Quick Photo Tip – Tripods

Most photographers know that the tripod is an indispensable tool for capturing long exposures but so often I see it used in an unstable manner.  Most tripods have a center column that can be raised to offer an even higher vantage point for your camera.  The problem is that the higher the column is raised, the more unstable your camera becomes.

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Think of it like a tall skyscraper.  As it reaches further up into the sky, it actually moves from side to side as a result of the wind.  This is the same effect that you can get from raising your center column.  And though you won’t get a 16′ side to side motion like the Sears Tower, you will get enough motion to add a soft blur to your image, especially on a windy day.  To ensure that you are getting the maximum stability from your tripod, keep the column all the way down so that the camera is resting at the apex of the tripod legs.  This position will provide maximum stability for your camera and help you to get tack-sharp images.

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Comments

  1. Lynda Younker says:

    Thanks for the tip. I realize that I need to use a good ripod, one that is stable and somewhat light weight. I do macro, people and site photography. Any suggestions?

  2. I realized I would have been better off with a no-column Gitzo instead of what I bought. Now I never use the useless column. Any further thoughts on the Trek-Tech, the epitome of a column blowing in the wind?

    • Skooker, the monopod usually serves a different purpose than a tripod in that it can offer more stabilization than just hand-holding the camera but still be mobile. The legs on the TrekPod offer a higher bit of stability but I wouldn’t want to use it as a tripod replacement. Certainly never for a shot that requires a long exposure.

  3. Most of the better tripods these days come with a hook on the bottom of the center column. Hang your pack on it for additional stability

  4. Mike Nelson Pedde says:

    Good article. I always tell people that if you raise the center column on your tripod you’ve created a very expensive monopod. Monopods can be quite handy, but they aren’t tripods.

    Mike.

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