Aging Photographer Issues … Back & Knees

Four years ago I was starting to have a lot of trouble walking and was using a cane or walking stick, but after a few rounds of physical therapy I recovered enough to stop using then.  Unfortunately, it didn’t last long.  I started having even more major problems walking until I couldn’t walk, even with the aid of a cane for more than a very short distance.  That episode ended after I had lumbar fusion surgery two years ago.  Fortunately the surgery was quite successful and I now walk pretty well as long as I don’t stand or walk too long.  I still have stenosis and other problems at other locations in my back, so I still use a cane or walking stick now and then, especially if I know I will be going far or out for a longer time.

Many older people with arthritis or other back problems walk with the aid of a cane or walking stick, but for photographers this is a problem.  If you are holding a cane in one hand, that only leaves you one hand to hold a camera.  The picture above shows how I deal with this problem.  I have attached a nylon cord to my walking sticks and canes as shown above.  I put the loop around my wrist and tighten it so that I can let go of the cane without it falling to the ground while I then use the hand to steady my camera.  I carry my cameras on straps either around my neck or across my body while walking and using the cane or walking stick, but I need two hands to adjust and hold the camera steady while taking pictures.

The knob on the top of my walking stick screws off so that I can use it as a monopod when necessary with my smaller camera.  Getting smaller cameras is also something that older photographers find advantageous.  With my back I find that using a lighter camera enables me to walk further and photograph more.  I have a Pentax K-5 which along with a long zoom lens at times has been too much for me to carry.  To lighten my load, I bought a Fujifilm X100.  With its’ fixed effective 35 mm lens it is light but still has excellent image quality and fits nicely on a monopod, but I rarely need to do that.  I’ll probably have more to say about other suitable cameras in a later article.

I first got interested in using a smaller high quality camera from an article “On the Trail With the Leica M9” in a web article on Luminous Landscape.  Please click on it and read it.  It is an excellent example of what can be achieved.  My main problem is that I can’t afford a Leica M9 camera so I substituted the X100 for it.  I also went for a less expensive combined walking stick – monopod.  For my uses they work just fine.  In addition, as the article explains, I only use a camera bag to transport my cameras and lenses and I put extra batteries, cards, and lenses, if necessary, in a jacket or vest pocket

For those who don’t wish to go light with their equipment as I have done, they might want to try using a jogging stroller to carry their gear.  Don’t laugh, read this article.  Buying one second-hand would give you a very sturdy way to quickly move your gear down the walk.  It would be similar to a walker with wheels but capable of carrying more at a faster pace.  If you use a wheelchair, you can mount your camera on the chair.  One such device for doing this is shown here.


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