- Tripod Tips for Beginners: Give Your Tripod Added Stability
- Mind The Tripod Legs
- Tripod Tips for Beginners: Turn Off Image Stabilization
- Vary the Height of the Tripod
- Tripod Tips for Beginners: Use a Timer or Remote Control
- Other Recommended Photography Gear
Photo by bjdlzx via iStock
A tripod is such a simple tool, yet one that can be an essential component of your photography workflow…
Tripods can be used for all sorts of photography, from studio portraiture to landscapes to architecture photography. But if you don’t use your tripod properly, you can’t take advantage of the benefits it provides.
In this tutorial, I share some of my favorite tripod tips for beginners to help you ensure you’ve got the proper setup for taking your best shot.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Tripod Tips for Beginners: Give Your Tripod Added Stability
Sure, tripods offer stability from the get-go, but more stability is a good thing…
In the past, it was common to add sandbags to stabilize tripods, like hanging one from the center column hook of your tripod. But sandbags can get expensive and are a bulky option for giving your tripod that added level of stability it needs. Besides, sand tends to spill everywhere, so it can be a bit of a mess, too.
Enter StandDaddy - a practical, inexpensive option that enables you to use inexpensive barbell weights to stabilize your tripod.
As you can see above, the formula is simple. Just grab a weight and slide it onto the leg of your tripod. Then add StandDaddy below the weight, tighten it to the tripod leg, and voila - you’ve got an easy and efficient way of adding weight to your tripod. Just rinse and repeat on the other two tripod legs, and you’re ready to rock!
StandDaddy uses CNC lathe machine parts made from ultra-high 6000 psi tensile strength industrial-grade composite materials. In other words, these components are built to last! They’re easy to use, too - no tools are required. Just use hand-tightening pressure to lock StandDaddy into place.
Better still, using StandDaddy means you don’t have to worry about sandbags swinging around like a pendulum. Even in high winds, StandDaddy gives your tripod a rock-solid base for keeping your camera and lens steady and stable.
What’s more, StandDaddy allows you to pull the tripod legs in when space is limited and do so without sacrificing stability. You can even place the tripod at unusual angles without worrying about the tripod tipping over.
And because StandDaddy is designed to work with any tripod, stand, or boom, you can use it on all your photography gear to ensure your lights, reflectors, mics, and other equipment stays right where you want it.
There’s a lot of gear you can invest in that helps you get the best shots. But a lot of photography gear is expensive! That’s not the case with StandDaddy. A four-pack is less than $70, and 2.5-pound barbell weights are less than three bucks each.
So, for less than $85, you get a complete tripod stabilization system that you can also use on your other stands, booms, and so forth. What’s not to like about that?!
Mind The Tripod Legs
Photo by MarioGuti via iStock
There are several components to this tip…
First, always spread the tripod legs out fully, as this gives the tripod added stability. Now, some tripods allow you to spread the legs out, so the camera is just a few inches off the ground. This isn’t necessary for all shots, of course, so use your judgment in terms of the height you want the camera for each shot.
Photo by kunchainub via iStock
A second point is that you should use the minimum tripod height needed for the shot. The more you extend the tripod’s legs and center column, the less stable it will be. So, just because your tripod extends to a maximum height of 70 inches doesn’t mean that’s the height you should use. If 50 or 60 inches does the trick, do that instead.
Third, try to position the tripod such that one leg is facing the subject. Doing so opens up the space behind the tripod for you to stand without having to straddle one of the tripod legs. However, if you’re on a slope, position the tripod with two legs downhill, as this gives it more stability for the sloping terrain.
Tripod Tips for Beginners: Turn Off Image Stabilization
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Image stabilization is a fantastic advancement for photography. However, it can actually cause blurry images if you leave it on while your camera is mounted to a tripod.
The whole point of an image stabilization system is to detect movement. But when there is no movement (or very little), as is the case when your camera is on a tripod, the system can actually begin a version of a feedback loop where the stabilized components begin to move, then detect that movement, then move more to compensate.
Clearly, all this movement is detrimental to your image-taking ability, so as a rule of thumb, turn off stabilization when you mount your camera to the tripod to avoid this issue. If you follow the other tips in this article, you’ll have a rock-solid base that keeps your camera still anyway!
Vary the Height of the Tripod
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We already know that minimizing the height of the tripod is a good plan from a stability standpoint. However, you also shouldn’t pick a height and use it for all of your images. The result will be photos with the same point of view over and over again.
Instead, use the tripod’s ability to move up and down to compose images from varying viewpoints. Get some low-angle shots, eye-level shots, and points in between. Let the subject dictate the perspective you use, then use the tripod as a tool to capture the best image from that perspective.
Tripod Tips for Beginners: Use a Timer or Remote Control
Photo by MarioGuti via iStock
Even when your camera is on a tripod, the act of pressing the shutter button can move the camera just enough to produce a blurry image. But there’s an easy way to circumvent this problem…
Simply use the self-timer on your camera, so the camera has enough time to “settle down” after you press the shutter button to get a sharp photo. Two seconds should do the trick.
Alternatively, if you have a remote trigger for your camera, use that. By removing the need to touch the camera at all, you can ensure that your tripod can do its job and give your camera and lens a stable base for a tack-sharp photo.
As I said earlier, a tripod is a simple device, and using one is pretty straightforward. But to maximize your tripod’s ability to help you get the best shots, you should follow these tripod tips. Now, grab your gear, head out, and take some awesome photos!