Friday, August 21, 2015

Reducing Camera Shake, AKA: Holding Your Camera Steady

There are times when your camera (if in auto mode) will decide to use a slower shutter speed - usually low-light situations.  There are also times when the shutter speed your camera chooses isn’t fast enough to freeze the action in front of you or slow enough to capture a sense of motion.
Today I’ll address holding your camera steady to avoid or minimize camera shake.  There are multiple ways of doing this - hand-held with proper body posture, hand-held with help of a physical support, hands-free physical support, and use of a tripod or monopod.

What is Camera Shake?

Camera shake is when the camera moves while taking a picture.  This results in a blurry image.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to camera shake but the top three are camera support, shutter speed, and focal length.
I will only be addressing camera support in this post..

Reducing Camera Shake with Body Posture

Properly holding your camera and positioning your arms will go a long way towards holding your camera steady and eliminating or reducing camera shake or camera movement.
  1. Hold the viewfinder as close to your face as possible.  This of course does not apply to using a camera phone or a camera using a live view mode.
  2. Use both hands to hold the camera.  Your right hand should grip the camera and release the shutter.  Your left hand should be supporting the body of the camera and/or the lens.
  3. Keep your elbows as close to your body as possible.
  4. Use a wide stance with your feet about shoulder width apart.
  5. If you are in shade or another low light situation, it is useful to hold your breath while releasing the shutter.
  6. Kneeling and using placing your elbow on your knee can provide additional support - with any type of camera.  It turns your body into a mini tripod.
  7. Sit down on a rock or bench and use your elbows on your knees.  This is another way to turn your body into a mini-tripod.
  8. If you are using Live View and getting camera shake, try going the traditional route and using the viewfinder.  This will go a long way to reducing that!  Extended arms will naturally be less steady than arms held closer to your body!

Reducing Camera Shake with Support

Ideally, a tripod or monopod is nice to have here, but one may not be readily available to you.  So, what else can you do?
  1. Lean your body against a tree, wall, doorway, lamppost, car, railing, etc. to provide yourself with additional support.
  2. Lean your camera against a tree, wall, doorway, lamppost, car, railing, etc. to provide extra support to the camera.
  3. Put the camera down on a rock, floor, wall, shelf, etc. and shoot from there.
  4. Is the surface you are putting it on unsteady?  Use a beanbag, towel, shirt, whatever, to wedge under or around your camera to provide that additional stability.  Just make sure a stray edge doesn’t make it’s way in front of your lens!  This can work well for live-view as well.
  5. Finally, be prepared with a tripod or monopod!  A tripod is best but can be a bit bulky and won’t work in crowded situations.  A monopod is a second best, especially when combined with the above.

Reducing Camera Shake with Shutter Release

You see something exciting in front of you, you grab your camera and shoot.  Slow down, cowgirl!  Releasing the shutter slowly and steadily will keep that camera from bouncing around and you’ll be happier with the results!  Drawing a breath first will help you to slow down enough to release the shutter in a slow steady motion.

How do you reduce camera shake when taking pictures?  Any horror stories of beautiful moments ruined by the number one photo enemy?  Please share in the comments below!  If you found this post useful, please share it with a friend!

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  1. This is a great post! I always have trouble with getting my camera to stay still when I take a picture. This will be really helpful!

    1. Megan, I'm so very glad you found it helpful! Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with!

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