Saturday, May 31, 2014

Shooting without the accessory I use 95% of the time

Hi.  My name is Richard and I'm a tripod addict.  

Tripod Addict
There, I said it. Now I can start a 12 step program for photographers addicted to their tripods.

I carry that thing pretty much everywhere my camera goes.  I almost never take a photo without my camera on the top of that tripod.  It can get a bit heavy on long hikes but still I carry it.   June will even grab it and carry it when I'm not looking.

The reason I use that three-legged beast is most of my photos are landscapes that benefit from a small aperture to get a maximum focus range or depth of field (DOF).   A small aperture means I also have a slow shutter speed and I need the tripod to hold the camera steadier than I could ever do hand holding it.  The other habit I have developed is to keep my ISO (camera sensitivity to light) as low as possible to minimize digital noise, which is that unpleasant graininess in some photos. Low ISO means slow shutter speed.  I considered my tripod a necessity, which is why I haul it around the country.

Recently I hauled the tripod all the way to South Korea for a 13 day vacation.  This was our first trip where we did't have a car to carry all the camera gear to every destination.  It didn't take long to realize that carrying the tripod on crowded subways, busses, and taxis or setting it up in crowds was not going to work.  After hauling it half way around the world, I only used it once one night to make some long exposure cityscape photos.

Seoul At Night, 25 sec. exposure on tripod
I learned on that trip that I don't have to have to rely on the tripod as much as I had been. I could live with a little wider aperture and a little less depth of field.   I learned I can bump the ISO up much higher than I would have considered when using a tripod.   Most of the digital noise can be removed with software such as Adobe Lightroom or Nik Define.

Gyeongbokgung Palace at Night
Handheld 1/20 sec, f/5.6, 50mm, ISO 3200

Seoul from Namsan Tower
Handheld 1/8, f/4.0, ISO 6400
The other reason for using a tripod is when taking multiple exposures for High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography.   For HDR to work each photo must line up with all the others and none can have motion blur from camera shake.   I learned in Korea that you can make HDR photos without a tripod.

The HDR photo above was created with three shots (1/60, 1/25, 1/10 sec.) and combined in Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.  Even handheld I was able to hold the camera steady enough for the three shots to line up and not have any noticeable blur from camera shake.

There are a number of techniques for reducing camera shake when hand holding your camera.  I could go on about it here, but others have already done a great job

I'll still use my tripod when it's convenient, but I'm also going to branch out and go sans-tripod more.  Who knows what other bad habits I'll be able to break next.

1 comment:

  1. It helps immensely to have the photo skills and artistic eye that you do, Richard. Your images just sing with color and texture.