I have said here more than once that a tripod is a necessary tool to make good nature and landscape photography, especially when we are shooting during the golden hours where we have low light conditions and long exposures.  However, last weekend, I took my camera off the tripod and experienced a sense of creativity and freedom that was new to me.  Here is what happened:

Mary and I go to the Huntington Gardens in San Marion, CA a half dozen times a year. Right now, the Shakespeare Garden is full of flowers.  I started walking around with my tripod and found that the flowers were too tall or too short to get a good composition.   Because it had already become quite bright, shutter speed was not going to be a problem.

I had my Canon 24-105 f/4 lens with the image stabilization on.  It was a little windy so I set the ISO at 400; aperture at f/4; and, staying in aperture priority (AV), I got a good fast shutter speed.


Without the tripod, I walked around the garden and took advantage of several benches and chairs to get a high perspective.  At times I also raised my camera above my head (paparazzi style) and just “sprayed and prayed” – by the way, none of these turned out well, but it was fun.


Because I am used to the tripod and a slower more thoughtful composing routine, I tried to stay slow and be deliberate with composing hand held.  I reviewed each image to check my composition after each shot to improve on the next one.  I experimented with different depths of field, compositions, shutter speeds, and perspectives.

One of Mary’s favorite compositions is to get low and shoot up under the flowers.  This is nearly impossible to do on a tripod.


Here she is on a slight hill along a pond.  The hill was awkward with a tripod and too close to the water the for comfort (you can see her abandoned tripod in the background).


With the Huntington and its flowers, it is fun to be creative with processing.  Here is what Mary was creating above.

Vertical Panoramic
Vertical Panoramic

To see more of our photos and many of them from the Huntington Gardens, please go to


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