HandlePod–A Pocket Solution for Night Landscapes

You either carry a tripod or you don’t. If you have one you’re ready for anything. You can set up anywhere for long exposures at night, take self portraits or group shots at any distance and you never have to worry about photos ruined by camera shake. On the down side, you have to carry the tripod, set it up for the shot then break it down and put it away.

Without a tripod you are limited to shooting hand held. This is fine in daylight or with flash and works for the vast majority of photographs. But there are subjects and situations that simply cannot be photographed hand held. Night landscape photography is a prime example. Without a means to stabilize the camera, forget about moonlit mountains and trees against a star-studded sky. That is why most people put the camera away when the sun goes down and forget about night landscapes.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. A small tripod alternative like HandlePod will provide the camera stability of a tripod for exposures of any duration when used properly. Granted, it is not as sturdy or versatile as a tripod. But it weighs just a few ounces and takes up very little room in a bag or backpack. And it opens up a whole world of night landscape photography that would otherwise be unavailable. The camera stabilization that HandlePod provides lets you literally shoot for the stars.

Landscape photography at night is a huge subject worthy of entire books and articles. One excellent source of information is Digital Photography School. Neil Creek offers an informative video series on night photography. The subject is too large to consider in detail here, but I will offer a few points with regard to use of the HandlePod.

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HandlePod secured to a tree. Photo by Neil Creek.

Where possible, secure the HandlePod to a support with the elastic cord. In the wilderness, trees make an excellent support as shown here. If there is nothing to wrap the cord around, you can hold the HandlePod against any available object. Just maintain light pressure and a steady hand and the camera will remain stable. Most important, be sure to use the self timer or a remote release to avoid touching the camera during exposure. Use the shortest, widest angle lens you have to take in more of the scene and minimize weight. For a starlit sky with no moon, raise the ISO to the highest level you can tolerate for noise. A value of 3400 at f4 for thirty seconds is a good starting point and adjust from there. And be sure to focus manually since autofocus doesn’t work in the dark.

There is a lot more to be learned about night landscape photography. Fortunately there is an abundance of information on line and many outstanding examples available. But to do it you need reliable camera stabilization: either a sturdy tripod or a HandlePod if you prefer to travel light.

 

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