If you are a new photographer interested in landscape photography, you may think all you need it is a good camera. While that is true in some instances, there are times when you will need a tripod, too. Consider using a tripod to improve the quality of your work in the following situations.
Panoramas can be done by hand holding your camera, but it isn't easy to keep the horizon level. By using a tripod and swiveling the camera, your horizon will stay in the same position in your photos. That means photos line up better in post-processing software, keeping cropping to a minimum. For awe-inspiring panoramic views, use your tripod. Start at one side of the desired image and set your focus. Swivel the camera, taking new shots that overlap each previous one, as you work your way to the opposite side. For best results, do a trial run first to make sure everything you want in the image will fit in the frame. Adjust your tripod and zoom settings as necessary to capture the image you want.
Shooting for High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photos
If you have you heart set on creating photos with depth and rich colors, HDR may be the solution for you. This technique involves taking several shots of the same image with different exposures and combining them in photo-editing software to create a wider range of color and texture in the photograph. Setting up the shot and changing the exposure between shots is easy with a tripod, and using a tripod virtually guarantees the images will line up properly when you stack them. If your camera has an exposure bracketing setting, go ahead and use it. If not, manually adjust the exposure between shots. If you want to play with taking your own HDR images, a tripod is a must to get the job done right.
Using Neutral-Density (ND) Filters
Neutral-density (ND) filters are colorless filters that reduce the amount of light that reaches your camera. These filters are designed to allow you to use a long exposure without overexposing portions of your photo. While these filters are popular for shooting silky, smooth waters without overexposing the rest of the image, they are ideal for seascapes and snowscapes too. Because they require a long exposure, you will need a tripod to keep the camera steady whenever you use ND filters.
Photographing Sunsets and Sunrises
Nearly every photographer is drawn to sunrises and sunsets, but they can pose a challenge too. Light fades quickly as the sun goes down, leaving you with inadequate light to catch those reflections in water or amazing clouds and skies. Increasing ISO is always an option, but this will also introduce noise to your shot. Try using a slower shutter speed to increase the light instead. This will increase the sharpness of your image, but you will need a tripod if you shoot at speeds below 1/100 of a second. Likewise, those moments just before sunrise are often the most colorful, but light is low. Use a tripod and a slower shutter speed to capture the first rays of morning light.
Photographing in the Wind
Trying to capture that view from a mountain top in windy conditions can be difficult, but a tripod can help. Anchor the spikes on your tripod into the soil or use a counterweight if it has one to prevent the tripod from moving in the wind. If your tripod has a center column hook, you can use a bag or rocks or other heavy objects to keep it from blowing over in the wind.
Learning to use your tripod effectively will improve the quality of your photos and make your job easier. To purchase tripod equipment, look into companies like Acratech.