One of the worst moments in photography is when you get things back on the computer from a shoot to see that dreaded blur! If only you had been able to stabilize the camera more. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been confidant enough in my own abilities to think “I can hand hold that shot”.
The truth of the matter is, most of us can’t! So, avoid the blur whenever possible When trying to capture images where light is low, a sense of movement is desired, or any other scenario where shutter speeds drop perilously low, getting that camera stable is critical! Here are eight ways to make that happen:
1. Use a Tripod – Shots taken with tripods are inherently more stable than their handheld counterparts. Nothing stabilizes things like an inanimate object!
2. Use a Monopod – With the tripod police out in force more and more, they are being allowed less and less in a number of areas. If a tripod isn’t permitted, a monopod may be an alternative worth considering.
3. Use Your Surroundings – Okay, so the tripod wasn’t allowed, the monopod you forgot, but there’s still a chance to catch that shot. The answer lies in using your surroundings. Brace the camera against a tree, a fencepost, a car, or whatever is available. They key is to make your camera stationary.
4. Bump the ISO – As much as I try to avoid increasing ISO, the newer cameras available do a great job of smoothing, and even then, software post production options are also pretty advanced at cleanup afterward. So, if you have to, go ahead and bump the ISO settings to shoot fast and still retain exposure accuracy.
5. Hold that Camera – I know some shooters who claim to be able to hand hold as slow as 1/30th of a second, and one of their “secrets” is a secure grip on the camera. Make sure you’re holding your camera right and not flapping your arms out beside you, all fingers around the edges (like a camera phone), and you can get better shots.
6. Shoot between Breaths – Yup, you can shoot between breaths. It’s key to remember not to hold your breath, but rather inhale slowly, exhale slowly, and that momentary gap between breaths is a moment when your body rhythms are not moving at all, heartbeat included!
7. Slide that Finger – No, not that one! Your shutter finger is what I am talking about. So many people tend to jab the shutter, but that pushes the camera and can introduce movement. Make it a slow slide with increasing pressure, almost as if the shutter release is an afterthought.
8. Watch Your Feet – Standing with your feet together like a ballerina is never a good idea when shooting. Your center of gravity rises, and you are unstable. When you are unstable, so is your camera. The same holds in the opposite extreme, so keep your feet about shoulder width apart when shooting.
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There are, of course, other tools and methods to help make your photos better, but these 8 ways to add stability are just a primer to get you on the right track to making the most of your time behind the lens! Know of any other ways to help stabilize a shot? Anything I missed or that particularly speaks to you and your own techniques? Sound off in the comments or via email!