Photo Tripods: It’s All About Perspective

Cypress wishbone, Lake Pontchartrain, 2012. (Copyright 2012 / Andrew Boyd)

Cypress wishbone, Lake Pontchartrain, 2012. (Copyright 2012 / Andrew Boyd)

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.

Cypress roots, Lake Pontchartrain, 2012. (Copyright 2012 / Andrew Boyd)

Cypress roots, Lake Pontchartrain, 2012. (Copyright 2012 / Andrew Boyd)

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.

My Vanguard VS-86 'tabletop' tripod. I've never used it on a tabletop. (Copyright 2012 / Andrew Boyd)

My Vanguard VS-86 'tabletop' tripod. I've never used it on a tabletop. (Copyright 2012 / Andrew Boyd)

I ran back to the car and got out the diminutive Vanguard. Working with a Canon 16-35 f2.8 zoom lens on my Canon Mark IV, I was able to get create the ‘monumental’  perspective that I wanted.

Here's the actual setup, shooting just a few inches off the water. (Copyright 2012 / Andrew Boyd)

Here's the actual setup, shooting just a few inches off the water. (Copyright 2012 / Andrew Boyd)

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

Posted in: Equipment

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

1 Comment on "Photo Tripods: It’s All About Perspective"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Patrick Corrigan says:

    I can’t quite make out clearly the tripod set up because the exposure is too dark. What is the tripod standing on?

Post a Comment