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No Tripod – No Problem – Improvise

When shooting HDR and time-lapse, the key is to achieve multiple exposures with no variation in composition.  For this reason, most insist a tripod is a must.  I’d fully agree, except I routinely travel light (more accurately I have two little kids, so a single camera body with a 28-300 lens is all I’m allowed when I need to actually be more of a parent than a photographer).

This has led me to practice three techniques to overcome my frequent lack of a tripod.

 Swaddle the Camera

This technique works best for time-lapse. Take a sweatshirt or jacket and ball it into a nest of sorts.  The camera literally sits inside the nest which absorbs vibration and keeps the body from falling over.

Find a Bar

This technique is best for HDR or low-light shooting. Find a railing, a park bench, a garbage can even. The key is to press down on the camera so it stays stable.  I’ll take advantage of a continuos shooting mode and auto-bracketing so the camera can quickly fire all exposures.

Find a Pole

This is another variation on the theme above.   The challenge here is often that the surfaces are rounded.  I’ll often try to pad the bottom of the camera with a jacket or a hand.  I’ll often use the camera strap and wrap it around the pole (just keep it under tension to further stabilize).

Do you have any down and dirty techniques you use in a pinch?


What to Look for in a Video-style Tripod

3 Exposure – NAB 2011 Miller Booth from Richard Harrington on Vimeo.

Scott and Rich discuss video style tripods (which are helpful for both Timelapse and DSLR video). Many traditional photography shooters are switching styles and trying them out too as they are easy to quickly recompose a shot then lock it down solid for HDR too. Learn about Miller tripods and what features matter (and which are overkill).

A New Tripod Head for Panoramic Photography and DSLR Video

3 Exposure – NAB 2011 Manfrotto Booth from Richard Harrington on Vimeo.

Scott and Rich visit the Manfrotto booth at NAB. They discover a great tripod system for both Panoramic and DSLR video shooters. Check out this video review of the Manfrotto M8-Q5 Tripod Head.

front tilt -90° / +90°
head bowl 60mm
lateral tilt +90° / -20° tilt range
load capacity 15.43 lbs
panoramic rotation 360 degrees
weight 45.06 oz

This post sponsored by Adorama – More than a camera store

Quick Tips for Shooting Panoramic Photos Right

A Ballhead from Really Right Stuff

We’ll be exploring panoramic photography in great depth here at Tripl3 Exposure. While there are many techniques to employ, here are five quick tips to get you up and running.

  1. For best results use a tripod. All the pros know that it’s better to use a tripod as a stable platform.  This lets you slightly move the camera to create overlap. Because the camera is steady, you’ll get sharper focus and quicker stitching.
  2. For even better results, get a tripod head that rotates and has degree markers. There are even specialized tripod heads that you can purchase that make leveling and rotation much more precise. Look for a head that has degree markers so you can precisely turn the camera.
  3. Set the camera into a portrait aspect ratio. You may want to pick up an L-plate to make it easier to rotate your camera.
  4. Switch the camera out of auto mode and lock the exposure.  This will help minimize the amount of changes as the camera pans. The last thing you want is the exposure to vary across the panoramic image.
  5. Make sure there is at least a 15% overlap between each shot.    Depending upon the type of lens you use, you will use between 2 and 24 exposures.  More exposures mean less distortion and cleaner panoramic photos.