Photojournalist Noah Gilbert and Induro have paired up to show how and why using a tripod is critical to the quality of images. In Gilbert’s earlier years as a photographer, he was trying to focus on a single style of shooting, but it wasn’t until, “a few horribly failed sessions” that he embraced the obvious – “Tripods are crucial to creating a sharp and thoughtful image”. Familiarizing himself with the importance of using a tripod cemented his direction in architecture and still life photography. Today, a good tripod is an absolute requirement in most of his shots given there’s no substitutes for a solid tripod.
Gilbert suggests tripods take patience and a bit of adapting but in the end, it’s all worth it once you’re comfortable and confident with one.
Read the whole article from Noah Gilbert below:
Photojournalism, still life, portraiture, street photography, fine art…for some, it’s difficult to focus on a single style of shooting. Sometimes, that specialty is chosen for you based on obvious strengths. For me, getting to know a tripod helped cement my direction in Architecture and Still life photography. I fought it in the beginning, not wanting to be locked down or tied to anything, I tried to shoot everything freehand. After a few horribly failed sessions I quickly embraced the obvious – Tripods are crucial to creating a sharp and thoughtful image. A good pair of sticks has become an absolute requirement in most of my professional photo sessions for Product and Architecture. High ISO to increase the shutter speed is no substitute for a solid tripod and the proper exposure.
Mounting my camera on a quality Tripod, locking up the mirror and taking the time to perfect my composition, has become an incredibly gratifying process. It forces you to slow down, look at the geometry in the room and pinpoint spatial relationships by making minute incremental changes to the head of the tripod (hopefully a fluid or ball head for the smoothest action and best response to micro adjustments).
Most quality tripods have spirit levels on them that help you compensate adjustment of the legs to ensure your frame is as straight as possible despite any uneven surface you may be on. This is extremely helpful when using a Tilt-Shift lens that can throw your sense of balance after 8 hours of tweaking perspective and geometric lines. A quick glance at the level builds confidence for me that my starting point is still accurate if I need to reset the lens. This helps consistency of the image and being able to get what you want out of camera and not rely on convergence or distortion correction in post-production.
The more I became one with my tripod, the more I realized there’s something very exciting about the process. Walking the space, seeing your initial frame, marking the spot, mounting the camera and starting to hone in on the frame, all the while moving, tilting, and sensing the way the space should be seen. It’s a very artful way of shooting. Setting up a shot and waiting for that timed shutter to release…knowing that those few seconds of the open shutter are being absorbed by the camera and slowly, methodically, coming to life…is an incredible feeling.
Aluminum. Steel. Carbon Fiber. There are a few different types of materials that have different behaviors under load and will affect the stability or movement in inclement weather. Steel is obviously the heaviest, but also stable and stiff at full extension (you don’t want legs to bow when fully extended). Steel or Aluminum is great for indoor studio work where weather isn’t an issue and you can get full extension for tall overhead shots. Weight is also nice in a studio in case one sandbag isn’t enough, and a stylist or art director trips over a leg. Aluminum raises the bar by being stiffer than steel and a bit lighter, making it more mobile, but ultimately – I still don’t feel Aluminum is suitable to throw on your back and take up a mountain trail. Then you have Carbon Fiber. Ahhh, Carbon Fiber – the magic material that is now used in everything…fighter jets, sports cars, bicycles, and yes, tripods. Carbon Fiber is considerably lighter than Steel or Aluminum, extremely stiff and has fantastic vibration damping qualities, making it an excellent material for a tripod. Less vibration = sharper image. In the studio, I prefer something a bit heavier, but anywhere else – it’s Carbon Fiber for the win.
It’s true, tripods take patience and a bit of adapting to in the beginning, but there is a huge reward once you become comfortable and confident with one. Every frame has thought and precision, and every frame is exactly the way you created it. For those of us who are a little OCD, I highly recommend investing in a good pair of sticks. It will help satisfy the compulsion for perfection while slowing you down to truly feel your image and enjoy the sharpest possible results.
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