This blog is Part 3 of some of the tips and techniques which i personally consider critical to making good images. Please do read the first two blogs of “Shooting at Eye Level” and “Shooting in Golden light”
Imagine if you will, that you are on a trip to some exotic location (which you planned for a year) for a gorgeous portrait of that dream bird of yours. You reach the location and see that bird on a beautiful moss covered perch at a distance of only 10 feet away, no distractions in the foreground, a beautiful complimenting background, but there are some clouds and there is no direct sunlight. You are excited, you look through the viewfinder and your jaw suddenly drops when you see that the shutter speed is less than 1/100 of a second on a super telephoto lens and you have no tripod.
Nobody, yes nobody likes to carry a Tripod, its heavy and sometimes inconvenient, yet this single technique of shooting on a tripod when used can make the difference between that one in a lifetime shot ,versus an out of focus and blurry shot.
The above image of a Green-backed Tit was again taken after sunset at a Shutter Speed of 1/125 Sec at an ISO of 800!!!! (Post processing saved the image). Now imagine shooting this handheld on a 400mm with No IS 😉
Apart from the fact that it helps in getting sharp images most of the time, it also helps one to get shots in situations wherein it would be humanly impossible to get the same shot handheld. I shoot with a Canon 550D and use a Canon 400 f/5.6 Non IS lens (There is no IS version) for my telephoto shots, mostly birds.
As can be seen I don’t have a fast lens and once I hit an ISO above 800 on my camera, I can be sure, that shot will go to the recycle bin on my laptop. I mostly shoot in and around sunrise and sunset when the light is pretty low, and if one considers the “The Reciprocal rule” for shooting handheld Images, I need a shutter speed of at least 1/640th of a Second( my body is a crop sensor with a 1.6X magnification). With the combination mentioned above it’s very rare that I get that shutter speed (or even somewhere close to it!!). It is in these situations, my tripod almost always comes to my rescue and am able to make some decent shots.
Buying a good Tripod
When I started my photography, I considered tripod to be one of the least important things to buy (I used the free one which came with the camera!!!!). I eventually learned about shooting the Milky Way and shooting star trials and started experimenting with the same. It was a frustrating experience shooting at night with my cheap (free) tripod, wherein even a slight movement of the wind would cause my tripod to shake that fraction of a second which almost invariably resulted in blurry, shaky images.
I currently use a Manfrotto 190X Prob3 tripod and have in my last 2 years of experience, concluded it to be one of the best investment in my photography yet. Its rugged, very very steady and despite the treatment (very rough) it has received from me it’s as good as the first time I used it.
It’s worth to buy a good, expensive and a sturdier tripod over the cheap plastic ones, because eventually as one continues shooting, the cheap ones will be replaced multiple times over and eventually turn out to be more costly than a single good one, not to mention the number of (very precious) shots lost which beats the purpose of buying a tripod in the first place.
Tripod also comes very handy when shooting landscapes. Landscapes look beautiful just before sunrise and after sunset when they are painted with a multitude of colours. What appears to our eyes as a beautiful splendor of Nature, our cameras due to very low amount of light see only darkness and hence require exposure of some seconds to get it right. Imagine hand-holding a camera for 2 seconds and getting a crisp shot 🙂
The telephoto zoom range from 70 to 200 mm is an excellent range for shooting beautiful landscapes. Super telephoto lenses also give beautiful results at times. It would be impossible to get a sharp image at these focal lengths without using a tripod in mornings and evenings.
Beautiful time lapse movies would have been impossible without a tripod.
Finally good tripods are very very handy when shooting images at night, where invariably one has to use a tripod for shooting star trails, the Milky Way or Landscapes in Moonlit nights (Blog here).
Some might suggest to shoot images by increasing the ISO of one’s camera, and though it can work good for some full frame cameras having excellent Dynamic range and good high ISO performance, it doesn’t works so good for crop sensors and as you increase the ISO of any camera, the dynamic range falls noticeably with each full stop increase in the ISO. (Not to mention the loss in sharpness)
The possibilities of using a tripod for creating beautiful shots (with a very good hit ratio 🙂 ) is endless. So next time when you are out shooting a beautiful landscape or that beautiful bird, or a portrait of that gorgeous model or doing a professional photo-shoot, please do carry a good tripod.
Having said that there are some genres of photography, like photojournalism, street photography, weddings wherein shooting with tripod is not feasible most of the times. Even doing macro photography in the wild using a tripod can be cumbersome. This does not however discounts the fact that tripods have great value, and any serious photographer should essentially have one good tripod as part of his camera gears.
Talking about Landscapes and Birds, don’t forget to check out the list of our Landscaping and Birding expeditions in the Himalayas of Uttarakhand, India here . A lot of information sharing and fun happens at our expeditions, not to mention the beautiful Images participants get 🙂
- Buy a Good Tripod
- Always carry a tripod no matter what you shoot(or where u go)
- Experiment with the tripod and get used to it thoroughly before going for a shoot.
- Don’t buy a tripod with a capacity of 5 Kgs and overload it with 8Kgs of equipment
- For very slow shutter speeds, even on a tripod, it’s better to use the in camera timer or a cable shutter release.
- Dress up in warm clothes for cold Mornings and Evenings.
- Carry something to eat.
- Share your experiences
- Have fun!!!!
- And yes please subscribe and share if you like the article 🙂
Hope this helps!!!!