Long Exposure Photographers’ Worst Nightmares

Long Exposure Photographers’ Worst Nightmares

Recently I’ve got another guest post (How to Avoid Blurry Long Exposure Images with Proper Tripod Setup ) published on DPS (Digital Photography School) website. Please check out if you haven’t yet!

In fact, setting a tripod too tall in high winds and ending up with blurry images is quite a common rookie mistake. I made this crucial mistake for my first visit at Victoria Peak (Hong Kong) back in 2013.

On the day I went up to Victoria Peak, I was feeling I was in luck. I got clear weather, which is hard to come by in Hong Kong, and managed to secure a good shooting spot at a vantage point along Lugard Road (prior to the trip, I spent hours online scouting a best possible shooting spot).

Lugard Road (Hong Kong)

Lugard Road in Hong Kong. 20 minutes walk on this road from The Peak Tower gets you to the best photography spot to shoot Hong Kong skyline.

Keep the Tripod Low to Avoid Blurry Photos

What I didn’t know about was that the fence along the road was rather tall, probably over 150 cm (the photo above). So, I ignorantly extended all the tripod legs plus center column at some 400 metres (1,300 ft) above sea level doing a few minutes of long exposure in high winds. The results? All blurry photos…

Now I can laugh about how ignorant I was, but back then I didn’t know any better! I’ve never made this same mistake ever since by keeping the tripod low and putting the lens through fence bars whenever coming across locations with similarly tall fences.

Putting the Lens Through the Fence Bars

In order to take sharp photos, I’ve learned to keep the tripod low and put the lens through the fence bars, rather than fully extending tripod legs and even center column to shoot from above the fence (which most likely ends up with blurry photos, especially when doing long exposure).

Manfrotto Super Clamp to the Rescue

Another incident I mentioned in my guest post (getting a tripod leg accidentally kicked in the middle of long exposure at a crowded place) could happen to anybody. For us cityscape shooters, it’s almost impossible to avoid crowded locations, as popular cityscape photography spots are always crowded.

To minimise such a risk, we should keep the tripod as low as needed (so that the tripod takes less space on the ground), or wherever possible, turn to a clamp tripod like Manfrotto Super Clamp in order to stay free from troubles.

Manfrotto Super Clamp in Use

Using Manfrotto Super Clamp by clamping it to footbridge railing, instead of setting up a regular tripod.

In fact, Manfrotto Super Clamp is rock solid with a load capacity of 15kg and lets you shoot appreciably sharper photos, compared to using a tripod. The only downside comes in the fact that it requires a railing, etc. to be clamped to, so it’s not possible to use wherever you want.

That said, for someone like me primarily shooting cityscapes at blue hour, having a Super Clamp can be a big help. As long as I have a choice (tripod or Super Clamp), I always choose Super Clamp because it’s more stable and doesn’t hinder other visitors. It’s no brainer!


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