To Use or Not Use a Tripod
If you are like me, you think using a tripod is a great idea, but it slows you down and inhibits quick reactions. So I often tend not to use it - usually to the detriment of the images and sometimes the composition!
Here are some ideas of when you don't or can't use it, and how to use it effectively when you need it.
Situations for not using a tripod
Animals or subjects that move fast
No time to get tripod out
Birds in flight
In a tight area
In other words, where your subject is moving and/or changing direction fast or you need to be unobtrusive. To combat the lack of a tripod, you need to make sure your shutter speed is high enough so you don't get camera shake (above 1/60th sec and turn on Anti-shake) as well as high enough to still movement if your subject is moving fast - like birds or insects in flight. You may need a high ISO to manage this if the light isn't bright enough.
Sometimes you can't get a decent photo without using a tripod.
Reasons for using a Tripod
When your shutter speed is low
Being exact on composition
Using your camera remotely
For very small objects
Subjects up very high and more
One problem of using a tripod is you often put it in a spot and then you don't move - often missing out on other potential shots.
To combat this, park your tripod and walk around with your camera, viewing all the potential photo opportunities. Then choose your spot and put your camera on the tripod, take some photos and then move to the other sites you thought were good.