Tripod or No Tripod?

In this article, I want to discuss the question: tripod or no tripod?  Should I use a tripod for photography?  The above picture is what happens when you don’t use a tripod on a long exposure.

“A photograph can be an instant of life captured for eternity that will never cease looking back at you.”
– Brigitte Bardot

Tripods are a three legged stand that you can attach your camera to, so it stays put on the tripod.  They are very useful for a range of photography and video situations.  I’ve done several Youtube videos that wouldn’t have been possible without a tripod, because they stray from my usual camera setup, but I rarely use the tripod for photography.  Should I use my tripod more?  It got me thinking about when is an appropriate situation to use a tripod, and when they’re just a faff.  Here I want to share my thoughts about when it’s a good idea to use a tripod, and when it’s better to not bother.  Add your own thoughts in the comments!

Pro’s of using a tripod:

1. They steady the camera.
If getting those horizontal and vertical lines is a challenge for you, then the spirit level on your tripod can be a fantastic tool, because you can just adjust the legs until you get a perfectly level picture.  A lot of lenses these days have image stabilization but nothing beats a good tripod.  I’ve said it before, but if you know how to take a good picture first time, it saves a lot of lost opportunities.
2. Your hands don’t get tired.
Holding a camera in an awkward position while you wait for the subject to get arranged can really tire your hands out – and hand shake is the enemy of a good picture.
3. Essential for longer exposures e.g. astrophotography.
You literally cannot hold a camera still enough to get 30 second photos of space, unless you don’t have a heartbeat.
4. You can spend more time setting up the shot to make sure it’s perfect.
If your camera has a movable viewfinder, you can leave the camera in place and check whether everything you’ve arranged is in-shot.
5. You can learn how to compose the perfect shot.
This will probably improve the quality of your future pictures.  Pictures taken with tripods tend to come out either very static or very dynamic.  There’s no way to really compose the perfect dynamic shot (e.g. sports pictures) because the subject is generally moving independently of the photographer’s control, but for static shots, having a tripod can help you practise framing and using different focus techniques (for example) on the exact same shot to see what works and what doesn’t.
6. You can use the 10 second (or longer) self timer
This enables people to take pictures, and get a good shot without needing anyone to hold the camera, e.g. for family portraits.

Con’s of using a tripod:

1. They add weight to your setup.  Especially the ones that extend enough for you to stand up straight whilst using them – when you add a dolly (wheels) you’re looking at even more weight, and soon you’re going to need a trolley to cart it all around.  There’s a reason cameramen tend to have very strong arms!
2. They add money to your photography expenses.  Granted, you can pick up a tripod for pretty cheap on Amazon, but it’s still another thing to pay for, on top of all the other things you’ve already paid for, and some people simply don’t have the money for a tripod.
3. The ones for outdoor shots tend to be bulky.  The flimsy cheap ones can blow over easily (or get knocked over) if you’re not careful because they’re too top-heavy; would you risk a $1000 (often significantly more) camera and lens combo on a $20 badly made tripod?
4. You can get lazy in your composition
This comes from not snapping pictures whilst holding the camera, and it can lead to poorer quality pictures without the tripod.  Some pro-tripod people don’t even believe it’s possible to get good pictures without using a tripod!

Conclusion:

I have just one tripod, a medium sized one of moderately good build, but I think there’s a time and a place for using it – I generally use it in my house or for astrophotography, as I said.  When it warms up, I’ll start using it for infrared photography as well.  I’ve never taken it up a mountain with me and I’m not sure I ever would (although who knows what the future holds).  I’d like to play around with it more, but the weight is off putting because my camera setup is already fairly hefty.

What do you think?  When do you use your tripod?  Are there any times when you would say it’s essential?

Fantasy Dragon Scale Wedding Armor For the Groom

Have you ever dreamed about getting married in a fantasy armor that you could wear again and again to LARP or comicon for many years to come? Ever wanted to make your own leather (or faux leather) dragon scale mail to really stand out in your wedding photos? Bored of suits and ties, cravats and cummerbunds? Looking for inspiration in a world where women are vibrant peacocks and men’s attire is designed to be as prominent as the tableware?
My future husband decided to design and make a leather suit of armor to wear to our wedding.  Photos are at the bottom of this article.

He was still making it on the day of the wedding.
One word of advice to any brides whose intended decides to make his own wedding outfit: Shut him in a room with his project about two months before the big day and don’t let him out till he finishes it. Nobody needs the kind of stress on the morning of their wedding that comes from hearing the words “I just need to finish the shoes.”

He made his outfit out of fake recycled leather pieces** that had a backing which looked a bit like cardboard. He cut out every single scale separately in oval shapes that were all the same size, that he cut out with a craft knife and sponged very lightly with silver acrylic paint to give them a dragon scale glow. He then riveted them together onto a cotton shirt for an anti-chafe backing, using metal rivets, and set it all off with a belt with a dragon design on it, and he made a pair of boots made from the same material, using a pair of flip flops for insulating the soles. Underneath, he wore one of his pairs of suit trousers.

**I was adamant that no cows or other animals be harmed for our wedding but when this recycled leather arrived, I decided to compromise on it, because it had already been someone’s sofa or coat, or something else, and was reformed and reconstituted and held together with a polyvinyl derived glue which all meant that nothing died for this to happen.  Even though it wasn’t to the letter what I had expected when he told me his plans, it was at least in the same ballpark, and my husband eats meat so I decided he had really thought this through.  He had looked extensively at PVC, and realised it wouldn’t give the same rigidity and would make the whole garment a waste of effort since he would not be able to wear it regularly to go to LARP where it would get subjected to all sorts of things that I don’t know about because I don’t LARP.  Throwing a useless worn-once PVC wedding outfit on a landfill would probably harm more animals than using recycled leather that would be kept until it fell to pieces, so I reluctantly agreed this was ok.

I haven't cut his face off to be mean - he has asked to not show his face on the internet as he works in a job where he doesn't want people seeing him on the internet, which is also why I don't refer to him by name.
I haven’t cut his face off to be mean – he has asked to not show his face on the internet as he works in a job where he doesn’t want people seeing him on the internet, which is also why I don’t refer to him by name.
Here's a full length look at the whole outfit.
Here’s a full length look at the whole outfit.
Here's a look at the buckles and shoulder pad detailing
Here’s a look at the buckles and shoulder pad detailing
Here's the detailing in black and white and colour so you can see the silver patina which didn't come out too brightly in the photos but looked fantastic in real life.
Here’s the detailing in black and white and colour so you can see the silver patina which didn’t come out too brightly in the photos but looked fantastic in real life.

Click on any of the pictures to enlarge to their original size.

Wedding Wednesday: The Dress

This post contains affiliate links.  This does not affect your browsing experience, cost, etc of things at the other end of said links in any way.  I’ve been getting really annoyed lately at the amount of people who don’t disclose this, so now if I see a link in someone’s blog to a shopping site, I have to assume it’s an affiliate link unless they’re upfront about it in their linked posts and about page.

The dress was one of the first and last things I found. It was the first, I bought it for £12.99 and it arrived 18 months before our wedding – before we even had a date. It was beautiful, and everything about it seemed perfect except… it was too short in the body. It was a jumpsuit comprising of 2 parts, an opaque figure hugging inside in white sequin and a see-through outer part in floaty white. It was beautiful. But the opaque inner was too short on the body meaning either my booty could fit in or my boobs could, but not both at the same time. This was super unfortunate and I thought I could fix it with some straps and some extra trim around the bottom but I made about 10 modifications to it and it still didn’t fit my height, so I gave up with three months to go before the wedding.  I will do something with it at some point I’m just still deciding.

I then had a series of dresses that didn’t turn up, didn’t look remotely like the picture, weren’t designed to fit actual people; one even got cancelled on Ebay after bidding had ended because it hadn’t sold for enough (they hadn’t put a reserve on, they just cancelled the bid and refunded my payment that I sent straight after the listing ended.  They even emailed and told me they’d sold it elsewhere. Disgraceful)… In the end, the dress was the last thing I bought; with two weeks to go, I bought a £10 white satin dress on Ebay that was completely perfect, and it arrived a week before the big day.  It was an ex-Debenhams either overstock or factory second, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with it and it fitted perfectly.  It was satiny fabric but it was actually 100% polyester, and the satiny layer was overlaid with that fine meshed plain lace that the veil is also made of, all made of polyester which is made from three chemicals which are petroleum byproducts (as is plastic, because as I’ve discussed somewhere before, chemicals aren’t made from nothing they’re all made from the natural resources on our planet):

My £10 wedding dress, on my actual wedding day.  That's about $16.
The Dress
A full length candid shot of the dress during movement.
A full length candid shot of the dress during movement.  Not the best photo of me but a good pic of the dress.

My veil cost £2.50 and came from China.  I advise you to read listings carefully to check exactly what you’re getting – some veils don’t come with a comb, for example, so are just a big square of filmy fabric.  Mine came with a comb and it said freshwater pearls but I knew they would be at the very best made of glass, and were actually made of plastic, which was perfect because pearls are an animal slaughter byproduct.

My shoes were a story in and of themselves that I’ll come to on the actual day.  These were the ones I bought for the wedding:

Silver jelly shoes currently going for about £7 ($10) here: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/D14-Summer-Ladys-Mary-Jane-Jelly-Hollow-Shoes-Breathable-Crystal-Sandals-UK-/141563283137?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&var=&hash=item20f5d446c1  But there are plenty of other sellers for these if you use similar search terms such as
Silver jelly shoes currently going for about £7 ($10) here: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/D14-Summer-Ladys-Mary-Jane-Jelly-Hollow-Shoes-Breathable-Crystal-Sandals-UK-/141563283137?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&var=&hash=item20f5d446c1 But there are plenty of other sellers for these if you use similar search terms such as “ladies jelly sandals wedges” it just takes some looking to get the right one in a good size.

I made my own jewellery using crackle Glass Beads and plastic glow in the darkpony beads and semi-precious beads and elastic and nylon wire from Amazon.  I started making the jewellery about 4 months before the wedding and found that it was a good de-stress project during the planning stages.

I accessorized with a unicorn bag that I’ve had for ever and a broccoli bouquet because I don’t like the idea of wasteful flower bouquets and broccoli could be eaten by the rabbits later in the day.  Broccoli was 49p at Morrissons, we took our time to choose a really nice symmetrical one the day before the wedding. It made for some damn good photos, and we spent absolutely nothing on flowers which was amazeballs because I felt like the cost of floristry was going to be mandatory wedding robbery when I don’t like large quantities of flowers that aren’t growing somewhere.

One thing I hated about dress shopping was that there’s this expectation that you are an inadequate human being if you don’t spend hundreds or thousands of pounds on a dress.  In all the wedding planning sites I looked at, I was shocked that there was an assumption that the dress would be up to 1/3 of the budget (excluding honeymoon).  Unless your wedding only contains three items – your dress, his suit and a priest (no rings, no indoor space to get married in, no food, no invites etc) – it’s a little disproportionate.
You don’t even need to spend £50 to get a decent dress that will look really nice on the day and in the pictures afterwards.  It doesn’t need special stitching or whatever because probably you won’t wear it again (even if you think you will), it doesn’t need preserving because it’s only special to you, and it doesn’t need saving for children because they want to choose their own dress.  Just like you did.   Think about those articles that say things like “you can use your mother’s wedding dress by cutting it into pieces and wrapping the bouquet with it” then think whether that’s worth £250 or £2500 to you, for your child to take a pair of scissors to it at some point in the future and use it as a tablecloth or bouquet wrap for their own wedding.  Bear in mind they’re probably only doing it so you don’t feel bad that they don’t want to wear your dress.  Was that worth the effort?  I decided in my case that it was all insane levels of excessive money and object gluttony, and I wanted to start the marriage as I meant to go on.

In the words of Francine Smith’s Chinese Parents:  Wastefulllll.

You wasteful!
Wasteful!

As I kept reading this crap I felt myself straining against it as it tried to suck me in.

Keep yourself safe from being brainwashed by the Wedding Industry, friends.  A minimalist wedding is possible and the bride’s (or brides’ – YAY GAY MARRIAGE) outfit is one of the hardest stages to keep your resolve, particularly if you get hypomanic spending like I do.

Total cost of bride’s outfit including “bouquet”: About £30.  £43 if we’re counting the first one.