As nature photographers, we need tripods. Shutter speeds during those few minutes of sweet light at sunrise and sunset are just too long to hand hold a bulky D-SLR camera and expect sharp results. So, we’ve become accustomed to arriving at a location, setting up our tripod, mounting the camera to it and then getting to work. But why must we be so confined?
When I arrive at a new location I’ll leave the tripod packed away and walk around for a few minutes exploring all the compositional opportunities through my camera’s viewfinder. I’ll get down low to the ground, stand tall, move two steps to the right and one step back. Maybe I’ll try using a foreground element or maybe I won’t. Perhaps a vertical works better than a horizontal? I find that leaving the camera off the tripod for a spell is very freeing. I can wander around unencumbered. Locking my camera on to the tripod feels sort of permanent. Once I find the composition that best fits my vision for the scene I’ll bust out the tripod, secure my camera to my Acratech Ultimate Ballhead and get to work fine tuning a composition.
I made the image above earlier this week. I liked the cracked rocks and knew I wanted to use them in the foreground but it wasn’t immediately apparent how best to place them. I removed my camera from it’s home in my chest pack and walked around exploring my options before I finally settled on this. I had to perch somewhat precariously on a rock just above and behind the foreground to achieve this composition. Once I found what I wanted, I went to work figuring out how to best set up the tripod on the small pedestal. Had I not wandered around without the tripod I likely wouldn’t have given this composition a chance due to the difficulty involved in setting up the tripod here. Good thing I took my own advice!
Give it a try next time you head out for some photography. I think you’ll like being free!
What do you think of this tip? How do you go about finding the ultimate composition when you arrive at a location? Let’s hear your routine!