Ditching the Tripod

The Tripod – An essential piece of gear for the landscape photographer. We all love locking those cameras into place to get that perfect razer sharpness. While getting a shot using the tripod is certainly ideal, I have found myself in multiple situations where reacting to the weather, conditions, and light in a split moment would have only been possible by ditching my tripod entirely and going… HANDHELD. And I did just that and got the shot. Not just some simple point and click, one off exposure, but complicated images involving focus stacks, exposure brackets and focal length blends! Here are some tips that could help you feel better prepared to take a chance at losing a little bit of sharpness in exchange for getting the fleeting moment captured. 

  1. First and foremost is to be open to the possibility that something is going to happen to entirely change your approach in the field that day. An example for a shot of mine is this shot from Cinque Torri. I had a comp other than this one all set up and ready to go. But then I noticed the light shining through the rock spires and playing beautifully with the flowers and grass… on the OTHER SIDE OF THE MEADOW. It was moving fast, and I saw the flower patch it was headed for. I had no time to try and set up my tripod again, so I snagged the camera off of it and went running across the meadow with only moments to spare to fire off a 5 shot close up focus stack of these flowers as the sun JUST started to shine on them. The light never hit my first comp the same way it did this, so it was a great call.Cinque_960_02
  2. Second, be open to not having perfectly aligned exposures to make post processing quick and snappy. Were the exposures for this shot perfectly aligned? Nope. Was there really painful blending that needed to be done to fix minor shifts in perspective from the little movements my body made as I fired off 5 shots? Yes. And it took some time, and some ingenuity. But I did it, and I think it was worth it.
  3. Be mindful of the 2x focal length = shutter speed rule, and use ISO to compensate. Sometimes in the low light at the end of the day, getting a fast enough shutter speed with a low ISO is not possible. Don’t be afraid to push the ISO at the expense of some image quality. Is the image going to speak to you? Is the light great and the composition spot on? So what if you get a little noise from a higher ISO. Do what you have to do to get the shot. Zero noise and perfect sharpness do not make great images. Vision does. 

Stay tuned for more about this topic!

About Author Ted Gore

Ted Gore is a landscape photographer based out of Los Angeles, California. He was awarded the title of USA Landscape Photographer of the Year for 2015, judged by a panel of highly regarded landscape photographers such as Marc Adamus, Art Wolfe, Charlie Waite, and others. He has a sophisticated style of photography characterized by a combination of ambitious compositions and seductive processing. His love for the outdoors has led him to complete the Appalachian Trail and the John Muir Trail in their entirety, and this sense of adventure regularly leads him off the beaten path in search of compelling and unique images. Ted leads workshops across the globe and also provides processing instruction. His creative output also includes projects in the motion graphics industry, which gives him a breadth of expression and a unique multidisciplinary perspective that informs all of his creative and instructional endeavors.