If you’re interested by photography, you would possibly have wondered if a tripod is important for shooting landscapes. They’re often included on gear lists, but are they really essential? Well, the solution is somewhere between a no (with a but) and a yes (with many ifs). Let’s dig in.
What Does a Tripod Do?
Taking photos is essentially about making compromises. It’s often impossible to use the precise lens and exposure settings that you simply want, especially in landscape photography. Instead, you’ve got to seek out a balance between your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO that works while still photographing what you’re trying to capture.
What a tripod does is make some compromises less of a problem by providing a hard and fast and stable platform for your camera. this suggests you’ll use longer shutter speeds than you’ll if you were just holding your camera (Your hands just shake an excessive amount of to urge an honest shot with slow shutter speeds.). Also, because it keeps your camera within the same spot, you’ll take identical shots with different camera settings.
There’s a suggestion for a way slow of a shutter speed you’ll use while hand-holding your camera before the shake from your hands starts to point out . It’s called the reciprocal rule. the thought is that the slowest shutter speed you’ll use is that the reciprocal of the focal distance of the lens, so if you’ve got a 100mm lens, then your slowest handheld shutter speed is around 1/100th of a second. With a 20mm lens, you’ll attend 1/20th of a second, and so on.
demonstration of reciprocal rule
There are a few of caveats with all this. If you’re employing a crop sensor camera, you would like to account for the crop factor. Also, image stabilization has gotten significantly better over the previous couple of years, which suggests that if you’ve got it, you’ll use slower shutter speeds than the reciprocal rule suggests.
If all this is often tons to wrap your head around, here’s an easier thanks to check out it:
For landscape photos with a wide-ish lens, you ought to be ready to handhold any shutter speed faster than 1/40th of a second. You’ll need a tripod for any shutter speeds slower than 1/2 a second. In between the 2 may be a grey area that depends on your exact lens choice, how steady your hands are, and if you’ve got image stabilization.
So, the large questions then are in what quite landscape photography situations does one need a shutter speed slower than 1/2 a second, or to require identical photos but with different settings?
RELATED: What Camera Settings Should i exploit for Landscape Photos?
Tripods Make It Easier to require Photos in Low Light or in the dark
night landscape photos Joshua tree
When you’re taking photos in low light or in the dark you’ve got three choices:
Use a slow shutter speed to offer light longer to hit the sensor.
Open the aperture wider to let more light hit the sensor directly .
Use a better ISO to form the sensor more sensitive.
Unfortunately, a minimum of for landscape photography, employing a wider aperture and better ISO accompany pretty big downsides. Widening the aperture decreases the depth of field (which makes more of your photo blurry) while increasing the ISO increases the quantity of digital noise in your photo.
For most photographers, this suggests that employing a tripod and a slow shutter speed is that the best thanks to take landscapes around sunrise and sunset and in the dark . you’ll even capture photos of the celebs .
It’s also worth noting that the first morning, evening, and night are often the nicest times to shoot landscapes. You get the foremost interesting and dramatic displays of sunshine then. this is often why numerous landscape photographers consider tripods essential.
To Take Long-Exposure Shots
blurry water in long exposure photo
Sometimes a extended shutter speed isn’t almost gathering more light, but also, bringing a few creative effect. One popular look is to possess moving bodies of water or clouds blur to point out their motion. you’ll see it within the shot above. It adds tons of drama to your images.
To get this type of blurred effect, you would like to use a shutter speed slower than you’ll handhold, which suggests it’s tripod time. Some photos require shutter speeds measured in minutes!
For more on this type of long-exposure photo, inspect our full guide to capturing long-exposure shots.
To Get a very Deep Depth of Field
focus stacked image with large depth of field
Shutter speed and aperture are the two-camera set you most frequently need to balance. together goes up, the opposite must go down. to urge a very deep depth of field where everything is focused , you would like to use a narrow aperture. In some cases, this may force you to either use a high ISO and affect digital noise, or use a slow shutter speed instead. Again, with a tripod, you don’t need to make that compromise.
There’s also another technique called focus stacking you’ll use to extend the depth of field in your images. It involves taking multiple shots focussing on different parts of the scene and mixing them in Photoshop. to try to to this easily, you would like your camera locked down on a tripod in order that all the photos you shoot are identical.
To Take HDR Shots or Blend Exposures
image made up of blended exposures
As well as blending images to extend the depth of field of your photos, you’ll also blend images to extend the dynamic range, or the quantity of sunshine values between the darkest blacks and therefore the brightest whites, in your shot. By taking one photo exposed for the shadows and another exposed for the highlights and mixing them in post-processing, your whole image are going to be better exposed than if you’d shot one frame. The technique is named High Dynamic Range, or HDR photography.
There also are a couple of other reasons to blend exposures. Sometimes you would like to blur the water moving through a stream but not the grass swaying within the wind next thereto . you’ll also combine shots to edit people or other distractions.
And in fact , if you would like your camera to remain within the same position for multiple photos, a tripod is basically getting to help.
But They’re Still Not Necessary
With all that said, I don’t think a tripod is utterly necessary—and not having one is certainly no excuse for not taking landscape photos. Yes, without one, there are certain sorts of shots which will be impossible to require , et al. where you’ll need to make big compromises. But I’ve also taken a lot of landscape shots I’m delighted with without one. Here are a couple of .
I took this shot on an eight-hour hike with about 6,000 feet of elevation gain. There was no way i used to be carrying my tripod.
scottish mountain ridge
For this shot, I had to use a rather higher ISO than i might have if I had my tripod. I don’t think it detracts from it in the least , though.
sunset in howth dublin
And here? i used to be shooting directly at the sun. Yes, my ISO may be a little above it might are without a tripod, but it hardly matters.