Open

by damned truths

submit your photo


Hall of Fame
View past winners from this year

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Take the 2-minute tour ×
Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The site already has a good example of what to consider in regards to camera and lenses around sand, but I specifically am wondering what considerations to make when using a tripod near sand. Many years ago I took a cheap tripod with lever style legs, and sand really wrecked the entire tripod. I am hoping this time to avoid that issue. Is there a style of tripod that might be better, and how can I use it in such a way to limit any long term damage?

I don't have any specific shots in mind, just likely some long exposure night shots of the beach resort, and I might get it out in the day time for some self portraits.

share|improve this question
29  
My reaction to the title was: Oh, don't worry about it... the wind will blow the sand back into the holes, and the beach will be fine before you know it. –  coneslayer Feb 14 '12 at 3:22

7 Answers 7

up vote 16 down vote accepted

In addition to @Itai's answer, I'd like to add, if you don't want to spend 1200$ on a tripod just to protect it from sands, you can use a little care, or on extreme situations, alternative DIY methods.

I also wrecked a tripod (not totally wrecked, but the sands kind of jammed the levers on the legs) by using it near a beach on a windy day. The next time I took some plastic (polythene) bags, cut them into long pieces (3" width) and adhesive tapes to put them around the leg lever joints like bandages. Worked like a charm. The only problem is, once you tape them in, you lose the ability to adjust the tripod height by extending the legs, otherwise this is good enough if you're not planning to go all out beach shooting. Adjust the tripod height before applying the tapes and you're good to go for that day.

And after the shooting, get to a safe place and use a rocket blower to blow off any accidental remaining sand particles near the lever joints just to be on the safe side.

DISCLAIMER: This method doesn't look pretty.

Additional Tips:

  • Accept the fact that a tripod is a tool, it's OK if it gets dirty. Metal tripods will eventually corrode if you expose it to salt water on a regular basis. Get a carbon fiber tripod to prevent corrosion.
  • Make it a practice to always extend the lowest section to keep the joints out of the sand.
  • A broad sand "shoe" is useful in both sand and mud to keep the leg from sinking.
  • If the tripod gets dirty, keep it extended until you can clean it.
  • Any decent quality tripod will take many, many years to corrode to the point it really matters with occasional exposure to sand/salt water. So, open up all the legs, wash and rinse it thoroughly using clean water and wipe it dry before storing it.
share|improve this answer
3  
+1 for extending the lowest section to keep joints out of sand. –  MikeW Feb 14 '12 at 5:02
    
I use duct tape and double plastic bags. This is even more important when shooting in mud. Who wants to bring that back in the car? Just pull the bags off and stuff them in another bag and you're clean again. –  Steve Ross Feb 14 '12 at 19:43

I live at the beach, Provincetown MA to be specific, and my Manfrotto is at the beach all the time. I've never had problems with sand in it. I just bang it against the Jeep's tires to knock the sand off and I'm good to go. I've had it about 18 months now and the silver parts are starting to show some corrosion, but everything still glides smoothly. It looks to me as if the silver metal is stainless steal. I have some stainless steel bolts on my Jeep and they're the same color now.

This is slightly off-topic but don't be afraid to get into the water to get the shot! enter image description here Near the end of this shoot I waded out into the bay until the water was about a foot deep. You get a nice perspective that way and the light on the water is wonderful. (I stopped it way down also, I don't have an ND filter, yet...)


Quick Update: I was at the beach about a week ago. Was about a foot deep in the surf. I rinsed it off when I got home but now, a week later, the salt and grit was really getting annoying. I was able to disassemble the bottom legs and remove the remaining sand/salt. I think my mistake was collapsing the tripod while still dirty, bad idea. So Sridhar Iyer's suggestion is a very good one. My Manfrotto disassembled with only a bit of cursing.

share|improve this answer
1  
and the water was cold, this is a winter shot, very very glad I work my Sorel's that morning and they really are waterproof! –  Paul Cezanne Feb 14 '12 at 12:12
    
What did you do to the colors in that picture? Did it really look like that when you were there? The whole thing looks unnaturally magenta to me, but I wasn't there of course. Is the color ballance right but you cranked up the saturation maybe? I'm just curious. –  Olin Lathrop Jun 2 '12 at 23:39
    
That's pretty much how it looked Olin. I just opened the RAWS in Lightroom. Only change was -24 Clarity. In Photomatix the Color Saturation is only 48. I did bump the Shadows Saturation a bit, just 2.1, and that is just barely noticable. How did I get this? Notice the high thin clouds that are catching the sunrise, they are pink. The water (and the sand) is then catching this pink. Why so much? This is actually common around here. Artists, for decades, have talked about the "Provincetown Light," which I initially scoffed at but have come to believe in. I think it has to do with land... –  Paul Cezanne Jun 3 '12 at 11:34
    
... being almost an island. We are almost completely surrounded by water. I'd guess this means the light bounces back and forth between the water and the clouds, making the magic happen. –  Paul Cezanne Jun 3 '12 at 11:35

The only one that I know of is the Ocean Traveller by Gitzo. Apparently its locks and tightening elements are sealed. According to Gitzo:

The Ocean-Lock is a special version of Gitzo G-Lock, maintaining the same outstanding locking performances. Thanks to two special seals derived form the automation industry, it minimizes the amount of water and debris that may enter tubes and locking mechanisms. The Ocean-Lock is not 100% waterproof, however it dramatically enhances the capacity of the tripod to withstand extreme environments.

Unfortunately, the load capacity is limited to 4kg which is not always enough.

share|improve this answer
1  
This is also my recommendation. I played around with one of these at a local store once. Its really nice, really solid, and you can really tell its sealed. One thing to note is that this sucker is EXPENSIVE (like, I COULD BUY A DAMN NICE LENS FOR THAT MUCH expensive!), and you have to be extremely diligent about maintaining it. Gitzo includes a packet of their grease and sealant, and from what I understand, you have to clean it and keep it properly sealed on a very regular basis. –  jrista Feb 14 '12 at 4:08
    
This is a really good recommendation if one can spend this much $! For that much, I'd rather just buy a second tripod and wreck it when I go to the beach, then replace as necessary. At any rate thanks for this answer. –  dpollitt Jan 15 '13 at 15:54
    
While investigating for my Salar De Uyuni trip I discovered they make even MORE expensive corrosion-proof tripods ($1700 USD). In the end though, putting the legs in well-taped plastic bags (could not find the right size tube) worked. –  Itai Jan 15 '13 at 15:58

Unless you are planning to get a very expensive tripod, find a tripod that can be easily disassembled, cleaned and put back.

I have Bogen 055XPROB legs. They got jammed during one of my trips to the ocean. All it took was philips screwdriver and a cloth (and patience) to get it back in working order.

share|improve this answer

Would you believe three short lengths of PVC or ABS pipe (PVC is not always readily available in large enough diameters for your tripod legs) with end caps? Slip them over the legs of your tripod, et voilà, your tripod has better Wellies than you do.

The same trick works using longer pipe for using a tripod in water. And you can secure the pipe with elastic loops or slit the pipe (make one or two longitudinal cuts) and use something like a hose clamp -- how complex the setup gets is up to you. (You can even epoxy thumbscrews or knobs to the hose clamp's tightening bolt.)

EDIT: I should add that tripods like the Benbo, which have only two leg segments with the larger-diameter tube at the bottom, have this sort of protection built-in. I was rather spoiled by my Benbos. They're heavy and awkward to carry around without a dedicated, padded bag (the padding's for you, not the tripod -- the huge leg and center column lock knobs and the main bolt tightening lever are easy to use when it's cold enough to keep your nitrogen slushy cool, but that comes at a price), and they take a lot of getting used to, but you can't kill 'em with a bazooka. Or with a bucketful of microscopic bazookas. After a lot of excursions I'd pretty much need to rebuild my ball head, but the tripod(s) never needed more than a hosing-down and a quick spritz of WD40 (to get rid of the residual water in the main bent-bolt assembly-- the "WD" in the name stands for "water displacement"). I got rid of the Benbos when I got rid of everything else (turning pro ruined a hobby I loved, so I went "cold turkey" for more than a decade), but if I were physically capable of the hiking/scenic scene now, I wouldn't hesitate to get another Benbo.

share|improve this answer

My dad still uses his wooden tripod. It's heavier then your regular tripod but he's had it for more then 40 years not and the thing is indestructible. It's not a quick setup type tripod but it is very sturdy. It does not have any tubes inside tubes and I suspect you would never have to worry about sand. (Personally I think it's hands down a best looking tripod i've seen) If you have a fancy head you could use it with this tripod and only use it for situations when you are shooting on the beach or want to look awesome.

I am not sure what exact brand he has but I will check and report back. I found a picture of what it roughly looks like on this website. (see below) As you can see sand would not be an issue as you can just loosen the legs and shake it out. Similar tripods (albeit much heavier and bigger) are used for surveying so that alone is a testament of how rugged and stable this design is.

EDIT: As promised, adding images of my dad's tripod. It's 38 years old, white ash, cast iron components. THere is no brand name printed on the tripod but it could be any of the following: NDR, Meopta, or Foma

enter image description here enter image description here

share|improve this answer
1  
I like the little p&s camera on top of that huge tripod :) –  dpollitt Feb 14 '12 at 19:07
    
That's his current camera. He used to have the Yashica Mat-124 G back in the day. –  Jakub Feb 14 '12 at 19:56

I've got a gitzo tripod, and have photographed in the sand and mud quite a few times. I don't typically worry about the sand, but the mud what I did was get plastic sandwhich bags and rubberbands and bind them to each of the legs, so as to cover the base of the legs.

At the end of the shoot just remove the plastic bags and dispose, worked well..

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.