Stability - making yourself a tripod versus using one


'ya all Bananas I tell 'ya
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Aug 15, 2013
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Yesterday I went walking through a park. There are many things you find just walking around, frogs, butterflies, bees, nice flowing water, etc.

But many times You have to climb here and there and there just isn't room to carry a tripod over your should. Just carrying the camera is challenge enough.

But the issue is I have one lens which has VR the kit 18-105/3.5-5.6 VR lens that came with my Nikon D7000. It's a very nice lens, and takes very sharp / detailed pictures. But there are DOF things that I don't like with it, thus the reason I bought a 24-85 AF-D/2.8 lens (and the other lens in my signature line), which does not have VR.

If money was no issue, I'd have a line up of VR lens. But havings kids, a house, responsibilities, etc I try to get nice lens but at the low end of the price spectrum.

The main issue I have is stability. I've practiced in my backyard taking pictures with the VR lens and without it. But I'm wondering how people position themselves, breathing techniques, etc to improve taking a "still" shot?
Monopod...there are also camera straps that help with stability but also keeping your elbows tucked in helps a ton...or bumping your ISO to get a faster shutter speed
Mini pocket tripod work around small trees, poles, walls.
I never use a tripod for my bird or other wildlife photos, and only rarely use my monopod.

1. As mentioned above, elbows tucked in really helps. I basically use my torso as a base and "anchor" the camera by tucking my elbows in to my body.
2. Sometimes other means of support are available--a tree or a pole I can prop myself against to get more stability.
3. Also mentioned above, faster shutter speed. Might mean bumping up the ISO, but for the tradeoff of a good, sharp picture, I'll take a little bit of noise.
4. Breathe in, Breathe out...if I find I'm really having trouble keeping the camera steady enough for a good shot (often happens with macro shots), I'll try breathing in, hold my breath for a second as I take the picture, then breathe out.
6. Continuous shutter mode. By setting the camera to continuous shutter mode, I can take two quick, successive shots of the same subject. I often find that the second shot is sharper than the first, because that initial little shake as I actuate the shutter can affect the first shot.
7. Bean bags and gorrillapods--again, sometimes, there IS something you can use as a makeshift monopod, like a fence post. Even better if I have a bean bag with me to set on the post first then set the camera on that. Gorrillapods can wrap around things to hold the camera--though I admit, I've not used a gorrillapod since upgrading to the D7000 and a Sigma 150-500 lens; I don't think it would handle that kind of weight, as the one *I* have barely held up the D5100 and Tokina 100mm macro combination.
Exceedingly cheap, low tech, yet highly effective:

Short piece of rope, and a ¼x20 eyebolt.


Make sure eyebolt isn't too long for the camera threads (turning it in too far can damage it), and the rope is about at tall as you are.

Assembly instructions:

1. Tie rope onto eyebolt.

User Manual:

1. Insert eyebolt into camera threads.
2. Stand on other end of rope.
3. Pull rope up until camera is at eye level, keeping rope taut.
4. Compose and take photo.


You can easily gain 2-3 shutter stops with this, maybe more with patience and practice.
well crap.... off to the hardware store
Exceedingly cheap, low tech, yet highly effective:

Short piece of rope, and a ¼x20 eyebolt.

Thanks for the tip. I'm going to try this. It looks much easier than carrying around a tripod.
Cradle the lens in your left hand by having the palm face upwards. The left hand supports a majority of the camera/lens weight.
Keep your upper arms and elbows in against your torso.
The right hand is lightly held on the right side camera grip.

Have the right foot angled out to approximately forty-five degrees to the side and to the rear at shoulder length. Most of the weight will be on the forward foot, with the forward knee slightly bent and the rear leg straight. The person's upper torso should be leaning forward at the hips, putting the shoulders just over the forward foot.

A vertical grip on the camera really helps balance the camera lens and adds some heft that contributes to stability, which is part of why top-of-the-line pro DSLRs have a vertical grip built in.

In some situations even the above can be made more stable.

Da Grip « Joe McNally?s Blog
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But there are DOF things that I don't like with it, thus the reason I bought a 24-85 AF-D/2.8 lens (and the other lens in my signature line), which does not have VR.

I see you have some awesome lens. What I basically mean is I cannot afford the VR version of the lens that I want (if they make them like that). The AF-S ones also are out of my budget, thus I buy AF/AFD lens which seem much more affordable.

But I like to blow out backgrounds and foregrounds dependent upon what I'm taking a picture of.
Those are some awesome suggestions.

@ Juga / ILovemycam - I've thought of a monopod / mini tripod. I have an old (30 yr) Velbon tripod which I've used one leg, ala monopod, It's very sturdy (rectangularish legs), and small. But I was trying to avoid having to carry additional cargo with me.

@ Juga - great info with bumping up the ISO, I never thought of that. and the arms rucked in. I try once in a while different positions, one arm in, etc but just haven't gotten it all together.

@ sm4him
2 - I try that when I can, but yesterday I was on a creek bed, and other than the mud there wasn't anything there LOL. I do try to use anything to stabilize myself and even lean my head against a wall. I do this when I take quick snapshots of the moon and my 75-300 or 500 lens. I lean against a wall including my head for stability.
3 - great idea. I'm going to practice that
4- been practicing if breathe in, hold or breathe out hold was better ... but I wasn't keeping track LOL
6 - what happened to 5 ? Ironically, I keep it in continuous but because the button seems more sensitive. But I have those issue where I know my finger action still slightly shakes. I'll take 2 pics next time.
7 - good ideas. I use my hand as a bean bag once in a while.

@ KMH - love the explanation. I was trying various stances but not really knowing. I'll definitely try everything you mentioned. I have a grip on my camera too.
@480Sparky - wow - awesome

well crap.... off to the hardware store

@ zombiemann - You and me both.
I might try using an old quick release plate too.

This is great becz it is so compact and if I forget it or lose it, it's no big deal.
Breathing technique is also important. Just like shooting firearms: Inhale, then exhale halfway and hold: Shoot.

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