Words by Sara Leikin
Edited by Eryka Bagwell
My Sony a6600
Sony 16-55mm F2.8 G
Sony 55-210mm F4.5-6.3
Platypod Max and Platyball Ball head
Each lens had a purpose: the 16-55mm for every day shooting; the 55-210mm for the few days we spent leopard spotting; and the Lensbaby was brought along especially for Holi, and an artistic vision I had for capturing the color and fun of the holiday.
The Platypod was brought along for a few reasons. One, I rarely travel without it if I'm going to have my camera with me, or even if I plan to do any kind of shooting, even with my phone. It's never let me down and it's so compact that I never think of it taking up precious luggage space.
Second, over the past few years I've been spending more time with night photography. Although I now live in Ohio, I was in New Mexico for a few years and absolutely got drawn into the massive skies and starry nights of the Southwest. I've been lucky enough to take a few workshops with the National Parks at Night group (highly recommend- they are great teachers!), so I'm always thinking about opportunities for night shooting and that requires the steadiness of a good tripod- or my Platypod.
The only real chance I had for decent skies on this particular trip to India was while we were visiting the historical and beautiful Hampi and staying at the stunning hotel, Evolve Back Hampi. The first night there, I realized that if the skies were mostly clear, I could use the Platypod to securely rest my camera with the 16-55mm on one of the archway railings. I composed the shot to take advantage of the reflecting pool and hotel lighting. To be honest, I still wasn't entirely sure that I would be able to capture any good stars because of the hazy skies, so figured I could at least capitalize on the architecture and grounds. I set my camera to continuous shooting and took 20 shots at 16mm ISO 125 F3.5 15 sec.
I processed that stack in Lightroom and Starry Landscape Stacker. While I certainly wish I had been able to take a more symmetrical composition (no railing access on that side) or had remembered to take my camera out of AUTO ISO (and used 2.8 instead of the assigned 3.5), I'm still very happy with the finished image. I'm very glad that I had my Platypod gear as I would never have trusted my camera on that railing without it. It's a wonderful memory from an unforgettable journey.
I'm attaching the image again here (and that Holi shot I was going for). I have definitely learned to plan my shooting a little better over the years, and while I'm always looking for a better long range travel zoom, this kit was really perfect for light packing on a long trip that covered a lot of ground. I'm still working on getting my India photos posted, but you can see more of my work at www.saraleikinphotography.com
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