I do a lot of my landscape work on tripods: there’s simply no better way to set up and shoot when your exposures tend to be very, very long. I’ve written before about my beloved Leitz Tiltall tripod, a sturdy and rugged friend that has served me well for over 20 years (I’m only on my second one in that time period). It’s a great tripod and only about $100, and it’s been a trusted accessory for all of this time. But there are some things it simply can’t do.
I was reminded of this on a recent shooting trip. I was working along the brackish shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain when I came upon some truly fantastic cypress trees. Cypress are a native tree here that’s very happy in the swampy and brackish water of the area, and it’s capable of growing fantastically-shaped roots and ‘knees,’ root-like appendages that can spring up out of the ground near the trunk. Anyway, these cypress roots were amazing and even more complex due to some shoreline erosion that had washed and worn them away into strange shapes. Just my sort of thing.
But: this was all happening down very close to the ground and the waterline, much lower than my Tiltall can go. For the perspective I wanted, I needed a way to set up for my exposures much closer to the ground.
Luckily, back in the car just 10 minutes away, I had a second, cheaper little tripod that I keep for just such a situation. I originally bought it for backpacking but have since found it works great for this type of thing. It’s an inexpensive little Vanguard VS-86 tripod—nothing you could mount a big, heavy lens upon, but enough for an occasion like this.
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Or subscribe to our Facebook page or our Twitter feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog