Early morning in Snowdonia – with or without a tripod?

Llynnau Mymbyr

Looking towards the Snowdon Horseshoe from Llynnau Mymbyr, near Plas y Brenin 


This is one of those iconic photographic locations where many tripods have stood, with cameras perched and the photographer waiting for the right light before releasing the shutter. Checking and rechecking the composition on the back of the camera, moving the tripod a little to the right or to the left, then raising or lowering the height of the legs until all the important elements of the picture fall into place. With many ‘JCBs’ or ‘Joe Cornish Boulders’ to  fill the foreground the permutations are almost limitless.

It may well be a popular location, but as a first time visitor to Snowdonia it had to be taken. However my set up is rather different to the one described above. Put simply I prefer not to use a tripod. I have observed many photographers using this piece of equipment which is considered by many to be essential to landscape photography. It’s often extended to eye level so that they can stand comfortably. Nothing wrong with that but might a lower viewpoint be more interesting? I like to move around with the camera in my hand, spontaneously reacting to what I see through the viewfinder. No live view for me on the back of my Leica Monochrom. I enjoy this freedom of movement, working a location, without a heavy tripod and its head to inhibit me. I can easily crouch or even lie down on the ground to get the picture I want.

I know some will say a tripod slows you down, makes you stop and think about what you are doing, but this just isn’t my style.  I like to change the composition of a shot by moving my body around, whilst adjusting the position of my feet and hands, until I see the picture that works for me. Perhaps I am lazy or just too impatient to take the shot and move on, but I can cover a lot more ground without a tripod. If you use one on a regular basis, can I suggest you leave it in the boot of your car one day and see what a difference it makes – you may find it quite liberating – I know I do!



12 Responses to “Early morning in Snowdonia – with or without a tripod?”

  1. smackedpentax

    Fantastic shot. I agree with you re tripods – I find them very restrictive. I have been taking photos for 45 years and have never ever used a tripod. I don’t even thing I own one come to think of it!


    • alan frost

      Thanks James… Good to hear from another excellent landscape photographer who prefers not to be restricted by a tripod. I do own one but since switching to a rangefinder it stays at home.


      • smackedpentax

        A rolled up sock or a beanie hat on a wall is all you need for those low light or slow shutter speed shots 😏


  2. Vicki

    I agree.
    Of all the times I’ve taken a tripod out on one of my walks, I always have had to take a bag on wheels to carry the thing (lower back pain), so invariably leave it at home nowadays.
    Is the focus in my photos sharp? Probably not, but I still like the ease of moving around all over the place trying out different angles and enjoy the freedom of spontaneous shots when I see something interesting.
    Half the pleasure is in the walk outdoors communing with nature, not unfolding and refolding a tripod.

    But then……I’m not earning my living with Photography 🙂


    • alan frost

      Hi Vicki. Couldn’t agree more with your sentiments. Being able to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings is all part of the ‘photographic’ pleasure. I don’t earn a living from photography (fortunately) … for me it’s all about the taking and the sharing. Any money made from the odd print I might sell is a bonus.


    • alan frost

      Don’t let me put you off. I have a tripod and I did use it regularly for a while, but the switch to a rangefinder has made the tripod redundant. It has changed the way I work which suits me, but may not be for everybody. We are all different and need to find out what works best and this sometimes has to be through trial and error. If you want critical focus and maximum depth of field (f16 or f22) then a tripod is a must. Long exposures are not really my thing but without a tripod they are impossible.



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