7 Reasons Why a Tripod is a Travel Photographer’s Best Friend

7 Reasons Why a Tripod is a Travel Photographer’s Best Friend

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Nobody enjoys carrying a heavy tripod around all day. Whether it’s in a busy city, or on a long arduous hike, tripods can be a real inconvenience, and yet they are one of the most essential pieces of equipment for any travel or landscape photographer.

Here are 7 reasons why a tripod is a travel photographer’s best friend:

KavDadfar_Tripod_UAE

1. Allows you to Photograph at dawn and dusk

It’s no secret that photographing early morning or late afternoon offers the best light, and this soft light that appears gives a beautiful look and feel to photos. It also means you will often be photographing when you will be unable to hold the camera with your hands due to the low light conditions. Therefore, the only way you will be able to capture sharp images, that avoid camera shake, is to use a tripod.

2. Allows you to photograph at night 

If photographing at dawn and dusk is tough enough, then photographing at night without a tripod is impossible. Don’t be under the assumption that you can raise your ISO to be able to achieve a fast enough shutter speed; you simply would not be able to capture a photograph sharp enough or have an acceptable levels of noise for professional or personal use.

3. Allows for artistic vision

Even during the day when the sun is at its brightest, you may find yourself wishing you had your tripod. For example, if you are photographing any body of water such as a waterfall, the sea, or even a fountain, and you want to capture the smooth look of the water, you will need to use neutral density filters. This will mean that you are essentially limiting the amount of light that enters the camera, and as a result you will need to use a slower shutter speed (long exposures).

KavDadfar_Tripod_UK

4. You can capture unique angles

One of the biggest advantages of a tripod is that it allows you to take photos at interesting angles, and shoot from positions that you may not be able to otherwise. For example, being able to set your camera at a very low level near the ground with a tripod, means that it is held much steadier, and you don’t have to get yourself wet or dirty. Alternatively, if you are looking to capture the photo at a higher height a tripod is also handy.

5. To keep yourself safe

There was drop straight in front of me and the only way to get low enough to capture the plants in the foreground was to put one of the tripod legs on a ledge below.

There was drop straight in front of me and the only way to get low enough to capture the plants in the foreground was to put one of the tripod legs on a ledge below.

I was recently photographing near a small river in a forest in the South West of England. As I was walking down to the river bank, my foot slipped on a rock covered with moss, and the only thing that stopped me falling straight into the river was my tripod, which happened to be extended, and I used it to regain my balance. This particular river was fairly shallow and slow flowing and therefore wasn’t life threatening, however, my camera and I would have been very wet, with a cold one hour walk back to the car. You never know how or when a tripod could become useful, beyond just holding your camera.

6. Helps you pre-visualize and take better photos

One of the great things about using a tripod is that it means you are not connected to your camera by having to hold it. As a result you may find that you actually spend more time looking at the scene and analyzing, it rather than just trying to take photos. This often leads to being able to pre-visualize an even better photo, and actually setting the scene, for example, by waiting for the clouds to change or someone to walk into the photo.

7. To support a flash

Every now and again you will be in a situation where you will need to use your flash at a different position to the usual mounted to the top of your camera. This is when you need to light a subject from a different angle, rather than straight on. In these situations, a tripod of some kind is essential to hold your flash in position.

My tripod and flash are positioned behind the pillar on the left to give me a bit of light onto the woman's face.

My tripod and flash are positioned behind the pillar on the left to give me a bit of light onto the woman’s face.

Tripods are an unwelcome, additional weight to carry, and ultimately you need to weigh the benefits of carrying one versus not doing so. But if you want to capture the best possible photos, in the best possible light, while keeping them sharp and low in noise, then sometimes a tripod is a must.

Do you carry and use your tripod? Share your thoughts below.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Kav Dadfar is a professional travel and landscape photographer based in London. He spent his formative years working as an art director in the world of advertising but loved nothing more than photography and travelling. His images are represented by stock agencies such as 4Corners Images, Robert Harding World Imagery, Getty, Axiom Photographic, and Alamy and they have been used by clients such as Condé Nast, National Geographic, Wanderlust travel magazine, American Express and many more. Follow his travels and imagery on Instagram and Facebook.

  • Arthur_P_Dent

    Carrying the tripod’s not too much of a problem, since my LowePro has straps on the bottom for that purpose. The problem I encounter are places that won’t allow either tripod use or even just bringing in a tripod. I’ve been hassled at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington for having a monopod, and got a talking-to when I used a tripod at the EMP in Seattle.

  • Mark

    I think the real advantage these days is the advent of the mirrorless camera. In the past I’d have to carry a sturdy tripod along with a 5d MkII, L-series zoom etc and the kilos just kept on coming. Anyone starting afresh could pick up a nice A7RII (same retail as my 5D when it first came out) along with a nice Zeiss lens and save on the weight. This would then make the tripod less burdensome. It’s the total clutter you end up carrying that counts. Although I have some nice shots over the years you really had to want to carry that kit around with you on a holiday as there was no way you’d lug it on the off-chance. To be perfectly honest I think I’d now just take my RX100M3 and a smaller tripod most of the time. Perhaps a A6300 when it comes out. After all it’s the camera you have with you that counts not the one that got left in the hotel.

  • Paddy

    Good advice, I carry a backpack, tripod and walking staff when in the woods or along rocky areas.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Thanks Paddy. Glad you like the article.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Hi Mark

    Very true. A lot of it comes down to planning. I will only carry the kit that I feel is essential. For example if I planning on a sunset/night time shot I’ll carry it with with me, otherwise I will leave it in the hotel and pick it up before going out again.

    Kav

  • Kav Dadfar

    Hi Arthur

    Yes, tripods do automatically grab people’s attention. It’s always worth checking with museums before heading there if they allow tripods to save yourself the hassle of carrying it and not being allowed to use it.

    Thanks
    Kav

  • me

    4.5.6 are not real reasons…. maybe one could be replaced with ‘self defence’? another with ‘time lapse’? another ‘include self with locals’ These would be more valid.

  • Arthur_P_Dent

    In the case of the Air and Space Museum, I wasn’t using it there, but I was carrying it because I might use it outside on the Mall.

  • Arthur_P_Dent

    In the case of the Air and Space Museum, I wasn’t using it there, but I was carrying it because I might use it outside on the Mall.

  • walwit

    Good advice, make me feel more comfortable taking my tripod to my photo “expeditions”. Just for fun let me tell you that in some places it would also be useful to confront some street dogs.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Good tip! Thanks for sharing.

  • Curtis Gruninger

    Two Words: Bean Bag. I have used it more than my tripod over the past 35 years.

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