Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

May-June 2003

Tip of the Month

Padding your Wimberley Tripod Head


On our recent Hummingbirds of Arizona Photo Shoot, one of our participants, Ralph Wright, showed me a great way to increase the comfort of carrying a big lens with a Wimberley Gimbal-style tripod head. Ralph cut a piece of thick foam the size of the bottom plate (the plate area below the quick-release clamp) to act as padding. He then tilts the tripod head so that the lens is basically pointed up or down at an approximate 45 degree angle, rather than the 90 degree, or perpendicular angle the lens would normally have when resting on the tripod head, and the pad now fits over his shoulder quite comfortably. Ralph reports that he can walk for miles with the lens/tripod combination with a heavy lens.

The trick here is to cut a thick enough pad to adequately do the job for providing padding for your shoulder. Next, you'll need to tape the pad on securely, although you might also wish to try a rubber cement or similar adhesive for the pad. Be careful that your padding isn't too thick -- you must provide enough space for the gimbal head to be able to swing back and forth. We're not talking much space here, but be careful you do leave some room.

I didn't take the time to photograph Ralph's padding, and I haven't made my own, yet, so I don't have a photo to illustrate. But the description and concept is pretty clear -- you should be fine on making a pad with the info I've provided.

One final thought: Mary used her very own Wimberley tripod head on this shoot and she absolutely loved it. As she says,"It was so nice to not have to struggle with a ballhead when filming wildlife. I used it on prairiedogs in Oklahoma and hummingbirds and woodpeckers in Arizona and just loved it!" Now, both of our tripods are Wimberley mounted; I use mine with either a 400mm f2.8 or a 600mm f4 and Mary uses a 500mm f4 lens.

Our Past Photo Tips of the Month:


  DIGITAL- Digital Birding

 DIGITAL -Shoot for the Future

DIGITAL-Shoot for the Future, Part II

 DIGITAL Photographing scenes with extreme exposure values

 NPN- Nature Photography Network - a digital forum for nature photography

 Digital Pro Image Management Software

 Protecting your long lens from SAND, the pleasures of beach photography

 How do we protect our gear from dust, and carry our gear when on safari
 The Ultimate Flash Bracket

  Specular highlights and the flashing frog
 Using TTL flash with Hummingbirds  Testing your Flash's Aim
Maximum Depth of Field and Hyperfocal Distance - they're not neccessrily the same thing!  If you see it, it's too late -- a lesson in anticipation  How do you shoot the Moon?
  Low level tripod work  A great depth of field guide  Wimberley 400 and 600mm IS plate
  Take a Workshop First   Luck, what is it?  Don't take in baby wild animals

  Airline Carry-On Luggage -Let your concerns be heard!

 Disconnect -- travel precautions

The Nature Photography Network - a super website for images and information
 Wildlife Portraiture

 Obey the Rules
The Ti Chi Stalk
Photographing Critically Endangered Sites  

 The Sibley Bird Guides

 Removing Cactus Spines

 Drying out boots with newspaper

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