Traveling Without A Tripod?

Posted February 26th, 2013 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

We received a great question this morning from a friend who’s going to a trip to do night photography, but can’t bring a tripod due to extenuating circumstances.

Washington Monument

Washington Monument at night. Nikon D700, handheld, 1/25 sec, ISO 1600.

Question

Hi Mike,

I’m going to Washington DC next month and have arranged for a night tour of the capital with stops for some photos of some of the monuments and buildings using my D800.

Due to luggage space considerations I will not be able to bring my tripod. However, I may have room for my monopod. Naturally I’ll be using a Nikkor VR lens. What settings would you recommend for this challenging environment (ISO, aperture, shutter)?

– B.H.

Answer

Hi B.H.,

You’ll have a great time shooting night photographs in Washington DC. Here are some thoughts and recommended settings:
1. Bring a tripod. I know weight is a concern, but a tripod is the only way to truly achieve steady long exposures.
2. If you can’t bring a tripod, then bring a mini-tripod like a Gorilla Pod. A monopod isn’t going to do you much good for exposures over 1/10 second.
3. If you can’t bring a mini-pod, then set your D800 up for Auto ISO. In the shutter speed section of the Auto ISO menu, choose “Auto”. This will set the shutter speed to equal your focal length. Your shots will be at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400, so you’ll need to do lots of post processing in Lightroom to get rid of the noise.
4. Of course, turn on VR to Normal.
5. Hold your breath when taking pics so the camera remains as steady as possible.
6. Photograph in continuous mode and shoot three to five images for every composition. One of them is likely to turn out ok.



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