Every photographer owns a tripod yet not every shoot needs one. But for landscape photographers, a sturdy camera tripod is a must-have. It opens up a lot of angles that a handheld shot could not take.
Sure, bringing a camera alone gives the freedom of movement. This is true especially with street shooters who need to be subtle. But using a tripod is the secret to nailing sharp landscape photos.
Still doubtful? Here are some reasons why you need to get a tripod for landscape photography.
Take sharper images
Landscape photos focus on image quality. It is the reason why dedicated landscape shooters use the best cameras in the market.
Alongside the best equipment, settings also matter. To take a sharp image from corner to corner, photographers set their aperture to f/8 or higher. Then they set the lowest ISO possible. But at the same time, they need to compensate with a slower shutter speed.
That is where the tripod comes in. Instead of having a higher ISO and shutter speed, the tripod helps in keeping the ISO and exposure length slower. This reduces the camera shake and produces a sharper photo.
For example, during windy weather, a good tripod keeps your camera stable. Gusts can easily push a person while shooting handheld. If you are using a flimsy tripod, it will shake the camera. The worst thing is it pushes your camera and it falls.
Here is another quick tip to consider when using a tripod. Once you are done with the framing and settings, set the camera shutter timer to 2 - 5 seconds. This reduces the initial camera shake once the shutter is pressed. Of course, this is not applicable if you have a remote.
Be more creative with your shots
Focusing on landscape photography without having a tripod is like putting on a huge limitation to yourself. A tripod easily allows you to take great photos despite any condition.
Be it in the dusk, dawn, midnight, or even during cloudy days, a tripod helps in taking excellent photos.
For sure every photographer has researched for interesting shots online. But it should not stop by looking at the images alone. Try to check out the equipment used, and a tripod is certainly involved in the majority of great landscape photos taken.
The creative light trails, milky way, blurry water, or fireworks were all taken with a tripod. You can even take low-angle shots without the difficulty of bending down and hurting your back.
Multiple exposure shots
There are times where the shooting conditions are less than ideal. Taking a photo during these times requires exposure stacking. This technique, as the name implies, calls for many shots that are later combined in post-processing.
You will have to take at least three photos with different exposures. One is underexposed, one with the “right” exposure, and another lighter shot. The details, that are otherwise gone, will then be seen once the photo is edited.
However, this technique requires the camera to be in the same position in all photos. It is not possible without a tripod.
Landscape photography is a waiting game
Using a tripod for landscape photography helps in the whole process of capturing the best photo. This type of photography often involves setting up the camera and waiting for the best conditions to arrive. This includes the perfect lights, clouds, sun position, and many more.
With a tripod, once the camera is ready, all you have to do is sit down and wait to press the trigger. It makes the whole process easier.
What to look for when buying a camera tripod?
The techniques mentioned earlier are just a few of the countless possibilities when using a tripod. That being said, getting one is not a walk in the park. There are countless considerations before buying one.
One reason why photographers leave their tripod behind is its weight. Tripods are bulky and heavy making them hard to bring every day.
For photographers who are always on the go, lightweight tripods are a must. However, for landscape photographers, the load weight of the tripod should also be considered.
Some lenses are heavy and a cheap tripod may not cut it.
Carbon tripods are lighter than aluminum tripods but these are more expensive. Besides the weight advantage, carbon tripods also absorb vibration better.
For landscape photographers, a carbon tripod is recommended due to its advantage.
Choosing a tripod that can carry your camera’s load without sacrificing durability is on the pricier side. But, do take note that tripods are long-term purchases. Camera bodies come and go, but sturdy tripods last a lifetime.
The height is not as important as the weight capabilities of a tripod. It varies from one photographer to another.
There are three things to consider when picking a tripod. The first one is the maximum extended height of the tripod. Next is the lowest position. Lastly, the folded height of the tripod.
The maximum height depends on the tripod. Tall photographers need a higher tripod. This is important for users who love shooting at eye level. It is also helpful when you have a camera that does not have a flip-out screen.
Some photos are better taken at a lower angle. Luckily, there are tripods available that can go as low as the ground.
Lastly, the collapsed tripod height should be considered as it determines whether it fits in your camera bag. Travelers should checkout tripods that can easily fit on their luggage. This makes it easier to bring anywhere.
The leg sections are also relative to the height of the tripod. More leg sections mean that the tripod can go higher. This also means that the tripod can be more compact when folded.
The locking mechanism, bubble levels, foot spikes, and center column hooks are extras worth considering. But it should not be the main factor when getting a tripod.
Should you get one for landscape photography?
In summary, it is a must-have for every landscape photographer. A sturdy tripod for landscape photography is a must. It gives you a higher chance of taking a sharp photo in different conditions.
However, buying the most expensive tripod out there is not recommended. You must assess your needs first before splurging on one. Set a budget then add a little more because it will be worth it in the end.
Buying several cheap tripods seem cheaper at first. But think about it, three or four cheap tripods cost the same as one good model. Get one sturdy camera tripod once and you are set for life.