Tripods 101 – How And When To Use One

Tripods are an ever essential element of photography. Yes, guerrilla photographing works when shooting that way benefits the intention of the shot: also, sometimes you will not be able to set up a tripod, have the time or the guerrilla technique intentionally creates a personal distortion. But most of the time, it is essential to use a tripod, which means you also have to learn how to use it. We’ve put together this post called Tripods 101 to provide all of our emerging and student photographers out there with some quick tips and tricks on making the most of tripods and making sure you’re using one when it’s most important.

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© See-ming Lee via Flickr Commons

So first, where and why are you going to use a tripod? Most of the time you are going to want a stable photograph, which means a tripod is essential to a photographers day to day life. Again, handheld shots provide a vital service, yet that does not mean it should be the only way you shoot: to become a well-rounded professional, a tripod is going to enable you to experiment with various techniques

For instance, a tripod makes it easier to shoot items in motion: if one was to shoot a bicyclist peddling past, the stand allows them to photograph the object in motion at a slow shutter speed. This allows the photographer various abilities, including “rendering the focused object sharp and the background as blurred streaks.” Basically, this gives the photographer “more control of their depth of field—you can shoot at any aperture and ISO you like”

Its use even slows down the user, giving them the opportunity to focus more time on their framework, composition and lighting: which will drastically improve any photo. And finally, when it comes to experimenting with different types of shots—panorama or time lapse—tripods are truly the best way to go: with it just making the entire process, from framing to shooting, easier.

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© Andrew Stawarz via Flickr Commons

As previously mentioned, tripod set ups are not as easy as one would think: plenty of professionals know that it takes time and practice. Use a tripod as an extension of the camera: so when you meticulously plan out a shot, make sure to factor in the stand and use it to the extent of its capabilities. In other words, frame your shot and know exactly what you want. Once that is complete, begin the stabilization process: make sure to use a good surface (unless you have one of those Joby Gorillapods). Essentially, make sure all the locks are set and it is important to weigh it down—with the amount of weight depending on the size of the camera.

Finally, some of the more talented experts have mentioned that it is important to turn off specific camera features. This includes the mirror uplock mode “when using shutter speeds between 1/50 and 1 second” and the vibration reduction mode—both will hinder the overall sharpness of a shot, while shooting at a lower shutter speed.

With that said, tripods are essentially the best way to get a steadied and focus shot. Again, there are times when handheld photos are necessary, but all professionals on every level use this very important object. Be sure to implement one into your routine and to constantly challenge yourself with new and interesting techniques: the only way to improve is to conquer your weaknesses.

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© Aaron van Dorn via Flickr Commons

Our EDU 2014 photo contest is upon us and submissions are coming in. This year’s judging panel includes Brian Matiash of Google+ and NIk Software, Vice President of Content at Shuttershock Scott Braut, Principal Product Manager for Photoshop Digital Imaging Bryan O’Neil Hughes, renowned portrait photographer Peter Hurley and Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Vincent Laforet. To help you get ahead in the contest, we’re sharing all of the tips and tricks you’ll need to take an awesome image. Stay tuned!

Special thanks to our friends over at Why Tripod!