This week I’m traveling light on vacation.  I’m doing my best to carry the least gear possible so I can take in the sites around me.  I decided to do a day’s shooting without a tripod (even a mini one) to see what I could do using my surroundings.

I’ll have a series of short posts on techniques I’m trying, but let’s start with the Leaning Bow and Arrow (and no, we’re not talking about the Kama Sutra).

I was shooting inside a museum with very little light and a no tripod rule.  Here are the results.


Olympus OM‑D E‑M5 with Sigma 30mm Lens
ƒ 2.8 | 1/13 second | EV -1.0 | ISO 640

For this technique, I used both my gear and environment to stabilize a shot in VERY low light. I was also running on 2 hours of sleep after just getting off the airplane.

  1. Find a pole or wall to lean against to brace your body.
  2. Using your camera strap, create a reasonable amount of tension by stretching the camera body between your two arms.  You can also just leave the strap around your neck and pull, but this reduces the number of angles you can achieve.
  3. Use the Live View panel on the camera to frame the shot.
  4. Exhale your breath, (don’t hold it – which causes shake).
  5. Fire the shots. Consider using a burst mode to get multiple photos or even brackets so you have a few options in post.

Overall I’m happy with the results.  A tripod would of course been ideal, but there are plenty of times you’re not allowed to use one when shooting.

I hope this technique helps you the next time you find yourself light on gear.  It is of course just one way to solve the problem of shooting in low light without a tripod.


This Post Sponsored by: Learn photography anytime, anywhere, and at your own pace—from bite-sized tutorials to comprehensive courses. Try free for 10 days by visiting Photofocus.

Mosaic A complete solution for photographers using Lightroom who want to manage and share their photos. You can easily view images with their iOS app or web service. Plus your photos are backed up to the cloud with several plans to match your needs.

The HDR Learning Center Check out new ways to use High Dynamic Range photography to make compelling images. Free tutorials and posts to get results. Produced in partnership with HDR Soft.

500px Join the world’s premier photo community. 500px lets you discover, share, buy and sell inspiring photographs.

Drobo – Not only is Drobo 5D fast, but it’s easy-to-use, expandable, flexible, and protected.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. […] Shooting Without A Tripod – The Leaning Bow and Arrow […]

Comments are closed.

About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.


Gear, Photography, Shooting


, , , ,