There aren’t too many quick fixes when it comes to photography. I see a lot of photographers, both professionals and amateurs, buying the latest gadget to make their images better. Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a gearhead myself and am not above the influence of photography magazines showcasing the latest camera, lens, or accessory. However, none of the latest must-have pieces of equipment have really made my images any better, except for one; my tripod. Using a tripod is one of the surest ways to better your landscape images. They work in two ways. First the obvious benefit is that it provides a stable platform for your camera and eliminates camera shake resulting in sharper images. Using a cable release or the camera’s self timer can make your images even sharper. The other not so obvious benefit is that the tripod forces you to slow down, take your time, and really evaluate your composition. Tripods can also allow for more creativity. With a tripod, you can use a longer shutter speed. Conversely, you can use a smaller aperture and therefore get more depth-of-field (parts of your scene in sharp focus.) Longer shutter speeds also allow for motion blur like the blur seen in the waterfall in the accompanying image. When selecting a tripod keep in mind there is a huge range in quality. More expensive tripods are lighter, stronger, and stiffer than the ones you will find in a discount store. Tripods can cost as little as $20, but expect to pay $300 or more for a tripod to support an SLR camera. Try it out in the store with your camera and check for stability, weight, and ease of use with your camera. Lastly, remember a tripod only works if it’s under your camera and not in your car’s trunk. If you want to learn more about photographing waterfalls, there are still openings for the Mountain Waterfalls and Wildflowers workshop on July 11-13.
Timothy Faust is an award winning photojournalist living in Breckenridge. If you have a photography question you would like to see answered in this column, please send it to [email protected] View his work at www.timothyfaust.com.