Technically, I'm on vacation and I should NOT be in front of a PC. But here I am, surfing the web, looking at photography tutorials, tips and tricks to make the most out of vacation photography. For context, I only have a cheap point-and-shoot and a tripod. With no selfie sticks involved, here are four hacks I came up with while taking my vacation photos.
Avoid camera shake with the timer
Most blurry photos are caused by camera shake. So when I bought my camera, I also bought a tripod. With a tripod, my photos are no longer at the mercy of my shaky grip. But there's one exception: when the camera shakes when pressing the shutter button resulting in objects that have slightly soft edges. There are fancy accessories to prevent this from happening but I don't desperately need them.
So what I did was use the two-second timer to take the shots. This way, after pressing the shutter button, I have two seconds to move my hand away and let the camera stabilize before the shot is taken. This results in slightly sharper photos than the ones taken in immediate shot mode.
Tripod as a shoulder stock
My mantra in photography is "capture all, discard later". I always take as many photos as I can from as many angles as possible to avoid missing a moment. But this conflicts with the use of a tripod, which requires stationary operation for an extended period of time. To move around safely, I'd have to unmount the camera and undeploy the tripod which takes a lot of time.
So what I did was turn my collapsed tripod into a shoulder stock. I mounted the camera on the tripod pointing upwards, held the camera with one hand, the mounting mechanism with the other, and the feet of the tripod against my shoulder. Imagine a person holding an SMG (like an FN P90), that's how I look like. So when I need to do a quick and stable snap, I just aim and shoot, literally.
Secure the camera with hairbands
There are a lot of ways to prevent a camera from being dropped. But most of them, like a neck band or body strap, are overkill for a compact point-and-shoot. This left me with the wrist strap that came with the camera. Wrist straps are good for clumsy slips while taking a photo, not so much for anything else. They are not securely attached to anything and can slip off my arm easily.
So what I did was loop the wrist strap to three hairbands and wore the hairbands on my wrist. This way, no matter what my arms and hands were doing, the camera is anchored securely to my wrist. This setup also allowed me to dangle the camera safely while doing something else with both hands, like deploying/undeploying a tripod or climbing obstacles.
Hook tripod to belt with a carabiner
So I freed one hand from always holding the camera. But I still have to carry around the tripod. The tripod is pretty light and compact. It's about the length of my forearm when fully collapsed and around 50 inches when fully deployed. But it takes up one hand to carry. And when you have to climb obstacles, it's requires extra effort.
So what I did was take the carabiner that held my keys, clipped the tripod case to it, then clipped the entire thing to my belt. Now I have both hands free. This allowed me to climb obstacles, get to very awkward spots, and traverse rocky terrain without losing balance. All that was possible only because I had both hands equipment-free.
Sometimes, the most creative solutions are those formulated when under some limitation. In this case, I needed to be creative with what I had at the time, namely the camera, tripod and whatever else was on me. I'm no pro when it comes to photography (I still need to master aperture-shutter-iso adjustments). All I wanted was above-average vacation photos with average equipment. I hope this article gave you ideas on how to make the most out of your vacation photos.