Three Feet

When exactly do I use a tripod, as I am doing here at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, California?

As little as possible, because I have to carry the darn thing. Except, every time I do, it’s better.

  • I do not have to raise ISO values in order to get a fast enough shutter speed.
  • There is no motion blur (important, since even at faster shutter speeds, it CAN occur).
  • I can do panoramas.
  • I can do HDR images.
  • I can leave focus alone once it is set.
  • I can leave zoom and other compositional elements alone once set.

Here’s a panorama I made in Las Vegas the other day (view it at the original 3000-pixel wide size by clicking through):

You make a pano like that by:

  1. Using a tripod.
  2. Mounting the camera on the tripod so that it swings around its focal plane (i.e. mount the plate below the camera, not below the lens, as you otherwise might do with a long lens);
  3. Set manual exposure, white balance and focus (avoid days when the sun comes in and out);
  4. Avoid close by objects, except in they first and last pictures;
  5. Take pictures from left to right. Ensure that they overlap by, say, 30% (more is OK too). In this example, I took six pictures.
  6. Use software to put them together at the required size.
  7. Adjust and, where necessary, crop the final result.

What software? You could use Adobe Photoshop. Canon Photostitch, or a host of paid and free applications. I am not the best to advise on which one is best (anyone? Feel free to jump in with well-founded advice).


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