When to Use a Tripod and When to Skip Out

I can hear everyone yelling, "You always use a tripod in landscape photography"! But that's not always the case.

Rainbow Panorama
(Photo credit Joshua Moore)

Some of my favorite landscape photographs I have taken were handheld. I took a six-frame panoramic shot of a full rainbow handheld. I focused on my subject, switched it off autofocus, and clicked away. Later I stitched them together in Lightroom. It is a very crisp image. If the light is right, you do not always need a tripod, which is a good thing. Maybe you wanted to go on a hike along the grassy balds of the Roan Highlands, but you don't want a heavy pack, you want to keep it very simple. Don't be afraid to leave behind the tripod; just trust in your settings (aperture, shutter speed & ISO).

So smart guy, when would you use a tripod? For waterfalls, nightscapes, thunderstorms, or even that hike along the grassy balds. You can always use your tripod in landscape photography, and yes, it is preferred. However, you don't always have too. That's the point I am trying to get across. There are instances in which you can ditch the tripod and save on weight and setup. It's very freeing to walk about and not have to mess with the tripod to get the framing exactly how you want it. You can be more creative as well, no restrictions are holding you back, and for those who say you can't photograph during the day, I say BS. A good photograph can happen at any given moment, at any point of the day. Many people are afraid of harsh light, but if you choose the correct subject matter, you can come away with some competing images many people pass on. Don't be afraid to "break the rules'; it's that very instinct that will separate you from everyone else.