In this video wildlife and nature photographer Steve Perry (from backcountrygallery) shares a number of useful tripod tips for wildlife photographers.
How to better use your tripod for wildlife photography
We shall start with some setup tips from Perry on using your tripod in the field:
- Which leg sections to open first? conventional wisdom tells us to start with the upper section and try and avoid the thinner (less stable) lower sections. This is true in most cases, however, when you need to change the height of your camera quickly it might be a better idea to start with lower sections and leave the option to change the height of the tallest section with some play for when you need to change it.
- When using the tripod in send and especially water open the lower parts enough so that the leg locks will not be inside the send or water as it can be very hard to clean. Always wash the legs after being submerged in salt water (or sand) and you can consider using Tripod Leg Protection Covers (like these ones for example).
A few tips for taller tripods
Perry usually recommends getting a taller tripod for wildlife since this might help shooting birds and other animals in taller trees (or the skies).
- Putting one leg forward and the other two behind is usually better however there are exceptions. If you are in a narrow place like a boardwalk or narrow bridge putting the two legs forward and raising the back leg might be better. This is also true if you are working from a slope (hill for example) and then you might want to shorten the back leg.
- Here is a useful tip for leveling your tripod – first open all legs on even ground when they are not spread and only then spread them out. Also, make sure that the legs are fully open to at least the first locked angle of the tripod to increase stability.
- If you need extra stability you can always use the hook under your tripod (most tripods have one) to hold a bag. You do have to be careful as the wind can move that around and actually make it less stable.
- Another trick for stability is to avoid using a center column as it adds wobble, especially in windy conditions (we have to admit that we actually use the center column very often but we try and use them in less windy shooting conditions).
- When on a slope make sure that your head is leveled, not by leveling it but by making sure that the tripod legs themselves are leveled – this will assure that your pans will be leveled as well.
The final (and very important) tip is to give your tripod a little push down before you start using it. It will tell you if you forgot to properly lock something – you don’t want your precious camera gear to fall to the ground just because you didn’t lock one of the legs.
We have covered different aspects related to tripods as well as performed several tripod reviews over the years and you can read more about all of those in our tripod subsection.