4 Improvised Tripods that will Save your Photo

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Surely the situation rings. You go out with your camera, go down the street or take a break and think, “I take the tripod? Bah, it’s a lot of rubbish, it’s not worth it for the photos I’m going to make.” But later .. They miss it. Well, because the light is gone and you are forced to take slow shots as you like, or because the eye tells you to take a picture below the tenth of a second to get moving objects. And what are you doing then?

The answer is a little ingenuity, this valuable weapon of the photographer. Without the great stability that gives us an authentic tripod, we can gain additional stability points with a little skill and little or no money. And the best part is that you can take them anywhere, anytime. That sounds good, right? Well, read on!

First of all: breathing

And that is something basic. Whenever we record with the camera in hand and at a compromising speed, controlling our breathing can greatly improve the result. And we often use the metaphor “shoot with the camera”, right? Well, all we have to do is follow the same advice that professional shooters follow, as they are common in archery, firearms or telephoto lenses.

We will have deep inspirations and slow processes, at least three, before we take our picture. This will relax our body. Then we make another inspiration, we put the camera in the eye and we breathe out very slowly. We take these seconds for the recording, and just in the last two seconds after exhaling, when our lungs are almost empty and our muscles are showing less tension, we gently squeeze the shutter release, being careful not to move the camera down. If you get used to taking the photo with this method, we can get stable photos at a speed we previously considered freehand.

4 Improvised Tripods that will Save your Photo

1.Tripode with elbows

The most basic thing we can do if we need extra stability and do not have a tripod on hand is to find a way to set three points for supporting our camera in our environment. The most intuitive is when you fix two supports with our own arms. With the third, we will straighten the body and keep an eye on the viewfinder. In this way, though far from the stability of a tripod of truth, we can largely avoid the inevitable motion of a camera held to the pulse.

As I show in the example picture, we can do this by looking for a wall where we can lean sideways by lowering the weight of the body and supporting the arms, or on a surface that is not quite horizontal.

4 Improvised Tripods that will Save your Photo

2.Monopie with your own body

Attentive to this technique because it is usually not taught anywhere, but it is very useful for being fast, versatile and effective. Although not as sturdy as a tripod, it allows similar behavior to wearing a monopod. In fact, it’s about building a monopod with our own body, in a second and without the help of anything else.

For this we kneel with the right leg on the floor and the left raised. From experience, I recommend not directing both in the direction the body is looking, as this is a less stable posture. It is better if the legs are cross-shaped and the rib cage is at an intermediate angle between the two knees, directing the left shoulder towards the photograph.

4 Improvised Tripods that will Save your Photo

Then we firmly support the left elbow on the left knee and form a single vertical structure. In it, we will support the body of the camera on our left palm, which is relaxed and aligned with the vertical, so that its vertical movement is completely restricted. The remaining rotation is blocked by supporting the camera against our eye. This is the most stable position possible if we only have our body and have little time to prepare the shot. Something unfortunately very common.

4 Improvised Tripods that will Save your Photo

3. The stepped rope

This option has the opposite effect: restricting vertical movement, but not down but up. For this we only need a small rope, it does not have to be very thick or strong, which is tied to the body of our camera. It must have the right length to reach from the level of our eyes to the ground, and it is very helpful that there is a small solid and heavy piece at the bottom of the ground.

In the body it can be attached as an extension in the side hook for the strap, in the tripod shoe or, as some prefer, on the same shoulder strap of the camera. Personally, I prefer the shoe because it is in the center of gravity of the camera.

4 Improvised Tripods that will Save your Photo

If we need to use this technique to achieve more stability, we will tie one end of the rope to the body and drop the other with the weight down to the ground and stand firmly on it. Then we tighten the rope, restricting the movement of the camera, while the upward tension remains soft but constant. If we support it against our eye, it will be restricted in all its movements.

4 Improvised Tripods that will Save your Photo

4. The bag of rice

4 Improvised Tripods that will Save your Photo
photo by David Joyce (CC license)

A classic in the pocket of a home improvement photographer. The bag full of vegetables provides a malleable surface on which the camera can point to the desired position. By resting it on a surface and not holding it in the hand, the exposure times that can be achieved in this way are a few seconds longer. However, it does require an initial surface on which to hold the bag, some time to form the bag for our purpose, and a frame that normally needs to be run in Live View.

About utilities and tips to accomplish this, we have a special article which a rice bag is used as a tripod to achieve stability. I just want to mention that the bag can of course be filled with what we want. They can be any kind of legumes, small stones, earth … The lenses, for example, show a good balance between weight, price and formability. There is rice that does not recommend it because it ultimately releases strength.

And you, leave us your fifth trick to make an impromptu tripod when you need it most?

Miguel Ángel García-Magariño : Between Aeronautical Engineering and Photography, the first by fascination and the second by passion. Fundamentally creative and with a great need for adventure, I keep learning every day studying those I have above and sharing knowledge with others. You can see some of my work at  www.miguelgmsm.com 

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