October 30, 2011

#42 – Hold your camera properly and reduce blurring.

Bad! Don't do this.

You are a human tripod.

At least you should be if you want to get the most out of your camera. See, with the advent of digital cameras with their giant screens, we don’t take photos the way we used to. Once upon a time, we’d mash our faces up against the little viewfinder on the camera and take a snap.

That was actually a good thing because in the mashing process, you steadied the camera against your head.

These days, we’re holding out our arms, taking the picture and asking  “why does everything look so blurry?” The answer is this – because you’re not steadying the camera, it’s wobbling around in your hands and when the shutter is open, it’s capturing that wobbling.

You can do better, and it’s not all that hard to do. You could do what National Geographic photographer Joe McNally does (which is way harder than it looks) or you can get pretty snapshots by doing this...

Use the viewfinder.

Better -- but not quite.
If your camera has a viewfinder in addition to the screen, use the viewfinder. You’re already more balanced.

Press your elbows into your body.

Good! Human tripod.

Steady your arms as best you can. Never (ever!) hold your camera out waaaay in front of you and expect to get a good photo.

Shorten up the zoom.
The longer your zoom, the better chance your shot is shaky. Get closer to your subject and zoom less.

Breathe – slowly.
This is an old sharpshooter trick – take a deep breath and let it out slowly as you take your photo.

Try a few extra tricks to steady the camera.

Another way.

Digital cameras and cell phones are teeny, tiny. Use your fingers to steady the camera, or jam it into your shoulder for extra leverage. On camera helpers like “image stabilization” can also help out.

Watch your shutter speed.
1/60th of a second is generally the floor for shutter. Experienced photographers can get lower (McNally has apparently made sharp photos with one-second long exposures). Try the tips above and see if you can get good shots at less than 1/60th

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