Photography: Stabilisation


Other than your camera, if there’s one piece of kit you should bring on your next tour to ensure stunning images it’s a tripod. Photography expert Simon Thomas explains just why that is

Photographer: Simon Thomas

The bike is already heavy; I want to carry less gear, not more.

Do I really need to carry a tripod? Yes!

Yeah, it’s a pain in the arse, but when you’re heading out the door for your next big ride, strapping your tripod onto the back of your bike is essential if you’re serious about capturing great shots.

Camera movement is a photographer’s nemesis. No matter how dramatic the lighting, or how stunning the backdrop is, a blurry image is a fail. Clip your camera to the top of a securely fixed tripod and you’re on your way to a sharp and professional image.

In the photo in this piece, I had Lisa make half a dozen passes before feeling happy that I’d captured the shot I’d envisioned in my head. Using my tripod meant that I could compose the shot and make small but controlled alterations to get the image I wanted.

There was lots of light for the shot, so the tripod wasn’t critical based on a slow exposure. I wanted to ensure that I captured Lisa and her bike crisply but I also wanted to capture the size and scale of her surroundings and add some blur by zooming the lens out as she rode towards me (a technique that I described in issue 38 of Adventure Bike Rider).

Panning (rotate the camera through a range of motion) is vital if you want to create powerful action shots, that really capture movement. It’s a difficult technique to master if you’re relying solely on a steady hand, but using a tripod makes this far easier and more fluid.

Bear in mind a tripod can also hold a video recorder and eliminate shake, something that’s crucial if you want to create professional-looking clips. But it doesn’t stop there, if you’re using a tripod you’ll also be able to shoot far better close up shots of your bike or parts, and if you’re shooting with a telephoto lens or shooting wildlife or landscapes.

Trust me on this. Yeah, it’s extra effort, but the results will confirm to you why it’s worth it.