It’s 11 at night and I’m writing my list of things to remember for the 6am start tomorrow. At the top of this list, I write, in block capitals, TRIPOD. I then position my tripod next to my packed bag. This tripod is not getting left behind!
The alarm sounds, a moment of dread envelopes my mind upon the realization of the early hour, but, shortly after, excitement kicks in and I’m up in no time (at least a few minutes). I run through my routinely morning procedures in a flash, grab my bag and head out of the door as my family are waiting impatiently in the car. What happened to the list you might be wondering? Absolutely nothing.
It’s too late to turn around, we’re five minutes from the ferry port when it dawns on me, like a virus apocalypse inside my head. My blood boils, I panic, how could I possibly capture a weeks photography and video without a tripod?
Thinking cap time. My father had continually told me from day one: ‘always think positively about bad situations’. I was struggling with this one. Finally, I came to the conclusion that without my tripod my cinematography skills would have to find new and inventive ways of capturing image and, ultimately, advance. This may be true, but I’d certainly choose a tripod over duck taping a tabletop pod to a broom pole and waving this unreliable invention around in the air.
A – it was awfully time consuming and tedious to operate. B – you put £2000 at risk of falling ‘down the drain’. C – It frankly looks ridiculous.
I purchased the tabletop pod (as it’s labeled on the packet) at a local photographic print store named ‘phox’ – whether this meant ‘x’ rated photos or ‘phoxy’ ones being sold, I’m not sure. Somehow, this small village seemed to be the only remotely inhabited place we came by on our 3-hour drive to my parents boat. It was, consequently, a minor miracle when a old, stereotypical French lady (she just looked really French, okay!?) replied “Un magasin de photographie? Oui, oui..” followed by some directions I couldn’t recite for the life of me. Good job the shop was just around the corner!
The male shop tender thought he saw an alien when I walked in, his jaw dropped to the floor. A customer, a customer with a camera in his hand, a customer with a strong intensive look on purchasing something! The man had business. I pointed at my camera before making a buffoon like attempt to draw a tripod below the latter with my hand. The man was sharp on his toes and quickly conjured up a neat little package containing the fore mentioned ‘tabletop pod’. The device was no more than a centimeter wide and a few inches tall. I looked down at the canon 7d hanging around my neck and then at the pod that stood elegantly on the counter below. You’ve got to be joking. It was an Arnold Schwarzenegger versus Predators moment – I can tackle this.
“You’ve not got anything a little bigger?” I asked, whilst using some sort of great hand gesture to get the point across. “Ahh, no,” he sounded in a deep French accent, of course. The man then explained that the nearest ‘real’ tripod was at a store over 100 kilometers away. So, I decided to tackle the miniature device (which fortunately didn’t have night vision). It was a desperate moment. Upon attachment, my SLR instantly flopped forward, hopeless. Seconds later, “I’ll take it.”
7.90 – an extreme rip-off for 3 tiny prongs of plastic.
However, I take my hat off to the shopkeeper. What a great little device – it even fits in my pocket! By the end of the week, I’d mastered the use of it and managed to get some very steady shots – I was soon over the depression stirred by my maddening ability to simply forget.
So, the long overdue message of this post is really to put emphasis on how important using a tripod is, but, that if you forget it, there’s always a way to get the shot you want (if you intend on going for a handheld look, then sshhh). In the past, I’ve stacked my whole shelf of books upon one another to place my camera steady at the height I want it. Try new things and you’ll soon get over leaving your tripod behind.
However, carrying a tripod is always worth the hassle (just remember it). In the case of my situation in France, thank you Mr. Phoxy!