Photography Cheat Sheet: The Dummy’s Guide to Using a Tripod

Is a tripod proving to be a must for your shoots? Better equip yourself with some tips from this photography cheat sheet so you can make the most out of it.

Tripods have long been one of the most important tools of the trade for many photographers. Some genres and projects even require it. If you’ve made the big decision to invest in a sturdy and reliable tripod, it’s not enough that you know how to secure your camera to it. Today’s photography cheat sheet will help you make the most out of it, especially if you’re on a lot of outdoor shoots.

Since tripods are indispensable for outdoor photography like shooting landscapes and travel scenes, the flowchart below by Digital Camera World will come handy for this purpose. It has some helpful tips for propping the tripod as best as possible, adjusting the height properly, and adding some extra stability.

While you can raise the tripod higher, first see if you can keep the tripod as low as possible. This will minimize the flexing of the legs and give you greater stability. If you need to raise the tripod legs, make sure to use the thickest sections first, as they are stronger and more stable. Avoid using the center column, if possible.

When shooting outdoors on soft or grassy ground, push the tripod feet down into the surface for extra stability. Your tripod may even have spiked feet designed especially for this purpose. On hard or rocky ground, however, be wary of surfaces that can make the feet slip or slide. It’s best to keep the legs as vertical as possible on these spots.

Lastly, you might need to add some weight to your tripod by hanging your camera bag from the central column. See if your tripod has a handy clip specifically for this. If you’re shooting during a very windy day, you can also attach a bungee cord between the hook and the bag. Adjust the length so the bag is almost touching the ground and pulling the tripod down for even more stability.

Want more photography tips and tricks to help your next shoot? Don’t forget to check out our growing collection of photography cheat sheets!