It’s advice we hear repeated often, “pro’s get great results because they almost always use a tripod”. For the most part this is good advice but sometimes it can work against you. Moose Peterson is a big advocate of taking the camera off the tripod to help you make small adjustments to the composition more easily, but I would even go one step further. I would say that sometimes you’ll miss the best shot because you’re married to your tripod and locked into its restrictions. This shot of the Walt Disney Concert Hall is a prime example of such an occurrence. I wandered around the building for nearly 45 minutes taking shot after shot on the tripod, some were quite good, but not as interesting as the aforementioned shot. Finally a security guard came out and said that tripod use is not allowed thus forcing me to go handheld. Frustrated, I upped my ISO to handhold in the low early morning light and wandered around. With the freedom of mobility I got myself close to various walls, experimented with tilts and then came across this fantastic railing that normally would be off limits for tripods. I set the camera on the railing and fired off a series of shots. In the end these proved to be the best shots of the day, all because I gained the freedom to place my camera wherever I wanted.

Using a tripod is certainly a good idea in most cases but the lesson is that after you take the tripod shots, go handheld and do another walk around. The tripod tends to narrow your mind into a certain type of composition and camera placement and could lead to missed opportunities.

As a side note, for those that are interested in more information on this photo, here are some details: It’s 3 exposures blended together into an HDR, then processed in Photoshop and Color Efex Pro 4. Given that I couldn’t get a tripod onto the railing, the sky had to be shot separately with the tripod on the ground and blended into the final image. The B&W conversion was done with a simple B&W filter in Photoshop.