One of the pitfalls many beginner tripod users make is allowing the tripod to dictate the composition of their shots. It is easy to fall into the habit of filming subjects with a tripod straight-on, with no differences in composition from one shot to the next. Whether you're filming video or only taking photos, your work can benefit from these creative tips!
The rubber band trick
If you have a lower quality tripod, achieving seamless panning sequences might be a challenge. An easy fix is as simple as a rubber band. Slide the band around the handle of the tripod, and use one hand to gently pull it any direction. This will create a seamless shot without any shaking or jarring stops. You can use this method for both panning and tilting.
Think of your tripod as a Steadicam
Steadicams are devices filmmakers use to hold the camera steady while it's moving.1 These can be pricey and are usually only found on professional film sets. Luckily, your tripod will work just as well! Simply extend all the legs on your tripod, securing them in place. Now, hold the tripod close to your body and walk carefully as you film. For even more stability, flip the tripod upside down. Gravity will help keep the camera steady; just be sure to flip the perspective when you're editing. These upside-down shots are particularly useful for perspectives close to the ground.
Keeping things in focus
While moving, it can be hard to keep the desired objects in focus. To fix this, simply focus on the objects before beginning the movement. As you move, your camera will automatically search out the prior object, because it is the only thing in focus. If you are going to film yourself in front of the camera, then focus your camera on an object that will be where you are standing. You can have a friend stand in for you, or even use a large stuffed animal!
To achieve an image from above, simply lift the tripod above your head. Be sure to hold it close to your body for stability. Also, as mentioned before, set your focus beforehand to ensure a clear shot. The camera can be lifted to waist height or even higher for an unusual perspective. This method works best when auto features are enabled on your camera.
Use as a crane
A tripod can also be used as a crane. Simply prop the tripod on one leg and maneuver it forward or backward to replicate the movement of a professional crane. This is especially useful for video, but can also be good for capturing unique photo angles. When shooting film, remember to focus the camera before beginning any movement to ensure maximum quality.
These tips offer creative ways to use your camera skills! Don't be afraid to play around with your tripod to determine the ways that work best for your projects and ideas. You don't need an expensive tripod to get quality results.