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Setup a Tripod Correctly

Having a tripod helps in capturing sharp & steady photographs. However, it is just as crucial to know how to setup a tripod properly to get the steady photographs in the first place. Even with a tripod, photos can come out shaky/blurry if one does not pays proper attention to its setup.

Proper Leg Position – As you setup a tripod, how many times have you paid attention to its legs? Ensure the next time you setup, the out-stretched leg make a ‘V’ towards you as the third leg goes parallel to the lens ahead. This positioning ensures you can move freely without accidentally tripping or inducing blur due to tripod shake.

Proper Leg Grounding – As you lay your tripod on the ground check if all the legs lay flat on the ground and not on stones, pebbles, greasy land or slope of any kind. If the tripod is not on a proper ground, it will shift during exposure or may even fall off being imbalanced. If you can find three small flat stones, use them below each of the tripod’s legs to ensure a good grounding. A proper grounding helps in a sturdy shooting experience.

Proper Leg Lock – As you extend your tripod’s legs, make sure the leg locks are secured properly. Whatever the type they may be, pull out & lock or twist & tighten – make that they are tight and there is no shift in their position due to the weight.

Proper Bubble Level – This is a no-brainer, yet most ignore it. Ensure the bubble in the bubble meter is centered. This ensures the tripod is properly levelled & there is no tilt. Also check if your camera is properly levelled on the head to ensure straight axis & other lines in your frame. If your camera has electronic level meter, make use of it.

Proper Head Lock – Ensure the head is locked securely in the shooting position. Check if there is any visible change in the head’s angle due to the weight of the camera. This happens when the lock is not secured properly which causes the head to rotate in the axis due to the weight of the camera attached. This is crucial as long exposure magnify even the tiniest of movement.

Proper Camera Plate Lock – The quick release camera mounting plates ensure a peace of mind yet they need to be checked properly. At times, the camera can move if the mounting plate is not properly secured in its mechanism. Check this before you go ahead and shoot. If your camera has a neck strap attached, roll it over the head to prevent it from wind and causing vibrations.

Proper Center Column – Most of the tripod’s allow you to raise the centre column to gain additional shooting height. However, the center column when raised to the extreme tend to get imbalanced as the centre of gravity changes. Even light breeze can induce shake. I recommend not to raise the center column but in case you require it, raise it only to the absolute minimum you can, never above half of its length. Ensure it is tightly locked when raised.

The Good Old Hook – If in-spite the measures you feel the need for additional stability, use the good old hook on the tripod. Attach your bags/sandbags to this hook to keep the tripod secure when shooting in windy conditions.

Now go ahead and capture breath-taking fireworks on the upcoming Independence day or some nice landscapes. Choice is yours. :)

Couple of weeks ago, Mumbai witnessed high tides near the coast. Certain areas close to the shore were completely inundated with water as mammoth tides broke free with all their might. I was a witness to the nature’s fury & made some journalist style photographs.

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As photographers, we all know that light is better when it is comes from behind the subject than from the front. Most of us like to capture our portrait with the setting sun in the backdrop once we are at the beach or some sunset point. However, not many like the outcome photograph in such a situation. This is because, either the person comes out dark or he/she appears too bright and the background is burnt.

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I love high speed photography & water splashes fascinate me. A few days ago, I decided to get myself splashed with cold water in this hot summer. The results were amazing!

Setup Explained:

lightingdiagram_mesplash

As you can see from the diagram, I took this photograph in a confined space, in my bathroom. I rested the camera on tripod which was just an arm’s length away. A couple of feet to my left was my speedlight with a gobo aimed directly at me without any modifier. The gobo made sure the background was sufficiently dark. The reflector you see in the diagram was the white wall of the bathroom.

Taking the Photograph:

Me Splash

Camera Setting : Aperture – f/6.3, Shutter Speed – 1/200th, ISO 100, Focal Length – 28mm.

For such a photograph in confined space, I was more careful of not wetting my camera and flash. Here, the timing was the key. I had the camera on 10 seconds self-timer & I had to make a splash on my face just at the same time. Its convenient if you have someone to throw water over you. However, after some 10 splashes, I eventually found out the above photograph to be perfect. The formation of water is perfect & so are my expressions. A splash like this hits you hard & as the water enters your nostrils to irritate, getting the right expressions is challenging.

Post-Processing:

After the RAW processing, I cloned out the tiles pattern in GIMP to get a clear non-obtrusive background. I bumped up the contrast & even applied an unsharp mask. Next, I applied some vignette. Finally, I converted this to Black & White as I wanted it to be.

That’s it & I had my photograph!

A good flashgun is an indispensable accessory for any photographer. If you don’t have one, you should definitely get one. This is one of the accessory which I highly recommend would improve your photography. However, getting one is not a walk in the park as the market is flooded with hundreds of manufacturers offering tons of flashgun. Separating chalk from cheese is the order of the day. Further, there is no single flashgun which suits all. It all depends on what you would be using & how much budget you can allocate.

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