Why I don’t usually use tripods.

A lot of landscape photographers use tripods and ND or graduated filters for their photography. They usually also wait for the perfect light. I don’t use my tripod that frequently.

Tripods are just a hassle to set up and move around to find your composition. Off course they have their place in landscape photography, and I do believe that that place is earned, but I just don’t usually have the patience to set up my tripod.

(No tripod was used in making this photograph.)

Sometimes, it even could be quite dangerous to use a tripod to get the shot you want. Off course I took my time for the picture above, but I had to step of the road in between composing and capturing to let a far pass. And in Sweden, cars usually don’t stop for people when they don’t have to.

(Another hand held example.)

Also, I don’t own any grad filters or polarizers. All I have is a quite cheap variable ND filter that I mostly use for video, if at all. If I have to darken my sky later, I usually to that by applying a grad filter with a luminance mask in Lightroom. I shoot RAW all the time, and my camera has enough dynamic range to preserve some detail even in a sligthly overexposed sky.

(I did use a tripod for this one.)

When I have the time though, I definitely will set up my tripod though. I will pull out my variable ND filter that only goes up to a maximum of about 8 usuable stops. And that only allows for a 1 second exposure at a base shutter speed (without filter) of 1/250 seconds, so it’s actually no good for taking real long exposures during the day.

(Off course I used my tripod for this one.)

When it comes to nightly landscape photography, I off course use my tripod, while I have made attempts without one, those usually turn up way to noisy even for a black and white conversion. At night though, I do look out where I set up my tripod, and I have probably missed countless oppurtunities due to this, but when your fiddling around with clunky gear, thieves have more time to make their move. While I’ve never been robbed, that possibility is always in the back of my mind. Mostly because I think I’ve been scoped out on trips in the past, and also because a friend did get robbed of his gear expensive tripod once.

(Without legs.)

So, while tripods do have their place and I do have mine with me almost always, I barely use it for landscape photography. I also rarely shoot during golden hour, so maybe I should change my game for a while and see what happens.