Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Photography

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Making ‘em Work for You

The tripod is this silent miracle tool to wildlife photographers when used to its fullest. There is actually more to getting stability than simply shelling out the bucks. Let’s start with setup.

When you extend the legs of your tripod, I highly recommend you extend the last leg—the leg that hits the ground—to its fullest, so it takes all the abuse of the terrain. Mud, snow, sand, and everything else we set our tripod in, can take a toll on the leg joints. Contrary to logic, you’re not forsaking the stability of the tripod by putting the skinniest leg to its fullest. You are guaranteeing that when you need it, the tripod is working.

Setting the length of the rest of the tripod legs can be done many different ways based on your height, the height of the tripod head, and the number of leg sections on the tripod. I would suggest that you get a tripod that is 6–8″ taller than you are, so the uppermost leg section doesn’t have to be extended for general shooting. Setting up the tripod in this way, when you need a longer leg(s) for working on a slope or uneven surface, you can quickly and easily extend this leg(s). Being the beefiest, you have the greatest amount of stability as you reach the tripod’s limit, and at the same time, limit your movement extending the leg, which might scare the subject.

When you set the tripod down, make sure it has as stable a platform as possible. If there are any little rocks around, wiggle the tripod so it settles onto solid ground and not on the little rocks. This needs to be done every time you put the tripod down, no matter the size of the tripod or the ground you’re setting up on. Shaking the tripod leg is a good habit you need to establish.

Again, we often find ourselves shooting in mud, snow, and the stuff you find in marshes. These surfaces have an inherent surface tension, enough of one that despite the weight of our gear, it rides on top of this stuff. This is not a stable platform the majority of the time. So, every time you set up your tripod, along with giving it a wiggle, you’ll want to push the leading leg down into the muck. The leading tripod leg is the one that normally is directly under the front of the lens barrel. By doing this, you break the surface tension and provide the tripod with a maximum stable platform.

The last thing to think about when putting your tripod down is to put it down so you’re shooting between two of the tripod legs. You don’t want to be straddling a tripod leg when you’re shooting. Set up everything so you’re ready for action, even if you’re photographing a rock (you never know what might pop up from behind it), and so you can move left and right as you pan. Personally, I take this to the extreme and, when a subject moves from its original position, I will pick up the tripod and reset it, so I am basically standing in the middle of two legs all the time. There is nothing worse than having a killer subject move in such a way that you get all twisted up in a tripod leg, either kicking the tripod or doing a dance, causing the loss of a sweet image.

Walking with the tripod in the field is just something that doesn’t come naturally. There are many ways you can do it, but I can only relate the style I use. The vast majority of the time, when the 600mm VR is attached to the 5560 and I’m off for a walk, it rides over my left shoulder. Prior to hoisting it up, I make sure everything is secure. That’s because once I didn’t, and I saw out of the corner of my eye the 800mm f/5.6 and brand new Nikon F4 come off the tripod and hit the ground. So, when I first connect the 600mm VR to the Wimberley, I shake the lens to double-check it is locked into the clamp of the Wimberley. Then, when I go to carry the whole rig over my shoulder, I lock down tight the horizontal and vertical pan of the Wimberley. This is so the 600mm VR doesn’t swing and smack me in the back of the head (a gentle re-minder to lock down the knobs). With the front element pointing toward the ground and the body up in the air, the rig is balanced, so it can ride on one leg on my left shoulder. Now my shoulder has a permanent dent in it from all the years of doing this, which helps. But at least that is how I can walk for miles with this rig ready to shoot (I’ve done that on more than one occasion).

I don’t walk with all my gear in a photopack on my back and my tripod in hand, because if I come upon wildlife, getting it all set up and not scaring off the subject just isn’t possible the majority of the time. It’s all set up as described, which makes it a rather large “thing” walking toward a subject. So, when it comes time to put the tripod down to shoot the subject in front of you, you want to lower it slowly and deliberately. I tend to bend at the knees until one tripod leg is on the ground and then lift the rest of the tripod off the shoulder and set it up. We want to approach every subject as if they are shy until we know otherwise. This method, I have found, keeps our profile to a minimum while working with these tools.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020