Shakespeare & Spandex: The Perfect Pair - Travel photography with Larry T.

Words by Larry Tiefenbrunn

The Photography Show in Birmingham England was an amazing experience but a draining one. 15,000 attendees and Platypod made a strong showing. It was Monday morning September 19 and the show was closed for the day in honor of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

My buddy Dave Williams knew that I was a little down due to illness in the family, so he said, “Hey Larry, let’s go for an adventure!” Off we went in Kofifernweh, Dave’s wanderlust cabin heading for Stratford-upon-Avon to see William Shakespeare’s home.

Simultaneously our friend and fellow photographer Peter Treadway made the 25 km trip on his custom self-built 7-pound carbon fiber bike, planning to meet us for a breakfast snack. Everyone wanted to be back before 11 AM to view the funeral on TV.

I knew that the Kelby One Travel Photography Conference would be coming soon (October 25-26, 2022) and that I would be presenting for Platypod, so I decided to take a crack at my approach to the genre. Of course, I clicked a few snap shots for my home scrapbook, but I wanted to also take a really nice image, what I call a “wall hanger“. I’m happy if I get one or two of these a year. We come up to this quaint old building with lots of character and I’m thinking that would be interesting, but everyone must have the same kind of image. Actually, we kind of lucked out. Because of the day, the streets were empty, and I didn’t have to do any special magic in Photoshop to get rid of crowds. So, I’m thinking, “what can I do to make this building look a little more interesting, a little different.”

Enter Peter Treadway, in his brightly covered spandex biking outfit with bright red gloves shoes and socks. I say, “OK, there’s a photo op”. First, I try a few shots with Peter driving back-and-forth in front of the entire building, but this didn’t quite do it for me.

I decided instead, to use the building as a background and give Peter just a touch of blur to demonstrate motion while still maintaining form and color. I set my Nikon D850 low to the ground together with my AFS Nikkor 28 to 300 mm zoom, A perfect travel lens which I learned about from Jay Maisel (“It’s not about the F-Stop” Page 138 – New Riders 2014).

The Platypod eXtreme with spikes extended provides a perfectly stable platform on the stone paver surface and the Platyball Elite allows me to rapidly compose and level the shot. The low angle puts the camera at ankle level and gives Peter the hero look. At 1/160th of a second and Peter speeding through the scene, I am firing about 7 fps as he enters and exits the frame. Due to the camera’s stability, the building is tack sharp while Peter has just a touch of blur to imply motion. You can see several of these images but only one frames him perfectly under the eaves of the front door.

As I show Dave and Peter my catch of the day I say, “So where is Shakespeare’s house?” “That’s it!“. Figures he’d have the nicest house on the block. “Good taste that Bill had”.

We sit down for a snack, Peter has his toast and butter, Dave a coffee and me with my diet 7-Up… definitely a morning not wasted.

Final image.

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