I challenge you... (Tripods)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by compuwar, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #1
    I truly believe that photography is as much craftsmanship as it is art, and that a skilled craftsman makes for better art. To that end, I'm always looking at different ways to improve what I shoot, how I shoot and pay attention to the little stuff that sometimes gets in the way- so that it's intuitive by the time I need it. A recent thread got me thinking about something that also came up recently in a PM conversation with another MR user- improving shooting by slowing down.

    When I first switched from small-format (35mm) to medium format film cameras- the biggest change was that it forced me to slow down a lot. To get results that made the medium worth-while, I needed to shoot off a tripod. My first MF camera was a Mamiya C330 TLR, where the image was upside-down and reversed and it took me about a month to get to the point where I was comfortable framing hand-held shots.

    What I noticed when I got back the huge slides and negatives was that I went through a phase- the first few days was more about trying to find a place to shoot with the tripod than anything, then it was about leveling and framing the shot- and with smaller rolls of film, knowing each shot counted made me more careful. Finally, the increased resolution and resultingly larger prints made small details that I never really paid much attention to, like trash, or the effects of wind movement really stand out.

    After a while, I moved from medium to large format- both 4x5 and 5x7. Dealing with a view camera is an experience- bellows extension factors, Scheimpflug focal planes, tilts, swings- lots of things to worry about- and even more issues leveling and worrying about the details. Fewer shots too- the light changes quickly when it's good, and shooting sheet-by-sheet is never a quick thing.

    Anyway, to bring this to the challenge- one of the things that I think you can do to improve how you "see" a shot the most is to slow down and have to shoot methodically. Every photographer I've ever known who's switched from small to a larger format has benefited from the experience because of the pace more than anything else.

    So, here's my challenge- shoot for one week exclusively from a tripod. It doesn't matter if your tripod sucks, you're shooting in daylight, or whatever. But for each subject, take no more than 3-5 shots- and try to do it when the light is good. Pay attention to leveling your tripod, pay attention to framing your subject, pay attention to the details in the image- don't shoot the first image in less than three minutes from arriving at a location- slow, deliberate shooting is the goal here. No tilted horizons, no cut off subjects, no mis-placed poles- and no not taking the gear if it's a fair distance. Try not to take any bad shots- each location should produce keepers, think about depth of field, preview it- use two shots to chimp it out if you have to (think of it as a Polaroid) but that counts against the 5 shot maximum.

    A full week is best, but I think less than 5 days shooting in the week is probably too little. One shoot inside is fine, but this is really best done outside at differing locations, it's about seeing the shot, previsualizing it, and then nailing it.

    Anyone up for the challenge?

    Paul
     
  2. flosseR macrumors 6502a

    flosseR

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
    Location:
    the cold dark north
    #2
    i will take you up on this..

    i am really keen on shooting off tripod nowadays..
    So , once I am back home (after new years), I will try and do this, though up here in the north we have nowadays 7 hours of daylight and i have a full time job.

    are remote releases allowed ? what about night photography? is that ok?

    //F
     
  3. mrkgoo macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    #3
    By saying "shooting off a tripod", you of course mean shooting on a tripod?
     
  4. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon coast
    #4
    I'm tempted to give it a whirl... I need some motivation with the damp, cold weather we've been dealing with. I like the idea... now we'll see if I can get off my hind end and get out there... ;)
     
  5. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #5
    Most of my shots are already taken using a tripod, it really is an invaluable piece of equipment in my kit. Although it is also quite necessary for the lens I typically use and type of photography that I usually shoot. Shooting handheld would be a lot more difficult.
     
  6. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Over there------->
    #6
    Great thread, compuwar!

    I started shooting that way about a year ago (prompted in no small part by a certain MR user, perhaps the same one with whom you had the PM exchange). At first it seemed unnatural to me, but now it's my preferred way of taking photos. The tripod not only encourages greater care in photo-taking, but it enables a range of creative options that are not possible with handheld shooting.

    So I will happily join you in this challenge as soon as I get a week with some good light in the forecast. We've had a run of incredibly bad weather here (only one day with any blue in the sky in the last two weeks!).
     
  7. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2005
    #7
    It's a good challenge, but... shouldn't this observance of your exposure and composition be standard protocol anyway?
     
  8. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Over there------->
    #8
    I think that's the whole point. With all the fuss about ever-higher ISO sensitivities, IS lenses, Black Rapid straps, etc., it's easy to forget about the virtues of tripods. And when handholding a camera with the finger right over that shutter button, the temptation is great to fire away without much care.
     
  9. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    Joined:
    May 28, 2004
    Location:
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    #9
    I must say that when I started not that long ago with taking photos I had a tripod and brought it everywhere. I soon learned that a "good" tripod really added to the things I wanted to take photos of because after many blurry photos from a light yet cheap tripod, the fact remained if you take all the time to get it right, yet you apply one short cut, all that time was wasted. So unless it's getting that quick pic of something spontaneous, great idea to start introducing a tripod into your arsenal. I got a lot of info here at MR in some threads about different tripods, pm'd about half a dozen to get more info and it paid off in the end.

    As far as taking the time…I can think that a few folks here could outlast most of us with patience for getting the most out of waiting and being setup for that perfect shot (of course all opinion).

    Nice thread and when the weather breaks for me, I'm in which might be within the next few weeks :)
     
  10. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #10
    Ah, tripods: a subject close to my heart... but only because my pix were being rejected by my picture agency (Alamy), and I was forced to tighten up my technique. Now I shoot with a tripod all the time, and it's changed everything about my photography (and all, I think, for the better).

    It's a good challenge. Use a tripod for a week and you might get the tripod habit for good. I wouldn't feel dressed for photography if I didn't have a tripod.

    If the weather isn't very co-operative, I've got another challenge: list all the benefits of using a tripod. Start with the obvious - OK, it holds the camera still - and carry on from there.

    I'm running landscape photography workshops in 2010, around the North of England, and the use of a tripod is about as technical as I hope to be. ;)
     
  11. compuwar thread starter macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #11
    Remote releases are perfectly acceptable. Night- try to not do it all at night, perhaps one or two only- I find the eye is better-trained by composing during the day.
     
  12. compuwar thread starter macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #12
    Let's go with "from a tripod" ;)
     
  13. compuwar thread starter macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #13
    Lest everyone forget- adverse weather often makes for great images!
     
  14. compuwar thread starter macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #14
    Absolutely- but it often doesn't get the attention it deserves. One of the things that hones craftsmanship is practice- and by deliberately focusing on slowing down and deliberately limiting the number of shots, we're forced to keep all of the factors of good image-making in the foreground of our brains.
     
  15. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Holocene Epoch
    #15
    Paul, what a great post!

    I took a 190CXPRO4 carbon fiber tripod and 488RC2 pano ballhead (and remote shutter release cable) with me while wilderness backpacking in the Sierras this Fall. Although I got some odd looks from people at nearly 10000' -- mostly from other photographers, LOL! -- I was astounded at how much better the landscapes looked from the tripod vs. handheld when blown up to 30"x20", even considering IS/VR/VC/OS/whatever and fast shutter speeds. And for panos, let's be honest, there really is no other option.

    I'm now officially a tripod shooter whenever possible (and a monopod shooter most other times) for any outdoor shooting. Though you still need to be ready for grab shots for those fleeting moments; I'm still kicking myself for not having my camera handy enough to get a shot of a 150 lb black bear until after he turned and started to scamper away.

    However, I will be upgrading to a 1541T with a QT3 before my next backpacking trip! :cool:
     
  16. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    #16
    I like "at a tripod," personally.
     
  17. compuwar thread starter macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #17
    You shoot at your tripod, and everyone else can shoot from theirs. Lemme know if you hit it! ;)
     
  18. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Holocene Epoch
    #18
    I would say that remote releases are almost mandatory in many situations for that really tack sharp shot from a tripod. Depending on the situation, mirror lockup is also a great tool if your camera supports it.
     
  19. oblomow macrumors 68020

    oblomow

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #19
    Ok, I'll bite. I will try to do it. Fortunately the swimming and turn sessions are over. I can't imagine using a tripod during sports. Perhaps there's an easy start in 2 hours... fireworks!
     
  20. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Holocene Epoch
    #20
    That's what monopods are for; most sporting events won't even allow a tripod into the facility (not that you could react fast enough with a tripod anyway).
     
  21. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #21
    Hi. If the notion is to force the photographer into framing in the camera, why not restrict Post to image adjustments only. No cropping to level things out.

    I'm with pdxflint, jammed by the weather. They don't say it rains all the time in the Pacific NorthWest to make joke. Five days of rain predicted.

    Dale
     
  22. compuwar thread starter macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #22
    Last time I shot motorcycle racing, I did it off a tripod- I don't see how a monopod would have changed my reaction times much from my gimball head- other than perhaps in moving out of the way- but I was shooting from inside the turns :) A lot depends on how you shoot, and what angles you have to the action- but for all but the fastest open field sports, tripods actually work fairly well.

    Fotosharp rain covers ;) You're missing the chance to capture the PNW in its normal glory ;)

    Paul
     
  23. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Holocene Epoch
    #23
    I'm thinking more along the lines of the sidelines on a football field. That's no place for a tripod, even if you didn't have the occasional play go out of bounds and right toward you. ;) No matter, security doesn't even allow tripods in the door at most facilities I've shot at, esp. indoors (swim meets, women's volleyball).
     
  24. oblomow macrumors 68020

    oblomow

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #24
    Forgive me, for I have sinned. On the first day of the challenge. I shot pictures of our children's iceskating fun. Handheld. I will look for a whip to punish myself...
     
  25. Patriks7 macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2008
    #25
    I definitely am. Only problem: I haven't had any time to shoot the past couple weeks and doubt I will have much time until summer :confused: but I'll definitely bookmark this page and come back to it when I get the time :D
     

Share This Page