Photographing a city as beautiful as Bath is a pure joy, particularly when conditions are great, those postcard sunny views, blue skies and golden architecture gleaming - the 'holiday snap' days. On those occasions I can comfortably walk around the city streets shooting handheld, swinging the camera over my shoulder between each frame. Though, for much of my work for clients and publishers I sometimes need to capture the city in a more dynamic way, something that is unique and often as a result of the after effects of weather or during low light levels, such as the blue hour - my favourite time to be out photographing.
When you want to keep shooting into the blue hour as lights illuminate the streets and the evening hues develop across the sky and architecture you'll likely need to keep your camera stable. You can bump up the ISO during low light and continue to shoot hand-held, but for commercial work that is often printed I need to retain the detail and quality in the image by keeping ISO settings to a minimum, so having a reliable tripod is a must.
Intuitive ergonomics - quick and easy to set up that classic shot
Recently I have had the pleasure of being welcomed onto the Vanguard Ambassador team and have had the opportunity to use one of their brand new tripods several months before the official launch: The Vanguard VEO 3GO 265HCB - a travel-friendly, portable carbon fibre update to their popular VEO range.
When pounding the streets of Bath (or beyond) I was keen to find a new tripod setup that would be both lightweight and portable/easy to pack. Often my work takes in numerous locations throughout the city and I need to setup and take-down the gear quickly to make use of the perfect ambient conditions before getting to the next spot before the available light fades on any given evening.
Vanguard Veo 3GO - happy in the city or at the coast
The versatile Vanguard VEO 3GO is an effortless set up, incredibly lightweight at just 1.42 kg (3.13 lbs) with lightning fast twist locks which only need a quarter turn to release, legs extending out in a flash and equally quick to fix in place. It is so easy in fact that when switching spots in a hurry should the conditions need it I manage to release two or three sections at a time with one twist of the palm.
The Royal Crescent during blue hour
The ergonomics are brilliant - tactile and intuitive to use and feels great in the hand. I am fairly new to the Vanguard range, but immediately see the appeal of their tripods simply for the most basic operations out in the field, which are often overlooked and fussy from other manufacturers. I didn't appreciate tripods that I have used in the past where I fumbled around for knobs and adjustments.
With the VEO 3GO I like the ability to adjust without having to pay much attention to hand placement, when I reach around whilst looking through the viewfinder the placement of each knob and ease of operation falls right into place, allowing me to compose a shot without having to break concentration or take my gaze away from the viewfinder or back of the screen. Each knob is instantly grippy, shrouded in rubberised sheaths and a extended section sits perfectly between thumb and forefinger - infinitely better than a simple round adjuster which can be tricky to turn in inclement weather - or when hands are frozen in winter!
This tripod really comes into it's own at low level shooting angles feeling solid and sturdy, perfect for getting those low angle viewpoints peering up onto the tall Georgian architecture that Bath is famous for. A large chunk of my imagery is formed from stitching panoramic images together to take in account for the sheer size of a building before me. For vertical scenes I'll take a series of overlapping photos which are later joined together and adjusted for convergence.
So, getting low to the ground and moving up the facade of a property incrementally is easily achieved with the VEO 3GO, particularly through the adjustment of the ball head and rotational knobs which help immensely in capturing an even overlapping collection of shots. I like to spread the tripod legs as wide as possible when shooting low angles, it helps with stability, but if space is crampt you can keep the legs shorter, particularly if using a lighter camera setup and the tripod performs just as well.
A quick flip of the leg locks and extending the legs even further lowers the whole system within nose touching distance of the ground for those extreme low angle knee-high to a grasshopper photos. The ball head setup is aided further with graduated measurements below the control knobs, ideal for composing accurate panoramics and to keep things straight and true there are two spirit levels - one for landscape, the other portrait orientation.
Even conventional landscape panoramas are a joy to shoot - taking in the entire scene from left to right (such as the vast sweep of Bath's Royal Crescent) is a pleasure to capture - the ARCA QS Compatible ball head fluidly glides through the entire process, smoothly moving onto the next frame with 360 degrees of range.