Stand firm

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

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.

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