Ten things you can’t shoot without a tripod
From group pictures to capturing the stars we’ve put together a list of the shots you can’t get without a tripod
1. Night-Time Photography
When you take photos at night you need to take long exposures because there’s not enough light for a regular photo; and when you need a long exposure you need a tripod. A tripod will let you expose for several seconds or even minutes, as long as it takes to get a perfect result even in really dark locations. With a tripod you don’t need to use a flash – a great advantage as a flash can only light things that are close to the camera.
If you take a long exposure of the night sky or a scene including the night sky, you will notice the stars begin to leave trails in the photo. That’s because the stars are static in the sky while Earth rotates. The longer the exposure time, the longer the trails. A tripod keeps the camera steady and captures the ground features in good detail.
3. Water in Motion
Everybody loves to take photos of waterfalls and streams, they look good!. A common trick of professional photographers is to use a long shutter speed to capture the movement of water in the scene, that’s how those photos of silky waterfalls and streams are created. To make that kind of image, you just need to place your camera on a tripod and take an exposure between ¼ of a second to 2 seconds, trying different times until you find the result you like the most.
4. The Moon
It is possible to take a hand-held photo of the moon but things get easier and better with a good tripod. With the moon, you often use a long lens so any vibration will create motion blur in your shot. The tripod has to be stable and shielded from the wind and then you can take a perfect moon shot. It will also help you frame the shot and chase the moon around because it actually moves really fast across the sky.
5. Group Portraits
Framing a good group portrait is not easy and once you have a good framing you might need several shots until you get a perfect result – people forget to smile, they close their eyes, etc. A tripod helps you use exactly the same framing for each shot without needing to adjust every shot. And of course the photographer can be included in the photo too!
6. HDR Photography
HDR photos are getting a lot of attention lately – they look colorful, vibrant and have plenty of detail. If you have a new camera or phone, you probably have an HDR mode. In HDR the camera shoots three photos and combines the best of each one to achieve a result better than a single photo. The trick for good-looking HDR photos is to use a tripod to make sure those three shots are perfectly aligned.
7. Creative Camera Movements
Moving your camera during an exposure is often the key to a creative shot. Set a long exposure time and then move your camera left to right, zoom in and out or move it top to bottom. The result will be an abstract representation of the scene in front of you. For better looking results, fix the camera on a tripod and move it in only one direction or zoom in and out. That will make your result more abstract, less chaotic and more impressionistic.
HD video is common today in most cameras. With some DSLRs you can even take professional quality movies. A tripod is almost essential to create good videos because you avoid the camera shake produced by handheld shots and the tripod helps you pan a scene. There are specialised tripods and video heads for videographers but you can start with a regular tripod too.
Light-Painting means using a flashlight or some other source of light to paint a scene while the camera takes a long exposure. You can draw, you can illuminate an object, you can dance creating abstract figures, anything you want. For best results, you should fix the camera on a tripod and then let the camera record your light-painting session while keeping the rest of the scene sharp. (It also means you can do this by yourself, without an assistant.) Just fix the camera on a tripod, dial-in a long exposure and then run in front of the camera while holding a flashlight. You’ll get hooked.
Timelapses – movies made from photos or video clips taken over a long period of time – are becoming very popular. Whether you’re combining photos in a video or in a photo, they need to be aligned and this can only be done with a tripod. Once you take thousands of photos, one after the other from a fixed tripod, there’s software that will help you create a beautiful timelapse from your photos.