A tripod comes in useful for all sorts of shots. If you haven't got one already, here are seven reasons why it should be top of your list...

REASON 1

If you get the chance to photograph waves and waterfalls, you’ll be missing a trick if you don’t pack a tripod. By shooting with a long exposure time, you can get atmospheric shots like this one, where the water becomes silky soft and the scene takes on a mystical quality. The shutter speed you want will depend on how fast the water is running. With so much light, you’ll need an ND filter on the front of your lens to get a shot at 25 seconds (as this was).

Do it right, get the gear

When you’re carrying your tripod around, size and weight matter. The smaller your tripod, the easier it will be to throw in a bag; the lighter it is, the more likely you are to take it out. Yet it still needs to be sturdy enough to keep everything steady, even in wind. The Equinox Leo Tripod from 3 Legged Thing weighs just 800g, folds down to a mere 34mm and reaches 97cm, while holding a whopping 30kg weight. It won’t move a whisker unless you want it to. The standout design won’t go unnoticed, either.

You’ll also want…

• An ND filter. If it’s your first, an ND8 is a great place to start.

• A remote trigger

Image shot by Nathan Anderson, ƒ/8, 25 seconds, ISO 100

 

REASON 2

Long exposure works well at night – you don’t have to worry about adding an ND filter because you can usually control your shutter speed well enough using your ISO and aperture settings. This shot took 20 seconds – long enough for someone to spell out the word ‘LONDON’ with a torch. On the third attempt, it all came together.

Do it right, get the gear

Light-painting requires the shutter to be open for a long time, so you need a stable tripod. This shot was taken on the banks of the Thames. You need something that’s up to the job, but you don’t have to spend a fortune. The Manfrotto Compact Advanced Aluminium Tripod with Ball Head is not only great value for money, it’ll give solid results provided your camera and lens weigh less than 3kg. Take a look at Jessops’ exclusive offer.

You’ll also want…

• A remote trigger

Image shot by Mark Higham, ƒ/14, 20 seconds, ISO 125 
(Instagram: @mhigham.photos)

 

REASON 3

Ever thought about close-ups like this? Known as macro photography, it reveals tiny details that our eyes never normally notice. With macro photography, the closer you get to your subject, the more depth of field becomes an issue. Because of the pin-sharp precision required, it’s impossible without a tripod. This extreme close-up of the head of a fly was taken by Thomas Shahan, who specialises in macro insect photography. To get this close, he reverses a manual lens, using a converter ring. For more of Thomas’ insect photography, visit thomasshahan.com.

Discover more about macro photography in our blog and with Jessops Academy courses  (we even provide exotic models).

Do it right, get the gear

For macro photography, you won’t be lugging your tripod up mountains, so an aluminium tripod is fine. A remote shutter trigger will make life a whole lot easier. If you’re serious about macro, you’ll want to look at getting a macro lens. For close-ups like this, take a look at extenders and lens magnifiers for even greater detail.

The Manfrotto Elements Tripod Big Black with Ball Head is a versatile number for any occasion. With a minimum height of 41cm and a maximum of 164cm, you’ve got the range to shoot high or low. It even comes with a detachable leg that doubles up as a full-sized monopod. 

You’ll also want…

• A remote trigger

• A macro lens

 

REASON 4

This shot of two London tube trains passing each other at Clapham Common Underground station would have been impossible without a tripod – the trains weren’t even in the station at the same time. With a small tripod set up on a bench, the first train was snapped as it came in; a few minutes later, the next train was caught arriving at the opposite platform. If your camera can shoot multiple exposures, it’s possible to do all this in a single frame. 

Do it right, get the gear

This shot took 15 minutes to set up, trying to find the right bench, rotating the camera and firing off test shots until the angle was right. Being able to make small adjustments quickly and easily makes all the difference, which is why a three-way head was used here. The Manfrotto 190go! M series high-performance aluminium tripod is the lightest, most compact solution in the 190 range, and has a fast locking mechanism so you can set it up in seconds. Even better, Jessops’ exclusive offer includes a free three-way head to save valuable time: 

You’ll also want…

• A remote trigger

• If you have a tripod already, consider a 3-way tripod head for ultimate control. Use its three knobs to control each axis your camera sits on, and you can achieve millimetre perfection. Check out the Manfrotto XPRO 3-Way Head.

Image shot by Mark Higham, ƒ/7.1, 0.5 seconds, ISO 100 
(Instagram: @mhigham.photos)

 

REASON 5

High speed flash photography gets you shots like this, but believe it or not, you need a slow shutter speed to shoot them, which is why a tripod is crucial. For more on shooting this kind of imagery, take a look at our Jessops Speedlight courses, where we explain how to get super-fast shots like this using slow shutter speeds. It’s easier than you think. 

Do it right, get the gear

The Manfrotto 190go! M series high-performance aluminium tripod is the lightest, most compact solution in the 190 range, and has a fast locking mechanism so you can set it up in seconds. 

You’ll also want…

• A remote trigger

• Speedlights – these are the heart of the operation, so the faster the better.

• An aquarium to shoot through

Image shot by Mark Higham, ƒ/32, 1/90 seconds, ISO 100 
(Instagram: @mhigham.photos)

 

REASON 6

For dreamy shots of fireworks, where the trails of light look even better than you remembered, long exposure is the way to go. For help with shooting fireworks, take a look at our blog.

Do it right, get the gear

Finding the right spot to get a shot like this can mean trying lots of different angles. If you have the budget, the fully carbon 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Tripod with Airhed Neo weighs just 1.2kg and expands to 164cm. It’s easy and quick to open, and can also be adapted into a monopod.

You’ll also want…

• A remote trigger

Shot by Ray Hennessy, f/14, 4 seconds, ISO 200

 

REASON 7

Shot at the iconic Victorian bandstand on London's Clapham Common, this image was created by igniting wire wool and spinning it at high speed with a drill (using a couple of whisks to hold the wool). For this shot I found a friend prepared to stand still for 8s while being hit in the back with molton steel. Passers-by gave us a round-of-applause when we finished the sparks but until you see the final long-exposure shot, it’s impossible to appreciate how well it looks.

Do it right, get the gear

Finding an angle that works is always the aim but keep a close eye on what’s going on in the background, too. With this shot, there was a burger van in the far distance with blue lights on its canopy. Removing them from the right of this shot proved challenging. A good tripod head can make it easier to find the angle you want and then tweak it to get precisely the composition you’re after.

You’ll also want…

• A remote trigger

• A UV protector filter Don’t even attempt this shot without one – the sparks of wire wool can leave scratches in glass

Image shot by Mark Higham, ƒ/9, 8seconds, ISO 100 
(Instagram: @mhigham.photos)

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