Travel Photographer Deb Sandidge: Platypod the 'Perfect Traveling Companion' in NYC
Article & Images By: @DebSandidge
A challenge in many busy city locations is setting up a bulky wide tripod that might get bumped in a pedestrian area. On a recent trip to NYC, Platypod proved to be the perfect traveling companion. It enabled me to move about quickly with my camera already set up and ready to shoot. It can be secured to most ledges or rails using the accessory straps. I find that using a camera L bracket for the tripod head is essential in moving from horizontal to vertical orientations. Platypod is stable with either orientation. My most difficult decision is where to be, not if I can set up. You can work in your own personal space using Platypod, and it doesn’t attract a lot of unwanted attention. With a ledge, bench, or on the ground, almost any shot is possible, from long exposures, HDR, blue hour and beyond.
For this shot of Manhattan, which includes a beautiful view of the Empire State Building, I positioned Platypod on a ledge, while keeping the camera and strap safely secured. I liked the composition of the sun right above the street, peeking between and highlighting the many buildings. After sunset, the light can temporarily be a little bland, but I waited for the city lights to be revealed, and for the sky to become a beautiful shade of deep blue.
Aside from the stability provided by Platypod, I used my cable release attached to my Nikon D850 to ensure the sharpest shots possible during low light shooting. Pressing the shutter in a low light/long exposure shot can transfer vibration and create a blurred photo. It’s all about the sharp shot! In low light conditions, exposures are naturally longer. I set the ISO at the lowest setting, as I like to convey motion with any traffic in a cityscape shot.
As much as I like to shoot at the blue hour, capturing middle-of-the-day shots are very rewarding. My goal is to compose, so that I am able to include a pretty little sunburst to accentuate my daytime shots. This is very easy to accomplish when using one of my favorite lenses, my Nikkor 8-15mm fisheye. A point to remember, always look up! Architecture can look amazing through the lens of a fisheye! I angled my composition to partially hide the sun behind a building, creating rays of light that don’t overwhelm my shot. A sunburst can be a delightful addition adding natural sparkle to your composition. The key to making this happen is to narrow the aperture, stopping down to f/11 or f/16.
With my shot in Times Square, I placed Platypod in several low positions from the ground and a nearby bench to make a variety of shots. If you want your camera to fire away without getting yourself in a low angle fisheye shot, use your self-timer and then move away from the camera. You’ll find many locations where the use of Platypod will enhance your photography simply because sometimes a tripod is discouraged or isn’t practical. Platypod can be very discreet, and usually attracts attention only from other photographers or curious onlookers who want to know what it’s all about. It’s all about creative photography!
Deborah Sandidge is a Nikon Ambassador specializing in world travel and artistic imagery. She is also a photography instructor and the author of the book Digital Infrared Photography.