Quick tips: Use a beanbag
In today's Quick Tips, we look at the diminutive alternative to the trusty tripod - the beanbag. What's it all about?
When you use a tripod, it’s tempting to shoot at chest height, which can lead to predictable pictures. Beanbags, on the other hand, force you to get down low, or seek out a fencepost or wall to support your gear.
These cheap, lightweight accessories let you use your car as a hide, observing and photographing wildlife in comfort. They can be draped over window frames, providing a safe cushion for your equipment. They support both a camera and much of a lens, helping you to keep everything steady. In the case of DSLRs, they also help to absorb vibrations created by the mirror flipping up to expose the sensor.
- While the flexibility of a beanbag will never match that of a tripod, this cheap accessory allows you to be in position and firing away within seconds.
- Choosing a beanbag is simple: just decide how much surface area you require (taking into account the longest lens you use), look for tough, waterproof material and decide on a suitable filling.
- If you’re planning a bird-photography session, fill your beanbag with a plastic bag of bird seed and scatter small amounts in strategic positions as required. Remember to refresh the bird seed regularly.
- Some beanbags have a screw thread on the top, allowing you to attach a camera directly to them – this can be great for panning. If you use a standard bag and slide your hand under the camera, you can achieve similar results.
- Beanbags are often available in camouflage fabrics to help you keep a low profile when photographing wildlife. Wildlife Watching Supplies (www. wildlifewatchingsupplies.co.uk) has a fantastic range.