Tip 5:
Beat The Interior Shootin’ Blues

By Bob Krist


Castles, palaces, historic mansions, atmospheric museums — one of these will probably figure into a vacation itinerary no matter where you go. Unfortunately, however, there are usually prohibitions against using flash, and sometimes even tripods. But there are ways to work around this.

Forget about lenses with maximum apertures smaller than f/2.8. This is the time to break out that fast normal lens, a 50mm f/1.8 for example. I prefer a wider lens, and usually end up shooting in the 20-24mm range, which gives me a little extra apparent depth of field along with its wider coverage.

In most cases, you’ll still be hovering below the hand holdable shutter speed limit (1/30th to 1/15th of a second for most people). To stretch that limit, I put my camera on a Leitz table-top tripod and brace it against my chest. This lowers my hand holdable range by about two shutter speeds — I routinely get away with 1/4 of a second exposures with the 20mm or 24mm setting on my wideangle zoom. In addition to bracing a table-top tripod against your chest, you can also rest it on railings, or brace it against a wall or a doorjamb. After a while you become very adept at finding places to brace a table-top, and you’d be surprised at what you can get away with.

I once had an assignment to photograph three of King Ludwig’s castles in Bavaria. The magazine arranged special permission with the castle administrators for me to shoot interiors with tripod and lights. But somehow, when I reached the third castle, beautiful Herrenchiemsee, they could not find the paperwork.

Since it was a weekend, nothing could be done to reach the office, and I was scheduled to return stateside on that Monday.

Rather than return home without pictures, I simply took tour after tour of the castle interior along with the other tourists. On each trip through, I would shoot as much as I could with my table-top tripod, looking for new spots to brace the tripod on my next tour through. Not the most efficient way to shoot an assignment, but I had enough publishable interiors to save the assignment, thanks to the table-top tripod.

Copyright 2006–2011 Bob Krist. Reproduced with permission. No Internet reproduction or other usage permitted. For more information send an email. Bob’s next book will be PhotoSecrets Travel Photography.

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