Photos Without a Tripod, No Way!

No tripod, Extreme weather conditions near the summit of Mount Washington in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Appalachian Trail – Mt Washington, New Hampshire

Photos Without a Tripod, No Way! – The title of this post is nothing more than sarcastic photography advice to get your attention. Did it work? Okay, now that I have your attention, lets talk photography for a few minutes. There is a misleading belief floating around the internet that a good, and marketable, photograph can only be created when the photographer uses a tripod. This is one belief that should be taken with a grain of salt.

To obtain the best quality image, I am a strong believer in using a tripod as much as possible, but the reality is there are many situations when I do not use one. If I were to only use my camera when it was mounted to a tripod I would miss out on hundreds of photo opportunities. The included images were all handheld (no tripod).

Mount Washington from Crawford Path in the Presidential Range in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Appalachian Trail – Mt Washington, New Hampshire

In 2010, on a blue bird winter day, I was hiking to the summit of Mount Washington. I didn’t want to carry my heavy tripod on this day so I opted to carry a much lighter monopod. A monopod is a single pole that supports the camera (imagine a one legged tripod). Could this image be better if I used a tripod? Maybe, maybe not.

Flash floods from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 washed out this section of the Wilderness Trail (formerly Cedar Brook Trail) in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire.
Wilderness Trail (formerly Cedar Brook Trail) – Pemi Wilderness, New Hampshire

In 2011, days after Tropical Storm Irene, I spent a few days photographing storm damage in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Tropical Storm Irene caused massive destruction throughout the White Mountains, and the above scene shows how bad some trails were damaged. On the day of this shot, I had decided not to carry a tripod, because we were traveling light and fast. Using a tripod for this scene would have made no difference.

Three hikers travel along the Appalachian Trail near Mount Lafayette in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Appalachian Trail – Mount Lafayette, New Hampshire

In the above scene, three hikers are traveling north along the Appalachian Trail, near Mount Lafayette, during the winter months in New Hampshire. I did have my tripod with me on this day, but if I had taken the time to set it up I would have missed this shot, because moments after the above shot the hikers disappeared out of view.

Brocken Spectre in Hellgate Ravine from the summit of Bondcliff Mountain in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Brocken Spectre – Hellgate Ravine, Pemigewasset Wilderness

On a past winter day, my hiking partner and I were on Bondcliff in the Pemigewasset Wilderness and saw what we believe to be a Brocken Spectre (above) in Hellgate Ravine. I rarely see these in the White Mountains so I wanted to capture the scene as fast as possible, no tripod was used.

I hope you enjoyed this lighthearted blog post, and remember you can create decent and marketable images without a tripod. Try leaving your tripod home on your next photo adventure and force yourself to take handheld shots. All of the above images can be licensed for publications by clicking on the image you are interested in.

Happy image making..


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