Natures Abstracts

Author: Jeff Cox

I like to try different things in photography. I’ve found gems1some interesting macro- photography at the Tucson Gem and mineral show. For the last several years I’ve gone and found unique shapes and patterns in the hundreds of mineral there. The colors can be amazing.

You can also turn some of the into black and white images or have any orientation you prefer.

The above photos were part of mineral slabs. Some could fit in your hand other were much larger. I find the richness of the colors and shapes just incredible. I’ve used a macro lens on some but I usually crop an area I find interesting. You can buy some minerals or just photography some on gems4the tables.

The Tucson Gem and mineral show if full of wonderful images that make great abstracts. In addition, you can find items from all over the world. There are tables of beads of all colors or numerous other items in abundance.

Enjoy the show it’s all over town. I’m fond of the Kino sport park area it has a assortment to peak my interest.

Jeff Cox is a trip leader for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Gear Review: Sirui ball head

siruiAuthor: Jeff Cox

I heard about the Sirui ball head at a workshop and it had a very good review on DP review. I found there are several different variations depending on the weight capability. The review gave the heavy duty one five stars because it performed as well as the others but was much less expensive.

I decided to try the one rated at 44lbs. because I don’t use really heavy cameras and/or lenses. There are three knobs; one for the locking plate, a large one for the ball and a smaller knob or panning. The release plate is adjustable for different cameras with the ability to slide and has a strap loop that could be used. The ball head has three types of levels. These are best used prior to attaching the camera.

I have used this with a couple of different lenses so far. The heaviest being a 100-400 on my Sony A77.

The quick release plate uses the standard  Arca Swiss type plates.

Friction and Locking Knob have a small screw dial on it. This allows the user to set the friction amount and is easily turned with the thumb. The friction setting will help prevent the camera from flopping around when loosing the knob.

The camera is easily moved around and tightening is simple with no slippage or movement. My camera is rock solid on the ball head and the tripod. In conclusion, for the price I feel the Sirui ball head is as good or better than some that cost twice as much.

Jeff Cox is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

Should You Use Infrared or Laser When Shooting Motion?

Author: Jeff Cox

I have used the Nero trigger’s laser function for photographing birds, especially humming birds. With the Nero you can set the threshold, a delay in milliseconds and how many frames to take each time the beam is disrupted.  A laser pen is required but not provided. The laser beam must be lined up exactly to the little senor on the module. Lining up the pen’s laser beam with the Nero module I place the pen first, making sure it won’t move. Then put the Nero module on a light stand so it can be adjusted easily. With the pen turned on I put my hand in front and follow the path to the module on the light stand. Now I can adjust the stand as needed. Make sure  the laser beam is pointing to the side of the bird or animal that will not show in the photo. Anything breaking the beam will trigger the camera. It should also be noted that any movement of either the laser or module will also trigger the camera and you will have to reline both again. Its best to do when there is little or no wind or where birds or animals can’t sit on either part.

It should also be noted the Nero also has these features: lightning, sound and time-lapse and HDR.

My newest toy is the CAPTUR module pro by Hahnel. The main reason for getting this was the infrared feature. There are two parts; the control module and the infrared module. Both can be screwed in a tripod or a light stand. Setting up is easy. Turn the control and select IR setting you will get a small red light. Next arrange the IR module some distance from the control and turn it on.  With IR module pointing in the general direction of the Control its red light should turn to green. The green light indicates the control is receiving the IR signal. . In the IR model you can setup a delay before shooting starts, set a shot count, and duration of burst/exposure with continuous/bulb.

You will need to purchase a 2.5 mm cable for your type of camera you have.  (these are sold separately). I also have an extension cable and adaptors (2.5mm to 3.5mm). I use the extension cable so that the camera doesn’t have to be close to the control module. So far I’ve only tried the IR setting without making any other changes. Since the modules are not aligned perfectly when either sensor is blocked the camera will fire. This is much easier that aligning the laser. My first trials with this was setting each module on either side of a bird feeder or bird bath. The photos below were the results. I cropped them to emphasis what I liked most and to show scenes I couldn’t taken any other way.  Oh, be sure to set the number of exposures you would like. I forgot and left the setting on infinite and filled my card without realizing it. We have active bird feeders.

Some birds will enjoy the bath while others do the splashing.

The CAPTUR module will also do sound, time lapse, light/lightning, and laser modes. Each mode can be controlled  similar to the IR mode. It is comparable to the Nero trigger both are alike with some of the functions but the setting are different on each device. For the price difference the CAPTUR module pro is a much better deal.

I should probably mention a Vello device also uses IR.  But, it doesn’t work as well because it appears almost anything triggers the camera.  The IR covers a huge area and any little movement with set it off.  I found that I couldn’t count on the Vello to be reliable.

In conclusion the infrared is a better way to capture motion than using a laser. This is just a brief explanation of how I used infrared to remotely capture birds.

Jeff Cox is a trip leader for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.