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Other uses for tripods

One piece of essential gear I always try to have with me is my Tripod.  Of course there are the obvious reasons for shooting with a tripod; however they have more value than just creating a free standing support for your camera.

One of the secondary and obvious uses of a Tripod is as a makeshift monopod.  If you’re out in the field and need a quick monopod, or don’t have time to keep taking down and setting up all three legs, then your tripod will suffice in a jam.  Tripods are great, but the setup speed can be inhibiting.  Monopods aren’t really designed for stability but are more to help keep the weight off your arm.  By either setting up one leg on a tripod, or setting all three legs and keeping them together you can create a similar effect.  Once you have your single leg tripod you can either push downward to stabilize your image, or use your own two legs on your body so that you become the second part of the tripod.  Another quick option is a semi-monopod where you open the legs just enough to steady the tripod a little bit and use your own body for balance, allowing quick setup yet reducing image blur.

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Using a tripod as a monopod allows you as a photographer to shoot with less shake and still have quick setup speeds.

Another similar use for a tripod is using it as an extender.  By holding the legs together and lifting the tripod up you are able to catch angles that you normally wouldn’t be able to capture.  Using this technique you can photograph things that are up high and out of reach, or shoot over crowds of people.  Of course you won’t be able to look into your camera’s eye piece and line up your shot, but with some practice you can capture some unique angles that you wouldn’t have been able to get before.

Sometimes, when scouting an area for the best location to take a photo, it becomes necessary to leave some gear behind.  If you are carrying extra lenses, batteries, cards, and lighting gear then you don’t want to haul it with you as you explore the landscape.  By setting all your gear in one place you can use your tripod to mark your spot.  That way no matter how far you get while you prepare for your shoot you’ll have a line of sight to your gear by way of your laptop standing over it.

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While hiking in Vietnam I may have never found this location with the amount of gear I was carrying.  Luckily I was able to leave some of it behind and mark it with my tripod so I could easily find my way back.

Sometimes when I’m traveling I don’t have enough room in my suitcase to carry all of my gear.  So if the decision comes down to me choosing between a tripod and a light stand I always chose my tripod.  The reason is because my tripod can also double as a lightstand.  With the simple purchase of a spigot adapter I can now mount my lights to my tripod.  The spigot screws onto a quick release plate and forms a peg for my lighting equipment to attach to.  This becomes beneficial by keeping my travel load light but still ensuring I’ll have all the equipment I’ll need.

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This photograph was taken while mounting lighting equipment on my tripod. 

Model – Marilyn Rose

One of the last not so common uses for a tripod is as a laptop stand.  When photographing people I prefer to shoot tethered.  Tethering involves connecting your camera to a computer and shooting the images directly to the computer so they can be seen as soon as each shot is taken.  Shooting tethered gives me the ability to see how each of my images are turning out, and also allows my subject the chance to see how their poses are looking.  Often times there is not a table place my laptop, that’s why the table attachments is so convenient.  A table attachment has a spot on the bottom where you can screw in a tripod or a quick release plate.  Once you’ve attached the table attachment to your tripod you have a sturdy table to place your laptop on.

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Using your tripod as a table to hold your computer allows your model to see what she’s doing while you’re shooting, without having to show her your camera after every shot.

Model – Amy Young

The portability of tripods makes them important tools for a photographer shooting on location.  These are just some various uses for tripods that can help you as a photographer not to have to carry around so much gear.  Can you think of some other uses that weren’t mentioned here?  Leave us a comment and let us know.