Unshaking Your Pictures

Being a novice photographer I thought it would be rather easy to keep a camera still while taking pictures. While at my brother�s college graduation, I volunteered to be the photographer thinking that I had the talent of a freelancer. I was using a 70-300 mm zoom lens so I could get right in his face from where I sat in the crowd. Finally the pictures were developed and guess what, most of them were blurry! So much for my steady hand.

This little incident taught me that if I wanted to have my pictures look somewhat legitimate I needed to use a tripod. Especially when I wanted to make postcard shots of those breathtaking landscapes while backpacking. The mountains aren�t going to get up and move, so you might as well take your time and set up a good picture. As always, backpackers are thinking of size and weight, so I have tried out three different types of tripods which you could use while on a trip.

The first is a new product made by High Sierra Manufacturing Company called the Clampette. I will be honest with you, the first time I saw this contraption I thought it would never work. Basically it looks like a metal screw clamp that you would find in a handyman�s workshop. When I picked it up I was even more surprised because it lived up to it�s 2ounce weight. To use the Clampette you screw it into your normal tripod socket and then screw the clamp onto any nearby sturdy surface. The manufacturer shows it being used on car windows and chairs. You basically have to be creative on how you use the Clampette.

The Sherlock Walking Staff made by Tracks is a very useful item. Why? It combines a walking staff and a camera monopod into one body. The Sherlock could be used outright as a walking staff and you would never complain. It telescopes from 41" to 56", has a foam covering on the upper part of the staff and a rubber pad on the tip which can be removed to reveal a metal point. On top of the staff is a nice walnut knob that can be unscrewed to expose a normal camera tripod screw. Connect your camera and the staff and you are in business. This makes a great combination, it keeps the camera still and it also helps you hike uphill. The downside would be that since it is a monopod, it would be harder to do long exposures since it can sway from side to side.

Last is the traditional camera tripod. Once you set it up this thing is as sturdy as a rock. You can leave your camera on it all night to make a picture of star trails and not worry about it falling over. There are two drawbacks to using this good-ole-standby though. First it is pretty cumbersome. Not only do you have to put up with its unusual shape, but it is heavier than the other two. Secondly, it takes a little more time to setup when you want to take a picture.

About the Author

Matt Johnston (matt@thebackpacker.com) is the creator of thebackpacker.com web site.