How To Use a Tripod
Learning how to use a tripod is one of the lessons that people skate over when staring out. There is no other camera accessory or piece of photo equipment out there that will make a bigger contribution to your work than a camera tripod. You would be amazed at how many people think that all you have to do is buy one and then you are set but never really understand how to use a tripod. Here Seamless presents 5 of the most important photography tips that go under the radar.
Why Learn How to Use a Tripod?
There is only one main reason to learn how use a tripod and that is image quality. There are branches off this such as stability and to remove camera shake but what you are really looking to do is dramatically improve the quality of your final image in every way. Camera shake is when you are using a long shutter speed that is too long to be hand held, the result is an image that looks out of focus and blurry in every part of the photograph. The easiest way to distinguish between camera shake and bad focusing is to look for any part of the photograph that is in focus, if there is none then it is more than likely camera shake.
Photography Composition Tips with a Tripod.
Part of the benefit of learning how to use a tripod is that is slows you down and makes you really think about what you are doing. Sometimes photographers get so excited about the amazing subject that they have discovered, that they forget to truly concentrate on the composition of their photograph. So when you get to your location the first thing that you should do is put the tripod down. That’s right, don’t set it up. Walk around instead and pick the exact location from where you want to photograph. It can be a big help to actually carry your camera with you and look through the viewfinder to get a better idea of what you are going to capture.
Don’t Let Go of the Camera, Just Yet.
Most cameras have a quick release base plate that the camera screws onto and this plate to connected to the tripod via a locking mechanism. A technique that I have come to use over the years is to screw the base plate to the camera before even leaving the house. This makes things less fiddly on site and you can make sure that your camera is secured good and tight. When you go to put the camera on the tripod, don’t let go until you are absolutely sure that it is secured 100%. Even if you hear the plate click into place, give the camera a little shake while holding on to it otherwise you might find your camera in the mud when you turn around. Yes, I am speaking from experience.
How To Use a Tripod: Camera Position.
Now that you have everything good and tight it is time to fine-tune your composition. If you need a little extra height you will be tempted to extend the central rod, that your camera is mainly resting on, to gain a better vantage point. Do not succumb to this temptation, as you will undo all of your good work so far! There is no point in using a tripod if the legs are completely secure and your camera is blowing around like a leaf on the wind. Another good tip when learning how to use a tripod is to point one of the legs toward your subject. This means that you will have some room to actually move around behind your camera and it will lower the chances of you accidentally tripping over your expensive gear. Not speaking from experience this time but I have seen it happen.
Put Some Weight on the Tripod.
The more weight you have on your tripod the more stable it becomes. Some models come with a hook attached so you can hang your camera bag or any other heavy object. If your tripod does not have one you can easily “Macgyver” one together or try and hang your bag from the centre post. Be careful that the swinging action of the bag does not make things worse, just be aware of the wind strength and weather conditions on the day.
Your camera and tripod are your essentials, so take the time and learn how to use a tripod properly.
Let’s see what you can do.