What’s in My Bag
Talking about an essential piece of equipment, the Ecklasphere, that I use in my professional wildlife photography. These ongoing equipment tips can help you in your wildlife, landscape, and nature photography efforts.
Focused and intent, this adult leopard passes rather quickly my camera.
“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 arrives, it can be over in seconds, and you better be ready.”
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.
Long telephoto lenses- affords great composition when photographing the distant landscapes of Africa. This Camelthorn Acacia Tree becomes dominant in the photograph, due to the optical quality known as compression. My telephoto lens compresses the foreground and background of this scene in Etosha National Park.
Photographs, such as the Camelthorn tree (above), require an excellent stable, sturdy tripod when capturing a photograph with a telephoto lens. That is to prevent the camera shake from ruining the photograph. These same extreme telephoto lenses are also perfect for wildlife photography.
“However, there is a problem with the wildlife side things that require different solutions, and that is why I’m digging into my camera bag today. I want to share my solution with you!”
This hyena cub stares inquisitively at my camera from some distance away. When photographing cubs of any form of wildlife, it is vital to keep your distance, or the moment could become quite dangerous. That is just one example of where the extreme telephoto lens is beneficial for wildlife photography.
Let’s identify the problem
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. That usually requires the use of long telephoto lenses when photographing wildlife. Many of us are aware of the techniques and issues that come with long telephoto lenses. If you are not, these are some 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 a perfect tool. However, animal photography typically requires a different solution.
“I am reaching into my camera bag – Ecklasphere”
Wildlife photography requires stabilizing the camera while also providing extreme mobility.
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 we comprise of three pieces of gear. I will highlight each of them for you. However, the one part that I think you will find the most interesting is the ECKLASPHERE Swing Tripod.
The beanbag, quick release bracket, and ECKLASPHERE view up close.
The ECKLASPHERE is the round gray disk attached to the bottom of my lens in the above picture.
However, before I delve into that, 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. That is to protect wildlife and the environment. And also to protect you!
There are different devices to secure a camera and lens to the window or door of a car or truck. The above setup is superior to wildlife photography. Read on to find out why.
I like the use of a beanbag. It offers excellent 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.
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.
This photograph details the components of the ECKLASPHERE and the quick release bracket.
Why is this setup superior? You ask!
“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. Wildlife will often do, and your camera is stuck mounted to the window on one side. You will miss three sides! “Not me! I’m flying from window to window because I am mobile with my ECKLASPHERE.” That is, in my opinion, an excellent tool!
I captured this ghost crab on the beach in Africa, as he checked me out. For this capture, I used my ECKLASPHERE.
This walrus soaks up the light of the setting Sun. For this shot, I also used my ECKLASPHERE.
Advantages Of That Product
The above two photographs illustrate several other benefits to my ECKLASPHERE setup.
- I can quickly and easily stabilize the camera from a low angle.
- It is very lightweight and easy to carry for long distances.
- I can quickly 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, entirely composed photograph. She was a quick little creature, and it was necessary to photograph her from a 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.
The design of the ECKLASPHERE makes it not only portable but also allows maximum flexibility for composition- by quickly adjusting the camera angle.
If you carefully study the above photograph of the ECKLASPHERE, you can see that there is a slightly flattened bottom section. Then it gently tapers upward – toward the top of the sphere.
A side view of the ECKLASPHERE shows the unique shape that allows for stability and angle adjustment.
Excellent Engineering Detail
This curve is a superb 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. With a gentle fluid movement, you tip to create your composition – fast, easy, smooth, and steady!
A soft tip on the ECKLASPHERE creates a dramatic portrait of this fine fellow, while also keeping the horizon line straight in a perfect composition!
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 tour to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, I can teach you the finer points of using this remarkable stabilizing platform. The cute meerkats are waiting for us.