I always recommend using a tripod in pretty much any lighting conditions other than midday sun. There are lots of photographers who try and handhold images in low light and when they look at the LCD screen, all looks OK…until you get home and take a closer look on the computer screen.
So, I tend to carry my tripod or at least a gorillapod with me whenever I go out and shoot. Even more so, I use a tripod FASTIDIOUSLY when I shoot for HDR. Yesterday I was at the annual Polar Bear swim here in Vancouver and while the light was OK, it was not terribly bright giving everything a slight desaturated muted feel. There was some cloud cover and overall the scene was less than inspiring. I took a few shots and immediately thought I could do some HDR images. Alas, I never brought my tripod with me because I knew the beach would be too crowded and I was anticipating doing more action shots, so a tripod would have been unnecessary. So, I did what I could. I set up my camera to bracket 3 shots, 1 F stop apart, lifted the camera above my head and held the shutter release down…click, click, click and they were done.
I was unsure how they would turn out until I got back to my computer to see. There was some movement in between shots (of course, it was hand held) and then some people moved too. I pulled the 3 images into Photomatix Pro and clicked on the “remove ghosts” button and clicked on automatic and set the detection to high…and held my breath…I was totally surprised by the result. It is not a perfect shot, but it is certainly usable considering the situation. I then ran it through Photoshop to sort out the colour and lighting and Voila!
In future I will be trying this more often if I don’t have a tripod handy…take a look at the result and let me know what you think!
Polar Bear Swim HDR