From time to time I find myself without a tripod. Perhaps I was traveling light… or maybe I just want to try a new angle. One of my favorite places to shoot is low to the ground… but I’m not crazy about laying in the dirt and making a human speed bump for passerbys to trip over.
Take this shot of a carousel in Tokyo Disneyland. While the Japanese sure love their cameras, the No Tripod Movement has gone international. While I showed up at the park with a small tripod and a monopod, both had to be checked with security.
In order to pull of the shot, I needed a long exposure. I wanted the slow moving carousel to become a streak of lights. I also needed to lose the crowds of people milling about. A 15-second exposure did just that… but even on my best day I can’t handhold that kind of shot.
What to do? Set the camera down.
Rather than leaning the camera precariously against an edge, I simply swaddle it in a jacket or t-shirt. Using the fabric to wrap the camera and position it to get the shot I want. This can create a very stable platform and let you get some great shots.
This shot of a church interior in Italy would have been impossible to handhold. Same strict no tripod rule applied. I simply found a ledge near a statue at the back of the church and fired off a 5-shot HDR sequence. The longest exposure was almost 40 seconds to get all the details. But in the end, the shot worked.
The next time you find yourself needing longer exposures or sharper focus, try taking your hands off the camera and set it down in a safe place.