Basic Tripod Tips for the Everyday Photographer

Tripods seem pretty self-explanatory, yet there really are a few things that not everyone figures out—even after years of use.  To this end, photographer Mark Wallace has created this clip on some basic tripod do’s and dont’s:

Key Tripod Tips

  1. Explore the scene before setting up your tripod. Once you’ve played around with the camera and found the best shot, figure out how to get your tripod set up to put the camera in that place. (Believe it or not, many people do the opposite, plopping down their tripod camera in some random place and then trying to get the right shot.)
  2. Make sure the lowest legs are in contact with the ground. That is, extend the lower sections before extending the top sections. This keeps the dirt and mud out of your locking mechanisms.

how to set up tripod on stairs

  1. Consider buying a tripod that uses twist locks. Twist locks are much faster than clamps, especially for setting up. (Mark demonstrates this admirably in the video.) Clips are also harder for gloves and any other time you have something in/on your hand. They can also get gunk in them.
  2. Make sure you have a locking mechanism on your tripod head. This will prevent you from accidentally releasing your camera from the head (a rather tragic end to any photo session).
Locking your camera onto your tripod

It’s easy to loosen the wrong knob by mistake. Having a locking mechanism on the tripod’s head will help keep your camera attached, no matter which knob you inadvertently loosen.

Wallace believes that you should always adjust a tripod from the top sections, not the lower, when balancing out on uneven ground. He seems to think this is just less effort, but others prefer to go from the bottom up because the bottom legs are less stable than the top ones.

What do you think? Have any other tripod tips or recommendations?

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