The Benefits of Using a Tripod for Photography

Camera technology has advanced so much that just about anyone can take good photos. (Not necessarily great photos–that has more to do with composition, subject matter, effective use of light and shadow, etc.) However, if there’s one item that helps in taking better shots, it’s the humble tripod. Many of us believe that a tripod is nothing but an extra item that helps us stop camera shake. With the high ISO capabilities and faster shutter speeds of new cameras, why do we need a tripod?

"La Tour Eiffel" captured by Jaideep Singh Rai. (Click image to see more from Jaideep Singh Rai.)

“La Tour Eiffel” captured by Jaideep Singh Rai. (Click image to see more from Jaideep Singh Rai.)

The most obvious benefit of a tripod is that it affords stability to the camera and avoids camera shake by the operator in those situations where longer exposure times are necessary. Not many of us can hold a camera steady below a 1/60 of a second shutter speed, so we have no chance of avoiding camera shake when the exposure time could be seconds or minutes or sometimes hours in length. Examples of these times are:

  • night shots
  • star trails
  • fireworks displays
  • moon shots
  • cityscapes
  • vehicle movement where blurring the lights is sought
  • motion blur of waterfalls, sports action, or ocean waves
  • low light conditions without the use of flash

We all like to produce photos that are as sharp as we can get them. The tripod assists in obtaining clear focus, especially if we use timer delays or remote shutter releases. Even pressing the shutter button can cause the camera to shake.

Talking about timer delays, the tripod is a boon when making delayed action movies. Several hundred or thousand individual photos of an object are shot at predetermined intervals and run together to give those amazing movies of flowers opening, cloud movement or of decaying objects. The camera not only needs to be steady but to be in the same position for each shot.

If you are taking panorama shots or action shots where a steady panning motion is needed, the tripod is a must. A tip I picked up along the way is to use a large elastic band on the arm of the tripod head. Pulling on the elastic band, when panning, reduces any jerkiness of movement which produces a good overall result.

If you are into HDR shots, you will need a tripod for auto bracketing. This allows you to take several identical shots of the subject at different exposures. When you process the shots in your favourite image editing software, they can be combined to produce those wonderful shots where everything is dynamically exposed.

"Bridge to Cincy" captured by Fritz McCorkle. (Click image to see more from Fritz McCorkle.)

“Bridge to Cincy” captured by Fritz McCorkle. (Click image to see more from Fritz McCorkle.)

I am an ardent macro photographer and there is nothing more frustrating than trying to get a really small subject, such as an insect, into focus. All too often, the insect’s eyes are in focus but other areas on the insect, which are marginally further away, are too blurry. To overcome this I use small aperture settings to give a large depth of field, which in turn means slower shutter speeds. A tripod comes in handy in these situations. I also use sliding bracket attachments where the camera sits on the bracket and where I can finely adjust the camera movement in two planes. I can produce some really finely focused images this way.

One way that a tripod is useful, and not necessarily in an obvious way, is that it gives us time to compose our shots instead of taking instant hand held snap shots wherever we are. While this has its place in photography, we sometimes need to slow down, stand back and fine tune our composition to be able to produce dramatic landscapes, for example.

Another less obvious use of a tripod is camera placement. Capturing low level shots or shots above eye level can be achieved with a tripod without having to lie on the ground or climb a step ladder.

Tripods are also versatile in that they can double as light stands, microphone stands, or stands for reflectors or flash units. I have even heard of one photographer using a tripod as a weapon to defend himself from a vicious dog!

"MIlky Way Galaxy" captured by Xavier Dizon. (Click image to see more from Xavier Dizon.)

“MIlky Way Galaxy” captured by Xavier Dizon. (Click image to see more from Xavier Dizon.)

A final note is that if you find the tripod a bit of an encumbrance to carry around, considered a monopod. These can double up as a walking stick and are nearly as good as tripods. There are other tripods on the market which fold down to the size of a ruler and snap open in the fixed leg position when needed.

Tripods are a wonderful accompaniment to our camera equipment, and we should all be encouraged to make more use of them.

About the Author:
Geordie Parkin keeps a website about wildlife photography, pet photography or general questions about digital photography ( Parkin is a photographer based in Forest Lake, Qld in Australia.

sources : Link to PictureCorrect Photography Tips



Storm Photography: Shooting in Extreme Weather

Storm Photography: Shooting in Extreme Weather

There are four main types of weather, that often discourage photographers from even attempting what might be some of their greatest work. These four obstacles would be: a) extreme cold, b) extreme heat, c) extreme moisture and d) extreme wind. While each of these has probably at one time or another discouraged even the best of us from going out to shoot, they also present unique photo opportunities simply because so few of us want to take the effort.

"storm" captured by Siro

“storm” captured by Siro (Click Image to Find Photographer)

Before tackling each of these areas let me suggest one thing that could help in all of them. The perfect camera bag is not a camera bag. The ideal bag is a coat with many pockets or if you can afford it, a camera vest. The reasons these are preferable include: Keeps film or blank media close to you (keeping them warm and dry), less likely to be stolen, less likely to be left behind, and less likely to be knocked over or damaged by the weather itself.

Extreme cold (0Ú F or less) often means battery problems. Bringing extra batteries is one thing, but if they are not also kept warm, your spares could be dead as fast as your main batteries. The same is true of film or blank media; that’s why I suggest a coat, preferably one with inside pockets as well. Use duct tape to tape off any exposed metal on your camera itself.

Captured by John Milleker

Captured by John Milleker (Click Image to Find Photographer)

Find a set of gloves that still lets you handle your camera controls. Hunting gloves are often thin but still insulated because they face the same problem you do, they have to be able to make adjustments.

If you have several accessories (Film, Flash, Filters, etc.) you may also want to consider individual zip lock bags. This works well for most extreme weather situations.

Extreme Heat (120Ú F or more) may also cause battery problems, but it is more likely to have an effect on your film or blank media. In this case is would be worth upgrading to insulated bags, like those found in many grocery stores. Another alternative to a traditional camera bag is a small lunch cooler, lightweight and insulated. If you want to use blue ice, put it in its own baggie just so no moister leaks out. Again you will want to tape off the exposed metal parts of your camera. You may or may not want to try still shooting with lightweight gloves depending how extreme the heat is. As a photographer, always bring extra water for yourself. It is very easy to get distracted by what you are shooting and get dehydrated or worse yet, heat stroke.

Extreme Moisture (snow or rain) is the biggest threat to your equipment itself (the camera or flash or both). If we could all afford an underwater housing bag for our individual camera, life would be good. But since many of us either can’t find or can’t afford such a wonderful device, building your own is the next best thing. Take a large (1 gallon size) zip lock bag place it over your camera and cut a hole where the lens is. Use a rubber band to secure the bag to the barrel of the lens. If you have a separate lens hood, screw it into the front of the lens. If not, even a skylight filter will offer some protection. If you have both, go for it. Still keep your camera undercover when not shooting; this type of protection is only good for a few seconds at a time.

In most cases, extreme wind is not something you go out in on purpose. But for those times when it comes upon you, make sure you have some type of filter on (ideally you should do this all the time anyway). Remember a twenty dollar filter is much easier to replace than a three hundred dollar lens. If you kept your moisture bag with you as regular camera gear, this would help dramatically. Use a tripod, and if at all possible weigh your tripod down.

"Lightning" captured by Great Salt Lake Photographer

“Lightning” captured by Great Salt Lake Photographer (Click Image to Find Photographer)

I’ve heard of photographers who regularly carry beanbags with them for this purpose. Personally, I always carry some string with me. If my tripod is not stable enough by itself, I just tie a big rock to the center column. Regardless of what precautions you have taken, try not to shoot directly into the wind. If you are one of those who regularly carry tape with you, it would be worth taping all seals on your camera if you have to be out in it for any length of time.

Obviously, not all of us want to go out in extreme weather; but if you do just plan ahead and you may very well end up with some extreme shots that will be worth the time and effort.

About the Author:
Award winning writer / photographer Tedric Garrison has 30 years experience in photography ( As a Graphic Art Major, he has a unique perspective. His photo eBook “Your Creative Edge” proves creativity can be taught. Today, he shares his wealth of knowledge with the world through his website.

sources : PictureCorrect Photography Tips