Panning for Gold

You all probably know by now that I shoot travel, landscapes and wildlife nearly exclusively. I rarely shoot sports or ultra-fast action shots, like car races. But even wildlife shooters have a need for stopping fast action once in a while. Of course, if you are a bird photographer (God bless you all), you always need to stop action.

But now that I’m a “senior” photographer, my ability to hand-hold and control my camera at 1/30 or even 1/60 of a second has been severely compromised. Yet, I still want to capture that fast moving bear when I visit the Yukon, or a bird capturing its dinner. My solution is to use what is known as a Wimberley head mounted on my tripod.

Actually, since I travel often and have to backpack to remote locations, I use a lighter Wimberley Sidekick device, which quick-mounts perfectly onto my existing Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head. It allows me to mount my Nikon 70-200 with a 1.4 tele-extender or a Nikon 200-400mm  and follow my subject smoothly and seamlessly, clicking away as I capture it in action.

The Sidekick allows me to turn the entire head around 360 degrees. It also allows me full range of up and down movement. Every movement is smooth as silk with no herky-jerky sticking points. That alone allows me to freeze motion at slower shutter speeds, or to add motion blurs as I pan, with zero camera shake due to my hands and body.

A brand new Sidekick goes for about $225, but I got mine used for under $100. I consider it an invaluable accessory when I’m out shooting wildlife.

Note that you should mount your lens to the Sidekick, not the camera when using a telephoto. Then you can just twist the knurled knob on the lens to switch from landscape to portrait orientation.

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