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Travelling across the world for many of us can mean a trip of a life time where we can create life time memories. I was lucky enough to go on assignment for F Stop Lounge to Thailand alongside contributor Grace Chen to capture some of the local culture, experience the Thai’s way of life and simply see some sights on the way.
Our friends at 3 Legged Thing got wind of our upcoming expedition and got in contact to tell me about Brian.
Now being in the photographic industry for some time I have been quite aware of what tripods are out there. I even created an massive guide about tripods and which ones were the best, but I must admit, I think the article needs rewriting because Brian for me is the ultimate travel tripod.
Having received Brian with an attached AH1 head from 3 Legged Thing I was in no way forced to write a polite or rude review in any way. I simply travelled with the tripod and like most things I tried to put the piece of equipment through real life with me – wherever I went the tripod came too.
I found the size of Brian to be brilliant. I’ve had a Manfrotto 190XB Pro and 055XPROB set of legs before, and whenever I travelled domestically or overseas with them I had to break the Manfrotto’s down into little pieces to try to fit the legs into my suitcase to go into the hold of the plane. The overall experience was frustrating! This however wasn’t the case when it came to packing Brian.
Brian was small enough to pack down into a very small blue case with the AH1 head. The bright blue case was easy to identify as a 3 Legged Thing bag, which comfortably fit in my normal sized luggage. To put it into perspective even further I had one main normal sized suitcase I was sharing with Grace, which contained enough clothes to last 10 days for each of us, a suit, 4 pairs of shoes, toiletries, makeup (including Grace’s Japanese designed hairdryer which she insisted on taking) and after all of that there was no problem laying Brian to rest on top of everything. The total weight of the case was 21.2 kg. The best news was we didn’t even need to purchase excess baggage :)
…enough of the planning of the trip let’s get back to what I was really going to use Brian for.
One of the expeditions I had planned with Grace Chen was to visit Maya Beach, a famous beach (made famous by a film featuring Leonardo Dicaprio) located in the islands of Koh Phi Phi. I wanted to capture a particular photograph I had in my mind. The idea was to set up Brian at night and attempt to capture the stars over the ocean with the phosphorescence in the water illuminating the foreground as the tide trickled in. This was an image I had never seen and ever since I watched the movie way back in the early 2000’s I had wanted to go there and capture my vision.
I arrived at the isolated location late in the afternoon after the hundreds of tourists, speed boats and long-tailed boats disappeared. It was the perfect time as I had the beach to myself. All the planned seemed worth it. I unpacked Brian from his small case and with a quick twist of the leg and a smooth pull, Brian quickly grew in size. After the four or so sections had been fully extended he stood taller than me – now for a tripod that packs down and fits in a normal sized suitcase and then extends taller than me (I’m 6 foot and 2.5 inches) this was definitely the selling point for me.
Brian was now smack bang in the middle of the beach (in the water as you can clearly see) and focused toward the hidden stars; cliffs framing the edge of the viewfinder. Brian had been levelled using the on-leg spirit level and I also found a hidden level on the AH1 head, located under the quick release plate..I know I wasn’t at James Bond Island yet off the coast of Phuket, but still I felt a bit like James with this hidden gadgetry in my hands!
Now I was ready for one of the shots I had come for…
I was a little bit disappointed when it started to rain, however as a photographer I had previously come to terms with the fact you can’t control the weather!
The night rolled on and I set up the tripod in a few different locations hoping the clouds would depart, however the un-forecast rain kept pelting down on the now saturated sand and photography was almost not worth it. Brian was a trooper though. Seawater, rain and sand, three things photographers detest! He (yes now I’m referring to Brian as a person)… happily swam in the water, toes (legs) in and all. The salt water wasn’t a problem, although he isn’t waterproof, Brian does have the hidden ability to store water inside his legs so if you’re going to go swimming with him like me I suggest you make sure you drain all the water out of him. This is best done by holding him high in the air and gently shaking him up and down, upon doing this Brian will relieve himself. I also provided a fresh water shower for him after his hard work in the water.
The photo below was taken with Brian’s yoga-legs (I call them that because they are really flexible) very close to the ground. The 30 second exposure provided a unique perspective into the wide expanse of Maya Bay. Even though the waves were hitting the tripod legs, Brian held his ground on the wet sand perfectly. The result was a beautifully sharp background, just as the light disappeared. Unlike the tripod, Grace however moved…. umm Gracefully…
To sum up I would highly recommend my newest friend – Brian for the keen traveller, landscape photographer or photographic enthusiast. His legs provided enough strong support at full extension for a mirrorless camera. I would happily say a full frame DSLR would be well supported with up to a 100-400 or 70-200 f2.8. Brian’s small lightweight size is ideal for travelling, I’ve not ever used a tripod that’s as strong for the same size and weight. Brian wins my vote for this very reason.
Please stay tuned in the coming month for a full video review of Brian, the bag and his bits.
Other F Stop Lounge photo assignments you may enjoy reading:
- Interview: Seeing Through The Eyes of a Photojournalist and Documentary Photographer