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Tip of the Month

Alternate Uses for some Bogen Products

May-June 2010

silver bat
An uncommon silver-haired bat

Our Arizona Hummingbird and Bat High-Speed Flash Photo Tour and Workshop requires a lot of equipment, some of which I mentioned in our May Question of the month. On some days I had going 7 different hummingbird sets, 1 nocturnal mammal set, and 1 bat set concurrently. For this, I used a lot of Bogen products, and judging by the comments from some of our participants some of these were used in a less-than traditional way, or were new to them.

ringtailFor example, I used two of my largest lightstands, which can reach 13 feet in height, as 'booms' that extended over my set to provide backlighting for a ringtail we were shooting. My proping the stand on a railing I could position the flashes high and behind the limb where the ringtail visited. Placed vertically, as a triangle-based lightstand is normally positioned, I would have been unable to extend the lights beyond and behind the ringtail set.

Tipped on its side, braced on a railing, the lightstand's position would have been tenuous, but I locked the lightstand into place by using two SuperClamps attached to Variable Friction Arms (a MagicArm with a knurled knob for gradually increasing the tightening of the arm until it is locked in place). Normally a MagicArm has a SuperClamp on one end and a camera platform on the other, for mounting a camera or flash. But the VFA works great as a brace, or for holding things, when a SuperClamp is attached to both ends.

The less expensive Articulated Arms work great for holding small flashes, and unlike MagicArms that work by one central lever, the AAs adjust by levers at the camera platform, the SuperClamp, and the 'elbow,' so fine-tuning positioning is easy. A less expensive alternative is to use Bogen FlexArms to support a flash, but I rarely do so because the FlexArms do not have the flexibility and variety of positions a AA has. However, FlexArms make wonderful hummingbird feeder supports, and minor adjustments to accommodate a feeder or a flower can be made easily.

kangaroo ratOne of my favorite accessories is the Bogen BasePlate (29390 for Articulating Arms, Magic Arms, or similar supports. The BasePlate is a U-shaped heavy metal base (4 and 3/4 pounds) that can be adjusted into a narrow or very wide base on to which the 'superclamp' end of the arm is slipped into a female locking socket. When I'm working close to the ground, as I may for kangaroo rats or bats visiting a woodland pool, I support my Articulating Arms by BasePlates, giving me up to about 18 inches of vertical height. Often I'll place the BasePlate right in the water, allowing me to have my flashes just inches off the water surface, creating a neat skimming low light. The BasePlate isn't a product you'll often see at a camera store, but the plates can be ordered. When I only need light low, like I may at a rodent den or a ground-nesting bird (should I ever shoot that subject!) or at a water set where I only need a light a few inches off the water, the Plates are just wonderfu. A friend of mine loaned me a few of his years ago and seeing their worth I immediately got my own!

Previous Tips, July 2009 onward


Hoodman Products
Using High ISO and Live View for Focusing in Dim Light

Art Print Scams for Hungry Photographers

Hungry Vultures ruin vehicles in the Everglades

Use a Short Lens for Depth of Field

Get Professional Help!

Mini-Molar Bag
Access America Trip Insurance
Bogen Base for Macro Work

Archived Tips of the Month
prior to July 2009
Most of my original Tips of the Month for the last several
years are available through this link. The 'look' is from my
original web site, although if I ever have enough time I might redo these pages to match the new web site But that's not a high priority.