Camera Tripod

Is your camera tripod feeling lonely and neglected? In this short video, I give you two good reasons to dust off your tripod and take it out in the field with you.

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Video Transcript

Is your tripod feeling lonely and neglected? I'm Julie from Ultimate Photo Tips, and for today's Two Minute Tip, I really want to encourage you to dust off your tripod, and take it out with you the next time you go shooting.

There's two great reasons that you should be using a tripod. The first one is the one you probably think about first when you think about a tripod, and that is stability. Having your camera on a tripod keeps it nice and solid, so that if you're taking a long exposure, you don't introduce blur into your image due to camera shake.

But it's the second reason I want you to think about more today, and that is: using a tripod slows you down. Now, you might think of that as a negative, but I think it can be a real positive. What happens a lot of time when you're photographing, is that you pay so much attention to your subject that you mentally filter out everything that's going on in the background, and you often don't see things that are distractions. Putting your camera on the tripod slows you down enough that you become much more deliberate about where you put the edges of your frame, and about scanning your images to make sure there are no distractions. Having your camera on a tripod almost always improves your composition.

Alright, I have a bonus tip for you today. When you're using your camera tripod, if you need to raise the height of it, make sure you extend the legs first, and only use the center post as a last resort. Using the center post give the least amount of stability, so definitely extend the legs first.

That's it for today, so if you want any more great tips, please come on over to ultimate-photo-tips.com and make sure, if you haven't already signed up for my newsletter that you get on the mailing list now!

Happy shooting, and I'll see you next time.

A letter from a reader, sharing her experience

Eleni has some great advice about using a tripod bag, as well as a way to effectively use her camera tripod in conjunction with her camera body strap.

Hi Julie,

I like your camera tripod video. I have to admit, until about six months ago, I never took my tripod anywhere. What a pain in the neck it was to lug around. The thing that made a difference to me was that I had a scrap of strong fabric with leopard-print on it, which was lying around and which I didn't want to throw away. It wasn't wide enough to make anything except a "tube" out of it, and it suddenly hit me what the perfect use for it would be -- a tripod bag!

Now, I have a funky and distinctive leopard-print tripod bag with a convenient shoulder strap, and some of my friends at camera club are jealous.

Now that the camera tripod is so much easier to take with me, I take it everywhere. I've also taken to leaving the tripod in the trunk of the car instead of in the closet because I don't go anywhere without my car.

If you ever see a woman lugging around a tripod in a leopard print bag, come over and say hello because it's probably me!

You are also right in that it does slow me down and that my photo compositions are much better than before I started using the tripod.

One more thing to consider is that many people, including me, are using cross body camera straps that attach to the tripod mount. I have a Black Rapid strap that I really love and it was driving me crazy to be constantly changing from the strap to the quick release mount attachment, back to the strap, back to the mount, etc. That also contributed to my reluctance to use the camera tripod. It's a great strap and I didn't want to give it up. (not to mention is cost about $60, so I didn't want to throw that away.)

I've found a "work around" for that. I removed the bolt that attaches into the tripod mount and put it safely away in case I need it at a later date. Then, I added two key rings to the hook on the left side of my camera and I use the carabiner which is part of the Black Rapid strap to attach the strap to the key rings/camera. The key rings are very strong on their own and I probably only needed one key ring, however better safe than sorry. There's probably something available at a camera store that looks more professional that does the same job as the key rings, but I haven't found it yet.

Now, I can use my Black Rapid strap, and the quick release mount at the same time. The mount remains on my camera so I can pop it on the camera tripod quickly. I move the strap from "cross body" to around my neck when I am using the tripod, as an extra security measure so that my camera doesn't get accidentally knocked over.

The tripod video was a great tip and if tripods ever come up again, you should suggest a tripod bag, if they don't already have one. I think that the easier it is to carry around, the more likely it is that people will use their tripod.

Eleni Markoulis
(letter shared with Eleni's permission, emphasis is mine -- Julie)

A letter from a reader, sharing his idea

This week's tip generated a few responses! Here's another.

Hi Julie,

I have something to add to your video about using a tripod.

The higher a tripod is extended of course the less stable it is but many tripods provide a hook on the bottom. It is intended that the user hang a weight from this hook. The additional weight acting below the camera serves to increase the stability of the entire system. (You might recall Newton's First Law of Motion.)

Instead of carrying this extra weight around, I carry an empty onion bag. I can fill it with rocks as an improvised weight to steady my tripod.

[Brian also suggests using a collapsible pail that you can fill with water. --Julie]

It is much easier to carry an empty contain than a heavy weight.

There are just two kinds of tripods in this world, good ones and ones that are easy to carry!

Brian Palmer
(letter shared with Brian's permission, emphasis is mine -- Julie)

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