[OM] Tripods in the Rain Forest/ Eye Dominance

Subject: [OM] Tripods in the Rain Forest/ Eye Dominance
From: Kerry Dressler <bio-photo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 06:42:13 -0400
Hi, Mike,

 Thanks for your suggestion of the Benbo Trekker.. I've not looked at tripods
for many years.. I went through a period when I tried just about anything, but
I'm certain they've changed since then.  I tried Monopods, Table mounts, and
regular tripods.  But several points influenced my giving up on them.
First of
1.  The soil varies of course from one spot to another, but there was always a
lot of "Georgia type red clay" where we worked in Panama.  That stuff adds
inches to your height every step you make.  It was always mucky and difficult
to clean off of any tripod I always carry a knife to help clean my boots
because they get HEAVY with the clay.

2.  Orchids are all on the CITES listing.. meaning you need special permits to
collect them which are difficult for anyone to get.  We are always VERY choosy
which ones we collect.. so many are just photographed where they are and we go
our way.  

3. A lot of Orchids are epiphytes.. grow on trees, etc.  but many others are
terrestrial (on the mucky ground) and that means I need to lay down on my
to take their pictures.  Another VERY important part of my gear is a huge
plastic garbage bag!  I can't count the times I got chiggers and other little
beasties on my chest..  Not to mention wet and filthy.  You really need to be
at their height to get good habitat shots, and their height may only be a
couple of inches..  Even the small table pods are just too tall.

4.  Lots of the epiphytes become terrestrial in growth as you get higher in
altitude and wetter.  Also, the trees become stunted until you have places
where the trees are only 4 to 6 feet high and absolutely filled with lichens
and moss - at times almost no leaves.  That means some dinky orchids are
in the moss under branches or in the center of the trees and there is no place
for YOU more or less a tripod setup.  This type of forest is called an ELFIN
forest and has to be seen to be believed.  You find yourself actually walking
IN or ON the trees, and might not get a foot on the ground for several hundred
feet!  Just branches and really shaky matted vegetation.  It's my favorite and
only found at very high, wet elevations.  This usually entails a LOT of
(hours or days from a road where you can leave your car) and carrying
everything on your back.  These altitudes rarely see sun and only for a few
minutes.  You are constantly in clouds and everything is white.  I'm
amazed that my husband can find anything!  I think he can smell them..

5.  Flash is the only constant in my bag of tricks.  If I run out of
or the flash turns on in the pack, that's it, you might as well turn around
stumble (fall and slide) back down the mountain.  You either are in trees so
tall and thick with vegetation that no light reaches your camera, or in
mist or rain that accomplish the same thing..  

One time when I was first learning to photograph, we drove 4 hours to the
where we left our car (in Panama), climbed another 3 hours to reach a spot
where a new Genus of Orchid occurred that my husband wanted to describe.  My
flash turned on in the pack and I had NO SPARE batteries.  A great lesson I
learned well.  We collected a couple of plants, but by the time we got back to
sea level they were closed and just so much Mush.  The plants are so ephemeral
that they only bloom for a few days and we had to give it up for that YEAR!

The second year we climbed (struggled) to the same spot, found the flowers and
in the pouring rain my OM 2 quit functioning!!  Too wet.  But, I had plenty of

YEAR THREE!!  I carried the OM 1, OM2, extra batteries and I finally got that
little sucker!  Of course we had to camp in the rain for 3 days before I could
get the picture!  We usually carry a hammock and tarp for emergencies..  THEN
and only then could the new Genus be described.  That's a lot of work and
patience for a single little red flower about 1/2 inch in length.

> --- snip---
> To quote one review they are "uniquely simple to erect on uneven ground". 
> They have sealed legs where the top tube goes inside the lower one. This 
> means that they can easily go into over a foot of mud without problems. 
> They can be set to give a very low camera view point and have a tilting 
> centre column which can be moved to almost any position, so they are ideal 
> for photographing plantlife. 


I'm right handed but left eye dominent, too.  Funny, because my left eye is my
worst..  We've been having a good discussion of eye problems on the Stock
Listserv.. all of us old fogies.. but the rest of you who haven't encountered
problems yet, may soon do so!  So much for me shortening my posts.. 


+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
        Kerry Dressler                        Email:  bio-photo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
        Bio-Photo Services, Inc.                http://www.bio-photo.com
        21305 NW 86th Ave                       TEL:   (352)466-4215
        Micanopy, FL 32667             FAX:  (352)466-3151

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