STEP BY STEP
1 Check the feet
Most tripods ship with rubber feet, and on many models they screw in. You can buy alternate feet designed for all sorts of terrain; stainless steel Clawz from 3 Legged Thing grip rough ground and spread the weight over a larger surface area, and worked a treat on our icy shoot.
2 Twist or stick
There are two common mechanisms to lock tripod legs – twist-lock and lever-lock – and you might prefer one over the other. Our 3 Legged Thing tripod had a twist-lock that actually froze during our wintry shoot. Levers would’ve been less time consuming in this situation.
3 Get your legs out
When unfolding your tripod’s legs, you should extend the topmost, thicker leg sections first as this part is stronger and sturdier. If you extend your legs from the bottom, the thinner, spindlier legs run more risk of camera shake, so always go top first to ensure sharper shots.
4 Consider the centre column
Some photographers avoid using the centre column because it means the camera has a higher centre of gravity when it’s extended, which can put the tripod off-balance more easily and make it less stable. However, this column does come in very handy for extra reach.
5 Balance it out
When shooting on uneven ground, change the height of the legs until the bubble level on the tripod is balanced. Many photographers extend the legs fully and adjust the tripod head instead, but this makes it difficult to shoot panoramas suitable for stitching later.
6 Use your head
A good head will hold tight once locked; lesser-quality heads may move slightly after locking, meaning all the levelling you undertook is undone. Quick-release plates lock your camera to the head quickly but firmly, and are perfect for fast shooting when out in the elements.