A tripod can turn a good photo into a great one.
There are many times and places I would use a tripod. These include sunsets, some portraits, plays and concerts, fireworks and any low-light situations that having a stationary camera isn’t an inconvenience.
It buys you one or two stops slower on your speed dial (you can shoot at 1/30 instead of 1/60) since you don’t have to hand-hold your camera.
Shooting slower will put more light in the image which could make it more striking.
During an October 2005 trip to Fort Severn, a First Nation community which is the northern most settlement in community, I saw the most amazing sunset of my life.
I had the tripod with me and set it up. I set my F-stop at 4 but rather than just settle in to a shutter speed and stick with it, I took about a dozen photos, decreasing the shutter speed as I went along in manual mode. Then I fired off another 100 or so frames trying to set up the perfect shot using trees and making silhouettes.
What surprised me looking at the first 12 photos was the similarity but the differences in colours, highlights and lowlights of each image and how, because it was getting darker outside, the meter in the camera didn’t like what I was doing.
The over-exposed (technically too light) and under-exposed (technically too dark) images were much more striking than the mid-range ones the camera’s sensor approved of.
That’s when it really sunk in for me: don’t be afraid of taking a lot of photos and take some chances with the settings. As long as you are paying attention in your viewfinder and reviewing the photos as you take them, you might end up with something great.
But you might end up with some solid black or solid white images if you forget to reset the settings on your next shoot if you don’t change them back. Trust me. It happens!
The tripod doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. I spent about $50 on the one I use now and I’ve had it for about seven years. The manufacturer replaced it once because some components failed on it during a shoot. I wouldn’t recommend that one but there are many options in the $50-100 range.