Setting up your tripod
Unless you’re using your tripod indoors, the chances are that the ground will be uneven, so you need to get used to setting up your tripod on every type of surface.
The most common situation is when the ground isn’t level, so you need to adjust the legs to accommodate this. You can adjust the length of each leg to suit the height of the ground, or you can change the angle of each leg.
For low-level shots you need to unscrew part of the centre column, allowing you to get down to around 30cm from the ground.
Alternatively, you could either reverse the centre column or remove the head and attach it to the bottom of the column. This enables the camera to be positioned at almost ground level, but the camera will be upside down, making it more difficult to operate easily.
Get extra stability
Most budget tripods are quite light, so you‘ll find that adding extra weight will help to make them more stable, especially in windy conditions.
Some models have a hook on the end of the centre column to which you can attach your camera bag. In the absence of a hook you can hook the handle of your bag over the top of the tripod.
The right way to set up your tripod
1 Use the top sections
Extend the largest section legs first. The smaller sections at the bottom of the legs are less rigid than the thicker top sections, and so are more prone to wobble and flex.
2 Keep the column low
Avoid raising the centre column. This is the most unstable component of affordable tripods, so avoid using it if you can, especially in windy weather.
3 Check the footing
Make sure the feet are on stable ground. on slippery surfaces such as wet rock or loose gravel, try to wedge the feet in position, especially if you’re shooting down low.
Features to look for in a tripod
lLook for the best aluminium construction you can find. extend the tripod up to its full height and gently press down on the top of the tripod to see how much movement there is. a budget model won’t be static, but it shouldn’t move much.
Effective leg locks
make sure the leg locks are easy to open and close, and that they hold their positions. Try extending the legs, then gently press down on them to make sure they don’t compress easily.
make sure the tripod allows you to shoot at low levels by having adjustable leg angles. The ability to remove the centre column is also useful for really low-level shots.
PAGE 1: Best photography accessories: Tripods
PAGE 2: Setting up your tripod & features to look for
PAGE 3: Getting the most from budget flashguns
PAGE 4: Tips for using manual flash
PAGE 5: Using neutral density filters
PAGE 6 – Filter systems explained
PAGE 7 – Using ND grad filters
PAGE 8 – Using polarisers
PAGE 9 – Common problems caused by filters
9 secrets to using a tripod like a pro
10 things photographers can do to stop wasting pictures
Hands-free photography: 4 ways to take pictures without touching your camera
Camera Shake: the ultimate cheat sheet for using tripods, monopods and shooting handheld