Although tripods and monopods are the usual tools of choice for supporting a camera and keeping it still, they’re not the only solution. In their latest guest blog post from the team at Photoventure take a look at a few ideas that can help with capturing shake-free images.
A beanbag can be incredibly useful to photographers because it can be moulded into shape to hold a subject or support a camera.
It’s rare that you’ll find a dry stone wall that is the perfect shape to rest a camera or lens on, for example, but if you pop a beanbag on top it can make a snug support.
Your camera is protected from the rough edges of the stone and bag levels out the uneven surface to make a stable platform for shooting.
A beanbag is also useful when you’re shooting from low level and the camera needs propping up a little so the lens is held above any short grass and is directed towards the target.
Many photographers also use a beanbag on top of their camera or lens when using long telephoto optics to help deaden any vibrations resulting from touching the camera or lifting the mirror.
Bean bags can be made very easily and cheaply from a couple of pieces of fabric and a few dry lentils or beans.
If you include a zip or a strip of Velcro you can empty the bag when you’re travelling to make it lighter and fill it at your destination.
2. Bag on tripod
Even very solid tripods sometimes need a little extra help with keeping a camera steady when there’s a strong wind whistling around the legs and it’s a good idea to add some extra weight.
Some tripods have a hook at the end of the centre column or at the shoulders, which can be used for hanging a weight.
This could be our old friend the beanbag, or a camera-bag can be called into service. Whatever you use, try to hang the weight so that it just reaches the ground.
This should ensure maximum downward force without allowing it the swing in the breeze and create more problems.
If your tripod doesn’t have a hook it’s often possible to hang a weight over its shoulders.
An old trick for keeping a camera steady when there’s no tripod or monopod to hand is to screw a bolt into the camera’s tripod bush and attach a piece of string to it.
The string needs to reach down to the ground with a little to spare to allow you to step on it and pull the camera upwards to the string is taut.
This method can’t help with side-to-side movement, but it takes out up-and-down shaking to create sharper images.
4. Lean on a tree
Trees and posts can come in handy when you find yourself without any form of support for your camera.
Rather than using these to hold the camera up, press the camera against them to hold it still.
This tends to work best when shooting in portrait format as the camera bottom, which has a larger surface area than its side, is pressed onto the tree/post.
In some cases a large blob of Blu Tack or something similar can come in handy.
Don’t use it to hold the camera in place — that would be very risky. Use it to help absorb some of the shake that you impart to the camera.
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