5 Tips on How to Hold a Camera to Minimise Camera Shake
Often photographers can get quite obsessive about soft shots, spending a lot of money on better software and expensive lenses, when actually a lot of the fault comes down to how they are holding their cameras. Read on for some supportive tips!
1) Get a grip
You do need to hold your camera quite firmly but not so hard that you become tense, as this will be counterproductive and result in camera shake. Most modern cameras, particularly SLRs and bigger compact system cameras, feel quite comfortable in the hand but make sure you are properly holding the grip.
If you aren't using a tripod when shooting at a slow-ish shutter speed or zoomed out with a long lens, make sure you support yourself. Leaning against a wall or tree is a good idea. You can also wrap your strap firmly around your hand and camera to keep everything more supported. When shooting with a long lens, you obviously need to cradle the lens body for extra support, too.
2) Breathe out as you shoot
When taking the actual shot, make sure you are relaxed and breathe out – it sounds pedantic but doing so will often help you relax your shoulders and arms. If you can consciously relax your arms or shoulders before you capture the image, all the better, but not so relaxed that you risk dropping the camera!
3) Think about orientation
Don't get so hung-up on shooting one way that your images all come out the same orientation. A good friend of mine, who is a very talented travel photographer, got so used to shooting in landscape format that he hardly took anything in portrait format. He didn't have anything against portrait format, it was just habit. I suggest if it looks good as a landscape orientated image why not try a portrait one too?
Watch any pro photographer and they will move around a lot, trying different angles with their camera, and bobbing up and down or to the side to get the best vantage point.
4) Don't chimp
'Chimping' – where you compulsively drop the camera as soon as you have taken the shot to check it on the rear screen – is a really bad habit. The more you do it, the more addictive it gets; at best, it can break the connection with your subject, and worst, it can result in blurry shots if you drop the camera before it has properly taken the image.
You want to get to stage where you already roughly know how an image is going to turn out based on the settings you use, and while it's OK to check exposure and composition every few shots, if you are chimping after every frame, you have got a problem.
5) Don't touch the tripod
You have to be careful when your camera is mounted on a tripod, too. Don't try and give a tripod extra support by holding it, as again, you can transmit tiny vibrations. You need to fire the camera using a remote cable release or self-timer, as pressing the shutter button will add more tiny vibrations and result in softer shots.
If you don’t have a tripod but still need extra stability, try putting the camera on a wall or similarly level surface and using the self timer. This is a good way to get nice travel shots of a city at dusk, using a long exposure and narrow aperture to get 'starburst' effects on city lights.
6) Grip and grin
One of the most useful accessories you can get for shooting hand-held is a battery grip. It's essential for wedding photography, for instance, as it stores an extra battery so you don't run out of juice half way through; the design of the grip gives extra support when hand-holding the camera, too, although it does make it more bulky.