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Tips for a Steady Hand

Discussion in 'Photography Techniques' started by ReD, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    Tips for a Steady Hand needed


    I brace myself (or so I think) but still manage to get unsteady images especially compared to a tripod shot.

    I find a big advantage in using the viewfinder but still want steadier control. I don't use flash as a rule. I like to set my iso at 100 consequently I get slower shutter speeds. Maybe I should increase iso but in days of film when I was much younger I could get a reasonable result from flicking the shutter button set on B. (Edit This with slides around 25 iso )


    One tip I was given was to breathe out slowly when pressing the shutter, apparently a technique used in gun shooting. Not sure if it helps a lot in my case just a marginal improvement.


    Any useful tips gratefully received.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  2. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    A few others that I can think of are your stance (feet apart, one slightly forward of the other), keeping the camera close to you body with elbows bent, tilting the rear screen and holding the camera lower (nearer to your centre of gravity), and using the touchscreen for the shutter release (which transmits less force onto the camera body).
     
  3. SnapDawg

    SnapDawg Rorschach Test Pilot

    649
    Apr 18, 2014
    Canary Islands
    Ken
    Some more: for non-moving subjects you can use the self-timer, release the shutter as slowly as possible, shoot some extra frames (they don't cost too much these days) or get one of those chord stabilizers (eBay).
    All I need myself is a decent smoke - not exactly recommended :D
     
  4. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    Thanks - don't have touchscreen or tiltable Lcd
    Found this – looks like it could be useful & it won't cost me anything to find out



     
  5. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    very clever....the world's cheapest monopod. I gotta make me one of those
     
  6. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    Just tested - certainly feels more stable. The foot end will get very dirty in the field though.
    I just tied the string to the Gorillapod shoe & found I had a bag of washers so its as shown - not that you specifically need to use a washer.
    I tried it at 1/15 sec at 100 iso & will do more trials later at slower speeds. The whole mini assembly feels better in the hand.
     
  7. SnapDawg

    SnapDawg Rorschach Test Pilot

    649
    Apr 18, 2014
    Canary Islands
    Ken
    That's what I meant with "chord stabilizer". We've build them 35 years ago in school, but I've only seen one being used by someone else once ever since. Maybe too ... ?
     
  8. Just heading to the Hardware store.
     
  9. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    Yes Snap its what turned up after a Google

    Hand held 1/4 sec iso 100 F2.5 macro NB with arms extended in front of body
    there were good and bad in the set so its not a cure all yet

    Edit parts may seem a bit fuzzy but I can tell you that at this close range its a way sharper than my eyesight

    16375887429_2d7da54c17_b. Hand held 0.25sec by roger-evans, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  10. SnapDawg

    SnapDawg Rorschach Test Pilot

    649
    Apr 18, 2014
    Canary Islands
    Ken
    Added fixation points (using 2 feet instead of one, a rail or a 'T' structure below the camera for 2 or 3 strings) add some stability, just don't expect too much of an impact on Gitzo's sale figures.
     
  11. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    537
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    OK, so this is a little early and I don't have all the images ready for the "go live" blog post....but I have this in the queue and it appears to be appropriate for this thread.

    It's lengthy, but I hope it is worth your time and consideration. I'll update once I get all the images completed as well.

    STARTS HERE

    One of the most talked about subjects I see are about camera weight and holding a camera. Today, let’s talk about these subjects and discuss some good practices and habits we can get into to make our shooting out in the field more enjoyable and less stressful on the body.

    Weight
    Camera weight can be a very dividing subject. Some people can’t stand to carry around a DSLR with a larger lens, while others wouldn't trade that setup for the world. Getting this out of the way – neither is right or wrong. It is a personal choice, pick whatever it is that makes you happy. I will say, though, before you sell off all your current kit for weight considerations alone, take in this article and see if there are some techniques you can learn here to mitigate the weight.

    I’ve given up neck straps years ago. I would be out on a multiple day shoot, possibly running about for 8-10 hours/day with a Nikon D300 dangling in front of me on strap with a Tamron 17-50/2.8 or Nikon 80-200/2.8. My back would ache, my shoulders would get tight. I’d get neck stiffness and sometimes headaches. The 80-200 was so heavy, that I would end up supporting the whole rig in my hands, then my arms would get fatigued and my shots would suffer because I was unable to properly hand hold my gear.

    I didn't realize it, but I started fixing the above issue by solving completely different problem. I saw that there were times I wanted to shoot both wide to medium telephoto and wanted the distance of the 80-200. I’d have to switch lenses. I also had a Nikon D50 at the time and decided that I would run both cameras together. It would be cumbersome to have one camera hanging from the neck strap, then dig into a bag for the other. I didn't want both hanging form my neck as they would bounce into each other. That is when I discovered the BlackRapid strap system. My initial thought was that I could have one around my neck, and one at my side. Worked well for that. I started using the BlackRapid more and more when I was just shooting one camera and realized that the weight being distributed across my shoulders caused way less fatigue. OK, this is obvious…but when you don’t know any better and you think you don’t have a problem….well…you just don’t think about it.

    spot.com%2F-DWad7sgH_jg%2FVN_AyDTxAmI%2FAAAAAAAAIGc%2F4jgAcXgabk4%2Fs1600%2Fbr_classic_022012_00.

    Black Rapid Single Strap

    Image Copyright BlackRapid

    My next thought was being able to work with 2 cameras on BlackRapid straps. I thought, I’ll just get another regular strap and cross them like a bandoleer strap. I saw that BlackRapid had a double unit. Since then, I've ditched the neck straps entirely and always use a Black Rapid system. I’ve even adapted my mirrorless cameras to using them. I've even picked up a Think Tank Holster 10 and Holster Harness for hiking with my Olympus EM1 and 75-300 lens. I like this for when I’m more active. No swinging cameras, but it is right in front and quickly accessible.

    .com%2F-A-1b5hZKryc%2FVN_BPPvHVcI%2FAAAAAAAAIGk%2F2G1PWjHAHSY%2Fs1600%2Fbr_doublestrap_022012_00.

    Black Rapid Double

    Image Copyright BlackRapid

    The take away from this? Ditch the neck strap and find some other system that distributes the load of the camera weight across your body and not at one sensitive point. If you do this, it makes weight of any camera less of an issue.

    Obviously, there are limits.
     
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  12. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    537
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    Part2

    Holding and Shooting Techniques

    Use The Viewfinder
    With the weight discussion out of the way, we can look at different ways of holding your camera. A lot of people have gotten used to shooting images with their cell phones, so now that some DSLRs and most mirrorless cameras allow for “live view” shooting, people tend to shoot how they always do. I, for one, still require any camera that I use extensively to have a viewfinder of some kind – either optical or electronic.

    Some of you may have done this little test, but if not – give this a try.

    Just hold one or both of your hands straight out in front of you and observe how much natural motion – sway and such that you see. Then, bend your arms at the elbow and place your hands on either side of your face. Observe the sway and motion of your hands then. Notice anything? With your arms closer to your body, you’ll have less sway, less motion. The other bonus is that you’ll get less fatigued as well if you are shooting for a long period of time.
    I’m not saying that you should never use the live view or tilt screen function of the cameras you have, but use them when they are necessary, not as the default way of shooting.
    A solid support to the gear will also give you the ability to hand hold longer shutter speeds and still get images unaffected/less affected by camera shake. This in conjunction with some kind of image stabilization can be pretty powerful.

    Use Two Hands
    Kind of obvious, but a lot of people get slack on this sometime. You are more stable when using both hands to support the camera. Again, there are exceptions to the rule – just remember to keep them as an exception.

    Support The Camera From The Bottom
    Out shooting, I see a lot of other people holding the camera lens barrel from the top or the side - with their fingers on top of the lens and the thumb on the bottom. This can be a less stable shooting position for a number of reasons.
    You are pinching the lens, which will cause hand fatigue.
    You are holding your arm out from the body instead of in toward the body. This is less stable and fatigue causing.
    It requires an awkward adjustment if you need to release the lens to re-grip it to turn the zoom/focus ring more.
    Turn the zoom/focus ring from the bottom allows you to keep your arm tucked in to your side and if you need to re-adjust your fingers to work the lens rings, your left hand palm will be able to support the weight.
    Another technique is to keep a grip on the zoom barrel and turn the camera instead, zooming this way. It changes your orientation for a bit, but one zoomed in, you can the re-adjust your orientation. I do this sometimes when I need to zoom quickly from one extreme to the other and the zoom throw is quite long. It doesn't work for focusing as well, though.

    Proper Stance – Lessons From Martial Arts, Pistol and Rifle Shooting
    I've practiced martial arts for many years, and one of the lessons you learn first is that you need to have a solid, stable base from which everything else rests upon. Take this same lesson for photography as well. Find something that works for you, but you should try and support the bulk of your body weight over your hips and knees. Don’t lunge too far forward or lean too far backwards.
    If you need to get lower, widen your stance, shoot from a kneeling or laying position if appropriate. This also overlaps with shooting firearms. If you want to be accurate, you need to have a good base from the earth to the rifle. From rifle shooting, the other technique is breathing. When we breathe, our chest and shoulders move ever so slightly from diaphragm and lung movement. This translates into slight movement for your camera as well. If you can, line up your shot, then exhale your breathe and then hold at the end of the exhale while you squeeze (not pull or jerk) the shutter release.

    External Support
    Don’t underestimate the benefits of using a sign post, utility pole, the side of a building to stabilize your shot. You are not out in a void, interact with your environment.
    I wouldn't want to dismiss the use of a tripod or monopod either, if it makes sense to use one. Not only does it make the camera base stationary, but it also prevents you from having to carry the weight of the gear.

    Shooting In Portrait Orientation
    Shooting in portrait orientation is when you rotate the camera 90 degrees and change the orientation of the sensor. Holding a 35mm camera “normally” creates a capture area that is wider than it is long. By rotating, it gives you a longer vertical and a shorter horizontal dimension. Lots of reasons to do this, but it puts us back into the “chicken wing” arm sticking out from the body situation. We already know that is not an optimal way to shoot, but if you do it rarely, then it is not likely to affect you that much.
    If you do shoot in that orientation a lot, then consider adding an add-on grip with a second shutter release. This will allow you to have a similar portrait grip as you would with the camera in the landscape orientation.
    Another option is something that I learned from a very knowledgeable photographer I met over at fotozones.com, Bjorn Rorslett explained to me an alternative to holding cameras in portrait orientation. Holding the camera in the portrait orientation, you place your right hand along the bottom of the camera with the heel of your hand slightly under the camera, which is the cameras left side. Your left hand is placed along the top plate of the camera and you use your left index finger to actuate the shutter release.
    Another consideration is shooting in square format, then there is no need to switch orientation because the capture area dimensions are the same on both sides. Not all cameras have this function, so you might need to rely on experience to frame the subject correctly for a square crop. Some cameras also have framing lines which might help as well.

    Don’t Always Be Holding The Camera
    Regardless of which strap system some people use, they always seem to be holding their cameras. I hold on to my camera when I’m in the heat of shooting, but when it does down, I put the camera back at hip position on the BlackRapid. I pull it back up when needed.
    If you must hold the camera, don’t hold it out in one hand away from your body. Instead, cradle the lens and camera in your left arm and keep your arm close to your body. This works particularly well for larger, heavier lenses but is valid for just about any camera/lens combination.
     
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  13. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    537
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    Sorry, forum limits required I split the above into 2 posts.
     
  14. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    Thanks for the post
     
  15. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    Thanks Jock well worth a repeat
     
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