Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

October 2005

Question of the Month

How can you save your shoulders?

Just a few minutes ago our Intermediate Photoshop students left for the evening -- tonight's discussion, after a 2 hour Photoshop session, was the aches and pains of growing old. Everyone had stories. For example, this summer Mary had a cervical disk replacement -- neck surgery to repair arthritic bone spurs that were causing her a huge amount of discomfort. I wake up, frequently, with a leaden arm, so 'fallen asleep' that I could beat a bear with my 'dead' arm. Everyone shared their aches and pains -- but beer and wine softened the blows of age.

I mentioned that when I carry a long lens, especially my 600mm f4, over my shoulder and supported by a tripod, I often have a numbing in my arm and hand, and that night my arm generally falls solidly asleep. This is not good. To avoid further nerve injury, whenever we remember, both Mary and I place a 'shoulder pad' beneath our jacket or shirt to create a buffer. A friend made us several, comprised of about a 1.5inch thick layer of foam that is roughly half-moon shaped, and sewn into a camouflaged, foam-fitting shape. One end of the pad has two velcro straps so that we can attach the pad to something secure when we're carrying the pad.

The pad rests on one of our shoulders, stuffed under a jacket or shirt to keep it in place. The camera/tripod/lens rests atop this pad when we're carrying it. Further, our tripod legs are padded. We haven't used the commercially available tripod pads - which are expensive; instead, we've simply used PIPE INSULATION available from a Home Depot or Lowe's, and taped the pads in place.

If you are troubled by a heavy lens and if you're getting a numb arm from carrying it, then try this remedy. If you're not bothered, start using a pad now so that you won't be. I haven't spoken to a neurologist about the long term repercussions of carrying a heavy lens, but ignorance is bliss and our pads are our happy, blissful solution to suffering further trama.


Previous Questions of the Month




 Camera Techniques

 In the Field

 What is our Digital Workflow in the Lab?

Who should go Digital,
and when?

What is our initial Digital Workflow?

Is Shooting in the RAW format worthwhile?

 Can you match the Histograms?
 How do I keep track of Digital Files?

  Is Digital Manipulation - a benign alternative to interacting in the natural world?

What is DEC? 

How can you capture a sharp image and angel hair on a windy day?  

 Is the Mark II the ultimate wildlife digital camera?

  Does the Visibledust cleaning system really work?

What do we really think about digital photography?

 What do we think of the Canon D30 digital camera?

How long will film be around? 

  The Sunny 16 rule -- is it worth knowing today?

 What is the Difference?

  How do you shoot silhouettes?

 How would you meter these challenging images?

Why should you know Manual Mode? 

How would you meter these images?

 What is the best season to do a photo safari in East Africa?

Which Mountain Park is better for wildlife - Denali or Torres del Paine?

What is the best Car Window Mount? 

  How do you make things happen in wildlife photography?

 What are our Five Favorite Shooting Locales?

 What is the Big Lie?
Tfhe truth about Kenya's Tourism--it is SAFE!

 Which binoculars do we just love to use?

 What is the best
Game Caller?

 What is our Favorite bird-shooting location?

 How Easy is Whale Photography?

  How do we carry our film when traveling?

What Film Lab do we use, and why? 

 How can you attract insectivorous birds to your feeding stations and bait sites? 

How can you reduce contrast and the effect of wind for flower and macro photography?

 Is an L-Shaped Camera Bracket worth the Money?
You bet it is!

 Using Zoom lenses with tele-converters and extension tubes -- can you use both together?

 What the heck is the Scheimpflug Law?

  Reciprocity Failure

 What is the Best Composition?

 Are Image Stabilization Lenses Worth the Money?

 Hyperfocal Distance

  How do you determine distances?

 Should you have a depth of field Preview button on your camera?

 Flash and Tele-flash Techniques

 What is the most versatile remote release camera firing system?

 What the heck is a Plamp?

 What is the best flash for closeup and
macro photography?

 How do you shoot high-speed action images?
 How did I photograph that flying wasp?

 What is the Fotronix's
Flash System?

What is the Most Important thing you can do before a Workshop?

How did I shoot the gliding Sugar Glider?
 Is NANPA for you?  What is NANPA and how will it benefit me?

 Is it time for a summer NANPA Summit?

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