When you’re shooting with a long exposure setting, you need to ensure that your camera remains still the entire time the shutter is open and the best way to do this is by using a tripod. Tripods are essential tools for any type of photographer and come in a variety of sizes and weights while sharing the same basic three-leg shape that gives them their name.
For on the go shoots, lightweight, handheld flexible tripods work great, but they don’t give enough support to heavier cameras and lenses, which is when you need a larger, sturdier tripod to keep your camera stable. The drawback of larger tripods is that they can be heavy to carry around all day, so sometimes you need to find a balance between stability and weight. The head of the tripod sits between the legs and the two main designs are ball head (good for wildlife with its free movement) and three-way (good for landscapes and macro with its accuracy).
Knowing how to use your tripod correctly is essential for capturing great shots and while figuring out how to extend the legs correctly may seem like a no-brainer, it never hurts to brush up on some basics.
Thick section first
When you’re extending the legs of your tripod, extend the thickest section first and only use the thinner sections when you need additional height. The thicker sections provide better support and stability for your shots. Extend the center column as a last resort because the higher you raise it, the more unstable your camera can be.
A tripod won’t do any good if you set it somewhere unstable and it falls over with your camera attached so make sure you place the feet securely on the ground and adjust the legs if the area is uneven. For tripods with a build-in level, check the bubble to make sure it’s between the lines. If your tripod doesn’t have a level, eyeball the center column to make sure it’s hanging straight and vertical.
Tighten it up
Before you start taking photos, tighten all your tripods levers and legs and make sure you’ve securely tightened your camera base to the tripod plate. When you’re using longer, heavier lenses, mount the lens collar to the tripod plate instead of the camera body to achieve even weight distribution and avoid tipping.
Use a remote
Although a tripod creates stability in your shots, you can still create blur if by touching the shutter by hand. Eliminate any risk of movement by using a remote shutter release or the camera timer for your photographs. Utilize Live View or engage the mirror lock-up feature to prevent any movement inside the camera from compromising sharp images.
Weigh it down
Reduce tripod movement on windy days by weighing the center column of the tripod down with your camera bag and adjust the column so the bottom of the bag just touches the ground.
Clean it up
When you use your tripod in areas that expose it to sand, dirt or salt water, make sure you clean it thoroughly after every shoot to avoid rusting and permanent damage to this essential photography tool.
After you’ve captured clear, steady shots with your tripod-secured camera, bring your images to Baboo Digital to discover the best way to reveal and enhance the details of your digital photographs.
Featured image by Mypouss