It was just a couple of years ago that I underwent surgery for a lower back problem which greatly took a toll on my mobility. But I had to exercise and I had to walk in order to get all the parts working again.
One of the devices that aided me was a walker. Some of you know what that is and others are fortunate enough not to know. At first it was a challenge because I was lifting it up to move forward because while there was wheels on the front there were only little rubber sliders on the back and they wore out pretty quickly.
I nice gentleman, older than I was, looked at me fighting with the walker and he walked over using his walker and said, “You need to get a couple of balls.” I looked at him in shock because I did not know this old gent. He said, “tennis balls boy, tennis balls.” He then pointed to the bottom of his walker and there they were. A couple of balls on the rubber capped legs which allowed him to slide the walker along much easier. Life was good.
Recently I read an article but I cannot remember who wrote it, but in that article another person was giving me the same advice. His advice was not to get a two balls, but to get three balls. He was a photographer that did a lot of beach landscapes.
If you have ever walked on sand then you know that sand can give way under your weight. Well I am sure there is no shock here that if you put tripod legs on sand the sand will give way to the weight of the tripod and the gear you have on it. That probably means that even though you set your tripod legs wide apart like should be, set the tripod head into a locked position after getting the composition the way you liked it, that the final image will have a shifted horizon line and be out of focus.
Solution – Tennis Balls.
On the bottom of each tripod leg is usually a rubber cap unless you have replaced it with a spike. Do not remove the rubber cap from the tripod. Take each tennis ball and make a two cuts that form cross. Make them big enough so that a leg of the tripod can be inserted into it, but small enough not to fall off. Do this for each ball and leg.
Now when you go out on the beach to shoot or some similar environment your tripod will remain in the position you intended it to.
Now how about those sandy, dirty, muddy, wet, dusty situations that photographers can sometimes get into with their gear. Tripods can pick up a lot of garbage. Before you close the legs of your tripod be sure to wipe them off to make sure that you are not sliding dirt and grime of any kind into the leg channels because that will degrade performance each time you open and close the legs.
I would recommend the same thing for your ball head. A clean damp cloth will do the trick.