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