Newborn Photographer's Guide to Tripods and Cable Releases

I have finally decided to write a post on tripods and cable releases. I have written a lot of posts that give technical information such as a newborn photographer's guide to camera selection, guide to softboxes, and many others. And, I always try to educate newborn photographers by sharing these technical posts.

What is a Tripod?

In photography, a tripod is usually a three-legged device designed to hold a camera firmly. Most tripods have a center column and height-adjustable supports and are used with a mount that houses ahead. Some tripods are four-sections and collapse smaller than those with three-sections, but they are a little less stable.

The primary purpose of a tripod is to allow the photographer to capture images where prolonged exposure is required using slow shutter speeds. In a situation where the ambient light is not sufficient, holding the camera with your hand can introduce shake into the images. The tripod serves to provide stable support for the camera. Tripods also come in handy when a photographer wants to capture a scene or the same image multiple times.

For instance, a photographer may take multiple shots of an image at different exposures to create HDR images.

cable release definition photography

Check out some of the factors you should consider before choosing your tripod: Consider the height of the tripod. You must pick a tripod with the right height. The right tripod height should make it easy for you to raise the camera to your eye level. If you are a tall photographer, you may need a tripod with added height.

Get a tripod that can at least bear your camera's weight and your largest lens. Decide whether you want a rapid center column to give you an extra boost of height quickly.

Make sure you check out the least ground distance that the tripod can support your camera. Usually, it's quite easy to pay more attention to the height and fail to remember that there may be times you want to take pictures at the ground level. Sometimes, the height-adjustable leg of tripods that have a center post may not be modifiable to the kind of low height that you'd like.

Here are some great options:

What is a Cable Release?

A cable release is a standard photography accessory that is attached to the camera. It allows the photographer to take pictures from a distance. As a newborn photographer, you can make use of a cable release to minimize camera shake and any ensuing blur in the photos. It also gives you the freedom to step away from the camera to capture the images of the newborn. Essentially, the cable release helps to bypass the shutter button of your camera and puts off the shutter itself.

How the Cable Release works for photography

The cable release works hand-in-hand with a tripod. Like the tripod, it allows you to step away from the camera while still doing your work. The cable release should be fastened to a spot near the shutter release button or the lens when mounted on a tripod.

Depending on the type of cable release you purchase, there would either be an air trigger or button at the other end of the cable release. However, the most common type is the one made of metal, having a long thread of metal attached to its button. When you push the button down, a smaller thread of metal is equally pushed into the shutter to release it.

The other type of cable release is made of plastic and makes use of an air bubble. When it is squeezed, the air bubble compels air to drive the smaller thread of metal into the shutter. Although metal cable releases are usually built to last for a longer duration, plastic cable releases are relatively cheaper and typically offer more extended sizes.

cable release for film camera

The distance between the photographer and the camera is dependent mainly on the length of the cable release. The length of a cable release can vary between 6 inches to 30 feet. Most metal cable releases only go as high up as 40 inches, while the ones made of plastic can be much longer.

Cable releases are typically used for portrait photography, low lighting locations, close-up stills, and any other photoshoot in which longer exposures are necessary. That makes it the perfect accessory you need for newborn photography. You can see the slightest movements when you push the shutter release. That can be eliminated by using a cable release. Also, when making use of the bulb (B) shutter speed setting, you can hold the cable release without pressing down the shutter attached to the camera.

The cable release is a perfect solution for self-portrait photography, allowing the photographer to step away from the camera without being bothered about the time constrictions of the self-timer. Though the cable may be visible in the photograph, it will still serve the purpose nonetheless.

The Importance of a Cable Release in Newborn Photography

A cable release gives room for the photographer to control your camera's shutter from a distance. That makes it possible to take continuous snapshots of the newborn without having to touch or hold the camera.

It reduces camera shake. When you employ the use of a cable release, there is no need to handle the camera physically. One primary reason for camera shake in photography is the pressing of the camera's shutter button when capturing images. By fixing a cable release to your camera, you can easily capture precious moments of the newborn without touching the shutter button. This way, there would be no risk of a camera shake. 

The Combination of a Tripod and a Cable Release for Newborn Photography

digital camera with cable shutter release

In one of my posts, we have seen the best camera settings and lens combinations for newborn photography. Now we will talk about the combination of tripod and cable release.

As we have seen, a tripod and a cable release serve to complement each other. When the camera is mounted on a tripod, it provides firm support. When a cable release is attached to the mounted camera, you can take pictures some distance away from the camera. These benefits make them an essential accessory in newborn photography.

As described in my post "7 Tips for Posing your Newborn", newborns can't pose themselves; you will continuously be on the move to pose them in different styles when you want to the perfect shot. Making use of a tripod and cable release in newborn photography will give you the freedom to move around and take the best shots from different angles and perspectives.

By using a tripod together with a cable release, you can be away from the camera and still be assured that you are taking stable shots. There is also a better chance of capturing the perfect pose because you have no restrictions. You can watch and pose the baby and press the shutter at the right times.

They will particularly come in handy when you are taking snapshots of newborns with their parents. You will be able to focus on developing and keeping a rapport with the newborn and the parents. You can free your hands to throw a ball to one of the parents or try out some other tricks to get a smile or elicit a reaction while taking continuous shots per pose. It will also give you more opportunities to watch the baby in anticipation of the right moment to press the shutter.

When you put your tripod and cable release into use, you will be able to cut yourself off from the camera. It may seem unusual, but it is quite possible to do all of these things simultaneously – stay crouched on the ground, your camera in one hand and one eye looking through the viewfinder while the other is closed.

That being said, in newborn photography, there are times when it is necessary to swiftly move the camera to capture a moment that you could have missed if the camera was fixed to the tripod.

At the 6 month mark, most babies can hold their head up, or have their backs propped up. They may also be placed in a fixed position say in a basket, and then, a tripod is essential!

In addition to having the right photography accessories in your kit, arrange for a small heat source to be near to keep the infant warm.

Create a pleasant, baby-friendly ambiance around you to keep the baby relaxed and comfortable. You should be prepared for an emergency; the baby may need to be cared for or fed during the photo session, so you'll need to exercise patience.

Every newborn photographer should have a tripod and a cable release in the photography kit. These tools can be very beneficial during newborn photo sessions. They will give you more room to show your creative side while simultaneously minimizing camera shake and taking the best shots.