPHERE Swing Tripod

 
When you choose to join me on a photography workshop, or a photo adventure tour, I can teach you the finer points of using this remarkable stabilizing platform.