The tripod is a piece of basic photography gear with surprising capabilities. Here are a few simple ways using a tripod can expand your creative abilities on set.
We get it. Tripods can be heavy, bulky, and the last thing you want to carry around on a shoot. However, they can also open entirely new opportunities that you may not have known existed. Knowing the right way to use a tripod and when a tripod is essential can make or break your photography. Not only do tripods provide stability for crisp shots, they also offer the ability to stretch photographic techniques to new lengths (literally).
Image by Nastya Arsentyeva.
In this blog post, we’re going to review different ways you can use a tripod on your next shoot. From the benefits of bringing a tripod on location to different compositions you can create, here are a few ways to effectively use a tripod on your next shoot.
Slower Shutter Speeds
Taking photographs at a slow shutter speed (anywhere under 1/125) without a tripod leaves you at risk for camera shakes. This mean your images will turn out blurred. This is the last thing you want when you’re shooting for a client. A client expects your photographs to be sharp, since they may be used for advertisements in media. At Shutterstock Custom, if you submit photographs where the label or product are blurred, you may be asked for a re-shoot. A tripod helps eliminate the risk of camera blur.
Image by photographee.eu.
Remote Shutter Controls or Self-Timers
The best way to eliminate the risk of camera blur is to use a remote shutter control or a self-timer. Every camera has a self-timer. Even if you’re using the 2-second self-timer, if you’re shooting on a tripod you’ll minimize camera shake. If you’re shooting people or lifestyle imagery, we suggest using a remote starter. You can use this by telling your models to pause when they are in the right positions.
Shooting in Low Light
Image by Gaudilab.
On some shoots, you’ll face low light. Instead of bumping up your ISO to compensate, which creates grain, you can instead use a tripod to keep the shutter speed as low as you need it. While this is more difficult in lifestyle photoshoots where there’s lots of movement, this is great if you’re shooting product, food, or interior imagery for clients.
Image by Smirnof.
As an example of this is at Shutterstock Custom, we had a client request imagery of people enjoying cocktails in an interior environment. Unfortunately, the location was dim and the photographer didn’t have lights to create the right environment. So instead, the photographer used a tripod and had his model stay still for poses. The photographer shot with a low shutter speed to bring more light into their images. If the photographer had bumped up the ISO to compensate, they might have created too much grain to be acceptable for client images.
Image by New Africa.
Using a smaller aperture when you shoot gives you a greater depth of field, meaning you’ll have more elements of your frame in sharp focus. By using a tripod, you gain the ability to shoot at a slower shutter speeds. That way you can shoot at any aperture you like. When you shoot for clients or branded advertising work, you want your items to be as sharp as possible. Smaller apertures will help you achieve that.
Image by Dariusz Jarzabek.
Say you’re shooting the interior of a home. If you use a smaller aperture such as f/2.8, you risk elements of your frame being out of focus. However, if you use a tripod with the ability to shoot f/11, you can use a slow shutter speed and a high aperture to achieve perfect focus in a potentially low or mixed light situation. For more tips on shooting in mixed light, click here.
Using a tripod for top-down photoshoots will save you time in terms of framing and composing a shot. By setting up a camera over your frame, you’ll be able to manipulate the frame and objects within the frame to provide variety in your composition. This also will maintain consistency. You’ll know that your perspective and camera settings are already setup for the shot.
Image by Anna Ok.
We suggest using a tripod along with a remote shutter when you’re shooting any top-down photography. Without using a tripod, you’ll be standing on a table or chair. Check your frame using the live-view mode to ensure everything is in focus. For more tips on using tripods for food photoshoots, check out this interview with food photographer Joanie Simon.
Using a tripod will make your photographs stronger. It will also allow you new opportunities to shoot in environments you might not have access to without a tripod. When a client requests a certain type of image, your gear will prepare you for any situation. That’s why a tripod is a must-have tool for any client photoshoot.
Top image via Mod-X.