Photographing Trees with a Point and Shoot Camera

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Trees at Lake Jesup Park
Canon Powershot S100, Joby Gorillapod
It's well known that Central Florida is so flat that it's hard to find picturesque landscapes to photograph.  There are some genuine hills along the central spine of the state, but that's about it.  It's not too much of an exaggeration to say that, within an hour's drive of my house, the tallest things that stick out of the ground are trees and landfills.  Last year, I decided to try to take more landscape and nature photos that do not include wildlife (basically that means photographing trees).  I rarely did that, though, largely because I didn't want to change lenses all the time or carry two cameras.  My solution this year is to use the Canon PowerShot S100.  So far, the solution has worked pretty well, as I'm taking many more landscapes than I did last year.

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Canon Powershot S100, Joby Gorillapod
This is how I set up to take the first image above
But there is a challenge I'm still facing--the problem of a tripod.  I'm a big advocate of tripods, even though I rarely use one for bird photography--they slow me down too much, and I miss shots, especially of birds in flight.  But with landscapes, I still believe that tripods are the way to go. However, if I lug one around with me for landscapes, I'll be slowed down for my bird shots. So here's my compromise setup above.  My sister gave me this Joby Gorillapod a few years ago.  I've almost never used it, since it's way to flimsy for an SLR, but it's just right for a point and shoot. Here's what I like about the setup:
  • The tripod is small, and the legs bend.  I put one leg through my belt loop and then bend all the legs until it is small enough not to bother me when walking.
  • The "quick release plate" is small enough that I can open my camera's battery/sd card slot with the plate still attached. 
  • I can set my camera for a 2 second delay so the camera doesn't move while I'm taking the shot.
  • It works best if I can set it up a couple feet off the ground.  Low-hanging tree branches are perfect.  

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Tree at Red Bug Lake
Handheld, ISO 80
This setup has been an improvement, but not a perfect solution.  Sometimes there simply is no good place to put a  tripod that small where I can get the shots I need.  The photos above and below are two examples.  With these, I had to hand hold my camera.  For shots like these, I've been setting my camera on auto ISO (with a max ISO of 800) and working with that.  Since I'm not cropping my landscapes much, I haven't been too bothered by noise.

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Trees near Jay Blanchard Park
Handheld, ISO 500


  1. You did a great job at finding beautiful aresa to shoot . Great pictures love the bare tree.

  2. You did a great job of finding great trees to shoot. especially love the tree at red bug lake


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