So what happens when you’re out and about with your camera and you don’t have a tripod or monopod but need the extra stability? Here are a few tips:
Hold Your Camera Well – I’ve previously written a post on how to hold a digital camera which is largely about keeping your camera still when shooting. A good steady grip goes a long way to fighting camera shake.
Lean on Something – find a wall, tree, fence or some other solid object to lean upon to give you a little extra stability. It’s not rocket science but it does make a difference.
Put Your Camera Down – Find a clean and stable spot to put your camera down on a solid object (the ground, a rock, a seat, a brick wall etc) – line up your shot and take it from there. Many photographers use their camera bag for this, others travel with a small bean bag (see next point) to rest their camera on.
Self Timer – If you choose to rest your camera on something then you can further reduct camera shake by setting the self timer of your camera so that there is no way that you pressing the shutter will cause camera shake.
Get Down Low – Ever been at the top of a tall building and felt it sway in the wind? The higher you go the more you feel the sway while if you’re on the ground floor you wont feel it. The same principle can apply here – sit, lay down or kneel in a way that you feel as still as possible and you should keep your camera sturdy.
Camera Settings – Set your camera up in a way that helps alleviate camera shake. If it has image stabilization switch it on. Choose a higher ISO (you’ll get more noise but less camera shake), choose a faster shutter speed (or switch to sports mode) and/or use a flash which can help to stop any movement.
All of the above can help keep your camera still when shooting but none are really a substitute for a real tripod.
Update: Thanks to those readers who suggested another alternative – Joby’s Gorillapod flexible Tripod which is a great little device that lets you attatche your camera to all kinds of objects to keep it still (for example branches of trees, bars on fences etc). They make two versions – a standard one and one for DSLRs.