Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gear Review: Jobu Lightweight Mk III

"What the heck is that?" were the first words that popped out of my mouth on the day I first laid eyes on the Jobu Lightweight Mk III gimbal.

I was deep in the Great Bear Rainforest, on Day 1 of my 2011 Spirit Bear Photography Tour, and one of my clients, Garry, had set up beside me on the creek as we waited for the first white bear to arrive on the scene. I don't usually pay that much attention to what other photographers are using in terms of gear, but I couldn't help but notice that Garry's gimbal head (tripod head) was about half the size of mine, yet still seemed to be working in the exact same way as my bulky and heavy Wimberley head.

Before I knew it, the next words out of my mouth were, "Do you mind if I try it?"  And just like that, being a man who values weight as much as anything on my trips and travels around the country photographing wild beasts, I was sold.

So before I go any further, some full disclosure: I'm sponsored by Jobu.  I am supposed to love their products, and I do.  After seeing Garry using his Lightweight III on the spirit bear trip, I knew I had to get my hands on it and I contacted the company directly.  One thing led to another and the next thing I knew I was being sent a full suite of their tripod heads and accessories to try out and test.

Goodbye Wimberley, hello Jobu!

It's now been almost a full year since I first received my Jobu Pro 2 Gimbal, my Lightweight III, my Jr 3, and my Wide Angle Adapter, and I have been extremely impressed with everything I've seen from this Canadian company.

But in particular, I've been impressed with my Lightweight III.  In short, it's been a godsend in terms of saving me space and weight on my trips and tours where flying weight is an issue.  And just as importantly, the wide angle (WA) adapter has allowed me to leave behind the extra ballhead for scenics and do it all on my trips with just an LW3 and a WA adapter, saving me almost 3 lbs (1+ kg) and a pile of packing space from the Wimberley head and Acratek ballhead that I used to have to cart around to Churchill and Nunavut and Newfoundland.

The Jobu Lightweight Mk III is a side-mounting gimbal designed to fit medium to large wildlife lenses and to provide a full range of motion in a fluid manner, allowing easier wildlife photography than a regular ballhead allows

I have used the Lightweight III in place of a larger Gimbal now on a number of my trips, including my Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Photography Tour in May of this year, and it handled the rigours of boat and land photography with my 500mm lens extremely well.  It provides an excellent amount of friction, yet allows fluid movement through a full range of motion.  If you've never tried a gimbal head before, then I can't stress enough how much easier it makes taking pictures with a big lens versus using a regular ballhead like an Arca-Swiss or a Really Right Stuff head.

My 500mm lens side mounted and balanced perfectly on the Lightweight III in the Khutzeymateen

My friend Garry using his 500mm lens on his Lightweight III in the Khutzeymateen

While Jobu's Pro2 and Jr3 mount big lenses from above, the Lightweight III is a side-mount, which is part of the weight-saving measure. I wondered if this would be an issue with me, as I'm notorious for not mounting my lenses properly and having them come crashing to the ground.  However, I found almost immediately that this becomes second nature quickly and is not an issue.

I also found that the Lightweight III is far easier to hike around with over your shoulder than the heavier Gimbals are and that those two pounds make a huge difference in your comfort level while moving around on land.

Wild coastal wolf shot with my 500mm and 5D III on the Lightweight III from the boat deck, 1/320th f4 ISO 8000

A mating pair of grizzlies shot with my 500mm and 5D III with the Jobu Lightweight III from land, 1/1000th f8 ISO 800

The Jobu Lightweight Mk III is available via direct order from the Jobu Design website for $449. However, I'm thrilled to announce that any of my clients, friends, and followers can get 15% off of any Jobu product simply by ordering using the discount code CANWILD.

I would highly recommend the Lightweight III to anyone that travels with their larger lenses, or to anyone that simply wants a lighter alternative to their current setup. I would also highly recommend the Wide Angle Adapter as an invaluable addition to the LW3, allowing you to seamlessly shoot landscapes or anything requiring you to mount the camera body, with a wide angle lens on it, to the tripod head.

The Jobu Wide Angle Adapter allows you to quickly and easily take landscape photos using your Lightweight III and saves you from having to bring along an entirely different ballhead and switching to it whenever you want to do scenics

Happy shooting everyone!


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Monday, September 17, 2012

Remember this Name: Brandon T. Brown

It's been a while since I've done a Remember this Name feature here on the blog (the last one was Wayne Simpson), so as summer slowly begins to fade in our rearview mirrors and we look ahead to fall and the (gasp) Christmas season, I thought it was a perfect time to highlight one of the great young Canadian wildlife photographers that I've become friends with over the past two years: Brandon T. Brown.

Brandon is a 27 year-old Canmore-based photographer, who, like many before him, is originally from eastern Canada.  After an initial sojourn to the Rockies in 2007, he moved back for good in July 2010.  He started photographing at the same time, making what I'm about to tell you next all the more remarkable: in June 2011, Brandon quit all of his day jobs and committed himself full-time to wildlife and nature photography, just a scant eleven months after taking up photography!  Perhaps just as extraordinary is that he's not only survived - albeit by the skin of his teeth at times - but he's flourished and thrived as a successful small business owner carving out a niche for himself in an industry that has become increasingly difficult to break in to in recent years.

So what's been Brandon's secret to success?  In my opinion, it's been dogged determination combined with a very real talent for wildlife photography.  Throw in a strong business acumen and the result is a photographer that I feel will one day soon be one of Canada's best.

Brandon has also displayed a real desire to keep his photography wild and natural, which I think has led in part to the success of his print business at local markets throughout the Canadian Rockies. He's quickly developed a reputation as an ethical wildlife photographer and it really shines through in the candid behaviour he captures in his photography.

For those of you that would like a closer look at Brandon's work, I encourage you to visit his Wild Canada Photo website at www.wildcanadaphoto.com or his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WildCanadaPhoto.  Locals in Calgary and the Canadian Rockies can also view and purchase Brandon's beautiful prints in person at the Christmas market in Millarville from November 9th-11th, 2012 and in Canmore's Christmas market from November 24th-25th, 2012.

Wild Alberta horses, (c) Brandon T. Brown

Wolf pups in the Canadian Rockies, (c) Brandon T. Brown

Red fox pup, (c) Brandon T. Brown

Wild bison in a snowstorm, (c) Brandon T. Brown

Wild black wolf, (c) Brandon T. Brown

Bull Moose in Kananaskis, (c) Brandon T. Brown
Thanks for looking, everyone.

Happy shooting!


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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

He's Alive, He's Alive!

While it may be disappointing to many of you, I am finally back here on my blog to report that I am indeed still alive, debunking once and for all the rumours of my demise at the jaws of a pack of ferocious wolves (or was it under the crushing weight of 50 kegs of patio beer?).

So what the heck have I been doing since my last blog, so so long ago (June 30th to be exact, ulp!)?  I would claim to have been scaling snow-clad peaks, but those who know me personally can attest to the fact that I haven't been scaling anything other than my wife's patience the past five months due to a wee stress fracture in my foot that was a present from the paved streets of San Diego (why was I dumb enough to run on pavement for an hour and a half in trail shoes?!).

And I could say I've been out doing tour after tour after tour, raking in my millions, but my last workshop was just a weekend in August and the last one before that? The 1st of July.

What I have been doing is two-fold: one, I've been working on relaxing in order to somehow magically heal my foot.  Trips to the sunny Okanagan and the Shuswap without a camera in tow, that kind of thing. Unfortunately, the second thing I've been doing is not relaxing, in fact, really not relaxing...getting up at 5:00 am and going out working on a new project that may or may not see the light of day in the coming year.  Lots of hobbling about in the dark pre-dawn hours, lots of fruitless days, and a few true days of glory where it's all been worth it.

Anyways, in the meantime, I've got some News & Notes to pass along regarding a host of subjects:

First of all, while I've been terrible at updating my blog lately, I haven't been nearly as bad at updating my Facebook page for John E. Marriott Wildlife and Nature Photography.  So if you're on Facebook and want to stay up-to-date with new images and such, please check it out.

A grizzly family eyes us up on my 2012 Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Tour (2013 dates coming next week)

 Canadian Wildlife Photography Tours News

My 2012 Workshops and Tours are now officially all sold out, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you that took part in one of this year's tours.  I'm absolutely thrilled that Canadian Wildlife Photography Tours has become so successful so quickly, and many of you that read this blog are responsible for that, so thank you!

A coastal wolf sneaks a peek at us on my 2012 Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Photo Tour (2013 dates coming next week)

Expect several of my 2013 dates to be announced next week, including the 2013 Spirit Bear Photography Tour and the 2013 Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Photo Tour.  I'll also be announcing next year's dates for my popular CMH Heli-hiking Landscape Photography Workshop in the Bugaboo Mountains of British Columbia.

The Camera Store News

As part of The Camera Store's 16th Anniversary Celebrations in Calgary, Alberta, they're showcasing some of the work of photographers that they've been working with for a long time in a Gallery Show at Resolution Local Art Gallery at 233 10th St NW.  I've got a framed canvas piece in the show that is the only North American wildlife piece for sale, so please drop by sometime between now and September 30th to check it out.

I'm also pleased to announce that I'm teaming up with The Camera Store for a great weekend wildlife photography seminar and field session in early December.  Stay tuned for further details and block off the weekend of December 1st and 2nd if you're interested!

Paul Zizka

A quick shout out to one of Canada's newest and brightest shining landscape and adventure photographers, Paul Zizka.  Paul is a Banff photographer that has really picked up the pace of his amazing photography in recent years, as is clearly in evidence on his site, Paul Zizka Photography.  Check it out and prepare to be wow-ed!

Lake Minnewanka and the Northern Lights (copyright Paul Zizka)

Thanks everyone, stay tuned for several more updates in the coming days.

Happy shooting!


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