A couple of weeks ago, I decided that it was time to upgrade my tripod. I had been using a compact action tripod for a few years, but I really needed to get something that met my requirements as a landscape photographer. After reading lots of reviews and some careful consideration, I chose the Manfrotto 190XPRO4 with the XPRO 3 Way Head. I chose the aluminium option as it fit my budget and I wasn’t really worried about carrying a few more kilos of gear around with me.
It took me almost a week to get out with it for the first time and I decided to take it to the coast for its first outing.
Having not shot one in a while, I really wanted to capture a good sunrise, but the weather reports were suggesting a 50/50 chance, so I didn’t want to venture too far. I left my house at 3:45am and set off to Mappleton on the Yorkshire coast as it’s fairly close to where I live and it’s a great spot for coastal photography.
I arrived at Mappleton around 4:15am and had some breakfast before setting up, but I could already see that it wasn’t going to be a good sunrise, if one at all.
After my breakfast and a coffee, I realised that the sunrise was not going to show for me, so not wanting to just give up and go home, I started to walk along the beach looking for some compositions.
My first stop was this large chunk of concrete sat on the sand that was just starting to get surrounded by water as the tide was coming in. I think this was once on top of the Cliff behind me as part of a building or sea defence, but as they suffer from heavy coastal erosion this must have made its way towards the sea over the years.
One of the best features this tripod has for me is the four angles of the legs. This allows me to get very close to the ground for some different perspectives and is also good for setting up in awkward positions such as on rocks.
This is the finished image from my first location.
After a few shots at this here, I noticed that the tide had come in quite a bit, so I made my way back up the beach towards the access point. Luckily for me, there is a large rock groyne at the bottom of the footpath that made for some nice foreground interest.
The rocks were a little slippery, but I carefully climbed up to the top, set up and found my composition. The light was very poor and at this point I had realised that all of the images from this trip were going to be monochrome, but that wasn’t a bad thing as I love black and white photography.
This is the finished image from my second location.
The next image was taken on the sand just to the left of the rock groyne that I had just been on top of and my interst here was the water washing against the rocks and the motion in the water as it retreated back to the sea.
This is the finished image from my third location.
By the time I had finished with this shot, the tide had really come in and wasn’t leaving much beach for me to use, so I picked up my gear and set off back to the car with a sense of achievement.
When I got back to the car park at the top of the cliff, I took a couple more shots.
This one looking South along the line of the cliffs…
…and this one looking down to the groyne where I had just been.
Despite the poor sunrise, I still had a great few hours walking up and down the beach and felt that I came away with some good images.
The Manfrotto 190XPRO is a fantastic bit of kit and coupled with the XPRO 3 Way Head makes it even better for me. The variable leg angles allow me to get better perspectives and to get into better positions than I could with my previous tripod. The 90° centre column is also a great feature that will help me archive better compositions in certain areas. The 3 way head has great movement and can be adjusted with very little effort and the three spirit levels along with the one on the tripod allow images to be perfectly composed. Weighing in at just over three kilos means that I have a bit more to carry around, but I also think this makes the tripod more sturdy. The Easy Link connection will become very useful when I get an arm for it. My plan is to mount a Gopro/Smartphone and do time-lapse video from the same spot.
After my first outing I also found out how easy the tripod is to take apart to clean. Having it sat in wet sand and allowing it to be partially submerged in the sea meant that sand and salt got lodged in the leg clamps. Luckily for me the afternoon was rather nice, so I sat in the garden and cleaned the full thing while enjoying a nice cold beer.
I am extremely happy with my purchase of the Manfrotto 199XPRO tripod and my next outing with it will be to Northumberland, so stay tuned for my next blog about that trip.