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In a recent issue of Photography Weekly we talked about tripods and whether or not it's worth using one and what alternatives there are. I think it was safely concluded that using a tripod is better than not at all - but there are certain situations when you can do something else or when a tripod isn't necessary. Sometimes it's really hard to pick out the moments when it might be needed. Quite often you could end up out walking for miles carrying a tripod that weighs the same as a small elephant - and you don't even use it. So what are some useful tips?
Marsian Tripod by cryoclaire

Firstly, find a tripod that DOESN'T weigh the same as a small elephant. I may be exaggerating slightly, but honestly there are tripods out there that weigh more than they need to. If you need a heavy duty tripod, you probably know exactly what you're supposed to be doing with it and don't need to read this article! Every few years a new popular tripod or element to a tripod is discovered and its rolled out at a ridiculously high price. If you don't leap on it and wait a while, you can get it for the price it's supposed to be a little further down the line. Carbon Fibre Tripods are now quite ridiculously cheap compared to what they were two or three years ago. You can pick them up from about £60. Trust me that's cheap for a decent tripod. The one that I've linked is fairly substantial, it doesn't fall over when the wind blows and it withstands me banging into it when I'm stumbling around my photography area. Carbon Fibre means that its light and easy to transport, but it's not pathetic in a bit of bad weather. The one thing I don't understand about these tripods is the leg warmers.  I do notice though that it means when you're carrying the tripod, it's nicer to the hands than cold steel or hard plastic!

When and When not to use a tripod


Firstly if you can - carry a tripod with you everywhere. It's quite easy if you drive as you can chuck it in the boot (trunk) of your car. However if you don't, then here are a few situations when you may or may not need a tripod.

Yes...


:bulletblack: When shooting fireworks (standby as in November we will bring you an article purely on troubleshooting fireworks photography!
:bulletblack: Family Portraits - for those stuffy, forced posed shots it's great to have a tripod. For the candid and casual, try and leave it behind. People will be more natural if less equipment is around.
:bulletblack: Weddings - this one is debatable in my book. All the weddings I have shot, I have done so without a tripod and nothing has suffered. However you might need it to look a bit more professional ;) That's mostly what I use my tripod for!!
:bulletblack: Low light conditions - Sunsets, Sunrises, evening shoots, first dances at Weddings, fashion parades - the list of low light events is endless. Use a tripod, reduce noise and blur.
:bulletblack: Long Exposures - these require the use of a tripod, so for moody weather shots, deep and emotional landscapes and so on, you will need a tripod!
:bulletblack: Macro!

No...


:bulletblack: Sunny day, blue skies, beautiful beach - don't worry about using a tripod you should be fine. However do be careful when exchanging your lens on the beach - sand gets everywhere. In fact don't go to the beach with your SLR. Take your iphone!
:bulletblack: Baby Photography - I found this lately, crawling around on the floor, shooting fast to capture moments before the baby cries or moves and moving at all angles leaves barely any room to have a tripod involved!
:bulletblack: Squashing spiders on the ceiling that you can't reach. Yes, this is about all I use my tripod for - woe is me.

Alternatives for the times in which you can't use a tripod, you haven't got one with you or you just want a smaller cheaper alternative include Monopods, Beanbags, Gorillapods and walls and tables! Gorillapods are awesome and if you haven't discovered them yet, you truly need to. There are ones that are heavy enough to support D-SLR's and also mini ones that will comfortably hold your compact camera. They will sit on walls and ledges, wrap around trees and support your camera low in the rocks on a beach (see below!).

gorillapod monster 02 by StrawberryOBLATE


A good tripod is one you can carry yourself without hiring an assistant or an over-eager porter to help you. It will fit in your car and will easily strap against your camera bag. It will fit nicely in its carry bag and won't poke you at awkward moments. It will be easy to assemble, move, and control. It will befriend all the animals in Farthing Wood so that you can get fantastic nature shots and finally,  it won't talk back and it will regularly make you cups of tea.

Have a tripod but don't know when to use it? Don't have a tripod but want one and don't know what to get? Do you use your tripod purely for squashing spiders that are too far to reach without it? Do you end up carrying a ridiculously heavy tripod with you everywhere - even grocery shopping - but don't know how to break the bond and leave it behind? Then this article is for you! Don't forget to :+fav: it if you enjoyed it! This week in Photography Troubleshooting, we explore the options regarding stabilizing your images and choosing support.
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:iconthethaneoflochaber:
TheThaneOfLochaber Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2012   Photographer
I bring my tripod whenever i need to do either long exposure or portrait gigs. For long exposure, the reason is obvious and for portraits?... Well I like the consistency and stability of a non mobile camera.
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
:nod:
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:iconitti:
Itti Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh! When you mentioned Photography Weekly in another article I thought you meant the magazine. Didn't realise you had a regular journal of the same name :XD:

This was a really good article. I particularly like the pictures of animals befriending tripods and the text you wrote just before it :D
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Noooo :D
haha i like to make it interesting :D
:heart:
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:iconzokiart555:
ZokiArt555 Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
:iconemoteclapping1plz::iconemoteclapping2plz:
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
:)
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:iconzokiart555:
ZokiArt555 Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2012  Professional General Artist
:rose: :)
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:iconkendra-paige:
Kendra-Paige Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012   Photographer
Very informative article! I'd say it seems to come down to photographing living objects vs non-living. Those that are photographing nature and still objects will find use for a tripod, but those that are tracking living subjects will find it a nuisance, as I do.
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you!
:heart:
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:iconxxnaemyxx:
xXNaemyXx Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
My tripod just measures 6 cm and fits in the camera bag^^ i use it for food and clay photos :)
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Wow! :D
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:iconxxnaemyxx:
xXNaemyXx Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh no, it measures 12cm^^
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:iconelandria:
Elandria Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Professional General Artist
I love my manfrotto CF and ball joint head, it goes with us everywhere "just in case" and its super lightweight :nod:
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh yes :nod: manfrotto is amazing regardless :D
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:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
A tri-pod is a necessity for fireworks! Without it I wouldn't have the fireworks pics I have on my two sites!

Added to the article collection at #DevNews
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh definitely !
Thank you :)
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:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
I missed getting fireworks pictures this year as I just had a terrible summer health-wise. The weather was awful, too, and fireworks kept getting rescheduled. Tina was able to make it to a reschedule in Zanesville and managed to get a lot of good pictures. Know she posted a couple on `AreteEirene but she may have posted additional ones at =AreteStock in the Sta.sh. I think she has something like 700 stock pictures in Sta.sh and she put the link on her page for deviant access.
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:iconyeliriley:
yeliriley Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
HDR!
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Yes! :D
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:iconshelagnoa:
Shelagnoa Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
60 for a carbon fiber tripod?! Good grief, I paid $300 for mine a few years ago. I feel cheated. :(
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Yes! And a pretty good one at that :nod: few years ago they were so pricey!
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:iconicefire8521:
icefire8521 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
The only one I have a a real tiny one that my dad gave me, it's like 5 inches tall or something. And it's bendy. In fact it looks like this: [link] It's pretty useless to me since I'm just a hobbyist, mostly shooting daylight pictures.
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
aww that's an awesome tripod, if you need it for smallish things :nod:
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:iconshadowfoxcreative:
shadowfoxcreative Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Professional Photographer
I take mine with me everywhere and use it often wich is obvious by its dints chiped and scratched paint and missing rubber feet :P Its better to have one and not need it than to need one and not have it :D
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
ah brilliant sign of a much loved tripod :D
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:icondeshrubber:
deshrubber Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I just got a new tripod (with a detachable monopod) yesterday. The other one I had wasn't all that stable with my point and shot on it, so I wouldn't think of putting my DSLR on it. Most tripods aren't that tall, so I had to find one that I didn't have to bend over to use.
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Are you tall? :o I always had this mental image of a shortish person with an awesome beard :B
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:icondeshrubber:
deshrubber Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:laughing: Yes, I'm 6'4(193cm), so your mental image is a little off!
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:iconmarlene-dietrich:
marlene-dietrich Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
i just borrow one when i do some long expozures for much anything else it is just in the way :P
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Good thinking :D
Reply
:iconmarlene-dietrich:
marlene-dietrich Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
practical :P and probably miser :P why should i buy one when i need it maybe for a few days a year
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:iconelectricjonny:
electricjonny Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
HDR and panoramic shots are also (obviously) cases for tripods. That's about the only time I bust mine out these days. And also haha at your mention of needing one to look more professional :lol: But yes, adding a bit of flare to your setup is often needed to add that spice of professionality =P
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh yes, major areas I forgot to add there :B I might sneak them in ;)
Yeah, well sometimes it's needed :lol: And also they are fantastic for poking the pro's in the legs so they move out the way :D
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:iconchasingshadowsphoto:
ChasingShadowsPhoto Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Student Photographer
Wonderful article! Your humor is hilarious!! :D Farthing Woods. ;) Anywho, great info in this as is par for the course when you do a troubleshooting article. :)
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
:D I hoped someone would get it ;)
Thanks for reading! :heart:
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:iconchasingshadowsphoto:
ChasingShadowsPhoto Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Student Photographer
Teehee To be quite honest I read over it a couple times trying to remember how I knew Farthing Woods then I just Googled it and was like, "OOOHHHH, YEAHHH." lol Anywho, you're welcome! Thanks for writing these, they're fantastic and very helpful!
Reply
:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012   Artisan Crafter
Difficult subject! I don't know what's the rule for taking photos of jewelry and stuff, when I began I used a tripod because my first camera was very bad and it would blur the photos unless I used a tripod. However, I found tripods restrictive on the angles and shots I could take of my work and most of the times they casted weird shadows. Overtime I got a better camera and developed a steady hand, along with a few tricks that helped me take better photos like stabilizing my elbows on the table or finding the perfect spot in my house with the perfect amount of light, so I haven't used a tripod in probably a year. I'm no professional and I don't know how good or bad my photos are, and I don't know what other people are doing so this raises a lot of questions in my head...
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
It is indeed!
Oh yes, still life is similar for me in that respect, I can barely ever use a tripod for the fiddly bits and angles, it just doesn't seem to work at all does it! Better stabilized cameras are definitely a lot more useful. Your photos are pretty spot on for showcasing your work!
Very useful tips thank you! :)
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012   Artisan Crafter
Thanks for the reassurance! It's much appreciated :) and glad I could share some tips!

And yes I agree, I've been trying a little bit of still life and tripods don't work for me, I need more options!
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:iconwhenpigsfry:
WhenPigsFry Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
My all time favorite tripod was one my father gave me from when he was in high school, it was old, lightweight and build to withstand being run over by a tank. However, the thief that broke into my car must have been a photographer because he felt he deserved it more than I did.

I have found many of my collection at flea markets for much less than a brand new one. Like `phydeau I have a small lightweight one that can fit in a camera bag, yet fully extended it is about 5 ft tall. Got that one at an estate auction for $5 a while back!

Also, as `phydeau points out, I use my tripod as a monopod all the time. Why waste money on a one-legged one!

Lastly, some features I look for besides light weight is ease of adjust-ability, feet that are rubber/spike reversible, quick release removable head and a bubble level is always nice!

Great article and I can't wait for the one on FIREWORKS!!!
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh that sucks majorly :(

Good about the flea markets though, I never thought about searching places like that , I suppose car boot sales over here really, would do similar. I don't go through tripods, but it would be nice to have some cheaper ones knocking around that I could pick up when needed!

Also a great idea to use it as a monopod!

The fireworks one is ready to go, I'm just waiting on being nearer bonfire night (for the UK peoples) to submit it! So if you have any firework tips you want me to include do note me! The more the merrier :)
Reply
:iconwhenpigsfry:
WhenPigsFry Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I will send some ideas about firework photography.

Sadly, around here, I'm on the crew that puts on the fireworks displays for the crowds, which really makes photography out of the question. (we light ours the old fashioned way, no computers involved, we really pride ourselves in the show we produce) I have studied a lot of them though and will send you a few thoughts after bit.

BTW, if you want to see a sample of our show, here is a video of our grand finale -> [link] (of course it's 1000 times better in person!)
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh wow! That show is amazing!
Reply
:iconsomadjinn:
somadjinn Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Professional Photographer
Thank you very much for including my dev ID in this journal Katy, surprised you even found it that from that far back in time, I thought it had faded into obscurity =p

At any rate, great article, some very valuable insight on the virtues of using a tripod. I use one almost all the time, even in full sunlight because I can bracket the exposures for HDR output (which can help for instance if the lighting is too harsh and the under-exposed bracket can bring some tonal details back). One of the only times I don't find a tripod practical is when trying to freeze frame a fast moving object... in my case air balloons, but I suppose it could also apply to flying birds or the race track.
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
You're welcome :D You know I find some useful things for images that are buried far away ;)

Ah that's a great idea, most useful for HDR that's for sure! Yes it is restrictive when following moving things, that's the only trouble. I do have a good swivel head on mine but it's never quite the same :D
Reply
:iconsavaliste:
Savaliste Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
great article...and those tripod pix are cute :XD: I have one too here :giggle: [link]
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you :D
Oh wow :D
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
:hug:
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:iconlinderel:
linderel Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Next time I go out with a camera to chase the Aurora, a tripod will be involved. I tried it without one the winter before last and boy, were my shots pathetic. :dummy: Then again, I was in a bit of a hurry to just go out there. No time for using my brain.
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