Alternatives to Tripods in the Wilds
If you’re keen on landscape photography, but loathe to carry a tripod, here’s a few suggestions that might let you get away with it when that essential shot rears it’s head and you just have to have a stable platform for your camera. Some work better than others!
1 – Use what’s available. Varying from using your companion’s head / back for a quick stabilisation, to walls and poles. I used a waymarker for the shot below, and it came out OK. You can buy beanbags to improve stabilisation and protect your camera (such as The Pod)
How the camera was mounted. Note the extra care taken to keep hold of the strap! It may have been a sturdy post, but I wasn’t taking any chances either!
The main downside to this method is that you’re unable to easily change the angle at which the camera tilts. That’s fine in most cases, but not much use to take a night sky.
This one was taken using a compact camera and a slate wall. Far from perfect, but I was dependent on manual focus on this one!
2 – Gorillapod – This is a perennial choice, and is basically a tiny tripod. You can get them for compacts as well as DSLRs and provide an excellent choice for the lightweight photographer. They can be used to wrap around trees, and are if they’re good enough for a Canon EF 100-400 zoom then they’re good enough for anything. Read Tryfan’s review – Joby Gorillapod.
Photo credit: acidpix / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
3 – TrailPix Tripod – An ingenious device to make a tripod from three walking poles that was started on Kickstarter. A wonderful idea, with a proper tripod mounting, but one glaring issue. You need three walking poles, and I struggle to even take two.
4 – Monopods – This may well eliminate the camera shake for those low light images, but won’t help much for longer exposures. You can get ones that are also walking poles, which are much more suitable if you’re active in the outdoors.
5 – Stabilise yourself – If you can’t get the camera stable, then lean on something and turn yourself into a tripod. You can also lie down for the same effect.
Photo credit: Elsie esq. / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Make sure to hold your camera firm – close to your body, with your elbows locked and to your body. Sit down, you’ll be moving less. Do whatever you have to do to get stable!
6 – Change your Settings – If all else fails, you may need to increase your ISO and open your aperture up a bit wider in order to get more light in to the sensor. This results in a faster shutter speed – which will hopefully be fast enough to eliminate shake.