Ok, it's time for some honesty. I don't always use my tripod. Sometimes it's because I cannot get the tripod where I want/need it. Sometimes it's because I don't have it with me. Sometimes, it's because I am straight-up lazy! There. I said it. I can be very lazy. Tripods can be a pain to use. They slow the whole process down. They take time to set up and get into position. There are all of those knobs to loosen and tighten. Then I tighten the wrong one. Blah. Blah. Blah.
But, some of those negatives are actually positives. Slowing down is often what I need to do to make sure that I have everything set right. Not to mention, the tripod holds my camera for me. That is even lazier than not using one, right?! Most importantly, when I do drag out the tripod, the results speak for themselves.
The other day, I noticed an absolutely enormous, prehistorically-sized insect, like a horsefly on steroids, on the screen of my kitchen window. I headed outside to get a closer look but not too close as I swell up whenever a horsefly bites me. In the process of heading to the front porch, I noticed a little bitty grasshopper on one of my knock-out roses. I went back inside and grabbed the camera with a macro lens to photograph the grasshopper. The light was nice open shade. The flower is a gorgeous magenta, and the grasshopper was several shades of green. These opposing colors are perfect together.
I wanted to grab the shot before he hopped away, so I bypassed the car, where I keep my tripod, which I had to literally pass to get to the grasshopper, and took a few photos. The grasshopper was a very cooperative model, though he did keep one antennae pointed towards me and my camera. He tolerated me getting very close to him, so close that I could not focus my lens.
Finally, I decided that he was probably going to stick around and that I had absolutely no excuse for not using a tripod. I headed back to the car, which I had to unlock, and retrieved the tripod from its nest in the trunk.
I set up and started shooting the best angle, which I had found while not using the tripod. For me, I find that it works best to establish my favorite angle without the tripod and then work the tripod into the position that I like. I continued to shoot for a while. The grasshopper stayed put and kept a vigilant watch on me. He seemed to be getting a bit antsy after about 10 minutes, so I decided it was time to stop bugging him (hehehehe) and packed up my gear. Luckily, there was almost no breeze and the grasshopper was not moving much at all.
Using the tripod allowed me to lock the camera down and stopped down my aperture to achieve more Depth of Field. Hand-holding the camera limited my ability to do that as I had to keep the shutter speed fast enough to eliminate camera shake. The tripod also allowed me to take a series of photos varying my focus point (literally focusing on a different spot for each shot). Using the software Helicon Focus, I was able to stack these photos together to achieve even more Depth of Field. This is called Focus Stacking. It is kind of like HDR - but with focus. High Dynamic Range is when photos taken with varying exposures are stacked together to achieve more detail from bright white to dark black, achieving more dynamic range through the image and replicating more closely the dynamic range that the human eye can see.
Check out the differences below.
|Hand-Held Shot||Zoomed In Version of Hand-Held Shot|
|f/8 @ 1/200 second @ ISO 800||Notice the eye is not sharp though part of the|
|body is pretty sharp|
|Tripod Shot||Zoomed In Version of Tripod|
|f/16 @ 1/30 second @ ISO 800||Notice that the eye is sharper and there is more|
|DoF than in the Hand-Held Shot above|
|Tripod Shot with Focus Stacking||Zoomed in Version of Tripod Shot with|
|f/5 @ 1/500 second @ ISO 800 (23 shots)||Notice that there is much more DoF than in the|
|Hand-Held Shot and the Tripod Shot above even|
|though the aperture is wider|