Thursday, October 21, 2010

Learn From My Mistakes, Please.

Black Dog Pier 16, 2010

Sometimes you just have to admit that you’re lucky and let it go at that.

During all of the years I’ve been serious about photography I’ve always owned a reasonably reliable tripod. At the moment I have one traditional tripod, a couple of tabletop tripods and a Gorillapod, the bendable legs of which wrap around things when you don’t have a steady horizontal surface. The regular tripod is always in the car when I go out to make pictures.

But does this mean I use it?


About the only time I ever use the tripod is…almost never. It’s safely stashed right there within easy reach in the back of the car. But I almost never think to take it out and carry it with me.

I’ve been lucky. There have been many times when I’ve taken low light photographs without using a tripod. Many of these times I’ve been successful. The camera I’m using these days is amazingly sensitive to low light, which covers a multitude of sins. Like not using a tripod.

The other morning while we waited to catch the ferry back to the mainland from Martha’s Vineyard, I wandered over to the Black Dog pier in Vineyard Haven to watch the sun rise and see if I could catch some interesting photographs of the rising sun against the schooners moored nearby.

I’ve taken a number of pictures through the years from this pier. I can even say honestly that I once used a tripod to take pictures there at sunrise. So you’d think I’d have the good sense to pull the tripod out and use it the other day, especially since the wind was blowing at nearly gale force.

But nooooooooo. The tripod was underneath all of the stuff packed into the back of the car. And besides, I felt sure I could count on the camera to help me cheat the wind and get some decent pictures without the benefit of a tripod.

Only the camera didn’t cover for me this time. Except for one or two images that I took while bracing myself and the camera against the little building on the pier, just about every one of the pictures I took was pretty worthless because of the vibration during a long-ish exposure.

Learn from my mistakes. Don’t pretend you’re so steady that you can take long-exposures in low light on a windy day without incurring a lot of vibration. That’s what tripods are for.

Black Dog Pier 27, 2010


  1. I have a tripod and a monopod and they are never used. I have a steady hand and a true heart. That is all you need in my view.

  2. So I'm not the only one who forgets about that tripod stashed within easy reach in the car! I do remember to take my monopod if I'm going to be out wandering on rough terrain. In addition to having a mounting screw for my camera it serves as a great trekking pole and replacement for the cane that is stored right beside the tripod and also usually forgotten.

  3. Love it! Your photos from this trip are wonderful.