Tripods on Ice

Tripods are extremely important for landscape photographers, and I have a couple good tripods that I’ve collected over the years – not my dream tripod yet, but close. I’ve heard of people at the camera store asking for spikes in the feet of their tripods, and always thought it might be a little perk but didn’t really matter. After all, in years of taking photos all over the place, I’ve never really missed having spikes on the feet of my tripods – rubber feet have always worked great.

Well, this week it all changed. Out on the icy surface of Abraham Lake, with the wind blowing constantly and extremely hard, my tripod was useless. In fact, it made everything less steady – it provided more surface area for the wind to catch. The rubber feet had no grip at all on the ice. If I let go of my tripod on the ice, it would start to move away from me as the wind pushed it across the ice. Luckily it never fell over. The best I could do was to hang on to it, put a bunch of my weight on it, and hope no super large gusts came up during the exposure (the gusts were blowing me around a bit too, despite my crampons).

So I now understand the desire for spiked tripod feet, although I’m still not sure how much they would have helped in this case. I think my conclusion is just that it is extremely hard to take long exposures on ice in extremely windy conditions.

I’m not finished going through my photos from Abraham Lake yet, but here’s a preview. This is from Wednesday morning.

2 thoughts on “Tripods on Ice”

  1. Nice shot—Abraham Lake is always great (and windy) in the winter. I’m one of those guys with tripod spikes and it’s true, they don’t make much difference—except for the few times you really need them… I also carry a small mesh bag with my camera gear that I can attach to the centre column of the tripod and fill with rocks or ice to really steady the camera in really extreme conditions.

    Looking forward to more of your photos from this trip!

  2. How.. how did you see a cross section? Had something cracked/shifted so that part of the ice was sitting “above surface”. Also: Hi Joel!

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