Essential Kit : Using A Tripod

Last year I made friends with my tripod again. I will be honest, it's really not my favourite piece of equipment and I love the freedom of shooting handheld images. But I also love what a tripod can enable you to do, especially in the Winter months or if your home or studio isn't as light and bright as you wish it was. 

I am asked about tripods a lot, so I thought that it was about time to write something for all of you. I made this video a year ago too, which you might find helpful.

I use a tripod for shooting interior images, shooting indoors when the light isn't good enough to hand hold my camera, for shooting flat lays with my camera (I nearly always shoot my iPhone flat lays handheld) and for shooting images where I want both my hands to be in the shot (this is usually shot with my iPhone on the tripod, using the self-timer like the ones in the video).

Essential Kit : Using a Tripod

Shooting Interiors Images

I use a tripod for shooting interiors images because I usually want a deep depth of field. This means that I need a longer shutter speed because the lens will not be letting in much light, so I need to use a tripod to hold the camera still. 

Shot at the beautiful Welsh House last Summer

Shot at the beautiful Welsh House last Summer

I also need to use a tripod if I am shooting images like the one below when there isn't enough natural light indoors to shoot the image handheld. 

This image was taken at about 3pm on a January day in London.  Aperture : F/3.5, ISO 100, Shutter Speed: 1/5

This image was taken at about 3pm on a January day in London. 
Aperture : F/3.5, ISO 100, Shutter Speed: 1/5

Shooting Flat lays 

If I am shooting a flat lay with my Canon 5D or my Olympus PEN I will usually want to shoot the image at about F.8 (to make sure everything is in focus), which means that again a tripod is very useful when I am indoors so that I can avoid camera shake. 

(I spy my little assistant!)

(I spy my little assistant!)

If you are shooting flat lays with your tripod then you will definitely need a tripod arm. This takes the camera away from the tripod legs and enables you to either get over a table or just have the camera far enough away from the tripod legs, so that they don't get into your image. Easily done if you don't have a camera arm!

My tripod has the very neat option to create a tripod arm by popping the centre pole up and over. However, if you already have a tripod you can buy a tripod arm to fix onto your tripod to do the same thing.

Essential Kit : Using A Tripod

When you are using a tripod arm you might want to add some tripod sandbags to your tripod to keep it stable. 

Your tripod arm will also enable you to take those flat lays with both hands in that we all love so much on Instagram! I remember being so happy when I took my first one. You can use a smartphone tripod adaptor like this one to shoot this on your phone rather than with a camera. I use the self-timer on my phone to take this image.

Essential Kit : Using A Tripod

Shooting Tethered

Shooting tethered helps you to see your image on another device as soon as you have taken it. Setting up a tripod can take some time, so making 100% sure you've got the image before you pack it all away is a really good idea! 

There are several ways that you can do this, including tethering your camera to your laptop and seeing your images in Lightroom as you shoot them. But the method that we love to use is a Triggertrap dongle and the Triggertrap app on our iPhone. 

Makelight Equipment

We use the following kit:

Manfrotto 190X Xpro Tripod + a Manfrotto head. This compact one is good for photos.

Joby Gorillapod for Smartphones

Triggertrap