The tripod, a bear and sharp photographs

Today, I would like to tell you about an unexpected benefit of carrying a tripod: We are on vacation in New England at the moment and about a week ago we undertook a wonderful hike in the White Mountains, tellingly on the Frankenstein cliff. Although we did not meet Frankenstein, we encountered a black bear that tried to sneak up on us. Instead of being scared away by our presence, as it should be the nature of a wild creature, it kept approaching and following us. Shouting and screaming caused the imposing bear to hesitate only shortly and it kept trotting behind us (easily close enough for a nice portrait shot, but at that moment photography was not a primary concern of mine anymore). Desperate for a more drastic measure to chase the bear away, I pulled out my tripod, extended its legs and started to wave it nervously and agitatedly (in combination with ever louder shouting). Although it is a wimpy, lightweight tripod that you can easily carry around for days, the bear seemed impressed and decided - to our all relief - to abandon its five-course menu, to leave the hiking trail and to disappear in the woods. We still finished our hike in record time and kept shouting and screaming all the way until we reached a more frequented trail, where we even used the tripod to take a photograph - a self-timer shot of the intact family. To be fair, it should be mentioned that fatal black bear encounters are rare and that the situation may not have been as dangerous as it seemed (although "our" bear looked intimidating and dangerous to us).
I already liked my tripod before and feel only confirmed in my appraisal for its qualities as a perfect hiking and traveling tripod by the newly discovered scarebear effect. If correctly used and ready at hand a tripod can be a very helpful tool; both for taking sharp photographs and for avoiding sharp bear teeth. As a side note, I would like to claim that a tripod can effectively stabilize your camera only if the center column is NOT extended. Therefore, I have cut the center column of my tripod, as you may observe in the above photograph. Since this is only a kludge, I would really like somebody to produce a lightweight, sturdy and small tripod without center column at all (but instead with an included leveling base). 

2011/10/20 by Florian Freimoser
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