How to Shoot Better Photos- The Tripod


As photographers, we are continually striving to achieve that perfect photo.   Getting out early to catch the morning light and then out again for the afternoon’s golden tones.

I want to pass on some techniques that I use to make a better photo. Let’s start with the tripod, the base of a great photo.

Sam Johnston with Tripod

Photographer Sam Johnson using the Tripod at Vista Park in Florida

Sharpness is the number one goal of photographer, unless, that is, you are creating abstract photos.  One of the best ways that I have found to achieve a sharp, clear photo is the use of a tripod.  Tripods were a necessity in the early days of photography.  Cameras were heavy and the exposure times were measured in minutes instead of a fraction of a second.   It was impossible to handhold a camera steady in those circumstances.  Modern cameras are lighter and advances in image stabilization are built into many new cameras and lenses.  However, the tripod provides a solid base that helps eliminate camera shake and offers additional benefits.

Mounting the camera on a tripod allows the photographer ample time to frame the image.  This is time to really look through the viewfinder.  I would suggest examining the scene in the viewfinder, side to side and up and down.   By taking this extra time you can eliminate the need to crop out that tree or pole from your subject’s head.

Using a tripod slows the process and calms you down.  It allows you time to truly plan your shot.  The mere act of setting up the tripod and mounting the camera prepares you to enter the “zone.”  An example of the hurry up and shoot can be witnessed on any scenic overlook.  Next time you’re traveling where scenic overlooks are present, stop and watch as car after car stops, the occupants exit the car, take a couple of shots and quickly get back in the car and drive off.  When they get home, download or get the film developed, they wonder why the photos are not representative of the scene they remember.  I’m sure you feel the same way I do.    Photography is something to be enjoyed and savored, not rushed.

A solid base provided by the tripod is useful when you are creating a series of exposures.   Panoramic photos require that the horizon be level and a series of shots at various exposures are required to create High Dynamic Range images.  Future articles will discuss the process of creating High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography.

In low light situations, the tripod permits the photographer to create images using longer exposures.  This is important in the predawn and late dusk when soft light bathes the landscape.  During the night, it allows prolonged exposures that are quite spectacular  and would be impossible without a tripod.

Modern tripods are lighter in weight and more compact than those manufactured not that many years ago.  Sturdy ultra light weight tripods come at a price, but remember that after you purchase one, a quality tripod will last a lifetime. Be certain to check that the tripod can support your camera and lens.  The manufacturer will list the weight any particular tripod will support.

Happy Shooting!

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About Gregory Colvin

Gregory Colvin Photography

“Inspiration for my art is found in the natural world. Being in the midst of nature is a tranquil and revitalizing experience. Early morning and late afternoon light paints the landscape with a soft glow, fog and mist create an air of mystery. Sunbeams streaming through the tree branches craft portals of mystic radiance. Reflections on lakes and streams produce a picturesque spectacle. Using the camera as a paintbrush, I attempt to recreate these visual sensations and share them with others. My mission is to share a love of the earth and a desire to protect it.”


U.S. Federal Government-F CCPAC Art Project- Seven pieces for new building in Orlando, Florida
ArtBuzz, The 2010 Collection- 1st Place for Photography –juried art book
Tampa Bay Business Journal- Book of Lists 2010- Artist- Chosen for the collection
Tampa Bay Business Journal- Book of Lists 2008- Artist-Chosen for the collection.
Manatee Art Festival-Honorable Mention-Photography Division Crystal River, Florida
Upper Tampa Bay Library Westchase Florida- Four pieces purchased by the Friends of the Upper Tampa Bay Library Art Committee and displayed in the newly completed library.
Tampa General Hospital- two pieces placed in the permanent collection for the new addition to the hospital.
“Make a Habitat of Art”- Habitat for Humanity Juried Silent Auction Fund Raiser – Two pieces accepted for auction
Keystone Civic Association Brochure- photography included in the permanent brochure, Keystone/Odessa
ArtBuzz, The Book- 2008 Collection- Juried art book created for collectors and art galleries internationally.
Hilton Hotels Homewood Suites- 5325 Avion Park Drive, Tampa Florida- Purchased for art collection.

Juried Art Shows and Exhibits

Naples Museum of Art 2009 “Florida Contemporary Exhibition” May-June 2009
Nancy Jacey Gallery- “Treasures of Perception” Show – September 2008
Nancy Jacey Gallery- “Art at the Speed of Light” Show- June 2008
Fifth Ave. Gallery-“100% Pure Florida” Melbourne Florida
Tarpon Springs 33rd Annual Art Festival- Tarpon Springs Florida-2007
Boca Raton Museum Fine Art Show- Boca Raton Florida-2007
ArtiGras-North Palm Beach-2007
St. Johns Fine Art Show-St. Johns-Jacksonville Florida-2006
Art Harvest-Dunedin, Florida-2006
New Tampa Arts “Under the Oaks”-New Tampa, Florida-2006
Downtown Art and Living Expo-Orlando Florida-2006
Manatee Fine Art Show-Crystal River Florida-2006
Kiwanis Art Show- Safety Harbor, Florida-2005

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