Article: Beginner photographers! Is your camera holding technique effective??


No longer a newbie, moving up!
May 27, 2010
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I took time and wrote a little something with examples about photography for beginners... Opinions are welcome =)

One of the simplest and cheapest ways to get professional-looking, sharp images is learning to hold your camera as still as possible. (Unless you're going for a slow shutterspeed effect such as panning etc. -But that will not be the case in most situations.)
The basic guidelines on holding an SLR camera (although most tips will also apply for compact camera users):
  • While your right hand is on the gripped part of your camera body and operating the shutter button, your left hand should gently support the lens from below (and not from above!)
  • Keep your arms as close to your body as possible to enssure that your arms are supported by your entire body – keeping your body as compact as possible will give you maximum stability
  • Your camera should be somewhere above your body's mass centre
  • Use walls etc. to lean on while taking the shot for even more stability
  • Take your time before you take the picture – don't rush and just snap a photo – figure out the most comfortable position and take a few moments to slow your heartbeat. Moments before taking the shot hold your breath and when you feel most still slowly and gently press the shutter release button. Your job is pretty similar to what snipers do... =) In the meantime you can rethink your composition... ;)
By obeying these simple tips you will be able to shoot with incredibly slow shutterspeeds while you photos will still remain sharp. You will also be able to drop down the ISO speed and consequently you shall have less noise in your photos as well.
For further instructions I highly recommend the youtube video, where Joe McNally demonstrates the right way to hold your camera. ("Joe McNally - Da Grip")
As an example I took a shot with a telephoto lens handheld at focal lenght of 200mm in a low light situation, where slow shutterspeed is the only way to get enough light on your camera sensor.

The first photo was taken at a very high ISO speed, which enabled me to get a 1/60s shutterspeed and as you can see the image turned out sharp but it lacks of colour due to the high ISO setting.

ISO6400 by PrimozKovacic, on Flickr

For the second photo I dropped the ISO to a more normal value of 800. That gave me a shutterspeed of only 1/8s, which is extremely slow for a focal length of 200mm. In a normal situation I wouldn't dare to take a photo at such slow shutterspeed, beacuse as you can see: Not being careful enough and just snapping the shot (as I would in good light conditions) resulted that the image turned out blurry.

ISO800blur by PrimozKovacic, on Flickr

The third photo was taken with exact same settings as the second one, but this time I leaned on a wall and took the time needed... Result is a sharp image at 200mm using a shutterspeed of only 1/8s! Of course this only works if your subject is still =P

ISO800 by PrimozKovacic, on Flickr
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No longer a newbie, moving up!
Jan 3, 2012
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Miami, FL
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interesting. I usually get the shakes if I don't have a few drinks before I go out shooting.

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