The Dog Leash Monopod (1,QT)
Probably the single most common problem with photos is blurring caused by too little light and camera movement. Of course a tripod is the best way to overcome this, but tripods are not a welcome addition to the casual photographer on vacation with the family. In fact many museums, churches and other public places restrict the use of tripods because of tripping hazards. Monopods are a bit better since they are lighter to carry and don't take up a lot of floor space, and are often more able to get ignored by official staff. But, here again carrying a monopod can often cramp that free spirit we enjoy on vacation.
So here is a tip that will let you get those tough low light shots and still keep yourself out of the geek tourist club. The Dog Leash Monopod is simple to use, can hide in the pocket of your camera bad or even a pocket or handbag and still be able to get the job done.
Purchase a standard dog leash at your nearest pet store or supermarket. The type doesn’t matter. Leather or chain will each work as well. I like the chain type because along with a small padlock it can also be used to secure my camera bag to plumbing in the restroom or a chair in an airport waiting area. In any case choose one that works for you. Be sure it has a loop on one end and is at least as long as you are tall.
Putting it to Use:
I will describe its use with a DSLR, but the same process applies to a smaller pocket camera. More on that later... Place the loop around your lens, close to the camera body where it will not restrict movement of the focus or zoom controls. Now drop the free end to the ground and while holding your camera in front of your face, step on the leash. Now slowly pull up to apply tension to the leash. Hold the camera in the usual manner, locking your elbows to your sides. You now have a steady monopod as long as you keep tension on the leash. I know it seems strange, since we are used to having the support take the weight of our camera. But just a moderate amount of upward tension on the leash will provide the same effect as a monopod without the bulk and inconvenience of having to carry a larger piece of equipment.
If you are using a small pocket camera, try looping the strap around the camera itself. Be careful not to obstruct the auto focus sensor or any other control. If your camera is too small, loop the leash between your thumb and first finger of your right hand. This is the hand that presses the shutter button and it will need the most support.
The dog leash monopod is inexpensive, unobtrusive and should you find an adorable wide eyed stray puppy on you travels, you are prepared to adopt the needy orphan on the spot. I have used this approach many times and I find little difference between using a monopod or a dog leash in terms of the ability to reduce camera movement in low light conditions. However, unlike the dog leash, a monopod will also allow a heavy camera to rest. This becomes a very worthwhile consideration when carrying heavy equipment over long distances or for many hours. But if all you want is a simple way to steady your camera consider this canine accessory.
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