Adages like “A building is only as strong as its foundation” are used for a reason: they’re true. When building everything from a single family home to a skyscraper, the foundation is the first and possibly most important element. And while you’ll find our eBook on Photo Foundations here, we’d like to discuss a different foundation for a moment.

The “art” of a good photograph begins with the compositional elements. The “tech” of a good photograph begins with the camera platform. With the longer exposures typically used when creating a landscape image, your camera needs to be rock solid on its foundation. Spending the money on a good tripod (and other support equipment) is key to giving yourself a head start on capturing the image you see before you in the field.

Landscape photography isn’t the only time you’ll need a good, solid tripod upon which to support your camera gear. Imagine hand holding a 600mm F/4 lens while shooting larger mammals in the field! Or when it is late at night, and you’re in the field capturing star trail images, there’s no way you’ll be able to drink hot cocoa to keep yourself warm and hold your camera steady at the same time.

Today, you’ll find tripods made from two primary materials: carbon fiber and aluminum. Each has its own pluses and minuses; aluminum is light weight and reasonably inexpensive, though it responds to ambient temperature quickly. You don’t want to be shooting in the show in winter and grab a tripod that is freezing cold! And while carbon fiber is even lighter in weight than aluminum, it is really expensive. Use the Resource Links below as a starting place to begin researching just want kind of tripod works best for you at this stage in your career.

Here at Teton Photo Workshops, all of our instructors use carbon fiber tripods with individually adjustable legs, though we all use ball heads from different manufacturers. We recommend staying away from “entry level” tripods where all three legs are joined together, and we try not to recommend tripods with center columns. Be on the look out here on our Teton Photo Workshops Tip Of The Month page where we will discuss other camera support related elements, including ball heads and gimbal heads, camera brackets, flash mounts and more.



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