If you’re taking your average snapshot – or even a well composed, well thought out photo – you don’t always need a tripod. But sometimes a tripod is real asset. For example:
Taking shots for night photography and in low light to get a maximum of sharpness, beyond that, chances are good you don’t need a tripod. There are even times when you might like to use one but can’t; many museums and zoos and the like prohibit them.
So what to do in a situation where a tripod would come in handy but you don’t have one or can’t use it? Here are a few tips:
Hold your camera with two hands. It’s one of the most obvious solutions to reducing shake when you don’t have a tripod, but it’s amazing to stand around and watch people hanging on to their cameras with one loose hand. Using both hands to hold your camera helps to steady it.
Brace yourself. While you’re holding your camera properly, use your body like a tripod. Widen your stance like the legs of a tripod, then press your elbows in close to your upper body to help further steady your camera.
Get support. If you have something you can rest your camera on, use it. You can use tree trunks, fences, chairs, tables and so on. While you’re holding your camera, go ahead and lean on something to help you prop yourself up.
Use tripod alternatives like a Gorillapod or a beanbag to rest your lens on it.
And there is the poor man’s tripod: Use a screw. You can tie a string to a screw on one end and a small piece of wood or other similar object on the other. Put the screw into the bottom of your camera like you would with a tripod attachment. Drop the string to the floor and put your foot or feet onto the wood. Make sure the string is completely taut before firing off a shot. Evidently, this helps to steady your camera in a similar way to bracing your entire body.
I know this is no substitute for a quality tripod, but in a pinch this makeshift tripod is better than nothing, and it requires virtually no extra packing and setup time. Although, you may receive some strange looks from others when using this.