I am about to go off to Alaska on a small boat trip through Glacier Bay National Park with 8 other people. Glacier Bay is one of the very few National Parks that I have never been to and that I have always wanted to go. I can remember being 16 and getting a photo book on Glacier Bay and being absolutely enthralled. Well it is finally time for me to get dethralled. I can’t wait.
Almost all of the photography is going to be from the water- in kayaks, Zodiacs and on the boat so most of the photography is going to be hand held. But I am guessing that sometimes there will be opportunities for a tripod so I am bringing on travel pod along just in case. The catch with using a tripod on a boat though is that whenever the engine is on it creates a strong vibration through the entire boat, strong enough to destroy your photography. You have two choices to solve this problem- tell the captain to turn off the engine whenever you want to use your tripod or keep on reading.
This is the secret to on board tripod photography- three triangles of closed cell (non water absorbing) foam and a small roll of duct tape. Huh?
You place each leg of the tripod in the middle of the foam triangle. You then curl up the corners and tape them together creating three littles foam booties for your tripod’s feet.
While this creates a very fashionable and, need I say, hip tripod it also quells the vibration from the engine! Now you can use your tripod without a problem. The best part of this solution is that the closed-cell foam for the little 6″ triangles costs almost nothing, weighs nothing and packs to nothing. Any nonabsorbent foam will do. This closed-cell foam is also called Ensolite and can easily be found in outdoor stores. It is used by backpackers as sleeping pads and comes in various widths. Mine are from ¼” Ensolite.
I know the skeptics out there are shaking their collective cone heads at this moment. Their loss. I used these very same pads 20 years ago on a trip to Antarctica and had several images published including in the Sierra Club calendar.
You don’t need very much so I suggest that a group of you get together and buy a short pad and go nuts cutting triangles. After all it’s August, you’ve got nothing else to do.
I’ll share my photos from Glacier Bay when I return.