Have you ever gone out to make some images and were sure you had your tripod with you? Because you knew you were going to need it and you knew your efforts would not be very successful if you didn’t have it. Then you get to the location only to find you don’t have the mounting plate with you? I have to admit that I did this. Yep, I left the quick release mounting plate for my tripod at home! It is bad enough not bring your tripod but it is really frustrating to have a tripod that you just can’t use. André, a photographer friend of mine, and I went to Washington DC to do some night photos near the Lincoln Memorial. When we got out of the car and started getting setup I found that I did not have the mounting plate for my tripod. I had done some photos in my backyard a few days before and I had removed the mounting plate from my camera at my desk when I downloaded my images. My tripod lives in my car so I don’t forget to pack it for a shoot! So, with no mounting plate, I had a tripod that I couldn’t use.
When you forget your tripod, or the mounting plate for your tripod, all is not lost. Be creative, as photographers we are creative beings so don’t let something like wanting to shoot at night and not having a tripod ruin your evening. Improvise, find some way to support your camera so that you do not need a tripod. Leave some home made bean bags in your car to help support your camera. They are dead easy to make. Take a zip-lock bag fill it 2/3 full of coffee beans or some other dried beans and you are in business! You can also use rice if that is easier to come by. They don’t have to be very heavy, they just have to prop up your camera. I told a class about this and one of the students made everyone in class a bean bag. Very cool!
Even without my tripod, and no bean bags, I got several nice images from that night including the one below. I used my lens cap and camera strap to help support my camera. By propping up your camera using just about anything that comes to hand you can get by without a tripod. Once you have your camera stabilized proceed just as you would with a tripod. Use your camera’s self-timer or, if you didn’t forget it as well, your cable or remote release.
So what did I learn from the night? I learned to keep an extra quick release mount for your tripod in my camera bag and pack a couple of bean bags in my car. The extra mounting plate doesn’t cost too much so having an extra one is not prohibitively expensive. I already had a spare one from a magic arm that has the same sort of camera mount attachment so I had two mounting plates at home and none with me. Yeah, I know…