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Six Reasons For Using A Tripod For Macro Work - Here are six reasons why you should take a tripod out with you next time you plan on shooting macro work.
StabilityCamera shake is more noticeable when working close to your subject so the use of a tripod's recommended. To minimise movement further, use your camera's self-timer or use a remote release so you're not actually touching the camera when the exposure begins.
Low Angles And Awkward SpotsNot all macro subjects are in places which are easy to reach so use a tripod with a centre column that can be moved to a horizontal position or even turned the opposite way around, such as the Alta Pro range from Vanguard, as they make it easier to get into tight spots. It also helps if your tripod can get low to the ground. You can use various tripod heads but a ball head, such as those found in Vanguard's BBH range, can be more flexible than other models as their range of movement means more camera positions can be achieved. They can take some getting used to so do have a play around with one at home before heading out into the field.
A tripod, bean bag or what ever support you're using will become even more important when you start using longer shutter speeds as if you try hand-holding the shots, you'll probably find shake has caused blur to appear.
Longer Shutter Speeds
Composing Your ShotsHaving a tripod with you when out shooting means you can get your framing right then make adjustments to white balance, aperture, shutter speed etc. without the camera's position changing.
To increase your chances of capturing a subject that moves quickly and doesn't hang around for long, try pre-focusing on the spot where you expect your subject to land. The reason you need a tripod for this is that even the smallest of nudges can change the focus and it also keeps your hands free for making minor adjustments (if needed) to the lens so you can reach your required focal plane once your subject is in frame.
Focus StackingAs John Gravett explained in a previous tutorial, this technique is excellent for any static macro subjects. It's not recommended for use on live subjects such as insects as these tend to move. For the technique to work you need to use editing software to combine several shots, where the focus is set at different points in each image, to effectively extend the depth of field of one shot. A tripod's needed as all the pictures need to line up perfectly for the technique to work successfully.
For more information on Focus Stacking, take a look at John Gravett's article: Focus Stacking Images In Photoshop
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