Here's a quick tip for taking sharp night pictures when you don't have a very stable tripod in reach.
Of course you all know the trick of using tables, bits of wall, the floor etc. as a makeshift tripod when shooting in low light situations.
What do you do when your surrogate tripod is a bit unstable? Or the wall is a bit lumpy, or the glass you’re balancing your camera on is a bit small? Handling your camera and pressing the shutter button may very well cause the camera to move, resulting in blurry pictures. What can you do?
Use the self timer! Set your camera to the right length for long exposure (and I’m considering everything longer that 1/30s as long exposure, I’m not that steady handed) or use a camera with automatic exposure like the LC-A or the Olympus XA. Switch on the self timer, press the shutter button and let go of the camera. The timer will delay the shot, so any movement of the camera due to handling it will have subsided by the time the camera actually fires.
Simple, but very effective.
This is specially handy in outdoor situations when your tripod is likely to consist of uneven tree stumps, rocks or stuff like that. And you can be in the shot yourself, too.