How to Shot HDR without Tripod

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When shooting HDR and time-lapse, the key is to achieve multiple exposures with no variation in composition.  For this reason, most insist a tripod is a must.  I’d fully agree, except I routinely travel light (more accurately I have two little kids, so a single camera body with a 28-300 lens is all I’m allowed when I need to actually be more of a parent than a photographer).

This has led me to practice three techniques to overcome my frequent lack of a tripod.

 Swaddle the Camera

This technique works best for time-lapse. Take a sweatshirt or jacket and ball it into a nest of sorts.  The camera literally sits inside the nest which absorbs vibration and keeps the body from falling over.

Find a Bar

This technique is best for HDR or low-light shooting. Find a railing, a park bench, a garbage can even. The key is to press down on the camera so it stays stable.  I’ll take advantage of a continuos shooting mode and auto-bracketing so the camera can quickly fire all exposures.

Find a Pole

This is another variation on the theme above.   The challenge here is often that the surfaces are rounded.  I’ll often try to pad the bottom of the camera with a jacket or a hand.  I’ll often use the camera strap and wrap it around the pole (just keep it under tension to further stabilize).

Do you have any down and dirty techniques you use in a pinch?

By Rich Harrington

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