Tripods : When To Bring and When NOT to Bring

Carrying a Tripod

Obviously, this isn’t a rocket science blanket recommendation, but something to think about if you are likely to face lighting conditions that will require a super slow shutter speed. On the contrary, packing a tripod can slow you down, be awkwardly bulky, and certainly identifies you to everyone around you as a photographer. In its favor, you can make exposures as long as you like and keep the camera locked onto a view for which you might want to vary the settings.

Everyone has their own preferences for style of tripod, but the light, strong materials like carbon fiber, which are unfortunately the most expensive by the way, make carrying a tripod less of a chore. You also need a strap of light case, and a tripod head that locks tight but is easy to use.

When Tripods Are Forbidden

There is a freaking creeping culture of restriction when it comes to setting up and using a tripod, and it’s so funny that it is happening in just those places where a tripod is pretty much vital and essential to take a photograph. These are places namely museums, galleries, interiors, and archeological sites. These are inevitable unfortunate times a photographer must face. When faced with the situation where yes, you can take photographs but no, not a tripod, there are a number of possible solutions:

  • Use a Tripod until someone comes along and stops you (my personal favorite :) )
  • Use a Monopod (but expect this to count as a tripod even though technically it is not)

    Click to view larger image
    A Monopod

  • Use a Mini-Tripod and place it on some elevated surface or jam it againts a wall. It’s still a tripod, but you might get away with it as it won’t alert attention at a distance

    Click to view larger image
    Mini Tripod
    Mini Tripod

  • Use a Mini-Tripod on the ground, with either a Tilt-Shift Lens or with the camera tilted up, later resorting to perspective correction in post-processing

    Click to view larger image
    Canon Tilt Shift Lens
    Canon Tilt-Shift Lens

  • Use a Tripod head on its own, holding it down with one hand
  • Take a baseplate, perhaps even with a block of wood
  • Tip the caretaker or guard (depends on the country and circumtances well in the Philippines by the way :) )

5 Responses to “ Tripods : When To Bring and When NOT to Bring ”

  1. Towanda Helmbright says:

    Thanks a bunch! That was very helpful, I just bookmarked your website url.

  2. Gennadiy Mishiev says:

    Thanks for the article. I’m a beginning photographer and I bought my tripod only a week ago. This definitely helps beginners like me.

  3. Prince Vasquez says:

    No problem at all. I’m glad the article helped you in a way.

  4. ricky says:

    great article, very interesting

  5. Andy says:

    With regard to “Forbidden Tripod Territory” – tell me about it! I live in the Washington D.C. Metro area, and sometimes just taking a photo with some building IN it (as opposed to the primary subject of the photo) can result in a problem.

    But you mentioned tipping…

    Here’s my tip. At least it has worked well for me more than once, although I’m not going to mention any particular places.

    It helps to try this during the slower hours.

    Rather than try to palm off a five spot (probably not enough in D.C., anyway!), first look as though you are more than a “casual” photgrapher. It takes a little longer to get your camera bag (and meybe tripod!)through checkpoints, but not all that long if you’re cooperative. Be personable. Ask if you can take the guard’s or guide’s or docent’s photo.

    And instead of a “tip”, carry a few cheap memory cards (a 4Gb Class 4 SD card can be had for around $5 (maybe less)these days (April 2012), even if you wouldn’t normally consider using such a card for your own purposes in your DSLR at this point in time).

    After you’ve snapped off a few shots for yourself (maybe with with that new prime portrait lens that you’ve been dying to use, anyway), show your “mark”… er, I mean “model”, of course… the results. Then pop that cheapo card into your camera and take a few shots that the guard can keep for him/herself – then just hand your “model” the cheap card from which s/he can print, or e-send their own copy.

    In this age of the ubiquitous camera phone photos (Yeesh! I used to do better with my “Brownie”, back in 1965!), surprisingly few people actually have a really nice picture of themselves.

    Now, you’ve made a friend, who might just
    (probably)look the other way. You won’t get away with a flash where that is prohibited, but if you’re quick and circumspect with your tripod, you might just get enough breathing space to use it.

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