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Should You (Still) Own A Tripod? by Robert Provencher


When do I use my tripod? Basically, the only times I ever use it, and when I do it is so essential without it I would severely compromise my work, is when the shutter speed gets too slow for hand held. Simple, or what?

In most cases, this means outdoors, during a family shoot, later in the day or on cloudy days or in open shade. Anytime the light is darker, and using a higher ISO is not a great idea. I shoot these sessions at 200 ISO.

Following are examples of the types of session that call for the use of a tripod. These sessions, what I call the legacy shoot (meaning, multi-generation and big sales!) are when I use a tripod.

I always add one more essential tool, the Nikon MC 30 electronic cable release.

This tool frees me up, and since I am trying to manage all those people, running like a crazy fool, trying to keep the kids focused on me and smiling, this helps. Big time.

As I mentioned, whenever the shutter speed slows down, I use my tripod. This means I will fire it up at wedding during the reception while shooting details shoots. Often I shoot at really slow times like half a second. I do this to drag in some ambient light and create some nice lighting that maintains the mood of the reception.

Finally, the only other time I use my trusted tripod is when I am shooting high dynamic range images. This isn't often and is usually for a commercial shoot or when I am shooting a special project within my community. Last year I shot such an event and photographed many local trails which were used in a calendar created by a local foot doctor.

On the high dynamic range images I capture nine exposures, one average, four under and four over, each progressively one full stop difference. These are shot at F16 and the brighter exposure often get slowed down to 1/15th of a second. More importantly for these images, each exposure needs to be completely stable and shake free.

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