Sometimes carrying a tripod with you seems to be the most arduous thing to do. Especially if for example you are planning on a sunrise shoot and then you are due to be outside all day. Having to carry a tripod all day can often mean people not taking one in the first place. But by doing so you are not capturing the best shots that you can. If you ask travel photographers what their favourite accessory is, most would reply with “tripod”. So here are 7 reasons why you need a tripod for travel photography.
For sunrise or sunset shots
These times seem to be the holy grail for travel photographers and it’s understandable why. During these times you often get the best light for photography outdoors. The golden, soft light can enhance shadows and give a mundane scene a beautiful glow. Whilst you will often be able to shoot handheld in these conditions, it comes at a price. You will need to raise your ISO to be able to have a shutter speed fast enough to capture the shot. It also limits your depth of field as you may not be able to have a small aperture. So ultimately you end compromising and not capturing the best shot that you can.
For nighttime photography
You might be able to get away with photographing sunrises or sunsets handheld, but for night time photography it becomes almost impossible. Sure you may be able to raise you ISO ridiculously high but that will mean your photo will be filled with noise and will look soft. It also means that you will not be able to capture certain shots like car light trails as you simply will not be able to hold the camera steady enough at those slow speeds to avoid camera shake.
For better composition
The great thing about using a tripod is that it often makes you slow down your photography and be more considered. One of the most common bits of feedback that I give to newbie photographers is that they often rush to take a photo. By slowing down you are far more likely to be able to really think about your composition and adjust it if necessary. In addition to this by being detached from your camera, you will also find yourself analysing your shot in greater detail and being more critical.
For capturing shots that you couldn’t otherwise
Sometimes to capture the shot that you want, a tripod will allow you to do so easier than not having one. For example, imagine trying to capture a low angle shot in a muddy field. Do you really want to lye on the ground and get yourself soaking wet? Why would you when you can use the tripod to capture the shot instead? Not only will using a tripod keep you dry and out of the mud but it will also mean that the camera will be much more steady. I have lost count of the number of times that I have been able to capture a shot with a tripod that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
For artistic visions
You might think that the only time you will ever need a tripod will be during low light conditions. But actually sometimes even during the day when there is enough light, you may wish to use a tripod to capture shots that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. For example, if you want to capture smooth looking water during the day you will need to limit the amount of light coming into the camera. The way to achieve this is by using a neutral density filter. But by limiting the amount of light coming into the camera you are also affecting the shutter speed. If it’s too slow you will not be able to hold a camera steady without suffering from camera shake.
For when you need an extra hand
In more challenging lighting scenarios, you may have to use a flash, lights or even reflectors to be able to capture the shot that you want to capture. Sometimes this requires you to place your flash away from your camera somewhere in the scene. A tripod is useful to allow you more flexibility in where you place your flash, lights or reflector. Rather than just placing your flash on the floor, using a tripod will allow you to change the height and angle so that you can light your subject perfectly.
For keeping you safe
My tripod has managed to not only help me capture great photos, but also save me from potential injury as well. There have been numerous occasions when I have managed to keep myself from slipping over by using my tripod to keep myself steady. Like recently when I was photographing on some rocks on a beach and as I climbed down only my tripod stopped me from slipping over and causing myself serious injury. It’s not what they have been designed for but you never know when your tripod will actually come to your rescue.
There is no doubt that tripods are cumbersome and sometimes it seems easier not to take one with you. But if you want to capture the best possible photo at that best possible time, then a tripod is essential. One way that you can make things easier for yourself is by having a bag that you can strap your tripod onto when not using it. This will save you at least having to carry it around and leave your hands free. But ultimately the photos you will capture will outweigh the nuisance of having to carry a tripod.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission.