by Jim Zuckerman
On my recent trip to Turkey, I visited an ancient cistern in Istanbul. This is a huge underground chamber that had been used as a water storage facility in the event the city (Constantinople in those days) came under siege. It was built in the 6th century A.D., and the Byzantines who designed it used Greek columns that had been part of temples hundreds of years earlier. Two of the bases that still survive have large stone heads of the goddess Medusa, but they were placed on their side and upside down by the Christians to prevent people from worshiping them.
No tripods were allowed in this very dark place, so I came up with an idea that had never occurred to me before. I left my tripod in the hotel but brought only my ball head. This way, I could use the floor or a railing along the walkway as a solid support, yet the camera could still be angled any way I wanted for a good composition. By applying constant downward pressure on the base of the ball head, I could be sure that there would be no movement and my pictures would be sharp. I used the self-timer on the camera to minimize any vibration when I took each shot. Even when I shot the rows of columns and depth of field was important, I could close down the lens because long exposures were fine provided I held the ball head down tightly.
The security personnel didn’t object to the ball head, and all of my pictures came out sharp.