Merced Camera Club, Getting The Picture
Getting The Picture

This is a monthly (or so) feature of our site, in which Merced Camera Club members provide their thoughts
about the creation of some of our favorite images.

February, 2011

"Snow Geese Flight Pattern" -Lloyd Bever

How itís done:


The English first attested to use of the tripod in the early 17th century, the word coming from the Latin "tripodis" which is the Romanization of the Greek tripous meaning three-footed. Cultural uses have included the use of tripods as ornaments, trophies, sacrificial altars, cooking vessels or cauldrons, and decorative ceramic pottery. Young George Washington used a surveyor's tripod in his work as is done today. Wartime activities include the use of the tripod for stabilizing machine guns. Many other uses come to mind such as supporting television antennae, etc.

Photographically, tripods are used for both motion and still photography. They are necessary when slow-speed exposures are being made, or when telephoto lenses that are big and heavy are being used, as any camera movement, while the shutter is open, will produce a blurred image. In the same vein, they reduce camera shake, and thus are instrumental in achieving maximum sharpness. A tripod is also helpful in achieving precise framing of the image, or when more than one image is being made of the same scene, for example, when bracketing the exposure for High Dynamic Range photography or when creating panoramas. Use of a tripod almost always contributes to a more thoughtful approach to one's photography and invariably leads to a better image. Don't count on image stabilization, either in the camera or the lens to solve all your sharpness problems, even though 2 to 4 stops can be gained for depth of field, etc. It is true, one can't photograph as quickly, but I feel a few excellent pictures is far better than dozens of blurred images.

Existing brands include Benro, Gitzo, Induro, Manfrotto, Slik, etc. I prefer the Gitzo brand, particularly their carbon-fiber tripods which are lighter to carry around than units with metal legs. Other items that are essential are quick-release plates, ball-heads that include a built in level, and Wimberley Heads. For in-flight pictures, particularly of birds, I am sold on The Wimberley heads that are very stable and permit following flight patterns.

Wimberley Head

The Birdie

Getting The Picture Archives

"Patriotism," Tom Frazier

"Baby Blue Eyes," Robert Dayton

"Stark Existence," Jim Cunningham

"The Old Barn" -Carlene Cunningham

"Dance" -Sam Shaw