Gadling Gear Review: Joby Gorillapod SLR-Zoom

The advent of inexpensive point-and-shoot and SLR cameras had turned us all into travel photographers and has made documenting our journeys easier than ever. Capturing just the right shot still takes plenty of practice and skill, however, and occasionally it is nice to have a tripod in our packs to assist in that area. Unfortunately, traditional tripods can be heavy, bulky and inflexible, which doesn’t always make them the best travel companions. But the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom from Joby isn’t a traditional tripod and it eliminates those issues through its ingenious design.

Looking a bit like something out of a science fiction movie, the Gorillapod line of tripods uses a series of articulated legs that are unique in design. The individual segments on each leg can all be bent, twisted and reshaped as needed allowing a photographer to adjust them to stand securely on nearly any surface. Gorillapods can even be wrapped around objects, such as tree branches or rock ledges, to capture shots from vantage points that aren’t possible with other kinds of tripods. This level of versatility opens up a new host of options for photographers on the go.

Lightweight and yet rugged, the SLR-Zoom version of the Gorillapod is designed to hold a camera and lens weighing up to 6.6 pounds. Most consumer level cameras don’t weigh anywhere near that, even while outfitted with a large zoom lens. For example, my Nikon D90 weighs in at 1.5 pounds and adding a 70-300mm lens doubles that to about 3 pounds. Professional photographers will want to upgrade to the Gorillapod Focus, which is a bit larger but can support weights up to 11 pounds.

The SLR-Zoom features a universal 1/4″ screw as well as a 3/8″ adapter, which makes this tripod compatible with virtually any camera on the market. An included removable ball head adds the ability to tilt and hold the camera at just the right angle to catch the perfect shot, while a built-in level helps to ensure that your photos don’t come out completely cockeyed. That same level will be your best friend while first learning how to incorporate the Gorillapod into your photographic arsenal as it proves very useful when setting up shots.While this tripod is a great piece of equipment to have in your photography bag, it definitely does take some time to get use to. Adjusting the legs is a simple affair but getting them set just right takes practice. You’ll definitely want to play with the Gorillapod before you take it on a trip or out into the field, otherwise you run the risk of spending more time fidgeting with the tripod than actually taking photos. Using the SLR-Zoom isn’t rocket science by any means but gaining some experience prior to traveling will serve you well, particularly when setting up timed self-shots in unique locations.

Overall, the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom is a very high quality product that any photographer will love. It is sturdy, compact, durable and breaks down to a reasonable size for inclusion in our packs. It also comes with an affordable price tag of just $49.95.

Joby has a full line of Gorillapods available at a variety of prices and sizes. The SLR-Zoom may be overkill for many travelers, but one of the other options may better fit your needs. If you’re in the market for a versatile, high quality tripod to carry on your travels, the Gorillapod may be the perfect solution.

Images of Paris in La Belle Époque

Paris has always captured the imagination with its architectural beauty and interesting inhabitants. La Belle Époque from the late 19th century to the start of World War One is considered a high point of Parisian life, and this life was captured by an eccentric photographer named Eugène Atget.

Atget started taking photographs of Paris in the 1890s. Working in the early hours of the morning with large-format negatives in order to catch as much detail as possible, he photographed many fine old buildings that have since disappeared. He photographed people too, preferring street vendors, shopkeepers, prostitutes, and the homeless. Instead of the rich and famous, he focused on people you’d commonly see on the street in those days, like this little girl singing along to an organ grinder, courtesy the Gilman Paper Company Collection.

Atget continued to work after the war until his death in 1927, documenting a Paris that even then was beginning to disappear. He was a bit of an anachronism, using the same equipment and same techniques he had thirty years before. A photo of him from the 1920s shows him as a shabby, hunched old man. He must have been an object of fun among the Bohemian set, for his looks, mannerisms (in old age he only ate bread, milk, and sugar) and outdated photographic style. The art world never really appreciated him until after his death, but now he’s renowned as one of the most important artists of the era.

Atget’s work is now the subject of a free exhibition at Madrid’s Fundación Mapfre, one of the best private galleries in the city. Eugène Atget, Paris 1898-1924 runs until August 27.


“Extreme Exposure” photography exhibit to open in Los Angeles

A new group photography exhibit is set to open at the Annenberg Space in Los Angeles this October that will spotlight the work of five artists who specialize in shooting environmental, wildlife, and climate imagery. The exhibition is entitled “Extreme Exposures” and will feature visually stunning photographs from some of the most remote and demanding environments on the planet. Many of these photos were captured after spending weeks in the field enduring subzero temperatures, battling active volcanoes, dodging dangerous wildlife, and other harrowing conditions.

The five photographers on display will each have their own theme. For instance, Clyde Butcher’s exhibit is entitled “Swamplands” and demonstrates an interesting display of light and shadows. Michael “Nick” Nichols’ “Lush Jungle” highlights amazing wildlife, such as tigers and gorillas, captured in their natural habitats. Paul Nicklen’s images evoke thoughts of alien landscapes in his photos from the Earth’s icy polar regions, while Donna and Stephen James O’Meara’s fiery images are from erupting volcanoes and flowing lava. All of the photographers share a common goal of drawing attention to environmental threats to the planet.

Visitors to the Annenberg Space for the exhibit will be treated to an amazing print display of these photographs which will be hanging in the gallery, but those displays will also be enhanced further by a digital film presentation too. That presentation will offer hundreds of more images from these talented photographers, as well as in depth profiles of each of the artists, and insights into the adventures they had while capturing their images.

The exhibit will open on October 23, 2010 and run through April 24, 2011.

[Photo courtesy: Paul Nicklen/Annenberg Space]

The photographer who changed the way we see the world

We’ve all seen them, those grainy series of black and white images showing animals walking or nude people climbing stairs or jumping. They’ve been used in art pieces, music videos, and are part of our visual heritage, but what are they all about?

A new exhibition at London’s Tate Britain tells the story of the photographer who took these enduring images. Eadweard Muybridge was a British immigrant to the U.S. in the 1850s. A skilled photographer, he traveled the world taking giant panoramic shots that he would then put on display, sort of an IMAX theater for Victorians. His seventeen-foot long panorama of San Francisco is one of the exhibition’s highlights.

His fame comes from his experiments with high-speed film in the 1870s. Muybridge wanted to answer the question of whether a galloping horse took all four hooves off the ground at the same time. People had been arguing about this for ages but the movement was too quick to catch with the unaided eye. Muybridge hired the Sacremento racetrack and put up a series of high-speed cameras that would be set off when the horse hit their tripwires. This technological innovation proved horses actually do leave the ground while galloping.

Muybridge became fascinated by human and animal movement and produced thousands of images. The people in his photographs are generally nude. While stuffy Victorian morality frowned on this sort of thing, since it was in the name of science Muybridge got away with it. One wonders how many of his books sold not for their scientific value, but because they contained plenty of cheesecake. He even made movies by stringing the images together on a spinning wheel called a zoopraxiscope. Muybridge was making movies twenty years before the movie camera was invented.

Muybridge at Tate Britain
runs until 16 January 2011.

[Photo courtesy Library of Congress]

Outside Magazine offers photography workshop in Santa Fe

This October, Outside Magazine will give amateur and professional shutterbugs the chance to hone their skills by working with some of the best photographers in the business today. The iconic adventure mag is hosting a 4-day long workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico that promises to blend classroom instruction, in depth discussion, and real world application with a sharp focus on improving your photographic skills.

While a number of Outside editors and creative directors will be on hand for the event, the real stars of the show are the professional photographers they have lined up to share their insights. Joining the Outside staff members will be Jimmy Chin, who specializes in adventure and expedition photography, Robert Maxwell, who is considered one of the best portrait photographers in the world, and Kurt Markus, who is a versatile, all-around shooter who covers everything from fashion to cultural images.

Beginning on October 19th, and continuing through the 23rd, the workshop will offer everything from hands-on sessions with Jimmy, Robert, and Kurt, to in-the-field shooting assignments for the attendees to complete. There will be lectures, round table discussions, and breakout groups to focus on how to best optimize your digital workflow. Attendees will have the opportunity to visit local Santa Fe art galleries and share their portfolios with evening image presentations, while bonding with one another over three shared meals per day.

The workshop is limited to just 45 seats, so if you’re interested, you’ll want to apply as soon as possible. For more information and to register, click here. The cost for the event is $1850.