VOXTIP#3 ….READY, STEADY, GO.

There will be many times when you will either want to move the camera to induce a sense of action or achieve motion blur by using the appropriate camera setting. However, it is likely that for the majority of  photos you will want pin sharp images, so lets work on this first.

Now, there are camera settings that will help you to achieve it but in this course I want you simply to work on physically keeping the camera steady whilst operating the shutter(pressing the button).

Many unintentional blurs are caused by camera movement – your whole body can move or maybe its just your hand that shakes – this can be minimised. Excluding the use of tripods, monopods, beanbags, etc., which will be the subject of a later course, I want to give you five basic ideas to facilitate achieving a ‘steady camera’

a. Where it is possible, rest the camera (or your elbows) on a suitable horizontal surface – wall, car (with permission), whatever is to hand. Even using another ‘body’ can help (again, probably best to ask permission).

b. Lie on the ground (inspect what you are about to lie on). I often carry a dustbin liner – it’s compact, waterproof and can easily be spread onto whatever you’re gonna lie on.

This guy has got it about right.

c. My favourite technique – lean against a solid vertical surface – wall, lamp post, tree. When trying to stand absolutely still your body will often move slightly backwards and forwards (especially as you get older). This simple technique will also minimise the effect of wind (although not winds of digestive origin). Be warned, this is another opportunity to get ‘stuff’ all over your clothes – usually on your back where you don’t notice it – and, of course, no one tells you about it…

d. Finally, perhaps the most important technique to practise – the TRIANGLE. One of the most stable structural forms is the triangle – if you can achieve this consistently you will notice a significant improvement in the sharpness of some of your images.

The technique is quite simple: your chest will form the base of the triangle, the camera will be held at at the apex (top) of the triangle and your two forearms form the other two sides.

Your upper arms and elbows should be held firmly, snugly and comfortably against your chest (ribcage) whilst your forearms are held at the appropriate angle so that the camera viewfinder window is in position at eye level.

With practice this position can feel ‘locked’ and secure. You’ll probably need to read this through a few times. Like all worthwhile techniques, it takes practice.

e. Oh, one other suggestion. When taking a photo don’t hold your breath. Try to breathe normally and calmly – most photographers I talk to recommend breathing out smoothly as you take the shot. Again, this minimises movement.

Gotta admit, I’d find the breathing tip (or any other) a tad difficult to employ in this situation

To see more weird situations have a quick look at this link – which ones d’you think would minimise camera shake? {Photography, the harder it looks the better the photo, I guess}

 

 

As usual, here are some photos illustrating situations where I should have used a tripod, etc., but instead employed one of the above techniques in order to keep the camera steady.

In this first picture, a ‘close-up’ of an Orange Tip butterfly, it is important that the camera is kept very still or the precise part of the image you want in focus will be out of focus. (Lying on the ground for this one.)

 

 

 

 

In the second image, the problem is one of light, or rather the lack of it, in side an underground tunnel in Tilbury Fort, Essex, UK. (Leaning against the wall here – hence back of jacket covered in carbon/soot.)

 

 

 

 

 

The third image required me to hold the camera steady to get the buildings sharply focussed whilst showing the moving people as blurs to create the idea of motion. (Here I leaned against the side of a pillar = dirty sleeve.)

 

 

 

 

This last image was obtained by taking 5 photographs and putting them together. Without a tripod I was forced to use the TRIANGLE method. Fortunately, my camera can take 5 images very quickly. Nevertheless, without the TRIANGLE it would not have been possible.

Ok, now remember the phrase ‘NOTHING WORKS’ – cos you will have to practise these techniques in order to make them work – but it’s worth it.

Don’t forget to post your photos, comments and questions on VOXTIPS WINDOW:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/voxtipswindow 

“I wish you good shooting.”

***NEXT FRIDAY – ‘COMPOSITION, DO IT BY THIRDS’***

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