Buying and using a Tripod

I bought my first tripod in 1979, and I sold it a few months later. Why? Simple it was poorly designed and made my life harder not easier. I have since bought numerous tripods for different purposes. This is the first in what will be several posts regarding tripods.

Night Photography at the Birmingham Carnival
Night Photography at the Birmingham Carnival

The image above is made possible by shooting with a sturdy tripod. To get the movement in the image, the exposure had to last for several seconds. I enjoy shooting from my various tripods, but I have spent a lot of time and a fair amount of money assembling the right tripod for the job. I instruct at workshops very frequently, and the single biggest problem I see workshop participants dealing with is bad tripods.

High Dynamic Range Image
High Dynamic Range image from Smokep Mountain N.P.

To create the image above, I shot a series of 7 “bracketed” images and then combined them into a single final image using software designed for just such a purpose. Using a tripod ensured that all 7 images would line up perfectly in the post processing software.

You need a rock solid tripod, and you need to be very familiar with how to set it up and adjust it. The more familiar you are with your equipment, the more you will be able to focus on your composition rather than your equipment.

My next installment will address selecting the right components or kit for your particular needs. I will take a few shots in the studio to demonstrate the various features to take into consideration when selecting your tripod.

Until then, keep practicing, and check back regularly for the next installment.


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