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The history of the camera tripod


Growing up and being around cameras from an early age with my dad being a wedding photographer and videographer in South Wales I was surrounded by camera equipment. My earliest memory is of seeing a three legged thing on the landing in the middle of the night aged 5 and thinking there had been invaders from Mars!


I soon was told what it was and that photography tripods have been around since the dawn of photography, and their importance has only grown over the years. The tripod has been an essential tool for photographers, allowing them to capture stable and sharp images even in low light conditions. With the advancements in camera technology and the rise of videography, tripods have become even more critical in capturing high-quality photos and videos.


You'll be surprised to know that the earliest photography tripods were not designed specifically for photography. In fact, they were adapted from surveying equipment !! which was used to measure land and create maps!


These early tripods were made of wood and metal, and they had to be sturdy enough to support the heavy surveying equipment. Photographers quickly realised that these tripods could also be used to hold their cameras steady, and they began to adapt them for photography. The first photography tripods were simple and rudimentary, but they got the job done. They were typically made of wood or metal, and they had a simple screw mechanism to attach the camera. However, as photography became more popular, photographers began to demand more from their tripods.


One of the biggest advancements in photography tripods came with the introduction of the ball head. The ball head allowed photographers too quickly and easily adjust the angle of the camera without having to adjust the legs of the tripod. This made it much easier to frame shots and capture the perfect image. The first ball head was introduced in the 1930s, and it quickly became a standard feature on most photography tripods.


As cameras became lighter and more portable, photographers began to demand tripods that were lightweight and easy to carry. In response, tripod manufacturers began to experiment with new materials such as aluminium and carbon fibre. These materials were much lighter than wood and metal, making it easier for photographers to carry their tripods with them wherever they went.


In recent years, tripod manufacturers have continued to innovate and improve their products. Many tripods now feature advanced features such as leg locks that can be easily adjusted with one hand, built-in bubble levels, and quick-release plates that allow photographers to quickly and easily attach and detach their cameras from the tripod.


The Rise of the Gimbal martians!


While tripods have been an essential tool for photographers for decades, they are not always the best option for capturing video. In recent years, gimbals have become increasingly popular among videographers. A gimbal is a device that allows a camera to be stabilised while it is being moved. It looks and feels robotic and completely alien. I often get asked at weddings what this thing is that i'm carrying!! But gimbals are particularly important for wedding videography, where the videographer needs to be able to move quickly and capture smooth, stable footage.


Gimbals work by using a series of motors and sensors to detect the movement of the camera and counteract it. This allows the camera to remain stable even when the person holding it is moving. Gimbals are particularly useful for wedding videography, where the videographer needs to be able to move quickly and capture smooth footage without disturbing the flow of the event.


The Importance of Gimbals in Wedding Videography


Wedding videography is one of the most demanding forms of videography. The videographer needs to be able to capture every important moment of the event while remaining unobtrusive and not disrupting the flow of the ceremony. Gimbals are essential tools for wedding videographers because they allow them to capture smooth, stable footage while moving around the event. Gimbals are particularly useful for capturing important moments such as the first dance, the cutting of the cake, confetti shot and the tossing of the bouquet. These are all moments that require the videographer to move around quickly and capture footage from different angles.

In landscape photography, a tripod ensures that the camera remains stable, preventing blur caused by camera shake or wind. It also allows for longer exposure times, which can be useful for capturing a wider dynamic range or creating intentional blur effects such as motion blur in waterfalls or clouds.In astro photography, a tripod is even more crucial. Because of the long exposure times required to capture the night sky, any movement of the camera will result in blurry and unusable images.


A sturdy tripod will ensure that the camera stays completely still throughout the exposure, resulting in tack-sharp images of stars, the Milky Way, or even the Northern Lights. Additionally, a tripod allows photographers to capture multiple exposures of the same scene and blend them together later in post-processing to create stunning composite images.Another advantage of using a tripod is that it allows photographers to take their time and carefully compose their shots. With the camera securely mounted, photographers can experiment with different angles, perspectives, and framing, knowing that the camera will remain in place. This is particularly useful in landscape photography, where small adjustments to the camera angle or composition can make a big difference in the final image.


Overall, a tripod is an essential tool for any photographer looking to capture sharp, well-composed images, particularly in landscape and astro photography where stability and precision are crucial. Investing in a high-quality tripod is one of the best decisions a photographer can make, as it will not only improve the technical quality of their images but also give them greater creative control and freedom.